Any Excuse, to Avoid at All Cost

People often ask me variations of ‘what should I do?’

What should I do to:

– Grow my list?

– Have more buyer conversations?

– Drive traffic to my site?

– Spread the word about my business?

– Raise my rates?

– Increase my close rate?

When you’re asking yourself questions like these, there’s two ways to approach the conundrum.

The first is where you get all heady, start thinking about options, previously failed experiments, pros and cons… and you often end up doing nothing specific in order to get what you want.

The other option, and one that’s often a breatkthrough approach, is to ask yourself:

“What am I avoiding most strongly? What could I do, but I just have SO many objections and reasons not to? What am I most procrastinating on?”

See, the only real, useful answer to the question ‘What should I do?’, is ‘Yes’.

Because you already know the answer – you know what to do.

What to do is, in nearly all cases, the thing you’re avoiding at all cost.

For me, it’s starting a podcast and releasing short daily videos.

I KNOW it’s going to help my business, but I have a list of excuses longer than an airstrip. Yet I know it’s going to have to happen sooner or later.

Me, I know what I should do, and I believe so do you.

The real question is:

What needs to change in your thinking or your deciding, in order for you to actually get to doing it?

What do you need to believe about your abilities is persistence?

And, at the upper level of psychology: who do you need to be – as in, what identity do you need to choose to operate from?

The degree to which you avoid certain activities is a direct indication of how much of a difference that activity can make for your business.

The moment you ask ‘what should I do’ is the moment you know the answer.

If it’s something you want to avoid at all cost, it could be just the thing to do.

Will you do it?

Cheers,

Martin

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

Are You Trying to Push a Rope?

Further to yesterday’s article about prioritising growth-driving activities in your business…

What if you try with all your might, and results just won’t show up?

Instagram, Facebook, outreach, proposals, trade shows, networking… you know you’re doing the right things, and things should be working and improvements (or at least: promise of results) ought to manifest, and yet… it’s like you’re treading water?

As if you’re trying to push a rope… which everyone knows is pointless.

When things aren’t working, it’s easy to get disheartened and conclude that it just isn’t going to get better.

And when you reach that point, it’s easy to stop trying, give up on your efforts, and go back to the day-to-day activities that give a false sense of achievement. It’s happened to me, and you’ve probably had it happen as well.

But what if you step back for a moment, and look at your activities (the ones that aren’t getting you the results you want), and analyse the results that you do get?

There’s nothing you can do that does not have some sort of effect.

But because we expect Activity A to brings us Result B and that result isn’t showing up, we nearly always ignore the small results that are.

And yeah, those probably don’t bring clients through the door… yet.

But they are an indicator of what could happen if you intentionally try to amplify those small, easily overlooked, results.

That holds much more promise than pushing on, trying to push a rope – or, by contrast, cancelling your efforts, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

There are times when you need to take stock, and radically reinvent and replace your strategy.

But those moments are rare, and in most cases, all you need is a clear hard look at how results measure up to effort, and make subtle, strategic adjustments to your strategy and/or approach.

There’s a difference between doing the right thing, and doing the right thing correctly.

Small changes and strategic shifts can have a big effect on your outcomes, but dropping your growth-driving activities will likely cancel all the positive outcomes you’re working towards.

When you’re trying to push a rope, you can either stop pushing, or you can replace the rope with something more rigid and movable. Or roll up the rope – you get the idea.

Look, analyse, modify: iterate and optimise.

You got this.

Cheers,

Martin

How to Reduce Overwhelm, Get More Done, and Move the Needle on Your Business

Being human tends to be a spectacularly inefficient affair.

The mind cranks away on thoughts that we’ve thought before, or on things that we fear but will never happen, or it’ll just happily churn away on things that are completely inconsequential for our well-being, relationships, growth, and indeed: sales.

Meanwhile, our activities consist of a wildly diverse set, most of which do absolutely zero to advance our personal evolution: from mindlessly scrolling through a Facebook feed, to talking with people who gain nothing from it and neither do you, to organising or cleaning stuff just because it gives a fake sense of achievement.

Or, like my manicure, who almost weekly tells me that she spent the weekend ironing. I guess… if it makes her happy…

Problem is, we think that as long as we’re doing something, stuff is happening. And if we’re ‘not working’, we’re resting.

But doing nothing in particular is not the same as resting – not to your subconscious, which is probably very eager for some actual recovery time.

And doing whatever keeps us busy is clearly not the same as getting stuff done.

It helps to have clear lines and hard boundaries.

Rest is rest, and work is work, which replenishes your energy much faster than the pseudo-rest of procrastination.

And as for work, it’s good to demarcate and prioritise there as well:

There’s busywork, the day-to-day activities, and then there’s the kind of work that moves the needle. These are the growth-driving activities that over time build up to results, sales, growth, and revenue.

What’s that you say? You’re always short of time, for doing those GDA’s?

Gotcha!

That’s because, very likely, you spend too much time doing things that you didn’t plan, and didn’t define as the important stuff that gets results.

And that is how you get to constantly feel busy, see little result for it, and feel overwhelmed, frustrated and inadequate.

The solution?

Say no. Decide against automatic, ho-hum activities, and prioritise prioritisation (Yes, I meant to write that).

Decide what’s most important, give it priority, go do it, and only then go back to taking care of routine chores.

If something important deserves to get done, it deserves to get priority, don’t you agree?

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

Ethics vs Exploitation

“Excuse me, where can I find the bottled water?”

I’m shopping at my local supermarket, which has recently been completely redesigned, and as a consequence it’s practically impossible to find anything.

“Sure!”, he tells me. “It’s on the other side of the store, by the laundry detergent”.

I sigh and mutter that since the redesign, everything is a complete and confusing mess.

“Yep”, he says. “That way people end up buying more”.

Well, ten points for honesty, I’ll give him that.

But really, is this a way for a company to treat their customers?

Everything in the shop is now intentionally designed to confuse and distract: where products are placed, the way light enters the building, and even the mirrors that are now all around the cashiers, so that a shopper gets distracted right at the moment of checkout, in order to have them pay less attention to the amount they’re paying.

It’s despicable, disgusting, and unethical. They do anything they can, just to squeeze a bit more money out of people.

What’s even worse, is that this in a fairly impoverished part of Spain, in a small town where the majority of the population is not very well off. Tricking people here to spend more is a scoundrelous move. Pure exploitation.

But does the corporation care?

Of course not. Money money money. Grab grab grab.

Oh and then of course they’ll justify it: ‘People are independent agents, it’s up to them how much they buy’.

Yes it is BUT YOU’VE SCIENTIFICALLY ENGINEERED IMPULSE-BUYING INTO YOUR ENTIRE SUPERMARKET, YOU ^%&^$&%!

Or they’ll say: ‘This is just standard marketing practice. Everybody knows that we place premium items at eye-level, and lower-price products on the bottom shelves. What’s the difference?’

The difference is subtle, but important, and it’s something that a great many corporations (as well as entrepreneurs and solopreneurs) either don’t understand, or don’t care about:

Ethics and integrity.

It’s one thing to highlight a premium product, or to place a rack of crackers next to the cheese display.

But it’s a completely different level of douchebaggery to intentionally throw shoppers off balance, just so that they buy more things they don’t need, in order for profit margins to go up.

So why the rant today?

Because of trust.

When you take liberties with integrity, you might be able to sleep at night (though in my opinion, it means you don’t deserve a good night’s sleep), people notice.

Usually at subconscious levels, but the message gets through: “I’m being used, this isn’t about me, they’re not looking out for me. I’m being exploited for profit”.

And when that happens, trust breaks and you’ll find it very hard to run or grow your business.

So if you want to sleep at night (with my permission and blessing, heh) AND you want to have an easier time selling your work, the recommendation is simple: Do right by people. It always pays off.

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

Units of You

Any given day, you have a finite amount of energy to spend, both mentally and physically.

Once used up, it’s time to rest and recover, and the next day you get another batch of energy. Kinda fun to be alive, isn’t it?

I call this energy ‘units of you’.

How much an actual unit is, isn’t relevant, and it varies day by day.

But, the number of ‘units of you’ that you can spend is finite. Even if you crank yourself out of a dip with copious amounts of coffee (or, god forbid, energy drinks), you’ll still run out.

The problem is that at the start of a day, with a whole new batch of ‘units of you’ at our disposal, we tend to vastly overestimate how many units we have, and how much we can accomplish whilst spending them.

And so we fill our tasklist with items, far more than we can possibly do in a day, and do well.

In other words: we task our future self with a level of commitment and performance that’s wholly unreasonable, and completely unattainable.

Put differently: we bankrupt our future self.

And by the time our future self runs out of ‘units of you’, it sees the remaining tasks, sees the deposit empty, and there you go: let’s procrastinate, let’s put it off until tomorrow.

Come tomorrow, you see how much you didn’t do, and you start out your day feeling bad about yesterday, and schedule even more unreasonable expectations, just to make up for yesterday.

And so begins (and continues) the downward spiral of procrastination.

And to make it even worse: a lot of the work we schedule is hardly relevant, in that it doesn’t actually do anything to drive results.

They might be useful things, but they’re busywork instead of growth-driving activities.

You’ll agree that this is no way to run a business, or indeed to live a happy life.

The solution?

Be stingy with your units of you.

When planning, know that your actual reserve won’t reach to complete everything you want to get done, and schedule only growth-driving activities, and:

Only schedule a few, or even just one. What you put on your tasklist for today should be 100% attainable, even if you run into complications or setbacks.

Ultra-attainable goals, is what I mean.

That way, you’re far more likely to reach them – and when you do, you get a powerful neurological feedback, because hey now! I did what I said I’d do!

And, bonus: you’ll have energy left to do another thing – look at me go!

This however does come with a caveat:

If you make your goals ultra-attainable, there’s a risk that the positive feedback you get, might cause you to rest on your laurels, and make you feel that you’re now free for the rest of the day.

So, make a resolution: when you complete your ultra-attainable goal, first reward yourself with a shortish break – but ONLY after you schedule your next (attainable) growth-driving activity.

After all: if you’re done with an important piece of work and you have units of you left in your reserves, it’d be a pity to let them go to waste, no?

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

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).

Cheers,

Martin

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