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My guest today is Jeffrey Gitomer.
If you work in sales, you’ve likely heard of Jeffrey Gitomer or came across one of his many color-coded books. An acclaimed public speaker, business trainer, and prolific writer known as the “King of Sales,” he has authored over 25 books about sales, customer loyalty, and personal development, including The New York Times best-sellers, The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Black Book of Connections, and The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude. He also released a new book, Sales Manifesto. And, his new, new book, Get Sh*t Done: The Ultimate Guide to Productivity, Procrastination, and Profitability
Together with Jennifer Gluckow, author of Sales in a New York Minute, he hosts the wildly popular podcast, Sell or Die, which I listen to every week. He is also the founder of Gitomer Learning Academy, an extensive online library of audio, video, and written content and courses about everything a salesperson needs to succeed, covering topics such as getting past the gatekeeper, overcoming objections, closing, and more. You can check it by visiting Gitomer.com and clicking: Get the Learning Academy or by clicking the link included above.
Jeffrey Gitomer also tours the country delivering over 100 keynote speeches and seminars a year at companies and events, and has served major corporate customers, such as Coca-Cola, D.R. Horton, Caterpillar, BMW, BNC Mortgage, Time Warner Cable, The Sports Authority, and Carlsberg beer.
Zev Gotkin: Jeffrey, thank you so much for being here on the podcast today.
Jeffrey Gitomer: It’s a pleasure.
JG: I want to tell you that after the Sales Manifesto was released, I just released another book called Get Sh*t Done, but a lot of people don’t like to read the word “shit” on a podcast because they’re afraid their mother will come and wash their mouth out with soap, but it’s there for others to take a look at and buy on my video today.
The Sales Manifesto and Get Shit Done are two, I think, definitive books about the world. I need to sell more and I need to use my time more productively and I need to use it more profitably and I need to stop wasting my time or procrastinating.
Zev Gotkin Agreed. I definitely want to check that out.
First, I want to just delve into your background a little bit. I know I interviewed you once before for Huffington Post and you’re a world-renowned sales coach, author, keynote speaker. Thousands of people download your courses on gitomerlearning.com and listen to your seller podcast weekly, but I’m not sure how many people know about your own background in sales.
How did you get into sales? What and where did you sell before you launched your sales training business? How’d you get started?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Well, my mother and my father were both “business people” because in those days, they didn’t use the word “entrepreneur.” I think that sort of wears on. You see what other people do, you especially see what your parents do, and you want to, in some way, emulate them. I always wanted to be a businessman, like my dad. I got into his business and then I started my own business. I manufactured furniture. I manufactured beanbag chairs. Didn’t create them, I copied them.
Then I started manufacturing Imprinted Sportswear, but everything I did, I went to New York City to sell, which is where, if you want to make sales, that’s where you have to go. I learned how to bang on doors and make big sales.
ZG: Awesome. Yeah, New York will definitely be a good place to cut your chops for sure.
JG: Oh, yeah for sure.
ZG: You recently released a new book, Sales Manifesto, which I’m thoroughly enjoying, by the way. Now, there have been so many books written over the past hundred years about sales, most of them probably by you.
JG: Well, listen, the Get Shit Done book is my 16th book, so it’s not like I don’t have an understanding of it, but selling evolves. Selling has changed over the past 10 years. If you’re selling the same way you did 10 years ago, you’re a fool and you’re losing sales to kids that are kicking your ass.
ZG: Totally agree. That definitely answers my question, which was:
What made you decide to write this book and why the need for a new one?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Social platforms are brand new. Everything about the world of sales is changing for the better.
I mean, to me, I think that there’s an ability for you to grow your understanding of how to earn dollars in today’s marketplace. Because with the economy, I know this is going to come as a surprise to people that the economy is booming. With a booming economy, it doesn’t just breed more sales, it breeds more competition because everyone’s jumping in the market to get their 10 cents. Salespeople now have to be sharper and better than ever in presenting a value message, not a price message. That’s what I’m all about.
Zev Gotkin: Amazing. Yeah, you were writing way back about creating value. Giving value, not just adding it. Even though you’re a sales guy, but I think a lot of it is also branding, marketing, attracting, and we’re going to get into that a little more in this interview. It’s so relevant now, more than it’s ever been.
What is the most common challenge or problem that you hear from salespeople who you meet or mentor or coach?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Well, the biggest one, which is pretty interesting is they need time management more than “How do I close the sale?”, more than “How do I make a cold call?”
That’s why I wrote the book Get Shit Done, because it’s about how to take advantage of your time and instead of spending it, which, there’s nothing left when you spend it, invest it. You invest it in yourself by reading or writing or doing things in spare minutes that other people were just piss away. I look at it from the perspective of that.
Then the Sales Manifesto, just to stay on topic, is about how to make sales, not just today, but for the next 10 years. I can predict 10 years but I could never have predicted Twitter or LinkedIn or even Facebook. That’s what was in their infancy 10 years ago.
Let’s take it 10 years at a time. Let’s assume they got a 20-year run. Something’s going to come along. Instagram came along and now video’s come along. The world is evolving very, very quickly and you have to learn the technology of the day in order to win today and tomorrow.
ZG: Totally. Now you got TikTok, you got all kinds of stuff coming on the scene now.
JG: Yeah, but let me throw something at you and you can do this for your listeners. I’m going to partner with a company called Hippo Video. Hippo Video is an embedded video inside of an email so that when you send a proposal to somebody, you don’t hope they click on it and open, you click on a little video link and it pops right up where you don’t have to download anything and it talks to you about what’s in the proposal.
ZG: Oh, my god. That’s amazing.
JG: Isn’t that cool? That’s technology. You’re either in it or you’re not. That’s the whole deal.
ZG: That is fantastic. I’ve been wanting to do more video proposals, actually, instead of just sending a document and hoping they read it, yeah.
JG: Right, right, right. Why on Earth would anybody on the planet only do text when you can do video?
ZG: Totally it’s much more personal. It’s like a face time interaction.
JG: Yep, yep.
Zev Gotkin: It’s really interesting that time management is a big challenge. I can totally understand that. I mean, it’s the key, I think, is managing your time. We all know that fortune is in the follow-up or follow-through, as you call it. However, I suspect most salespeople don’t truly understand what follow-up actually means.
How would you differentiate following through from following up, and is there a formula or procedure one should always use to make sure the follow-through is productive?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Most salespeople follow-up to see if they’re going to get the money. They’ve sent a proposal to somebody and they call up feigning that they’re interested in talking to the customer, but really, all they want to know is:
Is the money ready?
I have found that if there’s an appointment made at point of proposal, that’s a fulcrum point. Salespeople are too busy sending the proposal to understand how to utilize the proposal to win a sale.
I’m looking at this from a standpoint. If I send a proposal to somebody, number one: I’m going to put a video in it, and number two: I’m going to set an appointment for them to review the proposal with me because “it’s not self-explanatory.” I’m going to make sure that I’m following up on a meeting that I have set when I send the proposal out instead of going fishing for the prospect after I send the proposal.
ZG: Yeah, totally. That was that follow up meeting or scheduling that next call is really crucial. Sometimes it’s hard to do. I find that probably if they don’t commit to a follow-up date, they’re probably not that interested.
JG: Right, right. You’re exactly correct, Zev. If they don’t commit to a follow-up, then something’s drastically wrong.
ZG: Yeah. I’m actually using a tool called Calendly. I find it very helpful. I resisted using it for a while, thought it looked a little pretentious, but it really helps in that just makes you more organized and professional and people like to click a time slot and if they don’t click it, then you know they’re probably not that interested because it’s a very small time.
JG: Do you use a CRM?
ZG: I don’t yet. I think as my company grows bigger, it definitely will be important to me.
JG: Yeah, I would just go to nutshell.com and see what you think about that.
Zev Gotkin: Will check that out! So, my next question is:
Is it more important to attract the right leads to come to you or to persuade and close those when you’re reached out to?
Jeffrey Gitomer: I think the ones that come to you are going to be the most fertile. I think they’re going to be more willing to buy. If you are a destination to somebody, come on, think about it: When you go to a store, whether it’s a grocery store or a department store, you didn’t go just for the hell of it. You went to buy something. It’s called a destination visit.
I mean, you go to a car store and the car salesman, like a fool, goes, “So, you’re looking for a new car today?” “No, bud, I came for hair transplant. I mean, what do you think I’m doing?”
The obvious fact is that they’re there in front of you. That’s the obvious fact. Then you have to find out what are they hoping for, what do they need right now, and what’s missing that you can provide. If you have those three things, you’re going to win, totally going to win.
Zev Gotkin: Definitely. That makes sense.
Regarding closing, I’ve heard it said that the sale doesn’t really begin until the prospect says “No.” Is this true? Should salespeople …?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Elmer Letterman wrote that book in 19… well, ’48 or ’49 and it’s true. Until the customer says “No,” you’re just taking an order. “I need a pizza.” “Okay, what do you want on it? You got a credit card?” “Okay.” That’s a sale.
But if you’re calling somebody about buying a copy machine and the customer says, “This is not really the one that meets our needs.” “Okay, so now what do I do?” The answer is: You say “Great.” Anyone who says that to me usually becomes one of our best customers. “Obviously, I’ve missed the mark with something that I’ve communicated with you and I was wondering if there’s a chance that I could just stop by for 10 more minutes.”
ZG: Hmm. So, you think you should continue to engage the prospect after?
JG: Hell yeah!
ZG: Got to be more aggressive?
JG: No, you have to be more assertive.
ZG: Ah, assertive, that’s right. Yes, I used the wrong word. Exactly, assertive; not aggressive.
JG: There’s a whole thing in the Sales Manifesto about aggressive versus assertive.
ZG: I remember that. I think people give up too easily, sometimes myself included. That’s very important to keep in mind.
JG: People definitely give up too easily.
Zev Gotkin: Social selling is a hot, relevant issue that you speak a lot about, especially as LinkedIn continues to rise as the dominant platform for doing business today. As the owner of a social media marketing agency, this topic is obviously of particular interest to me and many of the people listening to this podcast.
What are some do’s and don’ts of social selling that you can share with us today and what are people doing wrong? What should they be doing instead?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Most of the people who have an online presence, I don’t want to call it social selling because it’s almost an irrelevant word at the moment unless you’re on LinkedIn or you’re on Facebook and you’re sending out messages of value to someone that they might click a link, find you, and buy from you. They’re not going to get your sales message. I’m not going to have the two-for-one special, $19.95 today only. That’s not what’s going to cause me to buy from you.
What will cause me to buy from you is a message about me. If I started a post, for example, an article a day on digital network companies, would that interest you?
ZG: Of course.
JG: Right. You think maybe by the 10th one you might click a button and want my free download?
ZG: Probably would.
JG: Okay, so you get that. Now I have your email address, now I have a way to connect with you if I want to, but wouldn’t it be cool if I posted a test of the 10 biggest things that the digital agencies do right and 10 biggest things they do wrong and you get a chance to answer those 20 questions and I’ll send you the answer. Would you go for that?
Yeah, exactly. Sounds very interesting.
JG: Now I have time invested and my social platform invested and I’m going to be able to connect with you at least twice for this. I will establish some kind of a relationship based on the things that I got you engaged with. The key is engagement. I’m going to attract, then I’m going to engage, and if I can attract and engage, then maybe I can connect. Maybe, but no guarantees of that.
ZG: For sure. No guarantees at all. You get value, you connect with people, but I think a lot of people sometimes get lost and they expect something’s going to come to them as a result. Not always. The beauty of digital marketing is you can always see where you’re losing people more clearly, at least than other kinds of advertising, and you can adjust things accordingly.
JG: Well, they have no balls. I mean, here’s the deal: You can’t expect people to show up with a check or a credit card and give it to you. You have to engage them and you have to do it in a way where they feel that you’re somehow sincere about this and that your offer has value; not a value prop, that’s a big misnomer. I’m talking about an actual value message that someone says, “Hey, I get this.”
I’ll give you an example. If you sell homeowners insurance and it’s price footfalls all over the place, I want the guy who’s in my neighborhood who I can call if I, god forbid, have a claim, who’s going to send me a weekly email on how to keep my attic warm in the winter and cool in the summer, on how to stop my driveway from cracking, on the best places I can go for a weekend jaunt around my area that may be a hundred miles away or less, the 25 best restaurants that are recommended. I mean, those are things that I’m going to hold valuable. My insurance agents send out to me: “Mary just moved in next door and she doesn’t have an insurance agent. I’m going to recommend Bob.” That’s how that happens.
ZG: Yeah, you’d be surprised. I mean, it’s funny. I worked with a facility management company, one of the biggest in the Northeast mid-Atlantic region. We actually created at scale. I just trained my team. They’ve never done any blue-collar work in their life, but we found things repurposed. We educated ourselves about how to prepare your property for the winter, do’s and don’ts of post-construction cleaning, how to clean your carpet in a more environmentally friendly way, all these things for this company for their blog, for their social media, but you would be surprised at how much resistance there is to that. They want us to make the sales tomorrow. They don’t want to do all this value messaging in context.
JG: I totally 100% agree. That’s a company that’s going to go places. That’s the deal. It’s not that difficult. It’s not difficult to do, it just requires work, work outside of what you would normally be in a sales-pitch mode where you have 20 people you’ve got to call and make some cold calls, go to a networking event, do some follow-up, may send proposals. That’s all work time that you’re currently pissing away watching some Netflix thing. I’m talking about literally interacting with people and building a value-based platform to where people are actually recommending you to others based on what you say and what you do.
ZG: I’ve said this to many clients: “If you have a strong presence and you’ve given a lot of value,” you become a value platform, to use your term, “you have basically sold without walking in the room.”
JG: Totally. Totally. People already respect you. They’re going to want to engage you. They want to, “How’d you get that information? Where do you get that information?” “Don’t worry. I got it. I’m going to keep sending it.” It’s all about how to keep your house from burning down, it’s all about how to keep your driveway safe, it’s all about how to keep your kids in the yard, it’s all about where are the three most vulnerable places in your house where crooks break-in. Come on. Even the best burglar alarm company or the place where you can get stuff delivered 24-7 exactly.
We live in a world where everyone wants to know everything and if you have an everything page, you’re going to win.
Yep, you’re helping contextualize. There’s so much noise out there, but if you become the trusted resource, I think it’s game over. You stand out massively.
The noise is from people who are trying to sell something. Because it’s on the value side, it’s exceptionally quiet.
ZG: Exactly. I couldn’t agree more with that. You know what? I guess we don’t have too much time left, so I’m going to just try to squeeze in one or two more questions.
Zev Gotkin: One question is this. It’s something that I know I and many others deal with: A lot of times when you send a proposal or you give an offer and it’s rejected, many times, it’s really, I think it was just sent to the wrong person. It wasn’t necessarily the wrong offer or the wrong proposal, but that there wasn’t enough diligence taken to uncover the needs or the uncertainties of the prospect.
It can be frustrating when it’s rejected, but for a reason that could have been identified earlier in the sales process. How do we eliminate that problem?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Okay. Here’s the deal: You talk to a person and they want a proposal and you ask them this question: How will the decision be made? They’ll go into some diatribe about all kinds of things. You say, “Okay, great. I need everyone’s email address from that group so I can send them all a copy of the proposal.” “Well, you can just send it to me and I’ll get it to them.” “Bob, I appreciate that, but could you please let me do the work so you don’t have to worry about it?” Okay, so now I’m going to send it. Then I’m going to say, “Okay, well, what happens? How does this work?” “Well, we sit around and we pick out somebody and then we call them.” “Okay, then what?” “What do you mean ‘then what’?” “Well, I mean, what happens next?” “Oh, all proposals over $25,000, we have to take to our CFO.” In other words, these people don’t decide shit.
JG: I go, “Okay, then the CEO signs off on it, then what?” “Well, any proposal over $50,000 the CEO has to decide.” Now these people don’t do jack. They have to go ask their daddy for everything.
I’m going to put it in and I’m not going to try to sell these people who don’t make decisions. I’m going to say, “Listen, can you please allow me to send this proposal to everybody?” That’s how it works.
Zev Gotkin: It’s a very smart strategy. This is my final question. You mentioned in Sales Manifesto that you talked about getting referrals and then earning referrals and you’ve also been talking about that a lot on the Sell or Die podcast lately.
Besides doing amazing work and providing top-notch service, which should obviously, that’s the bare minimum, how can one get more referrals? Do you believe it’s ever appropriate to solicit a testimonial? If so, when should you ask for it? What’s the most tactful way to go about it?
Jeffrey Gitomer: Well, best way to get referrals is build a relationship with the person that you’re making your sales to because if you have a friendly relationship with them, they’re more likely to be truthful with you and help you. They’re less likely to give you a referral if you say, “I run my business on referrals and I was I was wondering if you know anybody else…” Dude, don’t give me that shit. It’s old world and it’s horrible.
You might get a referral or two, but not like you could’ve got if you’d have done it a different way. Most people are like boss has his foot up your ass to get more referrals and that’s not good. You don’t ask for referrals. You earn referrals. That’s number one.
Number two: You’re going to talk to that customer when they get your product or your service and you’re going to sit down with them and say, “Hey, Bob. I have a few minutes and I was wondering could we make a video of what your experience has been like with our company?” Have your iPhone out and ready to shoot instead of saying, “Well, no, I wouldn’t mind.” Now, you’ve got to go fumble for it. No, you have an out and you’re ready to go.
You have three questions. Did you ask that customer: What were you expecting when you placed the order and what actually happened? Okay, and how are your people feeling about it now that they’ve had a chance to use it? Those three questions will put you in money land.
Zev Gotkin: Amazing. Jeffrey, thank you so much for being on this podcast. I’ve really long been a fan of your work ever since my mother in high school gave me The Little Red Book of Selling and The Green Book of Getting Your Way.
Jeffrey Gitomer: Oh, my god. Cool. Cool.
ZG: I’ll admit, I didn’t truly appreciate the value until I re-read them years later, but your content’s been wonderful. You’re really an amazing resource to so many people in sales, business owners. Thank you for your time for being here today.
JG: It’s my doggone pleasure, Zev. Anytime for you.
ZG: Thanks so much. All right, take care.
JG: Okay, cheers.