Listen First Sell Later


This post was going to be about something awesome. But, then something more awesome just happened and I can't wait to tell you.

For the last 3 weeks, I have been privy (interesting word-privy) to a top secret project that my friend Megan Elizabeth Morris and Naomi Dunford were cooking up. It was a huge undertaking and when Megan told me what all it contained and that they were going to create it in 3 weeks, I thought "Oh no." Then I quickly remembered who we're talking about.

Between the two of them, Megan and Naomi could write a novel while giving birth and building lifetime relationships with the hospital staff at the same time. And, they'd manage to work in a party too!

And, you know what? They pulled it off. Of course. But, not just in your average pull-it-off kind of stuff. They created something extraordinary. I told them if it had existed when I was 22 years old it would have saved me tons of money, lots of mistakes, sleepless nights and changed my life. Are you getting the picture here?

If you're in business for yourself, want to be, want to get out of the rat race and are looking for help read this now.

And, if you don't see yourself in that description above – read it anyway. It will still give you goosebumps.

My Goals

Goals. We talk about them a lot this time of year. Individuals set them as well as companies. There are web sites to help you set them and more articles than you can shake a stick at. This isn’t one of them.

I promised that I’d share my goals here with you. And, I’m keeping my promise. I’ve always been a goal setter and I always share them with friends and family who I know are both supportive and hold me accountable. What’s better than to share with my friends here. Here are the big ones.

  • Write a new book for print and have it finished by December 1, 2010.
  • Collaborate on eBooks with several colleagues.
  • Conduct a free monthly webinar beginning in Feb. 2010.
  • Do an every other week video blog on Mr. Listen First.
  • Comment on at least one other blog daily.
  • Guest post on 6 other blogs.
  • Reach and maintain a weight of 190 pounds.

Feel free to remind me, encourage or offer ideas.

A Dear John Letter

John asked me some great questions in a recent post. I’m going to answer him here.

First, I don’t have all the answers. I’m sure that’s no surprise to anyone. I think your last two sentences sum up your comment plus give us something to think about as we move into a new decade. You asked: “Where is the balance? How do I make a living and still respect my community that I’m striving to develop?”

I love that you use the term respect because it is tops on my list in sales and marketing. Without respect for our clients, our self and the services and products we provide, we’re dead in the water. I know that you get that and I think the people who read this blog get it. Sadly, not everyone does but that just makes it easier for us to compete.

I give away a free download of Listen First – Sell Later for one primary reason. I want it to spread. I know for a fact that people who sell and market will benefit if they read it even if they don’t pay me. By giving it away it gives everyone a chance to read it. This is especially true for many people in foreign countries as it is only available in print in Europe and the U.K. right now.

Also, I found that when I made it easy for people to download a free copy of the eBook my print sales went up. Every author I have ever talked with tells me the same thing happened to them. If people like it they often want to own it. Even the Kindle version sells well and people can get the same thing for free.

One of my goals this year (they will be on here tomorrow) is to conduct a number of free webinars. I’ve also offered to help 3 start-ups pro bono. Why do I do that? Because for me that’s what I love doing. I want to help people the way people helped me in my early years in business. I’ve been at this for over 40 years now and I’ve had wonderful people mentor and help me. If doing things for free means I don’t make as much money as I used too, I am good with that because I am happier doing what I do than ever before.

My life changed tremendously between 1994 and 2004. In 94′ I went from being well off financially to starting all over again. And, when 9/11 happened I had to stop and take stock of the true purpose of my life. That’s when I decided (with my wife Joann’s support) that I would spend the rest of my life using the talents and experience I’ve gained to help other people do the same thing. That meant giving up a lot of financial income that I had rebuilt over the previous ten years.

For me it became all about giving back and the feeling of satisfaction I get from seeing someone find entrepreneurial or sales success. It is a lot of work. I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder but I’ve never enjoyed anything so much in my life as these last five years.

There wasn’t any road map to follow. I bought all the books I could on new marketing and social media and more. I hired my own consultant to help guide me. I made new friends like Seth Godin and all the members of Triiibes which I was lucky enough to join from the start. I made plenty of mistakes but I have met more talented, authentic, honest and respectful people in this world of new marketing, Twitter, Facebook, etc., than I met during the entire time I would have been considered very successful based on my net worth.

My gut tells me that I am on the right path for myself for the rest of my life. And, I base my decisions on what I give away and what I sell by asking myself, “Does this feel like the right thing to do and is it in keeping with my life goals?”

You’re an experienced guy, John, and I know you use your own gut for making decisions too. We’d never have gotten this old if we didn’t! What is it that you want to do now? What’s your purpose for living? How can you best spread the word about how you can help people? It’s probably by building relationships with them, letting them know you care about them, helping them when they need help and one person at a time – making a difference.

You’re already made a difference in my life, John, and I know you’ll do the same for many others.

Do These Two Things for Sales Success

I only had one job where I ever worked in retail sales during the Christmas shopping season. I was 16 years old and I got a job in the camera (and jewelery) department of a small discount department store in my hometown of East Liverpool, Ohio. The store is gone now as are half of the residents.

I was hired because I also worked as a photographer for the local paper and whoever else would hire me to do photography at that young age. The department store didn't give me any sales training or any other training for that matter other than how to punch a time clock for the first time in my life.

But, I had visited a store or two in my 16 years and I knew how to say, "Can I help you?" Or, something along those lines. After about a day of hearing, "No, I'm just looking." I decided to try a different approach. I dropped the "can I help question" and went with, "Hello, how are you today?" It worked like a charm.

After a couple of more days of selling, I realized that most people who stopped in the camera department wanted to buy a camera.

Hey, I'm a quick learner!

What I also realized is they didn't know much of anything about cameras and they were afraid of buying the wrong model. And, so I learned to ask questions. Things like:

  • Who is going to use the camera?
  • What kind of photos do they like to take?
  • How often do they take photos?
  • What kind of experience do they have?
  • What do they do with their photos once they are developed?

And, there were more questions. Once, I had enough information I could now show them a model that exactly met their needs. I took away the fear of buying and I also took the time to teach them something.

Price was never mentioned until after they had already bought. And, most of the time it was never an objection.

You use this same approach to sell anything. People buy from people they like and trust. By listening and asking questions you'll establish trust and you'll be perceived as the expert. We all know someone we like and trust and is our go-to person when we want to buy their particular product or service.

For example, if I want to buy landscaping services, I call Stephen at Happy Tree. To me there is nobody that can compete with him because he has earned my trust in past experiences.

If I need help with financial services, I call Claire at PNC in Chalfont. I call her not because of anything that PNC provides me that I can't live without but because Claire make the experience of dealing with PNC extraordinary. Few people can say that about their bank these days.

So, it's really simple. You don't need lots of experience and expensive sales training to be successful in sales. Start by doing two things:

  1. Focus on your customer – nothing else.
  2. Listen First – Sell Later.

Get One of Seth’s Books As A Gift

A couple of friends and I were discussing the pros and cons of a book promotion for the end-of-the-year last week. We kicked it around for a while and I think we hit on an idea. Michael said why not give away a free copy one of your favorite author's book with yours. And, I thought, "Great idea. Why not!"

Seth Godin is one of my favorite authors (and people) so I decided to give anyone who buys a copy of "Listen First – Sell Later" (starting now until they are all gone) a free copy of one of Seth's books.

Here is the offer. Starting right now, if you buy a copy of "Listen First – Sell Later" from Amazon and email me a copy of the receipt, I’ll send you a free hardcover copy of “Free Prize Inside” or an audio book of “The Dip."

Your free book will go out first class to you within 24 hours after getting your receipt and mailing address. I have to limit this offer to the US and Canada this time. But, if there is enough international interest, I have another idea. Just drop me a note.

My choice on which Seth book you receive unless you have a really big desire for one or the other (in which case let me know in your email) and I’ll see what I can do.

I can only offer Listen First - Sell Laterthis for as many books as I have here so when they are gone – the offer is over. I hope it provides a way for you to get two gifts for the holidays for the price of one.

Thank you!


Click The Book to Go To the Site

Bob's email address is [email protected]

Snapping Turtles and Other Stories From Around the Water Cooler

I was thinking about starting this post with something like, "Tell my wife not to pay the ransom – I've escaped!"

I have never gone this long without posting here and I'd like to tell you the story of my wonderful vacation on a barely discovered South Pacific island that does not have Internet. But, that isn't the case. The real reason has to do with noodling for turtles and being bit on my finger and not being able to type. What's that you say? You're not buying that story either. 

Okay – the real reason is that I've been both under the weather and crazy busy putting together some new projects and ideas to share with you soon and throughout 2010. I've made a full recovery (as long as I ignore the fact that I showed up at my dentist today 24 hours early for an appointment and this is the third mistake like that I've made in the last few days).

And, we're only hours away from the launch of my YouTube channel. It is called the Mr. Listen First channel and you can subscribe right now by clicking here. Go ahead and do that. I'll wait for you right here. If you haven't seen my Seinfeld experience video, you'll find it as the only video there right now.

Okay. You're back. The channel will be hosting a series called Stories From Around the Water Cooler. What I'm most excited about is you will have the opportunity to send me videos and share your own Water Cooler stories. How great will that be! I know we can have some fun and also share ideas about sales, marketing, creativity and leadership. I'm also going to keep my camera with me so I can do some on-the-spot interviews of the fascinating people I meet.

Stories From Around the Water Cooler will NOT be replacing this blog. Instead, I'll continue to post here and you'll be able to move back and forth from here to the video.

The first video is in the can and I'm working on a series on Relationship Styles. On those shows I will tell you:

  • why you should understand the different styles of people (It is critical to your business success.)
  • how to quickly recognize the different styles
  • communication tactics in order to sell and market effectively to different styles
  • why you really dislike certain people and you only met them 15 seconds ago
  • how to understand and effectivley use your own style for sales and marketing success

So, now are you ready to subscribe to the channel? It's free and I promise we'll have a good time and you'll go away with some ideas that you can implement in your own business for even greater success in 2010. One more time – here is the link to the channel.

Oh, one other thing. Would you do me a big favor and let your friends know about both The Water Cooler Hangout and Mr. Listen First YouTube Channel? My goal is to double the number of my subscribers and readers each quarter this coming year. I know I can do it with the help of all of you who were here first and I thank you for being loyal readers.

Thank you to all of your who bought Listen First – Sell Later. In the eight months since its release it has gotten great critical reviews and the sales have been growing each week. If you read the book and can do a review on Amazon, I would love you for it.

Tons of people have downloaded the free PDF eBook copy. You can still tell your friends to get their copy (eBook or paperback) by going to Listen First – Sell Later. In case you forgot, the secret code is LFSL2009. By the way, just an interesting fact that points out Amazon's dominance in the market. At least 95% of my sales go through Amazon instead of other online book stores. 

Well, back to noodling for me. I'll look forward to seeing you soon – here or on YouTube. And, thank you again for being part of the The Water Cooler Hangout!

What’s Your Avatar?

James Cameron was a 22-year old college dropout delivering school lunches when he had his epiphany and realized that he needed to create the greatest sci-fi, space alien movie ever. That was in 1977. Next month on December 18th he is betting over $250 Million that he's met the challenge with the release in theaters of Avatar.

Along the way he stopped delivering lunches and started learning the craft of movie making. First there was Terminator and then films like The Abyss (one of my all-time favorites), Aliens, True Lies, Terminator 2 and finally a little flick called Titanic.

And, then he went off to make Avatar – the one film that kept him awake at nights and that has driven him to remake both how movies are filmed and created and how we will see them in the theater. He wanted the movie to be in 3-D so he invented a new camera to get the results he envisioned. The computer power, hardware and software weren't even available when he began his quest. His team created the technology to allow the characters to actually look real by supply a visual record of each character they can map to each face. The list of things that would have stopped must people kept getting smaller and smaller.

When I was reading about Avatar and its making, I thought back to a few years ago when I picked up some books on sales and marketing. It was then that my Avatar hit me. I realized I needed to create my own book. And, so began my book writing journey which ended this spring with the publication of Listen First – Sell Later. Now, I'm working on a second book.

People often tell me they would like to write their own book, make their own movie, or start a new career. I tell them to go do it and ask them what is stopping them. And, then the reasons why they can't or won't begin to get listed. Often it comes down to time or money. Believe me – most entrepreneurs and dreamers who go on to create their dreams don't have any more time or money than you.

James Cameron didn't have any money 32 years ago either. He borrowed money to create his first movie that didn't go anywhere. But, it gave him a chance to work at what he loved. And, he kept learning and working and creating movies like Piranha II: The Spawning. He wasn't getting rich but he was doing what he loved. Then he had a powerful dream about an robot attacking a woman which he turned into Terminator. And, soon thereafter, money became a non-issue.

It doesn't have to be an issue for you either. There doesn't have to be anything between you and your dream – your own Avatar – that isn't of your own making.

Close your eyes. Clear your mind. What do you see in your heart?

What is your Avatar?

And, now, what are you going to do about it?

Sales Titles and Powers

Salespeople have a lot of different and sometimes odd titles. These are a few off the top of my head:

  • Sales Representative
  • Sales Agent
  • District Sales Manager
  • Business Development Director
  • Account Manager
  • Territory Manager
  • Marketing Representative

Then there are the salespeople who want to be known by something more creative like Solutions Provider or Relationship Manager.

Some people believe a particular title will give them a power like a Cloak of Invisibility. Some are using sales as a stepping stone and don't plan on staying around any longer than it takes to move up the corporate ladder. They like manager or director in their title – even if they are neither.

I always liked the idea of no title. I know there are negotiation experts who tell you to use your title of CEO or President even if you are a one-person business. You're using a couple of types of power when you use certain titles. You can read more about the types of power here.

I've studied negotiation skills and techniques and there are some I use and teach. However, I've never believed that a certain title would give you an edge in selling or negotiating.

I still contend that you Listen First and Sell Later. You communicate with people as another human being not someone who practices manipulative type sales techniques. People still buy from people that they like and trust. And, they buy from companies they like and trust. Even if you are selling online you need to build the same relationships and do what you say you're going to do.

Do that consistently and over time you can take any title you want. Personally, I've always had a fancy to be called the Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary. But, someone else already has that title.

Who knew!

Jeff, Christmas, Gift Cards, and Bald Men

It's Monday morning and I hardly know where to start today because I have so many things I want to share with you. I think I'll list a few of them and then maybe talk about them in detail later on this week.

First, I want to thank everyone for all the emails and comments the last few weeks. I respond to everyone and if you've not heard from me, I promise I'm working hard to get back to everyone. The amount of mail about my book, this blog and marketing and sales questions and comments has grown so much that I got behind. Please have patience and know I'm still reading and answering.

I am so happy about the response to Listen First – Sell Later. The book actually got to the Top Ten on Amazon in sales books for about a day. I meant to take a screen shot! It's not there now but it has been selling steadily and people have been downloading the free eBook just as steadily. And, I love the mail I've gotten after people read it. Many who are not in sales or marketing commented that they were surprised to find out the book, while having a lot of sales information in it, was actually a fun read. 

Suzanne left a wonderful comment about my Seinfeld moment video. But, she left something you need to view. Go to Friends of Jeff and read about this man's beautiful story. Thank you, Suzanne.

We're already seeing Christmas displays in stores and ads on television and the newspapers. They started as early this year as the first week of October. I'd like to put together a list of organizations that could really use our help this holiday season. I'll start to work on it and I'd like you to contribute some names and websites too. Please.

I'm not much of a shopper but I can't but notice all the gift cards that are for sale now everywhere. They are really a BAD idea and a bad deal for everyone. For example, a Visa gift card advertised as "The Ideal Gift" costs the giver ten percent for a $50 card. Yes, you pay $4.95 for the privilege of giving the card. Then the person who receives the card has to pay a monthly maintenance fee of $2.00 per month after 12 months. So, if you have a balance of say $5.00 on the card (which is pretty typical) it will cost you $2.00 a month to keep the card. In two and a half months, the card is worthless and the card company gets another 10 percent. And, the merchant that processes the card pays a fee of several percent. The list can go on.

Here is one that is even more expensive. What made me really laugh though was under Fees on the card, the company lists Balance Inquiry – Free. What a deal!

Give the person cash or a check and save yourself and them money.

Lastly today, Tim Brownson and I have started a new organization called Middle Aged Bald Men. We're working on our manifesto and the types of membership. Women will not be excluded and you might not even have to be bald. We do have the URL registered and we'll keep you posted on our progress.

Tim says I'm nuts. He might be right. Have a great Monday.

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