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

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

The Three Biggest Mistakes You Could Make When Selling – Avoid These at All Cost!

The first one is blindingly obvious: too much talking, not enough listening.

If you want a buyer to care about what you know, or do, they first need to know that you care about them and their problem.

The second mistake, is selling on features and benefits.

The saying goes: features tell, benefits sell – but that’s only part of the story.

What *really* sells – and amazingly well – is a person’s own desire… meaning, their wish to gain a positive outcome, or alleviate a burden or solve a problem.

And guess what: listening and asking questions that facilitate insight and discovery, helps your buyer discover just how deep the desire goes.

The third mistake is the hardest to get around: being afraid of the no, and therefore not asking for the sale.

It’s hard to hear no, because nobody likes being rejected – and the fact that ‘no’ to your product or service isn’t a personal rejection, makes no difference. It still feels bad to hear no.

But, being open to a no, or welcoming it – or, best: asking for a no – is the best move you could ever make in the process of sales conversations.

For example:

“Here’s an idea… I don’t know if this will fit into your world, so tell me if it doesn’t, but: what if I could help you solve XYZ problem – should we talk about that?”

Say that to a potential buyer, and you’ll be giving them the right to veto, which means you respect and emphasise their autonomy, and that means they won’t feel threatened, rushed, or pushed – which obviously means they’ll be more open to considering what you have to offer.

Obviously, there’s a lot more that can go wrong, when selling – but these three need attention and improvement, before anything else.

And, while I don’t know if my work will fit into your world, I’m happy to schedule a 20-minute sales audit with you, to see if I can help.

After that we can discuss ways to work together, or if you don’t need further help, we simply part as friends.

Sound fair?

Let me know, and I’ll send you a schedule link.



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 effectively 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.

They make compelling arguments, they proffer explanations, they paint the ‘after’, they point out the problems that remain without the purchase…

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

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’?


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 depends on many things – from the product or service you offer, to the personality of the buyer, the price point, your own personality… to name but a few moving parts.

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, so that they’ll happily build their own vision and desire, and volunteer ‘How does it work?’ or ‘Where do I pay?’

Then the LEAP Framework for Ethical Selling might be just the thing you need…

But, before making any decisions, let’s have a short conversation, and see if that 1 on 1 training truly is what will help you enroll more buyers.

Just pick a time here…






Incompatible Currencies

Whenever you find yourself in a situation where someone isn’t going along with the good ideas you have, you need to ask yourself:

Are the two of you trading in compatible currencies?

Because if you’re not, and you’re not aware of it, you’ll go nowhere real fast with that person.

For example:

A husband comes home to find his wife distressed and upset. Oops… something’s happened.

He sits down, listens to her troubles, and starts thinking of ways to help, to improve the situation, to fix things for her.

Useful, no? Girl’s got a problem, let’s help, let’s see if we can fix it!

Except his wife grows increasingly upset. Frustrated, even.

Until finally the whole conversation disintegrates: he ends up frustrated because she doesn’t seem to want his help, and she’s upset because ‘he just never listens’ to her.

In such a situation, the ‘currency’ she’s hoping for, is someone who listens, who gives her space to vent, so she can clear her head, get some clarity, and not feel alone in her troubles.

At that stage, she’s not looking for a solution, but someone to just be present.

He on the other hand, is trying to ‘pay’ a different kind of currency, in the form of quality problem-solving.

But that’s not what she wants – and so we end up with incompatible currencies.

The problem arises when we interpret the other person’s situation, conclude that we know what they want, and proceed to try and give it to them.

A client might say: “I want a website with custom branding and e-commerce built in”, and on the surface that seems straightforward enough.

But below the surface, they might want different things, like:

‘A site that works, doesn’t break, and that’s easy to manage and update’.

Or: ‘A site that enables me to earn more from the traffic I’m getting’.

Or: ‘An online presence that I’m proud of’.

You can’t know what’s behind the obvious, and even when you ask, you’ll only learn what they tell you, which may or may not be the complete picture.

So if you then go answer – and try to fulfill – the surface-level wishes, you likely speak to something that isn’t the real, true, deeper desire… and you might lose the client.

Whenever you try to help someone, serve someone, or try and do something in order to solve a problem for someone… but they’re not having none of it?

Ask yourself: Are you trying to ‘pay’ in a ‘currency’ they don’t want?



P.s. Before November is out, I’ll be raising the price of my 1 on 1 training for the LEAP Ethical Selling Framework. For now it’s still available at $1500, should you want to upgrade your communication and selling skills. 


What to do When ‘the Face Ain’t Listening’

So you’re talking to someone whom you’d like to buy in to your idea – buyer, spouse, team mate, etc – and you realise:

They’re not buying in. No matter what you tell them, they don’t seem to be enrolling in your idea.

So you try a different approach, different logic, another kind of appeal to their senses…

But nope, no cigar – they still don’t seem to get the sense and usefulness of that thing you’re trying to have them see.

You’re talking to the hand, and the face ain’t listening.

When that happens, you need to realise that you’re trying to reason with the other person’s emotional world, and that’s something that will never work.

Their emotional senses are looking for the stuff that feels good, and you’re here, trying to appeal to their intellect, intelligence and insight.

Obviously, that will go nowhere: the other person’s emotional world doesn’t understand stuff – no matter how compelling, logical, and sensible your argumentation may be. Emotions are not meant to understand. It’s not what emotions are for.

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “But why don’t they see what I’m saying, how come they can’t tell that it makes sense what I’m saying?”, then you’ve been trying to reason with their emotions.

And you can explain until the cows come home, but the rational mind won’t deal with information if the emotional world doesn’t feel it yet.

The other person’s emotional world is large, mostly subconscious, and it’s got power to overrule the mind, because the subconscious is tasked with keeping us safe, watching out for threats. It knows more than the mind does, it intuits – and it’s a paranoid gatekeeper.

Looks, feels, sounds, like a potential threat? Best to err on the safe side, and act as if there is an actual threat.

In terms of evolutionary psychology, that’s how the subconscious helps us live another day.

Now obviously, it’s illogical that they’d feel some sort of unconscious threat: after all, you’re not trying to harm anyone, or force anything on them – but that lack of logic is exactly what the irrational nature of emotions is about.

So. If ever you find yourself reasoning with someone who’s just not getting it, seeing it, buying in to your idea and vision:


Something in their subconscious triggered an emotional defense or disconnect, and hammering your point is only going to strengthen the defense.

Stop, and instead get that person to talk. Ask questions such as “What’s on your mind” or “What does this situation look like to you” or “Are there any concerns you have about any of this” or “If you were master of the universe, how would you solve or arrange this?”

The actual question you ask depends on the situation, but the important thing is that you get the other person to share their view, the vision that they’re working with.

With a bit of luck, you’ll uncover the reason why their emotions block understanding or adoption – which gives that person the validation that their concerns are valid, and that will help them trust you enough to at least try and see – i.e. understand – the sense of what you’re trying to say.

In short: never try to reason with emotion, because it’s a ‘face’ that will never listen to reason.



P.s. And here is where you can enroll in a 10-week personal training, to help you become proficient at ethical, empathy-based selling. 



Permission –> Trust –> Vision –> Decision –> Sale

And, always in that order.

A potential client will only make a decision to buy, when they are good and ready – and that means, they need to *see* themselves enjoying the benefit of having bought your thing.

That’s the vision element of a sales process: getting to the point where they see the vision you have for them.

But before they’ll buy in to that vision, they need to trust you.

Unless there’s trust, they’re not going to have that vision.

And, in order to gain trust, you need to gain permission first.

Permission to explain, permission to ask questions, and, yes: Permission to ultimately ask for the sale.

And so selling in an ethical way, where you have sales conversations that people enjoy, works like this:

First, you gain permission – to explore their situation, to address objections, to discover what they need.

Do that right, and you’ll earn their trust. Trust that you’re looking out for them, that you’re not just in it for the money, and – very importantly – that your product or service is what they need, and that it’ll solve their problem.

That trust causes people to get curious, to ask you questions, and that builds a vision in their minds.

And once that vision is ready, and they’ve sold themselves on wanting your thing – that’s when you get to ask for the sale, and that’s when they make the decision to buy (or not).

And if they don’t, you graciously accept their no, and you continue the conversation (i.e. you follow up in a pleasant way) until such time that they are ready.

There you go: ethical selling in a nutshell.

Hey, and what if the nutshell isn’t enough for you, but you actually want to get your head around ethical selling, and get really good at it?

This 10-week training will do the trick…






Let’s Break Things

Gutenberg said: ‘Copying texts by hand? How tedious, how inefficient. That ain’t right’.

And he went on to invent a printing press, and he broke how things were done.

Steve Jobs said: ‘Computers big and bulky, and only for corporations? That ain’t right’.

He went on to put a personal computer in every household.

Abraham Lincoln saw slavery, and said: ‘No you don’t’ – and became one of the people most associated with abolishing it.

Just a few random, yet impactful, instances of people saying ‘that ain’t right. I’m going to break that’.

History is full of examples like these.

And if you look at the world we live in, I’ll bet there are quite a few things you consider wrong.

Things that should change, be disrupted, be righted, be broken and replaced by something better.

At what point does it become right for a politician to lie?

What makes it right for a corporation to please its shareholders, whilst treating its customers like cash-cattle, and damage the land in the process?

How is it right for a (social) media corporation to foster hatred and divisiveness, with its clever algorithms designed to hook people and keep them addicted to fear and panic?

There are many things in the world that just ain’t right, and as a business owner, you get to choose whether or not you help break them, and build something better instead.

And it’s wonderful to see all the driven and passionate founders and coaches and activists and authors and researchers taking a stand, and saying ‘this ain’t right. I’m going to change this’.

If you’re an entrepreneur who is in business to break thins so that something better can be built, you’re my kinda hero. Keep going.

And if you also want to move faster, break things faster, and build a better new faster, then maybe I can help.

Hit reply and let me know what wrong you’re righting, and let’s have a chat.




Interesting vs Useful

While asking questions and listening are at the heart of ethical selling, there will come a moment – more likely several – where the buyer wants you to say something.

Answer a question, explain something, repeat something…

That’s a crucial moment, because the way you handle that determines whether or not your sales conversation will go smoothly, or instead ends up a struggle.

Most people, when it’s their time to talk, will go for ‘interesting’, which leads to statements like:

“We’re the world’s largest blah blah”, or “I work with some of the most influential authors” or, “We’re an award-winning agency”, or “I was talking to Richard Branson about that last week”, or whatever message is thought to add weight.

The problem is not that these statements don’t make you look interesting – the problem is that they do.

And a buyer doesn’t give a damn about how interesting you might be.

A buyer wants to know how interested you are in them.

And not in the money they might pay you: they want to know how interested you are in understanding, and solving, their problem.

And for all you regular, normal, non-world’s-largest, not-connected-to-celebs business owners out there: the good news is that even if you’re as boring as a wet sheet of paper, you can still sell your stuff, and at good prices too.


By being helpful, obviously: If your thing doesn’t help, people have no reason to buy it.

And if you want a buyer to understand how much you could help, and how useful you could be, you show them.

And the most useful person is someone who shows an interest in whatever problem or challenge we’re facing.

So when it’s your turn to talk, don’t start with things that make you look interesting.

Instead, say things that are useful: share insights, ask clarifying questions, suggest ideas or changes, and above all, and before anything else: make sure the buyer knows that you really get their situation.

Because it’s super useful to talk to someone who gets us: there’s no way we won’t get something useful out of the conversation.

And even if they don’t buy then, they’ll be happy you spoke, and you’ll be welcome when you reach out again.

There: an easier conversation, with better positioning.

AND an open door when you follow up, just because you didn’t try to look interesting.

Ain’t that useful.



P.s. You can learn how to have conversations like this, where buyers love the way you show up and learn them, here.

Is This You?

In my work with entrepreneurs and leaders, there’s three things I keep hearing over and over again:

1: “I just don’t know how to sell my stuff”.

2: “Selling sucks – if only I didn’t have to sell, running a business would be so much more fun”.

And the biggest painpoint of all:

3: “I just can’t seem to sell at the rates that my work is worth”.

Do you recognise yourself in any of these?

If you’ve ever said any of these things, I might have a solution for you.


If #1 is your issue, you might want to adjust how you see yourself and your relationship to others.

Meaning: yes you do know how to sell. You do it every day, and everybody does.

‘Selling’ (or: exchanging value) is older than language.

We’ve always traded: safety, food, community, protection, companionship… selling is inherent to being human, in that everyday we find ourselves in situations where we try to have others see our point of view, and buy into it.

If you struggle with the 2nd problem: same thing. You have an idea of what ‘selling’ is, and you dislike that idea – but it’s not that hard to reframe it in terms of simply seeking to find common ground with people, enabling the both of you to move forward together.

And if it’s # 3 that does your head in? You can’t get paid what you’re worth, or people keep walking away even though your work is a perfect fit?

Then very likely, there’s a lack of empathetic alignment between what you’re trying to communicate, and what the other person is hearing, feeling, or thinking.

And for all these sales problems, I have a training that will cause a dramatic shift in your thinking and your sales process.

Now, this is not your standard sales training, with a 3-step close, and ‘the top 15 ways to overcome objections’, and ‘how to get past the gatekeeper’, and all that stuff that regular sales trainers teach.

No, with the LEAP Framework for Ethical Selling, you get a complete shift in how you relate to the kind of people who most need your work.

It enables better conversations, easier followup, voluntary buy-in from prospects at each stage of the enrollment process, and, best of all:

You develop a skillset and attitude that allows you to enroll more buyers, with more ease, without ever compromising your values.

If you’re the kind of person who wants to serve buyers, you might find it quite, quite transformative. 

But even if it’s not for you, or the $1500 price tag is out of reach for you, remember one thing:

Humanity has never not been in the business of selling things – or what Dan Pink calls ‘to sell is human’.

We all do it, all the time, always have done, and once you accept that ‘selling’ is a natural part of human interaction, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier, whether we’re talking about buyers, team mates, your spouse or your kids or anyone you want to get results with of any kind.

This will help.







When You Lose a Sale… Was It Because You Were Trying to Steer a Parked Car?

When you try to enroll someone and it doesn’t work, there’s typically two reasons:

The first is when we try too hard, when we push, when we try to persuade.

Good news for you: you can stop doing that. Boom: instant improvement in sales, fun, and relationships.

The second reason is when we try to steer a parked car.

Meaning: some people just aren’t in the market, and nothing we can do is going to change that.

Oh they might have the problem you solve, and they might need it, and they might have the funds to invest – but for some reason privvy only to them, they’re not going to buy.

At least, not from you, or not at this moment.

It’s actually quite easy to tell, too.

Everybody, including potential buyers, gives signals.

It’s your job as the provider of a product or service, to read those signals, and you do that by applying empathy.

Stepping in the other person’s shoes, and asking yourself what the meaning is, of the signals you get.

Very often, you’ll find that when you take the pressure off and you stop trying to steer a parked car, the conversation changes and something useful happens.

Could be they give you permission to follow up at a later date, or they might think of someone to introduce you to, or they might ask you the key question that actually does ready them to consider a purchase.

Whatever you do: listen in to the conversation in someone’s head, read the signals, and never be afraid to stop trying to steer a parked car.




P.s. In case you’re ready to start using empathy as the driving force of your entire enrollment process, this training will help you do just that.

Why You Shouldn’t Have Good Ideas

From the outside, it’s easy to see what would be good for other people.

This one would benefit from more exercise.

That one would feel better if they’d go on a diet.

Your spouse would be happier if they stopped hanging out with that toxic friend.

Your kid would feel proud, if only they’d do their homework.

Your buyer, well obviously they’d see results if they would proceed to checkout and buy your thing.

And, yes, everybody would feel much less of that low-level (or not so low, as the case may be) anxiety that’s so common these days, if folk would take in less news and spend less time on social media.

Good ideas, all of them.

If only people would adopt your good ideas, they’d benefit.

But if someone didn’t ask for your good ideas, it’s better to not share them.

Because no matter how good the advice is, sharing it without the other person inviting you to do so, will almost always have the opposite effect of what you want for that person.

Unsollicited advice causes resistance and gets defenses up, because it tells the other person: “You’re doing it wrong”.

That might not be what you mean, but what someone hears is far more important than what you mean. 

After all, the message heard is the real message – not the message sent.

So if you *really* want the best for others, have no good ideas for them.

Instead, have questions for them.

Keep asking questions, so that they may find clarity, and discover their own good ideas.

And if they don’t, keep asking questions up until the point that they ask you what you think.

At that moment, share your idea, suggestion, or recommendation.

They’ll be open to what you have to say, receptive to your viewpoint, and they’ll be far more likely to take on board what you think, and they’ll own it too.

Want people to pick up your good ideas?

Then try not have any – not until they ask for them.




P.s. Oh, and not that you asked (hah!), but here’s a good idea: learning how to sell your work, without every compromising your values. 


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