Listen First Sell Later

If You Can’t Sell It – Forget It

There are a lot of great ideas floating around. Megan or Paul will even help you create new ideas. I bet you have a few of your own right now. Are you going to do something about it? Or, will you just let it simmer on the back burner for a while longer?

Whatever you do I want you to know one very important fact that will make all the difference as to whether that idea comes to fruition or not.

You ready? Here goes.

It might be the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t sell it, you might as well forget it right now.

That might sound harsh but it is a fact. Think back to the last time you had what you thought was a great idea but didn’t pan out. I’ll bet you right now it didn’t work because you couldn’t sell it. You couldn’t attract others to follow you. Sure, people will tell you what a great idea it is but ask them to buy it. And, buy can stand for things like recommend you, help you, follow you, invest or actually purchase from you.

If they say “No” then you need to either rethink your idea or find out if you just don’t know how to sell it.

And, don’t forget – Listen First – Sell Later.

Doing Nothing Costs Something

I was thinking about Ben Feldman today. He is a legend with New York Life Insurance and sales in general. If you don't know much about him you can read this or go here.

One of Ben's favorite sayings which has become one my favorites is:

"Doing something costs something.
Doing nothing costs something.
And quite often, doing nothing costs a lot more."

Tomorrow is election day in the U.S. Less than half of us who can vote will actually cast a ballot. There's a lot of reasons people will give for not voting. All of them are excuses.

Voting doesn't cost you anything other than some time.

But not voting will cost you a whole lot more.

Ben Feldman knew what he was talking about.

Selling Financial Services Door-to-Door

The doorbell rang around 10 o'clock this morning. I wasn't expecting anyone so I was surprised to see a young man wearing a tie and dressed for success.

I opened the door and he said hello and immediately told me his name is Ryan and the name of his company. I was gobsmacked as my friend Tim might say. Not only because he was engaging in cold calling by knocking on doors but because of what he was selling.

He was trying to sell investment services door to door!

Ryan's company is a nationally branded, full-service, financial investment firm. I checked them out on the web after he left. He was very polite and tried to establish some kind of rapport in the first 15 seconds by asking me questions about myself and mentioning he grew up in the area. Then he pulled out a flier, pointed to 4 types of services and asked me which ones I'm concerned with today. As you might guess, the interview didn't last too long. 

It was obvious that he is new to sales and is probably in some kind of training program. I hope he didn't pay for his training because whoever told him to go door-knock to sell financial services is doing the young man a great disservice. There are at least a dozen other things he could and should be doing instead of cold calling. And, since his rate of rejection is going to be sky-high using this technique he might give up and think he's not cut out to do this job.

That's not the case. In the few minutes I spent with Ryan, I was impressed with the young man. I also saw myself 35 years ago being taught how to do the same style of sales. However, in 1995 Amazon was created and e-commerce took off. People now have all the choices in the world of what they buy and from whom they buy. And they don't choose their financial advisers from strangers who knock at their doors.

What worked 15, 25 and 35 years ago in sales does not work anymore. I heard Ryan go to a neighbor's house and begin the exact same pitch when they came to the door. I ran upstairs to my office and grabbed a copy of Listen First – Sell Later. When I came outside to look for him I heard him three doors away. I waited while he finished his spiel and the door was closed and then I called to him and gave him the book. 

You can give a copy to anyone you know who could use some help in sales. It's free to download. It might save someone you know from all that cold calling rejection.

eBooks Will Never Be the Same

Paul Durban is one of the most creative people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. You might remember he did the cover design and layout for Listen First – Sell Later.

Paul, Megan Morris and I were talking a few weeks back about eBooks and Paul voiced his desire for a new type of book – one that would be more than a PDF file. He wanted to be able to add video, author biography, contact information, a way to purchase the hardcover if there is one, and more.

Not one to waste time, Paul went to work and found a way to do it. A few days ago Paul sent me an email and said, "Want to see something cool?" When he asks you a question like that you definitely want to see it right away.

I was surprised and very happy when I saw he had chosen my book as the subject for his new creative concept. You can see it by clicking here.

If you're thinking publishing your own eBook, I suggest giving Paul a shout to see about doing something like this. It's a whole lot more than your typical plain and static eBook.

Self-Employed and Afraid of Selling

Lots of people have made the decision to become self-employed. Some even decided it themselves without an ex-employer helping. I have the opportunity to talk with people in this group everyday about their challenges and the number one seems to be selling. By selling, I mean fear of selling, don’t know how to sell, and wish they didn’t have to sell.

As a group they are extremely bright, educated, and talented. Many of them awe me with their abilities and passion. However, almost all of them tell me they need help in selling. Some say they need marketing help but they can get a lot of marketing help from these days without looking too far. So even those people are usually referring to sales.

Why is it so hard for them? Selling means actually asking for money because unless you’re bartering poultry or beans you’re going to need money to stay in business. And, asking strangers for money is fearful and often starts a process in our head which in turn causes some or all of the following.

  • Our mouths freeze up while weird sounds emanate from our throat
  • We begin babbling and talking incessantly about ourselves and our products and what we can do for the customer.
  • We wonder what ever possessed to think that our services or products are worth that kind of money.
  • If the customer questions the price, we blurt out “I can make you a better offer.”
  • We have no idea what to say when someone says, “I’ll get back to you and let you know after I discuss it with my spouse, accountant or Reiki master.

Here are five-steps that if you follow should help you increase your number of sales with much less stress. In fact, you might even start enjoying the process.

  1. Connect – it starts with the relationship. People buy from people. And, they more they trust and like you the more likely is that they will do business with you. If you don’t take the time to establish the trust and for them to genuinely like you, then you are already at Failure Level Three with Level Five being “Forgedaboudit”
  2. Focus – You want to focus on what is important to your customer. And, guess what, it isn’t you, your company, your products, services, or the size of your office. It’s not about you. It’s about the customer. Put your focus on them and what they need and want. What problems do they have that need solved? What’s keeping them awake at night? What value and meaning can you provide? And, guess what? It might not be what you’re selling. Maybe what they need is to be connected to someone who can solve their problem. Maybe that isn’t you – this time. But, if you focus on them and not on yourself then you will find yourself making just the right recommendations. Now the trust level really goes up and you’re not a vendor. You’ve just become a trusted adviser.
  3. Ask – This may seem like common sense but it isn’t that common. By ask I mean you will want to ask questions that will elicit the type of information you need in order to provide the kind of value and meaning for the client. These are almost always open-ended questions that begin with who, what, when, where, how, and why. Pretend you’re a journalist and you’re searching for answers.
  4. Listen – Goes hand in hand with asking but you must really listen with your entire being. Don’t listen with one ear while your brain is thinking about how you can sell something. Listen and ask more questions. You should be listening at least 80% of the time which is about 100% different from what most of you usually do.
  5. Reassure – Even when someone trusts you and believes that the solution you’ve recommended adds value or solves their problem they almost always need a little reassurance that they are doing the right thing. This is where you need to be a storyteller. And, if you’re a good teller of stories you will seldom have to worry about the dreaded “Let me check with…and I’ll get back to you.” Tell them a story about someone just like them who had the same need or problem to solve. Tell them how you solved it or how it was solved. Reassure them you will make sure they get what they need and want. Guarantee it. Hold their hand. Take care of the details for them. Ask them if you can do business together. And, make sure you do the next step.
  6. Follow-up – I wrote yesterday about having the courage to handle the truth. You must follow-up and ask if the customer did indeed get what they paid for. In fact, you want them to feel like they got more than what they paid for because then they will buy again from you. And, they will be willing to tell others about you and help you build your business. They will become part of your sales force.

I could write a book about all of this – actually I did. And, I often spend 3-5 intensive days with people who want to become more proficient in selling. But, I think if you take the time focus on these six-steps you’ll find the process easier and more profitable.

And, as always, feel free to ask questions in the comments or in a direct email to me at [email protected]

Thank you and talk with you soon!

The Lizard Brain Can’t Stop You – Unless You Let It

I know. Where have I been. Why have I cut back on the number of weekly posts. I've been getting asked that

There is lots going on. That's not an excuse. Here's what is happening. By cutting back some here, I've been working to develop:

  • A new website for all my stuff.
  • A new blog to replace the one you are reading.
  • A new book that I want to ship by year end.
  • A new monthly newsletter that will be free and have regular contributors you'll love.
  • Some new podcasts.
  • And, some new videos.
  • A new client where we are launching a brand new company.
  • Listen First-Sell Later was chosen as a Book of the Month by a private company and they bought a copy for all 3,500 employees. (Actually, this part didn't take much of my time but I had to tell you.)

And, here I was always told you slow down when you hit your sixties. HA!

I'm having way too much fun to slow down now! Stick around for the next chapter.

And, here is a link to a short animated video from two good friends and co-conspirators. Martin Whitmore and Paul Durban are two of the most creative people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. They put together an animation to explain the Lizard Brain. It ties in with Seth Godin's book – Linchpin.

Click Here to Watch

Why should you watch? Because you might learn something about yourself that could change your life or how you live. Is that reason enough?

You might also get an idea for your own animated video in which case you need to contact Marty and Paul. Go to Blazonfire to see more when you're done.

It’s Not About You Valley – Continuing Our Sales Journey

It's time to continue on our sales journey. If you've been following along so far we have visited:

  • The Rapport Cafe
  • Big Ears Mountain
  • Back to School

Our next stop is It's Not About You Valley. It's a really beautiful valley and worth visiting. In fact, what I've learned and seen in the valley are things that I like to use all during my sales journey – from beginning to end. One thing I learned early in sales is that people are more likely to believe what other people say about me, my company, my products and services than what I say about them. It's a fact and it is human nature. That's one reason why word of mouth marketing is so powerful.

It really is about the customer, the prospect, the person to whom you are trying to sell your ideas, dreams, products or services. When you talk about yourself (or your stuff) they may listen but they won't put as much credibility into what is said as they will if someone else tells them.

There are a few ways a salesperson can utilize the lessons of It's Not About Your Valley without having to rely on word of mouth. Here are just a few:

  • Use referrals – they are powerful and they also help significantly at The Rapport Cafe.
  • Collect testimonials and put them on your website/blog. Use the person's full name and at least a city and state. If they won't let you use their full name the testimonial is worse than useless. If you only use a first name, the same people you want to believe what you are saying will believe you made them up yourself. Kind of defeats the purpose.
  • I love carrying a little video camera like a FLIP and using it to make a short clip of your happy customers. Get their permission to use it on your website and blog.
  • Write a book, articles, and a blog. They all give you credibility even though you are the person doing the writing because they carry third-party power. I know it sounds strange but it is how it works.
  • When people re-tweet you on Twitter it is another form of validation of what you said.
  • Scan any articles, press releases or news about you, your company and your products and services. Put them on your website where people can see them.
  • If you speak (You do speak, right?) then make sure that you have videos done and use clips on your sites. Also, you often will be speaking with other people at the same event. Some of them may be even more well known than you. Have your photo taken with them and use it on your site.

All these things add credibility to what you say and yet, it's not about you – it's about everyone else. Failure to remember and use the lessons learned traveling through It's Not About You Valley is like tying one arm behind your back when swimming. Sure you can do it but you're not likely to go as far or as fast.

Back to School – Third Stop On The Sales Journey

The third stop on our sales map is a place we've all visited before – Back to School. The reason for visiting school is it is time for us to participate in that favorite game of Show and Tell.

Let's review the first two stops on our sales journey and stopping at school will make logical sense to you. We started off by visiting The Rapport Care where we took time to get to know our potential customers. Our goal was to establish rapport and to begin a relationship based on mutual trust and understanding. 

From there we made the long climb up Big Ears Mountain where we made sure we listened first before we even considered selling. And, we did that by asking questions that got our prospect telling us about what they want to accomplish, what they need, and what kind of problems they want to solve. We were careful to make sure we listened with our entire being.

Now that we have a really great understanding of needs, wants, problems, etc,. it is time to let our prospects know we really, really listened to them. We do this by using Show and Tell.

By the way, this is the stop on our sales map that most salespeople visit first. They shake the prospects hand and then start telling her all about their product or service, their company, themselves and everything but what they should be focusing on.

But, now that you've been to The Rapport Cafe and Big Ears Mountain you've ready to start demonstrating that you not only listened closely but that you have some answers that exactly addresses their needs, wants and problems. And, you can tailor your Show and Tell presentation without rambling about things they don't need or want.

Show and Tell is also a great time to share some stories with the prospective customer. For example, if you're selling an electronic component don't just blurt out a bunch of specifications. Tell a story about how this particular component helped another customer who had the same needs and wants. Don't lie or make up a story. If you've been selling for any time at all you'll have your own stories to tell. And, if you're brand new then learn stories from other salespeople or managers and share them.

The point is to let them know they aren't alone and that other people have needed or wanted the same things. They had the same problem to solve. And, here is how your product or service addresses it for them. Plus, stories are a whole lot more entertaining than statistics. And, people are more likely to buy when they know that other people have done the same thing. We all want to be part of something even something as simple as a group of loyal customers. Just ask Apple customers to learn what being a part of Apple – an Apple customer – means to them.

That's the third leg of our sales journey and you're more than halfway home. Next stop is the It's Not About You Valley. See you there soon!

Photo compliments of slinky789

Ideas, Taking Action, Free, and the Olympics

It seems like I have a bunch of things to talk about today. Back in the days when we all went to a real office the water cooler served as a social gathering spot. You could exchange the latest sports talk, catch-up on the weekend activities, and update each other on projects – even work projects. Today, I'm going to do just that.

Olympic TweetChat!

Gail Bower, the non-profit sponsorship mentor and expert, says she is a big fan of the Olympics and especially the Opening Ceremony. So, she is sponsoring her first TweetChat and blog-in! She plans to post observations about the event, the sponsorship, and the celebration in real time, starting today at 7:30 p.m. EST (the Opening Ceremony starts at 9 EST) at:

  • on her blog,
  • and to Twitter @GailBower. Be sure to use hashtag #Olympicsponsorship.

To get things going, Gail has already posted a few interesting tidbits on her blog, including how you can become an Olympic sponsor. If you're watching the Olympics, why not join in on the fun and give us your observations.

Health-Care (Yes-I'm writing about health care.)

I got an email from a reader today and one sentence really hit home. This person said, "It's no fun being 60, unemployed and trying to figure out what I'm going to do
when I grow up!" She had just lost her job and was trying to figure out how to pay $8,000 a year for health insurance. She said she realizes that "health insurance has really become a luxury for those that can't afford it."

I don't write much here about politics and social issues. I assume that isn't why you read and I appreciate your time so I don't get into them too often. But, I also don't ignore them here and the health insurance mess we have in the country needs to be fixed. Business owners seem unable to affect the costs despite the fact we are the customer of the insurance companies. Talk about the tail wagging the dog!

Here's the thing though. People like the lady who just lost her job and now at the age of 60 faces a health insurance crisis just at a time in her life when she's likely to need to use more medical care is a social crisis. Millions of families in this country are one serious accident or illness away from bankruptcy and that includes people with insurance who think they are covered only to find out differently.

We as individuals need to take action. I don't care what your political affiliations are this problem is an American problem not a Republican or Democrat one. It's sucking the life out of small business. The businesses I work with all had increases of 30-40 percent this year. Is that justified?

Do all of us a favor. Pick up the phone or write a letter to your legislators. You can get their contact information by clicking here.

Ideas – How To Find Them and What To Do About Them

This is the first paragraph from Megan Elizabeth Morris's description of the Idea Catalyst Kit.

You know you want out of the rat race, and you know the way to do that is to set up your own business. You have access to endless information about how to run it, how to market it, how to find your perfect customers… but you still don’t know what to do.

I've been asked by a dozen people if it is a good investment. It's $47. That's not an investment. It's lunch in NYC. And, even if you don't live in New York it's less than the cost of a good Oregon Pinot Noir thanks to Sideways

If you're looking to start your own business or need some ideas for the one you have or want to make a big difference where you work – BUY IT! Read all the information and then buy it. If you've read Linchpin by Seth Godin, (which you want to read) I would buy the kit and take the book and put them next to your bed, carry them wherever you go and put them both to work for you.

In fact, if I was Megan, I would raise the price and include a copy of Linchpin in the kit. And, if I were Seth I'd offer Linchpin with a copy of the kit.

They go hand-in-hand. And, I don't get a dime for telling you this. They both are just that good and together they are magical.


I was interviewed by the folks from MarketingSherpa for an article a couple of days ago. It is entitled Outsourcing Your Blog: 6 Tips for Finding and Managing Quality Contributors. You can read it here.

I Need Your Help

I'd like to increase the numbers of readers to this blog and I could use your help to make that happen. Would you pass on the URL to your friends and colleagues? It is I've got some big changes happening this year and more gifts and free things for readers and I'd love to spread the word.

I'm also on Twitter. In case you're not following me, I'd welcome that too. I'm @BobPoole. Original huh!

And, you can also become a fan of Listen First – Sell Later at Facebook if you'd like. I'm going to be giving away some books and other goodies there too. But, you've got to be a fan or else how will I know where to send them? Here is the link – Click Here!

I will send a free copy of Linchpin to the first three people who tell me they got a new friend to register to get the Water Cooler by email or RSS.

Free eBooks

You can get a free eBook copy of "Listen First – Sell Later" by going here. The link is at the bottom of the page and requires nothing in return. It is a gift.

And, you can get a copy of Tim Brownson's stellar "Don't Ask Stupid Questions" by going here. You can also buy a copy of the printed book on Amazon. I heartily recommend it and he doesn't pay me to say that.

Thanks and have a wonderful Friday!

Learn How to Recognize and Sell to the Four Personality Types

People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Since we can’t pick or choose the “type” of person we are most likely to trust and like right away, we need to learn how to effectively with everyone’s personality style.” Learn how in this report and start increasing your sales right away!

Selling To The Four Personality Types