From becoming a monk to becoming a sales coach, Martin Stellar, a Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth, and the author of 'The 10 Rules For Ethical Selling', shares in this episode his wisdom from the monastery to the consultancy, with values in both.
Martin explains what ethical selling is and why it's a great way to close a sale and #getnoticed, why opening a sales relationship is as important as closing a sales, how customers' values affect their buying decisions, his LEAP methodology, and how he gets his business #getnoticed through inbound marketing.
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Welcome to this episode of The Unnoticed Entrepreneur. Today, I've got Martin Stellar joining me, just south of Granada in Spain. Ola, Martin.Martin Stellar:
Hello. Ola. Buenas dias.Jim James:
Buenas dias. Although we should be saying, because you're originally from Holland.Martin Stellar:
I am. Yes, I've been here for 15 years.Jim James:
But you like it better there. And I can understand why because you've got the sunshine. And I'm calling you obviously from sunny Somerset in the UK. But we're not talking about weather, although that is a British preoccupation. We're here to talk about how you've gone from becoming a monk, to becoming a sales coach and having a book, 'The 10 rules for ethical selling.' So Martin, for all those entrepreneurs out there listening, can you help us to understand why does a monk become a sales coach? And how can you help people?Martin Stellar:
'Why' is a very, very rarely asked question. And it's the perfect answer to the ethical selling conundrum. It's because as a monk, you're there to serve people. And if you do selling right, you are serving the buyer in making the right decision for them. And that is where the ethics come in whether the buyer says it's not for me, or it's not the right time, or they say yes, send me the invoice. It's not your problem, your problem is, what's the best decision, get them to the best decision in their best interest, and then you are serving them and you are being an ethical seller. That is the why.Jim James:
Okay, and is that a straight line then from sort of wanting to do the right thing for someone as a monk? And presumably giving them faith or a guidance towards faith, and what you're now doing really, as a coach and help people paint people to sell ethically?Martin Stellar:
No, it's not a straight line. It's been a very windy road, I've been a tailor and a copywriter. And I've consulted and I've had training programs and a paid newsletter. And it's only in the last year that the ethical sales coach really is my, my single kind of brand. And I did a rebrand last summer, because I realised sales coaching, that's where my passion lies. And that's where, where I help people most because you, if you want to move forward with somebody, whether it's a buyer, or your child or your spouse, you need to communicate in a way that they feel safe and comfortable with. And if you make people wrong, because 'hey, don't you see how good of a solution I have here for you', or 'how much fun we would have going to this movie or not to that movie.' But then you're making the other people wrong, the other person, and you call that psychological reactance. So the whole exercise of sending in the way nice people do good people do is by figuring out how to serve people, how to get them to make the best decision, and how to do it in such a way that they sell themselves. That is the whole outcome of ethical selling. Instead of trying to close people on this and to try or closes and all that stuff from the 80s from from the United States, that stuff doesn't work. You can make it work if you're a bully. But nice people and especially these days when business is far more social elements of society than it used to be, you want to see where people are, where they're stuck with their goals are and how you can best help them. And that starts before you make the sale. But you get to help them in having the conversation to reach the clarity and the vision that enables them to make a decision on their own voluntarily with glee and their own decision behind it instead of you having to be having to take them through this awkward conversation. Now let's talk about the money, the terms and conditions and when you're going to send that a down payment. Know when you do it, right, that is a very natural social experience, where both parties should feel that we're working together forwards on something that we are both in agreement.Jim James:
Okay, that sounds like you know, sort of the holy grail of both sort of relationships and of commerce. But Martin, can you give us some idea of some structural process? Because you make it sound very logical, but can you give us some guidance, or can I say scriptures that we can follow.Martin Stellar:
Behold, as I show you the tablets. Now it's I developed a framework for for business for marketing, for selling. And it's called LEAP that you listen you explain you ask and you profit are nowhere in there does it say for things when people or be unpleasant or be a nuisance? Or you ask for the sale? If you ask it at the right time in the right way, then the other person will say, 'You know what, how do I pay?' How do we get started? I've literally had someone say pick my mind. You listen. When you listen, you have three elements. When asked questions, you get answers, but you shouldn't trust your interpretation of the answers. They mean something and you may not know what it exactly means. That's why you need to ask more questions to figure out have you got it right then Then you want to, in the explain stage, pay attention to very clear and sober messaging, this is what it is, this is what it is not; what you shouldn't expect no unicorns here; this is what it's for, and not. Those are the three elements of explain. When you do that right, you earn their trust and permission, so that you can go into the enrollment conversation. That's where you're asking, where sales is enrolled, where you have the word know what you should welcome and speak out. So that you hand that person their veto, their, their right to veto their autonomy, they feel safe, and they feel that you're not taking advantage of them. And then there's the final pillar, which is the open, it's not that you close a sale, it's that you open a new phase in the relationship with a person. when they buy they open a new phase in their life. So it is an invitation, where you say, 'This is what the deal looks like', you've heard the ins and outs, what's in it and what's not in it. You've heard the criteria that makes you able to decide whether it's for you or not for you. What do you think, should you do this or not. And then when they buy, that I'll think, you've closed a sale, but things open. And if you do that right, then ultimately new profit. So that is the framework that I have, this Explain, Ask and Profit.Jim James:
Martin that's really nice. I love the way also that you flip it from being closing a sale to opening a new relationship, because close is inherently negative, isn't it? And brings a lot of stress, actually, to both sides.Martin Stellar:
Yeah, and that is the whole thing, right? You are sitting there feeling all kinds of conflicted and awkward about having to be in a seller position, because you just want to do your work and make this person happy and solve their problem. And you're not the only one who's feeling awkward. Because here is a buyer who has a budget, but they also have a problem, and their budget is limited, and they've tried things before and it didn't work, and they're talking to a buyer, and they don't know how these buyers talk to a seller, they don't know how the seller is going to try to wrangle them into a sale. So the buyer on their sides, side has all kinds of awkward, stressful, conflicting, tense notions that they need to grapple. And if you make it about them, instead of about your own feeling awkward, and they feel safe, and they engage in the dialogue where you find out that constantly deeper levels, what actually is the thing that means that they should buy or shouldn't buy? And if you then couple that with looking for a no, and asking for no, very deliberately explicitly making it clear that you are in control here. I'm controlling the conversation, that is my role as a steward over this process, But you are the one who makes the decision, not me, and the buyer enrolls themselves.Jim James:
So you've talked about the questions that you're asking on the listening, can you give us some guidance? Is it a structured set of questions? Is there an audit or a sequence?Martin Stellar:
No, not in the way I teach it, I consider a sales process very similar to coaching, where based on the flow of the conversation and the needs and objections that arise, you need to be agile, and adapt to where that person is at so that you can provide the best jumping off points. And the best questions that help them develop clarity. What you need to remember is that if there is no vision and clarity on what is the best idea, this person won't make a decision, or they'll make the wrong decision. So you want to look for the questions that facilitate their development have better clarity in how impactful a purchase would be, or in why a purchase at this time might be the wrong decision, or why it should be a different package - a bigger one, or a smaller one. So there's no structure as such, I have a whole list of questions that you can use. One of the questions that I teach people to ask themselves is why should you not work with this person? What signals are there that tell you this is not ideal for them? Or perhaps for you? And a question to ask the buyer is 'why this should be a no'. So you don't ask them the reasons why they should buy this thing, because then they just feel like they're being manipulated. You can ask buyer, there's only one of many questions, 'Why actually they this would be a bad idea'. And really interesting things happen when you start flipping things around. When you give somebody their full autonomy and say, 'Okay, tell me that this is the wrong idea for you. But we can do it like this at that. Oops, at that price point.' You asked a question like that, you get a very strange, useful, interesting dynamic, where somebody really appreciates you, so that even if they don't buy, they end up feeling respected. They feel 'Yeah, it's, I I like that. I will talk to you again', which is the beautiful, perfect setup.Jim James:
So does this lead us to your point about looking for a no? Because that's that's also an interesting idea that you're really asking them to give you their objections, which, of course, historically, the main training is to try and overcome objections, isn't it? Are you suggesting that we're just looking for objections to overcome or we're doing something different, Martin?Martin Stellar:
No, we're looking for objections in order to validate the other person's world. To tell them that, yeah, it's okay to be concerned about this. And it's absolutely right that this is a high price, or that it is a big decision, or that it's long term project, or they will take 'Yeah, indeed, you're right.' When a buyer has an objection, they might be mistaken, but they're not wrong. Because in their world, they're making perfect sense. So if you go and try and overcome an objection, you're making the other person feel wronged, or feel wrong. Instead, if you tell them, 'You're right, there's not a problem. Let's talk about this.' Then they're validated, and you can then have a conversation about whether they are mistaken or not, or whether or not the objection can be alleviated. You want to have a conversation about objections, not bulldoze over.Jim James:
Martin you talk about the Ask, that's often when people find it hardest is the moment of potential rejection. Any words of should have guidance or wisdom in that moment of truth?Martin Stellar:
Give that person the veto, the right to veto and give them control. So when you're selling, you have a responsibility, moral and ethical duty to be a good steward over the process and the outcome of the other person, when you then get to the point that you need to ask what they think or what they want, or whether it should be a deal or not. One of the best ways to do it is to hand back that control to them and say, 'right, so we've looked at the problem, the implications and the cost of the problem, the ramifications are such and such. And we've looked at how this program under those conditions, and at this price can solve it.' And go yeah, they're expecting you to go well sign here. And then you say, 'So where do you think we should go from here?' So you give them control? You let them tell you what should be the next step? Or you ask them, 'What do you think should be our next step here?'Jim James:
Okay, that's a really interesting way of doing it is trying to close but leaving the door open for them to leave the room they want to.Martin Stellar:
Yeah, of course.Jim James:
To give you guidance.Martin Stellar:
Yeah, look, if somebody is too conflicted or doubtful, or has whatever reason there may be for not buying right now, the best thing that you can have is an open door when you walk, when, after they've left. And if you have made them feel wrong, if you've tried to push them, if you've tried things that are manipulative, you showing up later on means that 'oh, there is that seller again.' Whereas if somebody says, 'Well, you know, it sounds good, but I don't think I should do it right now.' And you're replies, 'fantastic. Thank you. I'm really happy that you made a decision. And I think you're making the right decision. Let's continue talking later on in the year.' Okay, then show up few months later, you say? 'What about that conversation? Should we pick it up again?' Or you ask for no, you say, 'Would it be bad idea to pick up the conversation again?'. 'No, it's not a bad idea necessarily. When that message arrives, because you've left everything in a very good and respectful state, they're going to be at least open to reading your message and probably responding and even taken a meeting with you.Jim James:
Okay, Martin, this this sort of program, I can see lends itself to what might be kind of large scale, industrial, consultative selling. What about if you are selling online? For example, let's say you've got sales agents, chatting with customers using bots, for example? How does LEAP work in a different kind of context?Martin Stellar:
Like a dream, like a charm. Why would it be different between a solo trader corporate sales reps in sales and support staff. You're a person with a solution, and you're talking to a person who has a need for a solution, who has a problem and they're looking to make the right decision. And they're asking you for help and making the decision. There's no difference between one too many or through a chat app or with a whole sales team and Salesforce CRM software behind you. You're two people, you want to move forward together. How are you going to do that? Well, let's do it side by side. Now, what Ian Oldman calls same side selling, that's where you're sitting at the same side of the table looking at this thing, and how do we solve this? Instead of there's me here, and there's you there, and we have to have this back and forth. Now you're just sitting having a chat with somebody trying to figure out what's best for them. It doesn't matter where or how.Jim James:
Right, right. So really are, as David Meister used to call it that the trusted advisor role. Okay. Yeah. So would that have then implications if you've got, let's say, decision trees in your AI bots? Would that then have implications for the kind of questions that you're asking? Because at the moment, they're very much a funnel, those bots, aren't they? They're taking me to A B, go there, B C, go there. Might be people using bots, any guidance for them on the sort of questions they might need to ask.Martin Stellar:
Not specifically because I've never worked on AI bots around my framework yet. I've seen some of the things that bots can do, especially with GPT-3 and all the sounds that are coming out writing copy for you and I think they are very promising and interesting field. But I have not worked in that space yet. So I wouldn't know how the decision tree the question structures, how that would work, but I could see, actually, if somebody would want to have a look at one of their internal mechanisms of a chatbot, I'd love to see and advise or give some ideas. Because I'd like to see under the hood, and, you know, and see if I can tweak things to make things better.Jim James:
Yeah, because I interviewed some people who work at Anthrolytics, and they have empathetic bots. So it sounds like you've got the approach and the content, and they've got some of the technology, so I'm interested in the intersection of how the heck can work. And Martin, you yourself, you've gone from, you know, Monk, to tailor to consultant, copywriter, how you getting yourself noticed, as well, as an entrepreneur?Martin Stellar:
I produce a lot of content, I write an article every day, it goes to my list, it goes on to Twitter. I've experimented with content campaigns, where there's also videos. I kind of stopped that for the time being, but mostly it's it's, it's content, content creation is really my thing. If you do it, right, you can send people every day. And they will thank you for it.Jim James:
Really, so you're an inbound marketing advocate, in that sense.Martin Stellar:
Yes. In that sense, yes. But I also sometimes do outreach campaigns, where I will get a database and filter through it and look for people who might be a candidate, and I send them a stone cold outreach. And again, if you do it right, they will say 'That is so lovely, thank you for the cold pitch.'Jim James:
Okay. And you've also got a book, 'The 10 rules for ethical selling'.Martin Stellar:
Do you want just tell us a little bit about that market as well, because I think your LEAP methodology, sort of, underpins that book which you are using, as well as some to share your wisdom with.Martin Stellar:
Yeah, well, the book is, is it really a very simple collection of articles, but intended to give people a basic, 'It's alright to be selling, kind of bet on the back'. Like, especially nice people often sabotage them so much themselves. And very often, the nicer somebody is the more difficult to become for them to sell themselves, which I call the good egg problem. Right? So the higher somebody's integrities are, and values, the more difficult it becomes to sell. Why is that? Because you don't want to compromise on your values, you don't want to go against your integrity. And so you allow that sanctity of values to stifle you in your results in getting sales. Right? Your values actually become the obstacle, my whole philosophy, my writing, the book, my articles, the framework, it's all to show people that if you lead with values, then you sell more, because of them not despite that. So what are your values? Well, my values are to be honest, and truthful, and respectful, and not push people. That is Martin, and that is how Martin shows up, treats people to his best abilities. And then he has a conversation that sometimes works, sometimes it doesn't, but sometimes turns into a sale, sometimes it doesn't. But the conversation usually always works, because I leve with value. And to deck a little boasted on top of that, if you want to make all your selling and your lead generation, a lot easier, and more fun and more efficient, look for people who have values in common with you, seek to engage with them. Because rapport is always one of the things that you wants to have with people, you want to get along, and be on the same page to talk about sports, or the weather, or politics for a moment, or not politics these days. But, but instead of talking about trivialities, you can skip over most of that if you bias towards and select for people who have values in common with you. Because then you already have rapport for you can get on the call.Jim James:
And are finding those people outside the ministry easy as you did when you're inside? Cecause presumably when you're inside the ministry, everybody had a common set of values.Martin Stellar:
No, well, shared, but also their own distinctions amongst each other, amongst ourselves. But it's very easy. If you look at a business, you will either see that there are very cut and dry. This is business like our values, our business, or you will see people display, and people usually wear their values on their sleeves. And it's very easy to see if you go through 10 websites, you will see two or three that, 'Well, I have no idea what this person stands for. Could be on the left could be on the right, I can't tell.' You look at the next three and you go, 'Hmm, They seem nice people.' And then you look at the next three, and you go 'Well, it's obvious that this one stands for protecting the environment', 'That one stands for equal rights', There's talking about it, but that's their values right there. So select the people who show values that have similarity to your values. It's not that hard. Very effective, though.Jim James:
Yeah, it sounds like well, you need to listen and learn as part of your approach to the right kind of customers. Martin Martin Stellar in in Spain, just south of Grenada. How can people find out about you and your ethical selling methodology?Martin Stellar:
You can have a look at martinstellar.com. On my website, you can sign up and get the book. You can see my blog, or if you want to hang out on Twitter and just chat, then I'm @MartinStellar. I like to like to play around on Twitter. It's a playground. So happy to talk to anybody there. Martin, thank you so much for joining me today on The UnNoticed show and sharing with me your wisdom from from the monastery to the consultancy and with values in both. Thank you so much for living that with us today.