(Journey’s note: The content of this post is taken from Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Rich. I post it here out of deep appreciation and gratitude. Hope you will enjoy and benefit from it too. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section!)
In the late 1980s, I was working as a DJ for Capital Radio in London by day and a stage hypnotist in pubs and clubs by night. While my shows were popular, I couldn’t afford to book myself into a proper theater. I began asking myself some of the wealth-producing questions contained in the ‘Simplest Business Plan’ chapter, and something jumped out at me – Capital Radio owned one of the most prestigious theaters in London!
Was it possible we would be able to do a deal? After reviewing my options, I decided to make an outrageous request of my boss, Richard Park. I was going to ask him to throw in nearly £200,000 worth of radio advertising with the price of the theater rental to help me fill the house for the run of the show. I knew that with that added value, the bank would be willing to pick up the majority of the costs in the form of a secured loan.
Despite my preparation, I was convinced he would turn me down. After all, I was asking him to risk not only his money but the reputation of the radio station. When I’d made my pitch, Richard sat back, seemingly deep in thought. Finally, he looked me in the eyes and said three words I’ll never forget:
‘I’ll back you!‘
Ultimately, all success in business comes down to getting other people to say those same three words to you in relation to your business, service or product.
Think about it like this:
Every politician needs people to vote for them. Every shop owner needs people to buy from them. Every actor needs a director to hire them and every filmmaker needs an audience to choose to see their movie at the cinema. In each case, the success or failure of every venture comes down to other people deciding to back you, your service or product.
But people will only back you if you first do 3 things:
1. Let them know who you are.
2. Tell them the story of what you are offering.
3. Convince them it’s worth having.
In this chapter, I will take you through the essence of each of these three skills. Of course, you may be more familiar with them by their other names – networking, marketing and sales.
1. Networking – Letting people know who you are
In the late 1960s, a psychologist called Stanley Milgram decided to run an interesting experiment in the connections between people, also known as ‘networks’.
160 people in Nebraska were given special packages with instructions to try and get them delivered by hand to a stockbroker who lived in Massachusetts.
When Milgram tracked the trail the packages had gone through to reach their target, he found that the average number of steps the package took to get to the stockbroker was between five and six. This is the origin of the phrase ‘six degrees of separation‘.
The implications of this experiment are profound. Right now, you are no more than six steps away from pretty much anyone on the planet, from a farmer in South Africa to the most famous movie star in the world to the Queen of England.
How easy it will be to take those five or six steps is very much dependent on the quality of your network – the people you know and the quality of your relationship with them.
Here’s a simple way of thinking about it …
How many people do you have in your ‘fan club’?
While that may seem a strange concept if you are involved in a low-profile pursuit, if you excel at what you do, deliver on what you promise and/or uplift the people around you, you will have one. Your fan club is made up of anyone who admires you and/or what you do and would probably be willing to put in a good word for you if the opportunity arose.
This exercise will help you identify who’s currently in your ‘fan club’ and will focus your mind on where to find more people to join.
BUILDING YOUR FAN CLUB
1. Create a chart on a piece of paper. Divide the chart into 3 columns.
3. Fill in your columns as best you can. You can put in the name of individual people or groups. For example, a friend of mine has a restaurant and is a great chef. She realized that while nearly all the people who’d tasted her cooking had become ‘raving fans’, not many people had actually heard of her or her restaurant. She worked with her fan club and wealth team to spread the word, and within six months I couldn’t even get a table without booking!
4. Brainstorm ideas for helping people move along from one column to the next. For example, if you want more people to experience your work, you may find ways of giving away free samples, or going to a group or organization and offering them a special deal for their members. If you work in an office and want to turn the people who have experienced your work (like your boss and your colleagues) into members of your fan club, you might explore ways of adding more value and doing things above and beyond the call of your job description.
5. Take action on your best ideas. The more action you take, the faster your network will grow and the more members of your fan club you will begin to accumulate.
Remember, it is the members of your fan club who will ultimately be willing to back you as you set out on your road to riches.
2. Marketing – Telling the story of what you have to offer
All of us are involved in communicating every day in some areas of our lives. Marketing is simply the act of communicating the story of your product or service (and remember, if you’re an employee that product or service might be you) to as many potential buyers as possible with as much energy and focus as you can muster.
What I am suggesting has nothing to do with pushy sales people, but instead is about becoming a passionate communicator.
People who are reluctant to communicate to others about their product or service appear not to have a strong belief in the value of what they have to offer. Even if what you are selling is genuinely valuable, it’s difficult for other people to buy into it if they don’t hear you share the story of it enthusiastically. After all, if someone really believed in their product or service, why would they want to hide it from you?
Of course, before you tell anyone about your product or service, there is someone you need to be absolutely convinced it’s worth backing – and that’s YOU!
If you aren’t passionate about your own product or service, not only will you fail to ignite any interest in other people, you will unconsciously convey to others that you are unsure of its worth, and as a result they will be too.
Stop for a moment and think about your product or service. How passionately do you believe in it on a scale of 1 to 10? If your answer is below a 10, go to work on your story.
You’ll find an exercise at the end of this section that will be of great use to you. If your answer is below a 5, you probably need to go back to work on the product or service.
Solving problems before they arise
After you’ve been telling your story for a while, you’ll find that the same concerns come up again and again from your potential clients and customers. Because of this, you can inoculate against these concerns by dealing with them up front, before they even arise.
For example, when we were first running our seven-day NLP Practitioner certification program, we were convinced that because our course was designed and co-delivered by Dr Richard Bandler, the co-creator of the field, we would be able to deliver more value in less time than anyone else in the world.
But at the time most NLP trainings were running for 20 days or even longer, and charging 4 or 5 times as much as we were. Even though our trainings were designed for optimal effectiveness, the perception in the marketplace was that they were ‘too short and too cheap‘ to work.
When we interrogated our story, we came up with the following analogy for our marketing people to use:
Just as years ago a mobile phone was expensive to buy, difficult to use and the size of a small brick, advances in technology mean that now they are the size of a bar of chocolate, inexpensive and much more functional. That’s what we’ve done with this training – using the latest advances in NLP technology, we can now teach you what you really need to know to change your life in less time at a lower cost than ever before.
The results speak for themselves. Within two years we were the largest NLP training provider in the UK, and we are now the largest NLP training provider in the world.
Do this for yourself now…
CREATING POWERFUL ANALOGIES
1. Identify the most common problem or objection that people come up with when they hear your story. If you come up with more than one, repeat the exercise with each one in turn.
2. Thinking about the specific problem or objection, complete the following sentence starters at least six times each:
- This is like…
- This reminds me of…
- That would be like…
3. Keep filling in the blanks until you have an analogy that makes you smile, laugh, or simply creates a sense of certainty that what seemed like a problem will not get in the way of the other person getting full value out of your product or service.
Have fun with this – even if you don’t use the analogies you come up with, having taken the time to go through this exercise will leave you better prepared and more confident when it comes time to tell your story to someone else.
3. Selling – Asking people to invest in your offering
Like marketing, selling is really just storytelling, but it’s about telling a very particular kind of story – a story that engages people’s feelings and imagination and motivates them to decide and to act.
Having spent years studying great salespeople, I have distilled the sales process into 5 simple steps – the same steps that I take each time I want people to back me, my product or service.
Step 1: Know what you want
The key moment in an effective sales conversation usually happens before the conversation even begins. It is the moment you set a clear purpose for the interaction. That purpose can be simple, i.e. ‘to connect with them’, or more complex, i.e. ‘to transmit my fascination with and passion for this product or service’. But to be effective, it must meet these two criteria:
a. It must be based on what you actually want, and
b. It must be in terms of what is within your control.
As an example, I once advised a friend of mine who was interviewing for a job with a major investment bank. When I asked him what his goal for the interview was, he said, ‘I just don’t want to blow it.’ Because the mind cannot process a negative, I knew he would be making pictures inside his head of him ‘blowing’ the interview.
As we’ve discussed, taking the time to explore the downside is important so that you can take measures to address any potential problems. However, if you spend all your time focused on what might go wrong, you turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So I said to him, ‘No – what do you actually want? What will you see, hear and feel that will let you know the interview went well?’ He then described to me the exact look he could imagine seeing in their eyes that would let him know they were impressed with him, and the way they looked at each other and nodded when he answered their questions.
‘Now,’ I continued, ‘what will you do to make that happen? What is your part in creating it?’
He thought for a few moments before responding. ‘I just need to prepare like crazy and then be really present in the interview. The rest is up to them.’
Step 2: Find out what they really want
Many companies now spend a lot of money on focus groups to find out more about what their customers want, because it gives them the edge on their competitors.
But you can get the benefit of a focus group for free every time you speak with a potential customer. Simply ask them what they really want and listen carefully to their answers. This will ultimately save you a lot of time, as you can quickly eliminate people from your inquiries if there is no match between what they want and what you’ve got.
It also gives you the information you will need to make amendments to your product or service to better meet the needs and desires of the marketplace.
If you really want to address the concerns of others, one of the best ways is to step into their shoes for a few moments and see the world through their eyes. This was the same process the great Indian leader Gandhi used to convince the occupying British government to leave India and hand control back to the locals without a shot being fired against them.
Gandhi intuitively knew that in order to effectively negotiate the withdrawal, he would need to be able to understand the situation from their point of view. He achieved this in part by a simple process where he would imagine ‘stepping in’ to the British negotiator, not unlike the way I asked you to step into the great minds of your imaginary advisers in Chapter 8. When looking at the situation from the British perspective, he could see what was most important to them and was able to formulate a plan that allowed all sides to perceive great value in the agreement.
SEEING THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUR CUSTOMERS
1. Imagine ‘stepping in’ to several of your customers and seeing things from their perspective.
2. From inside your customer’s mind, ask yourself:
- What do I want?
- What are my biggest concerns?
- What do I need to see and hear to feel good about this?
- What would be best for everyone?
3. Incorporate your insights into your story – when you can imagine loving your proposition through their eyes, you’re on your way to success!
Step 3: Interrogate your story
Mark Burnett is the most successful TV producer in the world and has made hundreds of millions of pounds from his genius ideas and productions, changing the face of television with shows like Survivor and The Apprentice. When I first approached him about our doing a show together, he spent 4 hours interrogating me about every aspect of the show – who it was for, how it worked, what could go wrong and how we could fix it. He also did something very important – he showed me how to turn every single feature of the show into a benefit.
For example, one of the features I was most proud of was that we would be able to do personal change work directly through the television with the viewer sitting at home. Mark pointed out that, to the end user, what mattered wasn’t that we would be doing personal change work but that they would be able to lose weight, quit smoking and feel better about themselves and their lives.
All too often people enthuse about the technical specs of their product when all the end user cares about is what it will do for them. The simple rule of thumb is this:
Always focus on the benefits!
At the end of our time together, I not only knew all the benefits of the show to the network and viewing audience, I also knew every potential problem we might face and how to solve it. Although there were only a few concerns raised in the meetings by the network executives, we were able to quickly allay their fears because we had anticipated them.
Better still, by the end of Mark’s ‘interrogation’, I was absolutely convinced that what were going to pitch was fantastic. I knew in every fiber of my being that we had a brilliant show, one that I could talk about with passion.
Do this exercise for yourself now…
INTERROGATING YOUR STORY
1. Stop for a moment and write down all the positive value that your product or service will bring to your customers. Remember to focus on benefits instead of features. You need to tell yourself these benefits over and over again before you tell your story to anybody else.
2. Next, deliberately think about a negative – any reason why people might not want to back your product or service and find the solution. Be sure to write these down – if you try to do this step in your head you will tend to overwhelm yourself!
3. Now, for each item on your list, come up with a solution – either a way of solving the problem, mitigating the problem or, better still, eliminating it as a problem altogether.
4. Tell your story with passion to at least five people who aren’t potential customers each day for a week. This is so you won’t feel like you are ‘selling’, and will be able to put your full attention on refining the quality of your story.
Remember, the meaning of your communication is the response you get, so if your story isn’t exciting to you and your listeners, change it!
Step 4: Get yourself into a great state
There are essentially three things you need to do to put yourself into an optimal state for selling:
a. Make rich pictures in your mind of yourself succeeding.
b. Speak to yourself in a confident, positive tone of voice.
c. Move your body decisively, with a sense of comfort and ease.
You can shortcut the process by using your ‘Rich Anchor‘, which you created at the very beginning of this book. Simply put your thumb and middle finger together and feel the feelings of being rich – living life on your own terms and following your possibilities.
The reason the rich state is also the optimal selling state is simple – when you are already feeling rich, you do not need to make the sale. And in sales, nothing puts people off more than the ‘smell’ of a desperate salesperson!
Step 5: Tell your story and ask for what you want
In the end, sales is a numbers game. While you can improve your percentages with additional practice and additional techniques, the basic maths will always hold:
The more people you talk to, the more people will buy whatever it is you are selling.
Ultimately there is only one way to get others to back you and that is to tell them what you want and ask them to do it. Some people are scared to do this in case they get rejected. But rich thinkers think about it differently. They know that when you ask for what you want, you will always get one of 3 answers:
They believe in the value of their product and they know that the money, backing and resources they need are out there. So if somebody decides not to buy from them or to back them, it’s either because:
- The person doesn’t yet understand the benefits to them.
- It really isn’t what they want or need in that moment.
In this sense, the sooner you can eliminate the people who don’t want or need what you’ve got from your inquiries, the sooner you can connect the right people with what you have on offer.
If you ever find yourself worrying about telling your story or reluctant to ask a potential customer for a sale, change the game for good by using this exercise adapted from my book Instant Confidence.
FINDING YOUR IDEAL CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS
Read through this exercise before you do it for the first time.
1. Make a list of exactly 20 names of people or companies who might want what you have.
2. The objective of the game is to get rid of anyone on the list who does NOT want to back you or buy from you. Get in touch with each person on the list and get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as quickly as possible – don’t take ‘maybe’ for an answer!
3. Give yourself a score at the end of the day, based on the number of names left on your list. The goal is to get your score below 10 each day – in other words, eliminate at least 10 people from your inquiries each and every day. If you ‘accidentally’ find someone who DOES want to back you or buy from you, you can take them off the list as well.
Keep track of your scores — if you can get down to zero five working days in a row, you will have transformed your business and jump started your accumulation of wealth.
Frequently asked questions about ‘The Three Skills That Lead to Riches’:
Q. I’m not a natural networker and I’m certainly not a salesperson. Do I really have to learn these skills to make money?
A lot of people in Britain have an image of a salesperson as a slick-haired, slick talking con artist. While there are certainly people who work in sales who fit that description, the best salespeople are the ones who never feel like they’re selling. They’re more ‘spokespeople’ – advocates for their product or service who are excited about telling their story.
You don’t have to be a ‘natural’ to succeed – just talk to people and tell your story, and before you know it you’ll have developed the skills that will serve you in every area of your life.
Remember, it’s not about persuasion, it’s about passionate presentation. Talk about your passion and people will connect with you and resonate. If they don’t buy, it will be because it genuinely isn’t the right fit for them in this moment, not because you didn’t sell them hard enough. Of course, if you can’t muster any passion for your product or service, you’re either in the wrong business or telling the wrong story!
Q. I’m applying for jobs at the moment so, in a way, I’m my own product. Can I use the ‘three skills’ to sell myself?
Absolutely! Whether you’re selling a photocopier, bag of peanuts, cleaning service or yourself as a job applicant, you’re essentially selling a service and/or a product. When you think about it that way, you can dissociate from the ‘but it’s me‘ phenomenon and look at yourself objectively.
Use your network to get referrals, insights and recommendations; interrogate your story to get the word out in a way that your target market will want to hear it, and use the five-step sales process to put your best foot forward in every interview.
Will you get the job every time? No – and you wouldn’t want to. You want the best fit for you and your skills, not just any job at any cost. When you approach the process in this way, you will find yourself quickly screening possible users of your services so you wind up with the perfect employers for your unique talents and skills.
Q. Am I supposed to go through all the exercises in the sales process every time I sell something? It seems a little bit complex to me!
The idea behind the five-step process is to give yourself the optimal preparation- once you’ve gone through it, forget about it and focus on the person you have in front of you. Speak naturally, prep your subconscious, trust yourself, then go for it.
You may be surprised at how much of what you prepared will naturally tumble out of you when you are in front of your potential customer.
(The end of chapter 11. To be continued…)
P.S. The text has been edited slightly from the original book. This website is NOT associated to Paul McKenna at the time of posting. If you like what you see here, and wish to support his marvelous work, please purchase I Can Make You Rich at Amazon. Thank you.
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