Lots of people have a great idea, but they fail to have any understanding of who they want to bring that idea to or exactly who that perfect person might be in the first place. They sit, wish, wait, hope and pray for success as opposed to point themselves in a targeted, directed fashion with the right message towards the right person at the right time. Professional sales trainer and coach, Phil M. Jones, teaches on exactly what to say for influence and impact to close a sale. Phil entered the world of business at the tender age of fourteen. With nothing more than a bucket and sponge, he went from washing cars at weekends to hiring a fleet of friends working on his behalf, resulting in him earning more than his teachers by the time he was fifteen. His career went from strength to strength, as he worked with a host of Premier League Football Clubs to help them agree sponsorship and licensing agreements, to then being a key part of growing a £240M property business. Phil is now on a mission to demystify the sales process and bring simplicity and integrity to an industry where the only thing that seem to matter are short-term results with no thought for the impact on everyone involved.
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Exactly What To Say For Influence And Impact with Phil M. Jones
Our guest is Phil M. Jones. He’s the bestselling author of Exactly What To Say, Exactly How To Sell and Exactly Where To Start. He had his first business at fourteen years of age. He’s the youngest recipient of the British Excellence in Sales and Marketing Award. Over two million people across 57 different countries have benefited from his lessons and they know exactly what to say and when to say it. Let’s start learning from Phil. Welcome to the show.
It’s good to be here, John. Thanks for inviting me on.
You’re quite prolific to have two separate books. I always like to ask my guest to take us back to their own story of origin and it seems that for you, that might be fourteen years of age.
I’ve been in this game for quite some time. My first business was when I was fourteen years of age. I was knocking on the doors of my neighbors, asking them quite politely whether they wanted their cars washed. Some said yes, some said no. Most asked me how much money I would charge, which I quickly realized meant they were interested providing my prices were fair. I did okay with that little business, so much so that by the age of fifteen I was not going to school quite as often as I should. I remember getting invited in by the said school teachers questioning my attendance saying, “Phil, why don’t you come to school?” My response was simple. It was a question. It was, “Sir, do you mind me asking you a question?” He said, “Yes, sure.” I said, “How much money are you making?” The school teacher refused to tell me at the time, but at fifteen years of age my little car cleaning business was delivering me around £2,500 a month at that time, around $4,000 at that moment.
The reason I didn’t go to school is I had customers that needed servicing, staff that needed direction. I’ve always had this entrepreneurial gene in my body. I built a number of businesses through my teens. At eighteen, I had a dilemma. An offer on the table from one of the most prestigious universities, but I wanted to get my education in the field. The next few years had me working through some nice corporate roles. I was the youngest Sales Manager for a business called Debenhams Department Store. Head of Sales Training and Store Manager for one of the largest furniture retail groups called DFS Furniture Group, a former Head of Retail and Commercial Director for two Premier League soccer clubs. I went from there to build a property business that turned over £240 million at its peak.
In 2008, as the world started to change with this wonderful economic crisis that was going on at the time, what I was seeing was lots of lots of businesses that either we’re doing something good or good at doing something and failing to get the results I knew they were capable of. Struggling in that recession time because of the fact they couldn’t sell anything. What I started doing was delivering small sales training programs to help out the local business community. Ten people in a workshop became twenty people in a workshop, became 50 people in the workshop became, “Can you come deliver this to our sales force?” became big companies coming on board, became first book. Ten years on from now, I’ve written six bestselling books, spoken all around the world and still wondering when I’m going to figure it out what want to do.
The thing that jumps out when I was hearing you talk about your background for me is the soccer aspect of it. I’m curious, if there are any life lessons, do you look at the sales playing field like a soccer field? Are there any lessons from soccer that you apply in your talks and your workshops?
None whatsoever. The only thing I think about, and this is probably relevant to a pitching point of view is when you study those that have been super successful in the world of any sport and then in particular soccer is those who have achieved the best of the best always have ratios attached to their numbers. An example of which is a guy called Alan Shearer, one of the greatest Premier League soccer players of all time. He’s won the Golden Boot, as in most goals scored in the season, more times than anybody else. In his best ever season, his shots to goals ratio was 10:1. Lots of people we meet in the world of sales or when they’re pitching things are saying things like, “I tried three times, it didn’t work out. I tried five times, it didn’t work out.”Enthusiasm is a catalyst toward decisions Click To Tweet
The best of the best of the best have to try ten times to try to get one goal. Better than that also is what did Alan Shearer need to be able to do to score, what he needed to be to be able to take shots, he needed the ball. In the world of sales, our ball is our prospect list, and it’s who we are pitching towards. Lots of people have a great idea, but they fail to have any understanding of who they want to bring that idea to or exactly who that perfect person might be in the first place. They sit, wish, wait, hope and pray for success as opposed to point themselves in a targeted, directed fashion with the right message towards the right person at the right time.
I love that concept of measurement and it’s not just to have a goal, but it’s how many sales calls are you making? How many of these are your closing? Which helps get people’s mindset wrapped around not burning out? If you realize it’s going to take one out of ten shots in sports and it’s going to take one out of ten maybe in what you’re selling to get the yes, then it helps people realize, “I’m only an eight so I have to keep going.” That mindset of an athlete and the mindset of a sales athlete are important and you certainly have that down. Let’s jump in because you not only have one but two books out and another one on the way.
The new one is finished and it launches in October 2018. That one comes together and brings the trilogy to complete.
I’m going to ask you if someone is saying to themselves, “Do I want to start with What To Say or do I want to start with How To Sell? Where would you have them start first?
The third book is probably important to be able to bring into play here, which is called Exactly Where To Start. If you’re wondering where to start, that may well be the place. Let’s look at what all three of them are. Exactly Where To Start is a book to how to turn your big idea into reality. If you sat there thinking, “I’ve got this great product idea, this great service idea. I’ve got something I want to launch as a new arm to my business,” getting that blueprint for success right in the first place is more important than saying, “How do I drive it fast?” Take that race car analogy is, “Before you learn to drive the race car, you need to have a race car.” Building something that works on paper, getting an idea launched and out the ground is probably the place to start if you don’t have an existing business.
If you have an existing business in place, you can probably look at this either way around. For people finding my work the first time, the way in which they’re written is probably the best order. Read Exactly What To Say because it gives you some instant wins, some quick takeaways, but if you read it and you read it right, you’re going to be like, “That was super smart and it was crammed into a short read and it was something that was no fluff, but there was no backup to it.” There was nothing like, “Here are all the articles, all the investigations and all the experience as to why these things are true.” It’s jus, “This is true. Do this. This is how it works.”
For people that then want to back that up with some more sales psychology, they want to back it up with some more understanding of still straight talking principles, then read Exactly How To Sell. If you feel you know nothing about the sales process first time round, then flip those two around, start with Exactly How To Sell, understand the principles of sales and then Exactly What To Say becomes the sprinkling on the top of the cake that says, “How do I make the system run faster?”
Let’s start with Exactly What To Say and it’s the magic words for influence and impact. Who doesn’t want some magic words? One of the big things that a lot of people struggle with is realizing that there are two types of people that you talk about. You talk about this person that’s a professional mind maker upper and that some people as you talk about here leave their professional success in the hands of others. There are some people who judge something before they’ve even tried it. This constant awareness of who you’re talking to and should people adjust the words that they’re saying based on who they’re talking to is my question?
We should adjust the words that we’re saying depending upon the outcome that we want to achieve. When I talk in terms of the outcome that we want to achieve, it might not necessarily be the final outcome. This is a mistake that lots of people make when they’re trying to pitch something is they want to get from A to Z. In a conversation, even if it is a one-sided conversation in the form of a one-way communicative pitch, it still needs landing points and checkpoints to say, “What I want to do is I want to provide this piece of evidence and then this piece of evidence,” where the sum of all those pieces evidence mean, “Of course, they’re going to choose me. Of course, they’re going to do what I ask.” John, you know friends who have invited somebody to marry them? On a scale of one to ten, with ten being somewhere near certain and one being, “I don’t know whether she’s going to say yes,” where do you think most of those people are on that sliding scale of one to ten when they ask the question, “Will you marry me?”
I would say nine and a half. Everyone I know, male or female, depending on who’s doing the asking because we live in a whole different world now, that you’re 95% sure you’re going to get a yes when you went and ask the question, especially in front of a bunch of people.
Somewhere near certain, maybe a niggle of doubt in the back of your mind, but you’re somewhere near certain. What we should be looking to do is to find that same level of certainty before we invite somebody to invest in our idea, buy into our product or service, to be able to move forward with us in a long-term relationship. That same level of certainty should come before the big ask. That’s what we should be looking to be able to do with the evidence that we build through our pitches.
One of the phrases you have in Exactly What To Say is, “I bet you’re like me,” and that phrase allows people to get from being on opposite sides of the table to being on the same side of the table, if not physically at least psychologically because you’re building rapport with that phrase. Would you agree with that?
What you’re looking to be able to do is you’re looking to find a way to get anybody to agree with anything you say. Providing you’re reasonable, if you say, “I bet you’re a bit like me,” and then follow that up with a reasonable set of circumstances, you can gain a piece of evidence. “I bet you’re a bit like me, you like to work with a local organization and you far rather prefer to support local, homegrown talent than you would to work with somebody from the other side of the country or the other side of the world.” If what I’m going to do is to present the fact that we’re a local company, I’ve already got the evidence and the agreement, the fact that given the choice they would prefer to work with a local company.
One of the mistakes I see people making often when they give a pitch to get a new client or even get a pitch to get their startup fund it is not planning a good closing. You and I are both keynote speakers so we know how important a good opening and closing is. Most people think, “I’ll just end my presentation or my pitch with, ‘Do you have any questions?” I cringe every time I hear that. You at least have given them a new way to phrase, “If you’re going to ask for questions,” whenever. “What questions do you have for me?” which implies you’ve got to have something there.
It’s more than that as well. If I finish a presentation with the words, “Do you have any questions?” the undertone and psychology is I expected you to have questions. If I say to you, “Do you have any questions?” and you don’t have any questions, a little voice inside of the head says, “What did I miss? What have I not caught here?” It’s an activist, a catalyst, a breeding ground for objections like, “I need some time to think about it.” What you’ve done is you’ve suggested to them that they should have had questions to ask. You’ve told them you don’t believe you’ve given them enough information to make a decision, if you’re saying, “Do you have any questions?” Rephrase that to, “What questions have you got for me?” What you’ve got is you’ve created path of least resistance is for them to come back and say, “No questions.”
If they say, “No questions,” it means they’ve got enough information to make a decision, which means that you’re welcome to ask them for the decision. If you’re looking to be able to invite somebody to take the next step, then that’s all we need to do, is to invite them to take the next step. A close in a pitch environment isn’t this big, “Shall we go for it?” It’s inviting them to take an action that they could only take, had they decided they were going to go for it. It’s an invitation formula to take the next step.
Let’s jump into the other great book, Exactly How To Sell, which is a sales guide for non-sales professionals. If I may be so bold, everyone who is a sales professional should also read this because part of being a good salesperson is like an athlete or an actor is keeping up on your training and skill set. Even if you think you don’t need this, I would like to invite all the readers to reconsider that and say, “I think I might.” The thing that jumped out at me having had a sales career for many decades is where you talk about making the moments count. There’s a lot of great things out there about instead of eating a bagel or a muffin, eat this. Instead of eating pizza, eat this. You’ve done it in the way of talking about the problems. My whole philosophy is the better you can explain the problem to a client, the better they think you have the solution. You do a deep dive into four or five things that we should say instead of this. Instead of saying if, what should I say?
Instead of saying if, if you say the word when, then what you do is you create a vivid image. Think about the example. If I’m to say to you right now, “If you’re not careful, the cup of coffee in front of you is going to fall all over your keyboard.” Your little voice inside your head’s going to say, “It won’t fall. I’m careful.” If I say, “When you turn around too quickly, you’re going to knock that coffee cup, it’s going to ruin your keyboard.” You cannot help but see a visual image of your keyboard covered in coffee, which means that if I can say, “Here’s a mug with a lid on it,” that means that when you knock it over, it doesn’t spill on the keyboard, you’re more likely to be able to move forward with it.Show Me Your Know Me Click To Tweet
The takeaway there is using the word when paints a picture. The word ‘but’ comes up a lot. “Can you do this for us?” “Yes, but,” and your whole philosophy is replacing the word but much like they do with improv with the word and.
What we do is we now create something where all things are true as opposed to negating the thing that was said prior to it. If I’m in a conversation with somebody and I say, “I hear what you’re saying. I agree with the points that you’re making but,” the second I’ve said the word but, what I’ve said is, “Everything you’ve just said is not true.” If you’re saying, “I hear what you’re saying, and I agree with the things that you’re pointing out to me and we’re both in agreement with this and the most important thing is,” then what I can do is shift the conversation and bring everybody with me.
Here’s a big one. It’s always shocking to me when the client will say, “How much does this cost?” We have the ability to reframe that with a different phrase, which you would say would be?
I would swap the word cost for investment. Let’s think about this with some pain, is four letter C words are typically not good to use. How do you feel about the cost in your life? A cost is a bad thing. If you understand what costs are, it’s money out and nothing back. A cost brings zero returns. If we were say in any other set of circumstances, “It costs me,” we would be describing a bad set of circumstances. It was something that left a pain on us. The thing that we’re looking to better provide to them, whether it is some form of involvement into funding a startup, whether it is them buying into a product or service. I’m guessing that thing is going to bring some returns. If that thing is going to bring some returns, it isn’t a cost, it’s an investment. We label it the right way around. The money is easier to spend. It’s easier to spend money on an investment than it is to spend money on a cost.
We’re having a collaborative conversation, they’re on the right track and they say, “When we are working together, X, Y and Z is going to happen,” and your suggestion is instead of saying the word we, we should say, you.
We should say you. We should swap everything that is we focused to you. Let me give you the biggest example of this in the world. In every proposal, every pitch document, every company website that I see, more often than not, what I see is, “We this, We that, We the other.” “We pride ourselves on our customer service. We founded in 2004. We have an experienced team of professionals,” you quite literally we all over your customers. Flip that thing around and what we should be saying is, “Choosing us means that You benefit from over 40 years of experience. What you find from being a customer of ours means that You get the benefit of being able to plug into this, this, and this.” Instead of it we, we, we, it’s choosing us so you. What we also do is we activate the sentence. We put them in possession of the service or the product that we have in their mind’s eye, which means that we move it from a future conditional tense and we bring it towards being an active and current tense.
Some people would be like, “Yes, we know we’re expensive but,” there are two noes there. Let’s say, “Yes, we know we’re expensive,” how would you suggest people reframe that?
Before I jump into the reframing, answer me this question. Do you like expensive things?
I would also challenge that sometimes I believe that would be true.
I like them, I don’t know that I can afford them or want to spend. I’d like to have an expensive car.
Expensive restaurants, suits, shoes, watch, jewelry. In many sets of circumstances, the word expensive is something we’re remarkably proud of. Where it is in scenarios that we’re proud of is when we’re talking about a premium offering. If we swap the word expensive for premium, what we end up doing is we talked to the right side of the brain that considers expensive a good thing as opposed to expensive a bad thing. What is it that truly makes something expensive? The only thing that makes something expensive in my mind is what it’s being compared to. Is a Rolls Royce expensive? Not if you’re shopping for a Bugatti Veyron, it’s not. Until you can find a comparison, the label of expensive is only in relation to what it’s being compared to. If their first offering is the fact that this is an expensive product, we can reframe that it’s a premium offering. What we’ve done is we’ve then allowed them to be able to judge this as not do they or don’t they want the offering, it’s can they or can’t they afford it. That’s a different thing.
When somebody sees something as expensive and the problem is that they cannot afford it, there’s not a great deal that we can do to change that. If you’re looking for $2 million worth of funding and somebody could only put $50,000 in and that’s all they have as disposable liquidity, I don’t care how good your pitch is. Somebody doesn’t have the means to be able to pay, then the game is unfortunately over and it may well be too expensive. However, what we’re looking to do is to build a premium offering, we’re building a premium company, we want to bring on board premium people. All of a sudden that requires a premium level of investment.
On the flip side of expensive is cheap. I don’t think anybody ever usually refers to their offering as cheap. However, the client might say, “We’re looking for the cheapest solution.”
Client says, “Have you got anything cheaper?” Sometimes though, even sales professionals in organizations say, “I have got something here for you. It’s a little cheaper.” The trouble is there would never be an ad agency that was putting a campaign together that used the word cheap in any of the slogans for a company. It’s not going to be the thing that reinforces a conversation the way that we would look for. People do talk about things like budget. Budget would be a way of being able to say it’s a budget offering, but I don’t like that on a personal level. What budget says when you think about the real meaning of the word is that’s the sum of money that’s been allocated towards spending on this. That isn’t what we’re looking to better create as a label on this. We could say that it’s a basic offering because what it is, is without all the bells, whistles and the frills or we could say it’s a value offering.
That gives you what you need, so you’re getting maximum value. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, that’s just for you. A lot of people are always saying, “The problem we see out in the marketplace that we’d like to solve is this.” What’s your pain point? All those kinds of phrases, it’s too direct. It’s not conversational.
How could you ever answer that question? If somebody says, “What’s your pain point?” Put yourself on the receiving end of it or, “Talk to me about your problems. Why don’t we sit down and talk about your problems?” You’re like, “Screw you. I don’t want to talk about my problems.” In fact, if you ask somebody to describe your problems, you’re going to win about as many friends than saying that somebody has an ugly baby. It’s not going to play out well. What a problem is is a head to head conversation.
Think about the definition of a problem, is about you saying, “I can solve this. You’ve got this,” and then the other person has to wholeheartedly own up to the fact that this problem is all on them and that you are the Holy Grail and the Savior. That’s a big ask on both sides of that conversation. Flip the word problem for the word challenge, now it’s not head-to-head, it’s side–by-side. This becomes something that we can overcome in partnership, in collaboration together, which can have some long-term success where both parties can admit to indifference. Both parties can admit to the fact they’ve got imperfections and both parties can move forward, collaboratively together merely by swapping the word problem for challenge.
The final one is when you say to somebody, “When I sell you this car, when I sell you this product, when I sell you X, Y and Z, you’re going to be happy,” or whatever their promise is.
This is a general shift in everything. You’ll see undertones of this through all the examples that we’ve talked about. We should be shifting when I sell to when you want. When you create that same thing we talked about earlier where instead of creating a future conditional set of circumstances, we create an active, current set of circumstances. What we’re also doing is we’re removing all of the We, we’re shifting into the You. What we shouldn’t be saying is, “When I get your investment, what I’m going to do is this,” it’s, “When you choose to invest, what you’re going to find is it’s going to allow us to be able to do this, which means that what you’re going to then have is a closer step towards this, which then means that what we can do.”
We’re shifting the entire interest into talk about their interests and not yours. In every conversation that you’re looking to have, we’re going to create freedom. It’s not black and white. We’re looking to be able to enjoy the shade of gray in the middthe le. We’re looking to allow the other persons of color in between the lines, yet we formulate the lines. The feeling, the undertone in the other person throughout the entire conversation is, “Show me that you know me.”We vs You Click To Tweet
The biggest challenge I see salespeople having is closing the sale. The reason they can’t close the sale, usually it’s because they can’t overcome the objections. You tackle this in your chapter about how to negotiate like a pro and overcome these objections. What I want to double click on, Phil, is dramatize your idea as a way to negotiate like a pro. Can you explain that for us?
People like big ideas. Enthusiasm itself is a catalyst towards decision. If you cannot bring the outcome that you were looking for somebody to move towards or away from, to a position that is larger than life, yet still unbelievably true, then the chances of you moving that person towards that thing remain into the realms of being rational and being made under the purpose of logic. We all know that the majority of decisions are made on emotion over logic. Emotion always comes first. Something has to feel right before it ever makes sense.
When it comes to whatever our idea is that we’re looking for somebody to be able to move towards, then what we need to do is we need to bring the noise to it. We need to make it into a full feature length production. The dramatization needs to be the very best version of reality. I’m not saying tell lies. I’m not saying to be able to bring in any mistruths. I’m saying what we should be able to do is to polish the truth in the finest possible ways so that the thing we’re asking somebody to move towards or away from is something they’re excited about. They feel enthused about. They feel like a catalyst that kicked off and it’s the thing they want to be a part of.
You talked about if you want different results and to be seen different from your competition, which is important that other not in this commodity space, that the real secret to all of it is we all have to start behaving differently. That is such a great way to end your philosophy and this episode. I’m going to ask you if people are like, “I get it, Phil. I need to behave differently,” is there one thing besides buying your books Exactly What To Say, Exactly How To Sell that they should be doing to behave differently?
They need to look at everything from the viewpoint of the consumer and say, “What am I doing to create an experience here that is demonstrably different?” If they want to take one point in time that they can do something that is demonstrably different, it’s the moment in time that is before the consumer gets to be the consumer. It’s the moment before the moment. If you are meeting somebody as a prospect for the very first time and you’re looking to be able to pitch to them, what can you make happen before you get into that first meeting? That would be the number one biggest takeaway that could influence your conversion rates in first meeting is to say, “What can I do to start the meeting before the first meeting happens to give me a fair advantage ahead of everybody else?” That means I shift the start line further forward by starting the relationship with the other person way before everybody else.
You’d go into all kinds of examples on how to do that, whether it’s reaching out on social media or something like that. If anybody wants to hire you, obviously, you’re hugely successful as a speaker. I definitely want to recommend that, but as far as following you on social media so we’d know when to buy your next book?
PhilMJones.com, from the site there you can splinter out to any one of the social channels. I’m pretty active across all of the major platforms. You can plug into the blog. There are loads of free content. You can stay up-to-date with some of my movements. I’d be delighted to hear from anybody that’s taken something from the interview, chose to put it into action and found a way of making it work for them.
Thanks so much for being on the show, Phil.
Thanks for inviting me. It’s great to be here.
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