Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

If they say no to your offer, they didn’t reject you – they just didn’t want what you have.

If someone opposes your plans or views, they think they’re right, and that doesn’t automatically mean they think you’re wrong – but if you make the assumption that they do think you’re wrong, and you respond defensively or you argue, things won’t improve.

When someone you trust tries to convince you of something you need to do or change and you resist or protest, you’re making your own views dominant to the less biased, outside-the-fishbowl view they have of your situation. That’s your prerogative, but they just might be able to see things that you can’t.

Three examples where you could be forgiven for being human – but also, three examples where you’d be making it about you – and that never helps. It just doesn’t.

What could you change in your offer or messaging, that would make the buyer want your thing?

What would happen if instead of arguing your point, you ask yourself what in your plans or views could be perceived as a threat to well-being, for that other person’s subconscious?

What if, instead of rejecting the advice, you ask ‘Tell me more?’

What would happen if you’d make it a rule to always switch from ‘about me’ to ‘about them’?



Confidence vs Neediness

It makes no difference if I ask for sandpaper, or a screwdriver or a tube of instant glue: she never gets it ‘right’.

A hardware store down the street from me, and the lady who works there always comes back out of the storage area with something different than what I asked for.

Like that scene in the Muppet Show, where Simon Soundman asks for a trumpet by making the sound of a trumpet – and the shopkeeper comes out the back room with a violin? That’s pretty much it.

The first few times I didn’t mind, and explained what I actually needed.

Then I started getting a little annoyed, and over time, kinda cross: “Why doesn’t she just listen? I barely get to finish my sentence, and she’s already off inbetween the racks, looking for something different than what I’m trying to ask for. How annoying!”

But the other day – when I asked for snap-off blades, and she pointed me at a range of kitchen knives ,I realised something: it’s not that she doesn’t listen…

What happens is that she’s simply very keen to be helpful, and probably wants to be perceived as smart as well (a pretty common combo of attitudes).

Put differently (and harshly, I admit): people-pleasing + approval-seeking.

Lesson #1 is that knowing this, there’s no point in being annoyed. That feeling just came from my own judgment and opinion, and I can change that.

The second lesson is more useful to you, and it’s about sales:

Being helpful is good, but if you get too close to people-pleasing, you’ll be perceived as desperate and that breaks trust.

Combine that with an attempt to be liked and approved of, and you have the perfect reason for a new client to back out, right at the moment that they’re getting on board with buying from you.

Help if they ask for your help, and before that: give them space to tell you what they need and want. Don’t be overly eager to offer your help, it sends the wrong message.

As for the approval part of it: who cares about approval?

You’ll get far more mileage from respect – for you, your status, expertise, authority in your field and so on.

And how do you get respect?

Show the confidence to not act needy, and you’ll be well on your way.



When Grit Becomes a Problem (Also: Regular service resumes today)

Long-time readers know that it’s uncommon for me to not send my daily emails. I’ve been writing these daily articles for some 5 years now, and I’ve only skipped a few handfuls of times.

And yet, for over a week I published nothing. (Sorry about that: regular service resumes today).

And it’s not so much that I needed a break, but rather: I needed a review and redesign.

As a creative, and ex-monk, and a business owner, I love systems. Habits, routines… any chance I see to create a ritual or system, I jump at it.

That way, I reduce the amount of energy I need to spend thinking and deciding, and I get to spend my mental energy on doing things that make a difference – either in my business or in that of my clients.

So far so good. Long-time readers also know that one of my favourite axioms is ‘Every skill or talent can be an Achilles’ heel’.

And that’s why I took a break from writing.

Because one of my skills is being gritty: I know how to push on, persist, give it another go. I’m good at that.

Obviously a great ability to have… except, until you end up applying grit to something that’s suffered too much entropy – which is what had happened to my habits and systems, routines and rituals.

See, everything degrades, everything is subject to entropy, and habits and routines are no exception.

And when you find yourself trying to work harder and harder, but you’re not seeing improvement, maybe the solution isn’t in ‘more grit’ but in ‘Stop everything. Take stock. Redesign’.

And that’s what I did over the last week (yep, been super-useful! :)

I’ve decided on different habits, a new outline for my days, a different system for managing my client relationships… and it feels awesome. I’m back.

Some things need to be done more, harder, for longer hours.

Other things need to be done differently, because doing the ‘wrong’ thing won’t ever get you the right outcome, no matter how hard you try or how gritty you are.

Knowing when to push on or when to take your foot off the throttle is a valuable skill.

And any time you’ve been cracking away at something and you end up wondering ‘why isn’t it working?’, maybe it’s time to stop a while, take stock, and ask yourself if doing things differently might be a good idea.

Working hard is good, but don’t let it become a way to avoid looking at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.



Freedom (And Perceived Threats)

One moment you’re talking to a potential client who seems really on board, ready to work with you…

And the next, they seem to have disconnected, tuned out, run into a problem.

Gone is the ‘same page’ feeling, evaporated is the harmony and resonance, and you wonder what went wrong. Weren’t they getting ready to buy? What happened!?

In many cases, it’s because you’ve triggered what psychologists call reactance: a natural reaction to the feeling that our freedom is being limited or threatened.

But why? How? Surely you want what’s best for them, and you’re definitely not being pushy, so what are they reacting to… something you said?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Point is, what you did or said isn’t nearly as important as what is going on in their world.

And what’s going on is that somewhere on the evolutionary level of their psyche, a warning sign lit up.

Somehow, for some reason, their lizard brain senses a threat: “I’m being pushed” and while that might be entirely not what you’re trying to do, their subconscious thinks differently.

When that happens, step back.

Ask questions.

And, very importantly: be quiet. Give people space to think.

Lots of sales conversations break down simply because the seller talks too much, preventing the buyer from sorting through their thoughts (which, in itself, is a way of limiting freedom).

And ask yourself: in what way could they have perceived me or my words in a way that threatens their freedom to choose, their agency and autonomy?



Empathy and Epiphany: “That’s Right!”

When selling something, there’s three kinds of people:

Those who fear hearing ‘no’, and get upset or frustrated.

Then there’s those who know that hearing ‘yes’ follows hearing ‘no’ a whole bunch of times.

And then there’s those who actively seek out a no, because – as the late Jim Camp taught – ‘no’ is when the negotiation starts.

But when you hear a no… what’s next?

What’s the best reply when a prospect tells you no?

According to Chris Voss, your best move is to say something that gets a ‘that’s right!’ out of your buyer.

Not ‘you’re right’, because that message basically says ‘whatever, stop talking’, but ‘that’s right!’

What happens when someone reacts that way, is that their brain registers your empathy, which instead of breaking down the negotiation, strengthens rapport and connection, enabling you to continue the conversation in a way that’s non-threatening for them.

At the same time, there’s a kind of epiphany happening: they realise that you get them, see them, hear them.

As opposed to the (stupid, arrogant and old-fashioned) tactics of trying to persuade the other person.

So what do you say exactly, how do you get a ‘that’s right!’ out of a buyer?

It’s so simple:

“Ok, so what you’re saying is that this isn’t right for you, because [insert the reason they just gave you]”.

And that’s it, that’s all there is to it.

A simple statement, and bam: you’re on the same page, ready to keep talking.

For a deeper look into ethical selling and the importance of no, have a look at the training webinar I recorded last month:

And if you want my personal help in upping your sales game, just let me know…



Why Running a Business is Like Flying a Helicopter

It might look like others have it figured out, but I promise: almost nobody has.

We see the successful people, those who inspire us and cause us to aspire, and we think:

“Once I have what they have (either in place, or in possession), then things will be different! Easier! More profitable!

And yes, that might be true. But not because by then you’ll have ‘figured it out’.

Not in business, that’s not how it works.

The thing to remember is that a business is like a helicopter: inherently unstable.

The moment you take your hands off the controls, a helicopter will start to fall, rise, tilt, or list, or spin – that’s what you get with two rotors operating in different planes, each producing lift, thrust, and torque.

Business is exactly the same: inherently unstable.

Pick any business you like, one that seems like it’s unbeatable, and I’ll show you a comparable business that’s struggling, fighting competition, or is indeed out of business. Too big to fail? Hah.

Does this mean that building a business will always be a struggle?

Well no. Once you learn how to ‘fly’ that thing – once you become a skilled pilot – you’ll know which buttons to push, which valves to open or close and which levers to push or pull.

And most importantly, you’ll know to never, ever, take your hands off the controls.

The moment you do, unpredictability sets in, and you’ll start to lose control.

You want to have a stable business?

Then keep your hands on the controls, at all times.



Time-Spend and Done-Lists

It’s easy to work hard, but it’s even easier to create hard work for yourself.

Those days when you’ve been going at it, doing stuff, taking care of business… only to feel depleted at the end, without knowing exactly where all the time went…

“I know I worked hard – I can feel it – but what exactly did I work on?”

It’s an unpleasant experience that constantly keeps us in a state of mild anxiety and worry, because we know we’re exerting ourselves, but we don’t have the certainty that we’re working on the things that matter most.

It creates a feeling of not being in control, of running after the facts instead of being in charge of them.

But there’s an easy fix, in two parts.

First: plan your day in advance.

Identify the important tasks, the ones that drive growth, and block out time for it. Next, select the ‘taking care of business’ tasks, and plan time for that too.

Because if you don’t set out into your day with a clear intention for what must be achieved, you’ll end up reacting to whatever shows up in your todo list, your inbox, or your mind, instead of creating results according to an actual plan.

It’s a small difference in letters, but a big difference in outcome: create vs react.

The second part of the fix is tracking and reviewing, so that you’ll ‘know your numbers’.

That’s why I keep a ‘done-list’ – a record of my activities throughout the day.

It’s the opposite of a todo-list, and it’s a great way to stay on task – and to assess whether or not I did stay on task.

Each time I close for the day, I have a list of tasks executed, telling me exactly where my time went, and whether or not my planning ahead was accurate, or wether it needs adjusting for optimal results.

Todo lists are good – but if they don’t bring you the calm, clarity and control you need, try keeping a done-list for a few weeks, and update it religiously, each time you complete an action (which, yes, includes things like ‘phoned
mum’, ‘having fun on Facebook’ and ‘made&ate lunch’.

You might be surprised at how much time you allow to disappear into procrastination, or activities that *feel* like you’re working, but that actually are nothing more than busywork: maintenance-type tasks, the kind that don’t drive growth.

And once you have clarity and insight on where your time goes, you get to make intentional decisions on how to better spend that ultra-precious resource called ‘your time’.

It might be tempting to say ‘I’m not in control’ or ‘there’s not enough time in the day’, but you’ll find that there is control, and lost of time in the day, when you decide to take control.



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