“Whatever you do initially, your product and your service is easiest way to begin to build your business” Jeffrey Gitomer
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No matter what kind of entrepreneur you are, you’re in sales. We’re always trying to get more people interested in our product, always thinking about how grow our market in one way or another. More happy customers is what makes us successful.
I’m sitting down with the King of Sales, Jeffrey Gitomer. He’s the author of the best-selling Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling, and he’s here sharing what you can do to be a better salesperson.
We’re talking about which social media sites Jeffrey uses the most, setting up in-person meetings, and when to start talking business. We’re also discussing how to show people that a connection with you is valuable, and what clients will look for on your social media. Clients want to know just as much about you as you do about them!
Get ready for a sales boot camp!
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- People aren’t born into sales, it’s something that you have to learn, but anyone who wants to can be good at.
- Go to a meeting just trying to get to know the person, and ready to talk to them about non-sales topics. Don’t bring up business at the first meeting.
- LinkedIn is great not just for keeping track of connections, but as a way to reach out and build new connections. Use your profile to post and to build your network.
- Let people know that connecting with you is valuable. Tell them what you do and how that can benefit them in their own business.
- Meet up with people in person, either at a local gathering place or invite them to a cyber coffee date to create a visual face-to-face connection.
- Customers will look at your online profile and social media presence to try to get to know you before agreeing to meet with you. Make sure your online presence shows who you are.
- People can feel how much passion you have for your product and service. If you’re not excited about what you’re selling, people can tell and they won’t be as interested.
Kim Orlesky: Welcome back today. I have a very special guest. It’s Jeffrey Gitomer, the King of Sales. Jeffrey has focused on sales for over 25 years during which time he has authored 13 bestselling books and 2,500 corporate events. His book, The Little Red Book of Selling, it was on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller for an outstanding 103 consecutive weeks, and is still purchased by thousands of sales people every week all over the world. Jeffrey’s a sales trainer, speaker, podcast host, followed by hundreds of thousands on Twitter, and viewed by millions on YouTube. His real world ideas and content are also available through online courses via the Gitomer Learning Academy. Welcome, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Thank you for that humbling introduction. It’s not like I died.
Kim Orlesky: No. What I mean, coming from corporate sales–I did 9 years of corporate sales, and we’ll talk a little bit about your corporate sales experience as well. You were always considered the top person to follow. I think everybody had either Sales Bible or The Little Red Book of Selling on their desk. This was just something that people just read. Part of it was because the way you had written it was just very punchy content. Like these small little chapters or little pieces of advice. What kind of inspired you to write a book like that as opposed to your typical sales–
Jeffrey Gitomer: I followed my own attention span. I could only pay attention for 5 or 10 minutes at a time to anything. So I wrote short things, but I write like I speak. What I did, and part of the magic of what I have is I only wrote about a single topic each time. So when you pick up the Sales Bible or you pick up The Little Red Book of Selling, literally you can open to any place and read 10 pages and never feel like you’re in the middle of a book and you don’t know what to do next. So I think that there’s a whole process around it that I sort of invented by accident, but I did it around what I like to do and how I like to read and how I like to learn. So if there’s a secret, that’s the secret. I did it to please myself.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. I love that. Because I mean, just the small pieces of advice, right. I know one of the big topics that you’ll typically talk on is people aren’t born into sales. This is something that we learn. How does that kind of approach–depending on who you’re talking to, do you feel like anybody can learn how to sell?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Yeah. Anybody can learn. What I do is I’m conversational. I’m not trying to preach to someone, I’m not trying to lecture to someone, I’m not trying to be condescending to someone, I’m just trying to talk. So it’s like you go to a coffee shop. You unfortunately go to the Tim Horton coffee shop where you don’t actually have coffee. They call it coffee, but it’s something else. And you sit down and you shoot the breeze–and that’s how I train. That’s how I talk. But I create what’s known as the transferable concept. I want or if I [inaudible] something–if I write something, if I say something, I want the audience member or the recipient of what I’m saying to say to themselves, “I get it. I agree with it. I think I can do it. I’m willing to try it.” That’s what’s known as the transferable concept. I get the other person to say that they’re willing to try at the end of what it is that I’m trying to convey to them. But it’s only [inaudible]–they’re not going to try it if they don’t believe it. They’re not going to try it if they don’t agree with it. And they’re not going to try it if they don’t think they can do it. so I have to get all those three precursors in first. I created that, by the way.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah, and I love that. I mean, it sounds similar to–I speak with my audiences about the Puppy Dog Close where we get them to take the puppy home. But in the way you brought this up–I mean, you know what, they have to agree so many pieces along in the process.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Right. We call it process, but I like that.
Kim Orlesky: Thank you. I think you might be making fun of me the entire time [inaudible]–
Jeffrey Gitomer: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. And the problem is I can’t make fun of you because we’re not on any kind of video where I can show you pictures of the Stanley Cup which you haven’t seen in 30 years.
Kim Orlesky: Well, it is housed in Toronto so we then go see it.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Yeah, exactly. You can visit it through a glass [inaudible], but I think the [leads?] will be the last team to win a Stanley Cup.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah.
Jeffrey Gitomer: The most interesting thing about that–I mean, let’s talk about the [leads] from a sales [rep?].
Kim Orlesky: Yeah.
Jeffrey Gitomer: They don’t care if they win the Stanley Cup. If they make the Playoffs, it’s a big deal because it’s more money for them. But that arena is sold out every single night. You have to fight to get a ticket. Because hockey is the national sport of Canada. In Toronto where people are pretty well to-do, you fight to get into that arena. To try to get a seat to watch your favorite team. They probably win more games in Toronto than they would on the road, but the bottom line is it’s a sport. And Canadians love their sport. They’re loyal to it, and they’re loyal to it to a fault. But the bottom line is, that’s something you can learn in sales. You don’t have to be absolutely amazing to win. I mean, Toronto sucks and they still win. And they have loyal fans. The challenge is, are your customers as loyal to you as you are to your lousy team? I mean, just think about why you’re loyal to your team. And then think about why are your customers loyal to you. It’s a huge thought. You can learn it especially when your team is not that good.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. I love that. Yeah, Toronto does sell out their stadium all the time, but it doesn’t matter what the product of the service is. As long as you’re servicing your clients in such a way, you could still be the second best or the third best. But you could have the strive of raving fans, of loyal customers. How does somebody, if they’re getting started selling a product or service, how do they create that tribe?
Jeffrey Gitomer: It’s not easy to create a tribe when you’re starting. The bets thing to do is look at it from the perspective of a giveaway or a low-priced introduction so that you can get some people to play. In software they call it beta. But at Mrs. Fields, they call it cookies. If you give enough cookies away, people will come back to your store and buy them. Which is exactly what she did. Now obviously, if you’re selling [inaudible], you can’t give away the [inaudible]. but you can do things that when the first 10 people buy or the first 20 people buy, that you give them an amazing deal so that they’ll do a video testimonial for you. Whatever you do initially, your product or your service, it is the easiest way to begin to build your business. And you lower the point of entry for whomever, you pick a number where you cut it off, but you get commitments from the other people to give you some kind of a testimonial or some kind of a corroboration, some kind of social proof that you’re great. If you’re not great, there’s no sense of starting.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. You almost have to play to believe to win.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Look, there are–look at software companies and look at what their experience has been. There’ve been several online chat, online–things that have totally failed. But something like Snapchat wins, something like Instagram wins. There are winners out there, but the audience has to perceive them as being valuable.
Kim Orlesky: Even though that they’re still offering me services for free right now.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Well, they sell advertising. They’re not doing that bad, they’re fine. They know what their model needs to be, let’s put it that way. Because someone has invested tens of millions of dollars in them to let it go forward.
Kim Orlesky: Which brings an interesting point. I mean, you’ve been doing sales training for [inaudible] 25 years. Well before the time of social media. How had social media kind of changed the game a little bit when it comes to selling or attracting clients?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Well, it’s easier to reach out. With social media, you establish your LinkedIn account. You gain followers on your LinkedIn account, or I should say connection. And then you post something of value on a weekly basis that someone might read or share with someone else thereby attracting new connections. Most people use LinkedIn as kind of a house to put people that they know in. I use it as a place to build the foundation of my business. It doesn’t show how many connections you have on LinkedIn, but I’ll share with you that I have about 28,000 LinkedIn connections. It looks like I have 500+ because everybody else has 500+. But part of the reason is I post an article up on a weekly basis, and people read the article, share the article, and then someone who they share it with wants to connect with me. So the question is, what are you doing of value v. what are you just trying to wait and see who does something with you? I don’t offer a sales pitch, I offer a valuable message. As a result, people are attracted to me.
Kim Orlesky: Absolutely. And I love LinkedIn. I mean, I know why you said–and I promote it nonstop because I find it to be one of the best cold-calling tools out there. It’s great. You learn so much information about a person. So when you do have to go reach out or you just do decide to, you have a bunch of background information that kind of kickstart that relationship side of it.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Right. That’s exactly correct. You don’t have to worry about who this person is or who the decision-maker is. You know who the decision-maker is. Now you have to connect with them. Rule #1 is never use the LinkedIn messages that they provide. If you’re not creative enough to think of your own message, something’s drastically wrong.
Kim Orlesky: You’re afraid, too, when you go ahead and send a connection request–
Jeffrey Gitomer: Right.
Kim Orlesky: –canned approach in there. So how can somebody kind of create something that stands out for somebody?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Think about it. Because I’m pretty well-known, if I do want to connect with somebody which is pretty rare–like I need somebody and look to see if I’m connected with them and [inaudible] second or third, I just say, “I’m Jeffrey Gitomer. My thing,” and I just say, “Link me.” And they do. No one’s ever turned me down. But the average person or business owner can just say, “Listen. Here are the 5 things that I do that help me connect with other people and provide value for them. If you like them, link me.” But you can’t just beg somebody for a connection. There’s got to be a reason. And the reason has to be valuable to the person you’re seeking to connect with. If I own a retail business and I want to connect with another guy that owns a retail business or a vendor, I’m going to reach out to them and say, “I’m going to share with you the bestselling items that I’ve had over the course of the last 6 years and where they’re located in my store.” Cool. I mean, be innovative, be inventive, be one of a kind, be attractive. But don’t be like, “I only like to connect with you because I–” You know. That’s a bullshit thing. I want to add somebody that I want to connect with, not that I have to connect with.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah, absolutely. And it really is the new networking. The new way of being able to network is using LinkedIn as a feed into some type of larger environments as well. I know one of the other things you talk about is making the most out of networking. I mean, we don’t want to replace that face-to-face connection with social media. So how do we kind of bridge that gap and how do we use our networking opportunities to help feed the funnel, essentially?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Well, it depends if you’re close by or far away. But either way, it involves coffee. So if I’m close by somebody, I’ll meet them in the morning for coffee. If I’m far away from somebody, I’ll send them a $10 Starbucks gift card and say, “Meet me for coffee on [inaudible] or on Skype.” And they do. It’s $10. What’s it worth to meet somebody in the morning? If you’re local, you meet them at some kind of a gathering place. Right now, there’s a ton of non-Starbucks coffee places that are just as cool as Starbucks. In Charlotte, there’s one called–where I live, in Charlotte, North Carolina–it’s called Coco and the Director. Literally, it’s a 10,000 sq. ft. coffee shop that has bleachers and televisions going on, and it’s a gift shop. But they hardly sell coffee. But it’s a great place to meet somebody because the environment is so darn cool. For the most part, I’m inviting someone that’s never been there before. So they walk in in awe of how cool this place is in downtown Charlotte, and we immediately have something to talk about that’s making both of us smile.
The key to any meeting like that, to any networking meeting is, “Is the other person smiling?” and, “Do they feel that they’re being put upon?” If the conversation is light in the beginning and it’s information exchange in the beginning, nobody feels like they’re being put upon. I typically don’t like to discuss business with anybody unless they invite me to discuss business. Or until I’ve established real deep rapport which may take one meeting, sometimes two meetings before I even start.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. That’s a good point. Because I was going to ask: “At what point do you decide to switch to having the business conversation?” I mean, there’s so much articles out there right now that say, “Stop with the coffee meetings. They become a waste of time.”
Jeffrey Gitomer: Really? That’s only because the person who’s writing that article doesn’t know how to meet somebody for coffee. To me, it is not a waste of time. It’s an investment of time. I’ve invested tens of thousands of hours meeting people. The only thing it’s brought me is tens of thousands of great relationships and millions of dollars. So you’re right, it probably doesn’t work. I’m going to do it for another 25 years and then that’s it, I’m going to quit. But here’s the deal: learn how to do it. Learn how to be a valued provider. If all you’re doing is meeting somebody to suck business out of them, you’re right, it’s not going to work.
But if you’re meeting them to get to know them, to find some things in common, maybe to find some people in common, and certainly to find some business opportunities in common, then you win. And will all of them be that way? No. But with LinkedIn, you can find out enough about a person in advance to see if you should meet with them or not. Read their profile, read their summary, read their experience, read who they follow. It’s so easy to do in today’s world. But keep in mind that that same customer that you’re going to meet with is trying to find out exactly the same stuff about you. What are they going to find when they Google you? Or they look for you on LinkedIn or they look for you on Facebook. What are they going to find? And is that incentive enough for them to meet with you [inaudible]?
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. That’s good point. We need to make sure that our entire social media presence is congruent with our message, with the value that we provide people.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Of course. If it isn’t, I’m not going to meet with you. In my book, the 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling, there’s a full-page quote. It says, “People want to do business with a somebody not a nobody.” What I’m looking for in so many people today– “Well, I don’t really believe in social media.” Right. then get a job as a dogcatcher or something instead. Because it’s not going to do you any good.
Kim Orlesky: So besides LinkedIn what’s your other favorite social media platform?
Jeffrey Gitomer: It’s a kind of a toss-up. I post on Instagram but it’s more for family and fun. I’m very into YouTube because I just passed my 5 millionth viewer. We’re at about 40,000+ subscribers. So people like my videos. It’s [inaudible] for me to do them. Between LinkedIn and my weekly postings and between YouTube, and also Twitter that helps me direct people. I have about 110,000 Twitter followers. I tell people where to go in a nice, business kind of way.
Kim Orlesky: [inaudible] that mean.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Exactly.
Kim Orlesky: One of the other things I found really interesting is a lot of your photos, a lot of your videos and everything, you wear this iconic red shirt. Tell me what’s the decision behind that.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Well, I did a lot of seminars for uniform companies. After I did about my 6th or 7th one, I said [inaudible] to the vice president, I said, “Hey, make me one of those uniforms. Let me be the sales maintenance guy and put my name on the shirt like I’m a worker.” A couple of years later, the little red book came out. And I said, “Hey, make me a red one.” That’s been my business suit for the last 12 years. Literally.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. Do you wear it all the time when you do events and everything now?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Lately, yeah. Pretty much. Unless I’m doing a big leadership conference then I’ll wear a nice clothing or something like that. But for the moment, I think that that’s my calling.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. I know you’re going to be presenting at The Art Of, the leadership conference in Toronto. What can some of the people that are going to be attending experience with that? Or any of your events that they attend.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Well, I’m writing a new book called “The New Sale.” If you’re going to go to The Art Of–what’s the date in December? Do you remember?
Kim Orlesky: December 7th.
Jeffrey Gitomer: December 7th in Toronto. I will be delivering along with other people, by the way. I’ll be talking for an hour, an hour and a half something like that on The New Sale. What’s different about selling since the iPhone replaced the Blackberry? What’s different about selling since Google replaced the Yellow Pages? Or since Uber replaced the taxicab company? And what’s coming next in sales? Why are people still focusing on customer satisfaction when customer loyalty is all that matters? Why are people still cold calling when LinkedIn can get them to that customer better, faster, easier, and at a higher level? So I’m going to be talking about 72 of those issues. I’ll probably only have time for about 20. But they’ll be able to buy the book. Not this one. The book’s not quite finished yet.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. But they’ll be able to get the pre-buy version of it.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Yeah. It’s not this, it’s this. It’s not the way it used to be. It’s not about closing the sale, it’s about earning the sale. It’s not about asking for a referral, it’s about earning a referral. So there’s all kinds of nuances that I’ll be talking to them about that will help them become better sales people, which is my whole goal. If I can make you better, you’re going to stick around and follow me.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah, absolutely. And that kind of goes back to the original conversation about kind of creating that tribe. Little by little, you’re providing so much value to the clients, to the people that are surrounding you.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Right. They can’t say no to you. If you’re providing enough value, the other guy can’t say no.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. Wonderful. How did you kind of get your start into–I mean, you’ve been sales training for 25 years. How did you get your [inaudible] into it?
Jeffrey Gitomer: It’s what you think, Kim. I started out selling. I was in my own business since I was in my early 20s. That was in the late 60s. I manufactured my own furniture, I manufactured my own sportswear, and I went to New York City and sold it. Where are you supposed to go? So I’ve had years and years worth of experience. I didn’t start to write until I was 46 years old. I didn’t start to speak until I was 48 years old. So I’ve been [inaudible] for some quite some period of time now. You get good, but I had to experience the start. I already had the background. I already had the [inaudible]. I already had sold millions of dollars worth of stuff in Manhattan. It’s tough [inaudible].
Kim Orlesky: I would imagine. I imagine you fall into the commodity, almost. You have to really differentiate yourself as you go out.
Jeffrey Gitomer: That’s correct.
Kim Orlesky: So you’re creating a pretty good business and everything, but at some point, you decided, “I’d rather teach how to sell as opposed to continue to sell myself.”
Jeffrey Gitomer: That’s correct. But it’s only because people wanted it. When I started to write, people started to want more. But now, since I’ve been doing this for such a long time–and we’ve taken our digital studio and that will be my new training ground. Rather than Jeffrey goes out and talk to 200 people somewhere in Canada or 500 people somewhere in Canada or in Phoenix, Arizona or Miami Beach or even Paris, France for that matter. I can train millions of people online. All of my basic fundamental body of work has already been put on videotape and people can get it at the gitomerlearningacademy.com. That will be my replacement. Because once I’m dead, then what? And the answer is I’ll have thousands of hours of training and inspiration online. The online work has basically cemented my legacy. Because anyone [inaudible] will be able to go and view my thoughts and philosophies. Anyone.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. It really speaks volumes that you do have to have some type of digital presence. You have to have a digital product nowadays no matter kind of what you’re offering.
Jeffrey Gitomer: If you’re not online, you’re going to lose to somebody who is. It is just that simple. If you want to look at the classic case, look at Chapters and look at Amazon. And look at Barnes and Noble and look at Amazon. The reason that Amazon wins is because they realized the future was not in a book store, it was online. Brick and mortar book stores are losing because Amazon is taking away a high percentage of their business.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. Absolutely. So kind of switching gears a little bit, whether you were working for yourself, selling in the manufacturing side of it, or even kind of since becoming the King of Sales. You had so much success, but I’m sure you’ve had a failure or two.
Jeffrey Gitomer: No.
Kim Orlesky: You sound like me when I used to interview [inaudible].
Jeffrey Gitomer: Okay. Let me give you a classic failure. I went to New York City to sell the Sales Bible to a publisher when I finished writing 100 columns. Because I cold called in Manhattan for years, I thought, “[inaudible], I’ll just cold call all these people.” I made an appointment with one guy at William Morrow because he published Harvey Mackay’s book, Swim with the Sharks. Harvey Mackay was an idol of mine. Still a friend of mine. All of the other 12 or 13 publishers turned me down. But the guy I made an appointment with, he bought the book. And basically, the rest is history. But I made a pre-appointment instead of cold calling.
So if you want to ask me personally if cold calling works, I’m going to tell you that no, it doesn’t work unless you make an appointment with the person before you make the first sales call. I’m living proof of that in New York City. Now, I did get a letter from a major publisher 10 years after the Sales Bible was still selling well. His letter was, “Not buying the Sales Bible was the single biggest mistake I made since I’ve been in the publishing industry.” How’s that for a victory? So it was a defeat, but I ended up winning. Yep, I have all these letters that I’ve saved, one day I’ll frame them all, stick them in an office some place. But I have all these rejection letters from publishers. It’s a wonderful thing. So did I fail at it? I failed at the cold calling aspect of it. But I succeeded at the appointment-making aspect of it. I think that’s the crux of this situation.
Kim Orlesky: It’s really celebrating even just the small successes which will end up leading to the larger ones in the end.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Yep. I was sure. I mean, I had no idea what would happen after the Sales Bible was published. None whatsoever. All I knew was I had to publish a great book, I had to work my ass off to get it written right. After I had the contract, I still had a year to write it and/or to finish it. And I did. I actually rejected my publisher’s design for the book and I designed the book myself.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. And now it is the iconic book that it is that sits on every sales person’s desk.
Jeffrey Gitomer: The Little Red Book and the Sales Bible will never go away. Ever. They still sell to this very day.
Kim Orlesky: Wow. Well, congratulations for that.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Interestingly, the full circle is I was in New York last week talking to various publishers. The guy who originally bought the Sales Bible is now working for a different publishing house. But I think he’s going to try to buy my next book.
Kim Orlesky: Good.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Isn’t that cool or what? So it will be a full circle cycle.
Kim Orlesky: Yeah. Wonderful. One last piece of advice for anybody out there that is entrepreneur, small business owner looking to kind of get the relationship started or get those first few sales for themselves.
Jeffrey Gitomer: The deeper you believe in your product or your service, the easier it’s going to be for you to convey your passion and your message. People can feel how you believe. People can feel how much you love. But if you’re just trying to do something and it’s sort of cut and dry and it’s mechanical, you’re not going to win the same as a guy or a woman who is passionate behind their product or passionate behind their service. So that level–if you want to measure the success of your business, measure your passion. The greater your passion, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to take that passion to the bank.
Kim Orlesky: I love it. Thank you so much for joining us today, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Gitomer: It is my pleasure. Even though I can’t see you, I certainly wish you were [inaudible].
Kim Orlesky: Oh, thank you. If people want to know more about you, your upcoming book, what’s the best way of getting in touch with you?
Jeffrey Gitomer: You can go to gitomer.com. But my recommendation is go to the Gitomer Learning Academy where you can get an education–literally a college education or a master’s degree in sales. Gitomerlearningacademy.com.
Kim Orlesky: Wonderful. Well, thank you again for joining me today. I really appreciate it. I look forward to talking to you hopefully at the Art Of Selling in a couple of weeks.
Jeffrey Gitomer: It will be my pleasure, Kim. It will be my pleasure.
Kim Orlesky: Wonderful. Thank you.
The Little Red Book of Selling
Swim with the Sharks