In sales, a question mark is often more potent than an exclamation point. Many salespeople fail to realize this. They start to get excited and discourage people off, causing them to reject the offer even before they’re hooked.
Alex helps us overcome this and learn to sell better with the Socratic Method. He teaches how we can eliminate and anticipate rejection by asking people what they want so that we’ll be able to produce that product and have higher possibilities of generating sales.
On top of that, Alex shares the value of mentoring, reminding us how no successful entrepreneur is self-made.
Listen to the podcast here:
Why Socrates Avoided Rejection
Although ethical influence is central to our discussions, you and I will also explore other fascinating and important topics such as growing your relationship capital, virtual presentation strategies, finding your JV partners, the principles of Karmic Marketing, premium client marketing strategies, repurposing strategies and digital marketing strategies just to name a few.
In this episode, you will learn three key insights which I believe are critical to making you a highly skilled ethical influencer. Ethical influence is not something you’re born with. It’s something that you learn with in order to be more successful. It’s a learnable skill and it’s a very lucrative skill. You’re going to discover how the Socratic method eliminates the fear of rejection or even anticipating rejection.
You’ll learn why asking questions is like tossing a porcupine back and forth in the sales presentation or the sales experience. You’ll also learn why the question mark always overpowers the exclamation point. This could have a significant impact on how you can quickly and easily win the hearts of others.
The Socratic Method
In 2002, I tapped into a 2,400-year-old technology. It’s a technology that the most revered universities and academies all across the globe embrace. It’s called the Socratic method. They teach it in law school, graduate school and undergraduate school. In fact, the best grammar schools utilize the Socratic method.
Socratic comes from Socrates, and Socrates is one of the great philosophers of antiquity. He was Greek. Socratic means asking questions. In creating a sales presentation, by asking questions, you notice that the question mark is like a hook.
Think about what the question mark looks like. It’s like a hook. You’re hooking them in. The question mark is more powerful than the exclamation point. I like to think of the exclamation point like a spear.
Like a spear, you’re spearing and shooing them away. Many salespeople and ethical influencers get really excited and are selling from their heart. They’re holding a spear in their hands and they’re shooing their prospect away because they’re super excited about one thing and the prospect doesn’t share that excitement yet.
How do you get shared excitement? How do you get shared energy? You attract them with questions. It could be one person or 850 people like when I’m on stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil during Guerrilla Business Intensive for three days. I asked a lot of questions.
The question mark is a hook and the Socratic method hooks people in.
In 2002, I created a very special database. The internet connections were a lot slower back then. There was no YouTube and Twitter. There was Google, but they hadn’t even had their public offering. Their initial public offering or IPO was in 2004, so this is two years before that.
There was no Facebook and Instagram. There were the internet, the digital marketers and the community that I was a part of. We were just figuring out things. I did a lot of teleseminars back then. I’ll tell you the story of teleseminar secrets in another episode.
[bctt tweet=”People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.” via=”no”]
I did lots and lots of teleseminars because my daughter was just born and my son was two years old. I didn’t want to travel. A lot of my colleagues, Brian Tracy, T. Harv Eker, Les Brown, Jack Canfield, I’m sure you know the names, traveled a lot. They did a lot of events away from home. My kids were too young to bring them with me, so I thought a teleseminar is traveling virtually.
The spoken word is very powerful because you can record and then transcribe that thing. Video wasn’t around. The internet was too slow for video, so we didn’t think video back then. We just thought audio. I would speak with my words, record and then transcribe.
I could create a how-to course on a CD, put it on a three-ring binder and have the binder and the CD together. It could be downloaded online as a pdf or as an audio file. Audio was easier than video because we didn’t have the YouTubes of the day. We didn’t have the bandwidth, so audio was the thing.
It was easier to go from one inbox to the next. We call that the MP3 file. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, you can look it up on Google, MP3. It’s a digital file for audio.
I was then called the Larry King of teleseminars. Larry King is a famous interviewer. He used to be on CNN. He has his own show. He eventually went from radio to television while I went from teleseminars to web TV.
Larry King calls me the Larry King of Web TV. Back then, I was the Larry King of teleseminars. In other words, the interviewer to people in the personal development and in marketing space.
If I wanted to interview someone, we put that interview in a recording after the teleseminar. The teleseminar could be free, but the recording and the transcripts which the teleseminar listeners didn’t have access to yet because they weren’t transcribed, we could give away the teleseminar, then the repurposed content in audio format. We could edit it. The written format, we could transcribe and enhance it. That became a course, a CD with a three-ring binder.
I began to create a list and a series of leaders. I called it Access to Leaders. The Ask Database was my secret weapon. What’s the Ask Database? It was my software as a service in the form of Socrates.
The Ask Database would take data after surveying someone. It would put the data into this database and you could search the data with keywords, three-word and five-word strings. It would give you patterns that people were saying and the pattern languages that they were responding to.
Let me give you an example. I want to do a teleseminar with Brian Tracy. I knew Brian. If you don’t know Brian, you can look him up on Google. He’s a great content provider.
He has done a lot of good for a lot of people. I would say, “Brian, I like to do a teleseminar on selling.” We figured out a time and a date to do it live. I told him I’d take care of all the editing and the transcripts. He could sell it and keep 100%.
I’d sell it, I’d keep 100%. The reason he was okay with that is I’m promoting him because it’s about him. I did the same thing with Les Brown, Harv Eker, Jack Canfield and the list goes on and on.
Brian asked me, “What are we going to be talking about in reference to selling?” I would tell Brian, “I have no idea.” He says, “What do you mean?” He thought I was joking. I said, “Before we can do the teleseminar, let’s survey our email lists and see what they want to learn from you about selling.”
Ask Database, Socratic method, question mark, not an exclamation point. We would send out an email. He would send it to his list. I would send it to mine.
The question would be, “If there was one question you’d want to ask about selling to Brian Tracy, what would it be?” What’s the number one question you would want to ask Brian Tracy about selling? This particular teleseminar, we got over 1,200 responses. All those responses, if they go into a spreadsheet, you can’t make any sense of it.
When it went into the Ask Database, which I sold for $1 a day and $30 a month and I actually made money from that, what it would do is it would look for the language patterns. Eventually, it would yield the seven or ten or fifteen most important questions that people wanted to ask Brian Tracy. It’s a very simple concept.
I didn’t presume to know what Brian’s audience needed to know because I don’t know that. I’m not a mind reader. A lot of salespeople, a lot of marketers think they are. I know I’m not. What I do know is if I ask the audience what they want, they’ll tell me what they want.
Maybe I can give it to them exactly the way they wanted. What a concept. You can apply this in every part of your life. I would create Socratic content. The email goes out, the answers come in.
It all goes into the Ask Database. This is 2002, and it continued for ten years. I got the seven most important questions that people wanted to know about selling that was the category of the topic of Brian Tracy. I put up a webpage and I said, “This is what we did. We surveyed and this is what people said and here are the topics we’ll be covering, the seven most important elements to selling according to Brian Tracy.”
People got registered. When they registered, they knew that the teleseminar was free. That was the model I would do. They could buy the audio version, so they can listen to it again and again. They can buy the transcripts for $10 more.
We sold the 75-minute audio on a CD and digitally, online as an MP3 file, we sold that for $27. If they wanted the transcripts for $10 more, we do that. We’d get $37. About 50% of the people got the transcripts because they like to read.
I threw in a three-ring binder for free. They get the digital version, PDF as well. That was my model. I made several hundred thousand dollars doing it this way. My guests also did.
[bctt tweet=”There’s no such thing as self-made in this world.” via=”no”]
I did it so many times. I got AskBrianTracy.com, AskHarvEker.com, AskLesBrown.com, AskJackCanfield.com. I did over 80 teleseminars with Jack Canfield, and now I do Facebook Live with him. He’s my good friend.
I traveled with him for his One Day to Greatness. I’m his master of ceremonies and I do a lot of the selling on the stage because Jack prefers for me to do that. He’s promoted this podcast, All Selling Aside, because he believes in my style. I’m very grateful to him for that.
We did the Socratic method and using the Ask Database for virtual book tours as well. What do you want to know about this book? You can do it on Facebook Live. You can do it for webinars.
It’s the fastest and easiest way to monetize content. Ask them for what they want, evaluate it, then give it to them. I no longer utilize the Ask Database. We retired it, but that methodology can be easily used with any type of survey software, whether it’s Survey Monkey or whatever you decide to use.
Think about Socrates for a moment. He lived back in the days of ancient Athens. In fact, at the Parthenon where I’ve walked up to, he was known to walk around there in his toga and people asked him, “Socrates, what is beauty?”
He would look at them and he would say, “What does beauty mean to you?” That’s the porcupine effect I was talking about. When someone is getting sold, they hate that process. When someone is buying, they love that process. Think about it in your own life.
“People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.” I have quoted that many times. My good friend Jeffrey Gitomer who first wrote that or I first read it with his book in mind. Socrates mentored Plato, another great philosopher. Plato mentored Aristotle. Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great, who was a Macedonian.
That’s the lineage of mentoring. Mentoring works: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, then Alexander. I believe that if you think you can give people what they need, then you’re a mind reader. You’re going to come up wrong most of the time unless you can read minds. If you give them what they want based on what they told you, then utilizing the Socratic method, no matter what type of database you use, will work for you.
The Alexism for this episode is that there is no such thing as a successful self-made entrepreneur.
Plato was not self-made. Plato has Socrates. Aristotle was not self-made. Aristotle had Plato. Alexander the Great was not self-made. Alexander had Aristotle.
I don’t know who Socrates had, but I’m sure he had someone. Warren Buffett had Benjamin Graham, that was his mentor. Steve Jobs had Andy Grove, that was one of his mentors. I have several mentors. I have Roy H. Williams, Jack Canfield, Ivan Misner, Dan Kennedy as mentors.
I’ve had many mentors over the years, some I still stay with. I’m very grateful to them because I know there’s no such thing as a successful self-made entrepreneur. In the world of asking questions, remember the porcupine. When you ask someone a question, you’ve just thrown them a porcupine.
Some people like to hold on to that thing. If I’m thrown a porcupine, someone asks me a question in a sales exchange, I throw it back. Someone asked Socrates, “What is beauty?” He then throws the porcupine back and says, “What does beauty mean to you?” This is an imaginary porcupine.
The reason I use that image is that no one would like to catch a porcupine. The Socratic Method is throwing this porcupine back and forth. It’s great for negotiating with others. It’s great when you’re trying to win your way with a friend or a colleague.
Ask questions. The question mark pulls. The exclamation point pushes. The question mark is a hook. The exclamation point is a spear. Look at those images and that’ll work for you.
The Three World-Class Questions
Let me give you three world-class questions as we slowly conclude this episode. One of them comes from a good friend and a colleague, Keith Cunningham. He asked the question, “What don’t I see?” In other words, “What am I not seeing?” It could be in your marriage, with your kids, in your business, in a sales presentation.
What’s the blind spot? If you actually know you have a blind spot and you’re not in denial of it and you’re looking for it, then “What don’t I see?” is a world-class question in my opinion. That’s number one. Here’s another question. How do I make money when others steal from me? When I have sold courses where there’s a member’s area, if people stole from me, they got the username and password from a friend.
They’re getting it for free when they’re not supposed to. I’m sure that has happened. In fact, I know it happens. When that happens, I still make money. How?
I put links to affiliate offers such as Click Funnels or Webinar Jam. I’m an affiliate and I’m a joint venture partner for Skipio. How do I make money? A thief follows through. The people who pay don’t always follow through, but thieves follow through.
They’re thieves. I can guarantee almost always that the thief will take my recommendation because he or she thought they got away with it. I make money through my affiliate partners when they buy through those links. Isn’t that a cool way?
Disneyland does this. When I’m on Space Mountain with my kids, at the very end they take a picture. Every other amusement park, no one lets you at the other parks take pictures with your mobile phone, your smartphone, iPhone, Android. No one lets you take pictures of the TV screens that have your picture of that moment of fear as you’re coming through the scariest part of the ride.
You know how they put them up, if you’ve ever been there. It could be in another ride as well. Usually, it’s a rollercoaster because they want you to have that awe, that look on your face with your kids or spouse or whomever. Every other amusement park forbids you to take pictures and they got a security guard there, “No, don’t take pictures.”
[bctt tweet=”The question mark is more powerful than the exclamation point in sales.” via=”no”]
Why? Because that’s stealing. They want you to buy the picture. Not so with Disneyland. There was no security guard.
Everyone goes up to the TV sets, the closed circuit TVs with the pictures that they’re popping on because eventually you see yours pop up, and they just let you take a picture of the picture. You don’t have to pay $25 for a printed picture. Who has printed pictures anyway? You get some tourist that buy, but most people go up and take pictures.
That’s stealing. How does Disneyland make money when people steal from them? What do they do with those digital pictures? They tweet them out. They put them on Facebook. They email them.
What they’re doing is they have word of mouth about Disneyland, so more people come in. Johnny gets the picture and says, “Mom, I want to go with Alex.” That’s what happened to me one time.
Know that you can make money when people steal. Don’t ask, “How do I protect my content? How do I prevent people from stealing from me?” Say, “How do I make money when people steal from me?” That’s a world-class question.
“What don’t I see?” That was the first question. “How do I make money when people steal from me?”
The third world class question is, “What are we split testing?” What’s a split test? A split test is you’re testing one offer with another one, one headline against another one, one subject line against another one that’s in the world of copy. In the world of sales, “Buy one, get one free,” can be split tested with, “Two for the price of one.”
Half the list gets two for the price of one. That’s the offer. The other half gets buy one, get one free. If you split test something every single weekday, that’s like 225 split tests a year. You’re going to be improving.
“What are we split testing?” is another world-class question. Number one, “What don’t I see?” Number two, “How do I make money when others steal from me?” Number three, “What are we split testing?”
Here’s a quick review about the insights you and I discovered in this episode. You discovered the Socratic method and how to attract more clients faster and easier by asking questions just like I did with Brian Tracy’s teleseminar and using the Ask Database and the power of questions. They hook people.
Next, when negotiating with others or selling others which is a negotiation, remember the porcupine method. It’s a technique, a mental image of your keep throwing them a porcupine with every question you asked. Finally, I think you know that the question mark is a hook that pulls people in. The exclamation point, as energetic as it is, as passionate as it is, is often a spear that pushes people away.
Remember, these insights can work for you if you work them, so please work them. Speaking of reviews, I want you to go to www.AllSellingAside.com/iTunes and type in your biggest takeaway or a-ha moment you experienced. You can do this when the reviews section and when you do it, iTunes is going to ask you to rate this and I hope I’ve earned five stars from you.
Declare your one big takeaway in the iTunes review section by visiting www.AllSellingAside.com/iTunes. It’ll take three minutes out of your day, but what you declare could provide you a lifetime of learning. If you’ve already given me a review, then iTunes won’t allow you to give another review, but what I want to allow you to do is write that big takeaway on an index card and do it so you have a group of index cards with all the takeaways from All Selling Aside.
Take a picture of it, send it to me. Nothing would make me happier. I have one final gift for you. It’s my complimentary digital version of Alexisms: Useful Lessons from a Recovering Serial Entrepreneur. You can instantly download it at www.AlexismsBook.com. It’s $20 on Amazon.
That’s for the physical version, but why pay $20 when you can get it for free? If you want to buy the physical version, I’m happy for you to do that as well.
The Alexisms in this was, “There’s no such thing as a self-made successful entrepreneurial.” I do hope our paths cross again for All Selling Aside. Again, this is the show dedicated to making ethical influence within your reach so that you can achieve and even exceed your sales potential because remember, you are not as good as you think you are, you’re better.
Do whatever it takes to join me next time because the topic is going to be how to sell less and net more. I hope you join me. I encourage you to invite a friend or bring a study buddy and let’s do these takeaways together because it’s more fun learning with someone else. I can’t wait to connect with you then. All good wishes.
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