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

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

Who Sells the Talk?

A couple of years ago, working with a number of artist clients, I was shocked to see a greedy trend in the gallery world: where artists used to be represented by a gallery, now increasingly galleries ask rent fees in order for an artist to hang their work.

Now, it appears that the same trick has appeared on the public speaking field.

Last week I had a meeting, to discuss my giving a talk at an upcoming local conference. Seemed like a nice organiser, the theme and other speakers fit my area of interest&operation, and hey: public speaking. Good for making connections&getting the word out.

And then she drew up a price list and started talking about the different price levels.

“Just a sec”, I said. “We’re talking about giving a talk – a speaking engagement, right? Not renting a stand?”

“Yes, a talk”.

“Ok, I’m just checking, because normally people pay me for giving public talks”.

She was quiet a bit, and then: “Erm… we sell talks”.

Seriously?

What she sells isn’t a talk, it’s floorspace and an audience. The speaker sells the talk.

“Ok, well why don’t you send in a proposal and a quote, and we’ll see if we can fit it in”.

In the end, I didn’t. It would probably be fun and useful, and paid, but:

Aside from the fact that I consider it wrong to charge an artist for wallspace or a speaker at a normal conference for floorspace, it’s a sign of bad business thinking.

The argument is ‘we need to cover our costs’ – but that cost should be covered from other things, such as ticket sales, revenue share on sales the speakers make, book sales, workshops… there’s a hundred ways to create revenue around a conference.

But if the organiser does it by charging the very people who bring life and value and content to the affair, there’s something wrong.

A gallery should be so confident in their ability to attract the right audience, that they’ll take their commission, but charge nothing.

And likewise, a conference organiser should have a marketing plan so well thought-out that they know they’ll cover their costs from ticket sales.

If they don’t have that in place, how do I have the confidence that there will be people in the room?

A paid speaking gig sounds like a nice opportunity, and it is – but only if I can develop it with people a) who share my values and b) with whom there’s alignment in the way we both see how things should be done.

Opportunities abound. Pick only the ones with the ‘right’ people, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and a lot of disappointment.

Cheers,

Martin

Good Deeds, Acceptable Costs, Thousands of Eyeballs

It’s always fun having visitors from abroad – never a dull moment.

“Martin I injured my knee, can you make an appointment with your fysiotherapist?”

I make the call, and: first option is ten days from now. Clearly not ideal, when someone is in pain, but that’s life.

“That’s a pity – could you recommend someone else, where we might be able to get an earlier appointment?”

She thinks for a moment, and I can almost hear the names going through her head coming out of my headset, and then she says: “Sorry, I couldn’t tell you”.

Which is fair enough, but it’s not how you create great relationships with your customers.

If she were to recommend a few people, I’d really appreciate that – and why wouldn’t she? It’s not like the clinic is empty, so… why not?

So far for good ideas on treating customers.

But if you want your people to have a stellar treatment?

Then you take their number, you call your friends and peers in the industry (whether you’re a fysio, coach or designer), and you set an appointment for the client.

Not only will the client love it, you’ll also have created a stronger bond with your peer, who will be more likely to refer work to you if ever they need to.

Does it require guts to do this?

Does it make people love you and talk about you?

Does it require a bit of faith in humanity?

Does it require that you choose wisely who to refer to? (givers and matchers only – there’s no point in giving to takers)

Yes to all the above.

Does it pay dividends over time?

You bet.

Doing things that make people talk about you is enormously profitable, even if there’s a cost or a client buys elsewhere.

Consider this story, where a bride called FedEx, because her wedding was the next day, but her wedding dress had not yet arrived.

Turned out, a routing error had landed the dress in a different city.

The FedEx operator arranged for a private plane to fly the dress in on time (literally going the extra mile), and guess what:

Not a single person at the wedding did not hear the story – easily 100 to 200 people, many of whom would relate the story to others afterwards.

And because it’s such an awesome story, it has real selling power in terms of having at least some of those people choose choose FedEx instead of a competitor, next time they want to send something.

Multiply by the lifetime value of a typical customer, and the cost of a private plane suddenly becomes very acceptable indeed. And you even get guys on the internet talking about it in articles.

One good deed. One cost. And thousands upon thousands of people who hear about it in articles, word of mouth, podcasts, mentions in books, and training materials.

Next time you have a chance to do something wildly loveable for a client, even if you’re concerned about the cost or loss of it, you might be well off doing it.

Cheers,

Martin

Reality? It’s Relative

One of my favourite notions is that nobody, ever, shares the exact same experience of reality.

And you wouldn’t believe the amount of pushback I sometimes get on that.

Because, the argument goes, reality is there, it’s real, and we all perceive the same reality.

And sure, I suppose we do (leaving philosophy about the nature of reality aside).

But we can’t ever share the same perception.

To illustrate: take a pen, and hold it up horizontally. Imagine there’s a person in front of you, and the pen is inbetween you and them.

For you, the point is on the left, and the end on the right. Right?

But obviously, for the other person, the opposite is true.

Now, imagine you’re side by side, looking at the same pen. Same reality?

Sure, but not the same perception. Slightly different viewing angle, different light refraction, different way sound waves bounce off it… It’s subtle, but it’s a different perception.

So what does this have to do with selling?

Simple: it’s a big mistake to assume that you know what your buyer is experiencing.

They might nod, but they might feel concern or contemplate a doubt.

They might say yes, but that might just be to win some time, while they think something through.

In the sales conversation, making assumptions is a big mistake.

Yes, you’re having the same conversation, together – but what do they make of it?

The way you think it’s going is only one side, and we must be careful not to project our views onto the other.

Because if we do, the other person will experience discord – they’ll experience that you’re not aware of their experience, and that doesn’t help the situation.

Instead, enable the other person to tell you what their experience of the situation is.

After all, every person is a world, and what they experience in their world, is their truth. It’s what’s real for them.

So ask questions. Explore. Discover. You’ll learn a lot when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes – and you’ll be far more likely to land yourself a client.

Cheers,

Martin

Random (or Deliberate?) Acts of Service

A warm day in Granada, bustling streets, beautiful people.

I step onto a zebra crossing and see a girl on her hands and knees, middle of the road, frantically reaching left and right. Just outside of her reach: her eyeglasses.

I’m about to move towards her and help, when someone else quickly bends over, grabs them, and puts them in her hand.

A random act of service. Beautiful. I smile and carry on my way.

Oh sure, you can call it an act of kindness, and it certainly is.

But really, that’s euphemising a beautiful quality of humanity:

The ability to serve others. Which, incidentally, is also what a healthy business does (and please: don’t say you ‘service’ clients. They’re not cars).

Serving is one of the most important things we can do in life, because it does what every single spiritual tradition, all sages throughout history, and most philosophers recommend:

Put ‘other’ before ‘self’.

Now, all this is well and good. We can commit random acts of service at any moment.

Helping a kid with their homework. Cooking that special meal for your lover. Helping a charity with your skills. Giving someone that car you don’t actually use, when theirs breaks down.

All very nice for the ethically inclined, for those who care about others and their well-being.

But what if…

What if you could apply this – the attitude and intent of serving – to the very act of turning a stranger into a customer – apply service to the process of selling?

What, in effect, if you’d make the sales conversation an act of service?

I hope that this notion blows your mind, at least a little.

Because when your intent is to serve a potential buyer inside of the conversation, all kinds of good things happen.

They’ll trust you more, they’ll share more about their painpoints and their doubts, they give you permission to follow up, and, yes, they’ll be far more likely to buy from you.

Why?

Because when you serve a prospect, the clear message is that your only interest is for them to make the best possible decision for them, at this point.

Even if – ESPECIALLY IF – that decision is to not buy from you.

Think about it: why would you ever want someone’s purchase, if that purchase isn’t perfectly right for them?

Serve your buyers. It’ll grow your sales and your revenue.

Cheers,

Martin

The Three Most Important Things I Learned as a Monk

1: Everything gets better and easier if you make it an act of service. And that’s true no matter what you dedicate that service to: self, other, god, humanity… whatever works for you. It’s about the attitude.

(Oh, and if you’re one of those people who euphemise ‘serving customers’ into ‘servicing customers’: that’s not how it works. You can’t service your customers – they are not cars).

2: No matter what you think something is, that’s always, without fail, only part of the picture.

And, it’s a damn useful habit to always ask yourself: ‘What else? What else is this, can this mean, can this represent, does this indicate, asks me to consider… what else?’

3: Self-importance is at the root of every single problem we have, and that’s the same for everyone.

On a deep level, part of us still believes the world revolves around us, and that part can get mighty boisterous – tyrannical even – if the world doesn’t bow to its splendour and majesty.

If you’ve done some self-discovery, you’ll have found, and hopefully somewhat tamed, your own version of this little beast.

Self-importance is at the heart of things, because it works from a fundamental assumption, that ‘the world should be different than I say it should be’.

As long as you still let that influence how you think, feel, talk and act, you can end up with all kinds of problems:

From ineffective marketing and sales, to depression and argumentative relationships, from self-sabotaging behaviour and a life less lived, to team members who oppose you and a career that won’t take off… a whole bunch of fun things.

If you want the best action in order to improve your life, at the very heart, root and core of it all, start there:

Tame your self-importance. Learn (and practice!) humility. Perform acts of service, and turn the others into acts of service as well.

If self-importance is the root problem when our well-being isn’t optimal, service is the antidote.

Reducing self-importance in your words, feelings, deeds thoughts and beliefs, is the most important thing you’ll ever do for yourself.

Cheers,

Martin

The Real Reason I Always Talk About My Former Life as a Monk. Hope it Helps

And it’s not because I like talking about myself.

Ok, full disclosure: I do. Not because I consider myself all that interesting, but I’m the only person about whom I have ALL the insider information – the good bits, the funny, the naughty, the learning curve and the mistakes made, and above all else: all the things I learned while spending 12 years in a monastery.

And there was a lot I learned, and they are things that can help you. That’s why I’m always bringing it up.

(Dissident voices have claimed I also do it because it’s a great way to break the ice at parties, but I’ve found that to be anecdotal. Which happens to be an anecdote I often tell when meeting people at parties).

Anyway, back to something more lessonful:

In an email convo with a reader last week, I used the words: “…when I was a monk…” and she replied asking me to write an article called about ‘when I was a monk’ – but I found myself unable.

Because that would be stuff about me, and my rule for writing these articles, is that “if it’s gotta be about me, it’s gotta be so that it’s useful for them”.

Or informative, entertaining, or triggering an insight, or whatever might help someone out there today.

So logically, just ‘about Martin’s former life’ wouldn’t work.

I chewed on it for a week and didn’t find a solution, but just now it hit me:

Make it about what you learned there, and how people can apply it, Martin. How could you have missed it?

At the moment I’m working out a few ideas in my mind for tomorrow’s article which will tell you exactly that, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s lesson #1, in the shape of this very email.

As in: if you want to get results with people, make it about them, and their interest.

You’ll get fastest results if you consider the other before yourself, by default, in every situation.

Whether you want readers, buyers, supporters, happy kids or

Just ask: “What’s going on there on the other side? What motivation for that thing I see, is there?”

That’s something I learned in the monastery.

If someone lashes out at you, ask what’s causing that, before you reply.

If a relationship isn’t working, ask yourself what the other might be afraid of, or protecting, by acting in that way that gets you so upset or that obstructs improvement.

If you’re going to tell a story to your audience or your buyer, and it’s about you, ask which lesson or benefit from that story would be best for that client at this time.

(Any professional wordsmiths or linguists here: sorry for that last sentence).

If you have a project and you need collaboration, ask yourself what would make the other parties want to actively engage.

You get the picture: it’s always about the other. And that was one of my biggest lessons in the monastery.

More tomorrow.

Cheers,

Martin

I Was Sold to SO Hard – And I Love Every Minute of It

A little lesson about the psychology of effectively selling things for you today, in a way that allows you to live with yourself:

It’s an early Spanish morning, first Saturday of the month – the day when there’s a rummage sale in the park.

I saunter to and from the stalls, say hi to friends walking around, feast my eyes on all the bits and pieces people have out for sale.

Looking at some books, I’m interrupted by an older English gent.

He picks up a suit jacket and holds it out for me:

“Look at this, it’s perfect, it’s your size, mint condition – here, try it on”.

A little smile on his face, a big glint in his eye.

Evidently, an individual with a lots of humour, and people skills too.

I smile, decline the offer, explain I have plenty of jackets, but he won’t have it:

“Only two Euros, it was made for you, here I’ll hold your backpack. Here you go”.

Starts tugging at the backpack’s shoulder straps, making a big fuss out of being servile, playing the part of overly invested tailor or butler with great flair.

I can’t help but laugh, crack a few jokes back, and within minutes the situation escalates into an impromptu improv comedy thing. Hilarious.

Meanwhile, he literally leaves me no room to breathe, and very deftly sells me (hard!) on trying the jacket on, and then paying two Euros for it – in a way that literally leaves me no choice. Pretty much coerced me into a sale.

It was the hardest sale I ever experienced, and believe me, I’ve had some hard sales pitches thrown at me.

This guy though?

Beats them all, and here’s the thing: I loved every minute of it!

As I walk home, endorphins and dopamine rushing through my system, I reflect.

There’s a definite feeling of glee and even mild euphoria, despite having been forced into buying (an admittedly nice) thing that I didn’t need.

He did exactly what you should never do when you’re helping a person decide to buy from you or not.

And yet it worked, and I’m even grateful for the experience.

Now, nearly everyone has either objections to sales and selling, or has unresolved subconscious limiting beliefs about it, or both.

And if that’s you and you own a business, remember this:

The explanations, the features and the rationale for buying your thing, that’s not what causes the decision.

It’s how someone feels, once all the rational considerations line up.

The emotion triggers a purchase decision, always.

If you want people to buy your thing, make them feel good.

Smart people have said that nobody buys from a clown, so I don’t recommend you make a spectacle out of yourself the way my English vendor did, but a bit of tastefully placed humour will have a very good effect on the outcome of your sales conversations.

Be authentic and not manipulative, but make people feel good.

That’s what causes people to want to buy from you.

Smile, nod, listen, ask, say something funny if appropriate, listen a whole lot more – you already know how to have a fun conversation. Why would you give a buyer anything less?

If ever you and I end up talking about working together, you’ll experience firsthand how much fun and relaxed a ‘sales conversation’ can be.

Best of all, it’ll change the way you gain your own customers.

Cheers,

Martin

Greed vs Generosity

A while ago I ran into a local acquaintance, who hosts retreats and events.

“Hey Martin, do you still coach people?”

Told them that yes, I sure do.

“Well, if ever you want to work together, our premises are available”.

Ooh nice, I thought: collaboration!

“As in, organising a retreat together, you mean?”

And then they hit me with probably the biggest turnoff ever:

“No, as in: you bring us the people, and we host a retreat for them”.

My jaw dropped at the staggering and blatant greedy selfishness of it.

They expect me to do their marketing for them, because what – I’m such a nice guy?

To make this even more painful, this person is rather well-connected to an up-market audience, has a huge following, and is actually world-famous in a niche that isn’t very small.

In other words: they have everything in place to draw in a crowd.

And yet, they have this idea that other people should do the heavy lifting for them.

I’m still baffled by how clueless it all was.

In the past, I used to like this person, and have often considered programmes we could run together.

After this though? I no longer consider them. No longer part of my world. Bye.

Not that I expect them to care – after all, I’m just a dude who does a thing, and there’s 100s of dudes and lasses like me, here on the coast.

But in terms of marketing, what they did was display greed – the greatest sin you can imagine in business, sales, and marketing.

When you want to enroll people (whether in an idea, a collaboration, or indeed into paying you money for something), give first.

When you do that, you make it about them, which is a powerful way to enable people to trust you.

And without trust, people don’t buy.

Instead of being greedy and selfish, be generous.

Serve people with your marketing.

Just like I do with these dailies: a way to show up, to give something, a public service, to remind you that I’m here, and available if I’m the right coach for you.

And though I no longer teach email marketing, I can still coach you on how to generously write daily emails that people love, share, and buy from.

Holler when you’re ready.

Cheers,

Martin

About You…

One of the easiest ways to miss out on getting outcomes with people?

Making it about you – and we all do it.

Truth is, It’s never about you.

Your potential buyer isn’t interested in the bills you need to pay. They just want to get a job done or a problem solved and they’ve got money for it.

But if there’s even a hint of neediness in your approach – if you make it about you – you’ll break trust and they’ll go elsewhere.

You might know for a fact that education X is going to be awesome for your child, but if they go for it because of your persuasive powers instead of their own desire, they’ll likely loathe it and/or drop out.

You’ll have made their path about you and your views, and not about them and their future.

Your course, project, training, art or book might be radically life-changing – but it’ll only have that effect on others if you sell it for the purpose of changing the life of others first, and that of yourself second.

No matter how good our intentions, your point of origin matters a lot when it comes to those intentions becoming real.

It’s easy to drive on with our point, because we think we know what’s best.

But even if we’re right and we do know, insisting on or enforcing our views makes it about us, making the other you’re doing it for, tune out.

Whatever result you want to achieve with someone, be it in a business or personal context: make it about them. You’ll get a lot more done.

Cheers,

Martin

Guaranteed to Cause Radical Improvement in Any Relationship Real Quick

If there’s one thing guaranteed to ruin relationships, it’s blaming other people.

This one doesn’t put the cap on the toothpaste, that one doesn’t eat their veggies, the bus driver acted like a jerk, your boss is an idiot, your father is selfish, your employees underperform, your competitor cheats, banks are swindlers and politicians are liars…

Blame, blame, blame.

A world of people who are ‘doing it wrong’, and: if only they’d get it, and change their ways.

THEN your life would finally become easier.

Well, sorry but it just don’t work that way.

No matter what someone else does, does wrong, or doesn’t do:

You’ll never in a million years change them.

And as long as you blame the other, you’re the victim.

Poor me, suffering at the hands of all those idiots out there.

I say, flip it around.

Instead of blaming others, what about taking ownership?

What would your life be like if you were fully, 100% responsible?

I’m reminded of a navy seal whose platoon (or team, or whatever it’s called in the army) lost a soldier due to friendly fire.

As the leader of the team, he had to think long and hard about what had gone wrong, and there were all kinds of individuals and procedures to blame for the disaster.

But he ultimately realised that as the leader, there was only one person responsible: He himself.

He took full ownership of the problem. No blame, except unto himself.

And that, becoming fully responsible for whatever situation, is a masterful jedi-move.

It doesn’t mean you’re to blame for the situation – it means that you are the single responsible party for creating change or improvement.

It means that you ‘become the problem’.

And when you do that, things change drastically, real fast.

So if your world is filled with people who get to be blamed, I suggest a ‘no blame diet’.

For 21 days, monitor your words, actions, and above all: your thoughts.

Notice how much you’re in the habit of blaming others, and deliberately avoid saying or thinking anything that puts blame on the other person.

Inspire yourself, become the problem, blame nobody (not even yourself), and you’ll find yourself being the author of radical improvement in your relationships.

Do you dare to try?

Because not blaming and taking full ownership, is one of the bravest things we can do.

Do you dare – do you have the guts to go on a no-blame diet?

Cheers,

Martin

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