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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
I know. Where have I been. Why have I cut back on the number of weekly posts. I've been getting asked that lately.
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.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Seth Godin again today to discuss one of our favorite topics – The Role of the Story in Sales and Marketing. After we finished, I realized that stories and storytelling have a role in our entire lives. It is part of our DNA
I hope you enjoy our discussion and our story about stories. The podcast is about 30 minutes long.
I had a wonderful time this afternoon talking with Sally Hogshead via phone and recording it for you. Sally is an author and speaker. Her latest book is Fascinate – Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. That’s her to your right.
Seth Godin said this about Fascinate. “This is a transformative work, a beautifully written book that will forever change the way you see the world. I love it. Let me be really clear: You need to buy this book, devour it, absorb it and then buy copies for your colleagues. A lot of copies.”
I could add hundreds of more comments from people who are praising Fascinate but I suggest you listen to this interview and then check out Sally’s website by going here. Then when you are ready go to your favorite bookseller or Amazon and get your own copy.
You will hear Sally and I talk about The Fascination Personality Test. You can take it online and get an idea of the level and type of fascination you generate. Just go to this page. And, go here if you want to check out her Facebook page.
But first – please take a moment to listen to our discussion. It is about 25 minutes long.
I want to do a little housekeeping today. Does this happen to you? You get so busy with so many projects you wake up one morning and think, "Oh, wow, I forgot to let people know about that!" Some of this post falls into the "personal information I share with readers category." And, some of it, I hope, will be of value to you in your life.
Let's get started:
Joann and I are going to be grandparents again. My son, Ryan and his wife Sue, are expecting in mid-July. Meanwhile, their daughter Rylie is celebrating her 1st. Birthday tomorrow. I bet I can find a photo of Rylie to share with you.
I'm now doing a syndicated podcast. It is called, "Around the Water Cooler." So far, I have conducted three interviews with best selling authors Seth Godin, Dan Pink and Tim Brownson. You can find them and subscribe on iTunes by searching for Bob Poole or Around the Water Cooler. Also, you can go directly to the podcast website. Here is a link to get you there. The subject of the podcasts will be stories and tips about sales, marketing and leadership as well as interviews with authors and business owners and entrepreneurs. If you'd like to be on podcast with me to discuss your business or anything related to sales, marketing, leadership or creativity – please drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know.
What have you done that is extraordinary this week? Send me an email to tell me and I'll send you a book or audio book. Make sure you send your mailing address too.
My friend, Gail Bower, says "I've seen your book title not as title, but as an expression quite a bit lately. I think your title is surfacing because of raised consciousness. We've been working with the same car salesman-like sales tactics for years. Social media has changed a lot about transparency, openness, etc., at the same time self-awareness generally has increased and thus people's "crap detectors" have become more acute. Evolution!" If you see Listen First Sell Later being used as an expression, please send me a clip or photo. We'll see if we can compile enough for a collage.
I bought an iPhone this week. It was my first Apple product purchase since 1994. First, the packaging had me drooling. The box arrived looking like it held jewels instead of a phone. It was gorgeous. The inside packaging and instructions all continued the theme of beautiful design and a feeling of this is something special. When I plugged it into iTunes it began to sync with my computer. In a couple of minutes it had totally synchronized Outlook, all my email accounts and passwords and I was downloading email and making calls. And, that was just the beginning. You'd have to pry this from my hands to get it from me now. And, I'm seriously considering making the Apple leap the next time a PC starts crashing (or maybe when I have to upgrade from XP to Windows 7).
My speaking schedule is picking up and we're booking for the fall and early winter already. I think that is a good sign for both the economy and the fact people want to learn about how to sell and market in a world with unlimited choices.
Want to change people's lives? Start with your own first. We're always quick to want to change things and people around us before we give some real thought to our own life. Listen to yourself first – then decide what change your want and what change you can influence.
Peter Keady is a fine photographer. He's an even finer human being. He made a change from being a professional photographer to becoming an ordained minister and youth pastor. Now he is using his photographic skills to help kids who are in danger of being sucked into drugs and gangs. That's changing people's lives after changing yourself first.
If you are wondering when I'm doing my next video, it is coming soon. I wanted to do a series on Customer Styles to help you communicate and sell. Then I got the idea to hire a couple of actors and take them on location and make an entire series. That has proven to be a challenge for a number of reasons. So, I'm going to do both! I'll start the YouTube type videos soon and I'll talk about styles and then we're also continuing our search for a way to produce a more comprehensive video without breaking the bank. Unless, of course, we turn it into a product which might happen. Stay tuned and look for the new video link soon.
Over the last three years, I am proud to say, we have brought together an amazing team of people to help with your sales and marketing needs and solutions. These people really rock and I would never have found 90% of them if it were not for social media marketing and finding a tribe. I deliver some of these services and a team of over a dozen people deliver the rest from their offices all over the country. We can manage the process for you or turn it over to you for direction and management. We're flexible and fun to work with. We now can offer you the following services:
Sales and Marketing Workshops, Seminars and Keynote Presentations
Sales and Marketing Strategy and Coaching
Web, print, animation and film design
Videography and photography
Idea creation and design
Database design and implementation
Website security and IT services for small businesses
And, last, from the I'm Afraid It Is True files comes a story from Rahway, NY. It seems a family decided to have fun with all the snow so instead of making the usual snowman in their yard, they decided to sculpt their own version of Venus de Milo. Rahway police told the family they had to put clothes on the offending piece despite their own reservations that it looked much better without the bra and towel. Rumor has it John Ashcroft is a frequent visitor. I'll let you decide.