Understand the Thing Your Customer Wants: Attract. Sell. Keep

In order to make a real difference in your business, in order to do something different as an entrepreneur, we explore the very secrets that enable you to move forward and to unlock the potential.

This article features the second part of our interview with Henry Feldman, of theaskbook.com, and who helped us explore the very avenues of the entrepreneur, on how to do certain things, and how to unlock your potential. Read on and learn with us.

David:   I’m very excited to talk to you. Thanks for joining us once again Henry.

Henry:   Good to talk to you David.

David:   If you remember, last time we talked about the entrepreneur, how to market yourself, and open up those opportunities. Do you have any golden rules to achieving a richer life? You mentioned something about freeing yourself from your inner fears and the like. Can you go on a little bit further about that?

Henry:   Well, these are the obstacles you must eradicate in order to persist in your promotional efforts. If you are fearful, if you have biases against doing this, and if you have false notions about it, you will just sit comfortably in your comfort zone and you will not grow or achieve the kind of goals that you want to achieve.

David:   What about reclaiming the emotional energy that you spend on feelings of being powerless? I suppose it’s a matter of realizing there’s something better at the end of it?

Henry:   Absolutely. I’m one of those goal-striving people. I found that I would flop around and do a lot of wasteful things if I didn’t have a goal in mind. All during my life, I wrote business plans. They’re kind of short and to the point, and say, “What do you want to do? Why are you doing all this?” And I said, “Well, I want to succeed, there’s a certain amount of money that I want to make by being a financial planner, I need to reach a certain goal to maintain my standard of living…” This is a revelation that you don’t want to share with your audience but my folks divorced when I was five, and my mother was panicked about money. She was fearful that she would not be able to survive with my sister and me. And that actually set into my mind, so the idea of helping people has been my goal. By helping people, if you had that sense that what you’re doing is helpful, guess who gets the most benefit? It’s you!

David:   Yes, that’s right. You’ve got some other golden rules here. Do you mind if I quickly go through them with you?

Henry:   Not at all.

David:   Okay. You’ve got… Identify your last time goals and lay out a plan to achieve them, which you just mentioned about goal-setting and that sort of thing. Be courageous and leave your comfort zone, which we talked about earlier. Be genuinely curious about others, and I suppose that really reflects on just being a decent human being.

Henry:   I don’t know if this is the right word, if you don’t mind. I think that being curious is what it says. If I’m not interested in who you are, what you do, what your struggles are, and what your joys are, you’re never going to be curious about me. And the best book ever written on selling, I’m sure you have it in Australia, is Dale Carnegie’s famous book, How To Win Friends and Influence People.

David:   Yes, that’s definitely a good one.

Henry:   When people ask, “How can I learn to be a salesman and enrich my life by having more friends?” And I say, read the best book ever written on the subject. When I was 14 years old, and I was shy, like I said, my mother brought me that book and I read that book and it turned on a light in what had been a pretty sad early existence, and I said, “If I ask people about themselves out of genuine curiosity, they may ask me about myself and I can talk to them on what I do and so forth!” And I found out that is the connection that begins relationships. I’m off-point, but I wanted to share that with you.

David:   Well, actually I think that it’s very relevant to that point. In fact the next point you’ve got here in one of the golden rules is, listen intently to what others are saying. And I would agree with that 100% because God gave us two ears and one mouth.

Henry:   We know that, you and I know that. But amateur salespeople, if I can comment on that, are so fearful of being rejected that they start talking, and they were instructed to do this by famous sales training courses put up by IBM and Xerox, which basically talked about business parts in 1980. That the way to sell is to learn the features and benefits of what you’re trying to sell and talk about it, sell the sizzle not the steak, and concentrate on telling the world how wonderful your product is. In the world that we live in now, where it’s a buyer’s market, and I’m sure that you have a problem there too, too many competitors chasing too few buyers. If you try to do that now, if you have some buyer and you go, “Let me tell you about this…,” the person would turn around and run.

David:   Yes, I totally agree with that.

Henry:   Today you have to be a counter puncher. Now, I’m not saying this is a manipulation because if you read my book you’d know I’m totally against manipulation and pigeon-holing the person because they’re old and they’re five feet four, and you’re trying to understand who they are and where they came from. Simply ask questions. Attract. Sell. Keep. The first letters of those words, when put together, spell ASK. Which is the common thread that goes through my book. So curiosity is about asking questions. Do you have any children, if I can ask?

David:   Yes, I’ve got two kids.

Henry:   Are they young?

David:   Yes. Ten and 11 years old.

Henry:   Do they have any problems with asking you questions?

David:   Absolutely not. We tell them that they can ask us any questions. It’s just a matter of timing, but, yes absolutely, they can ask us anything.

Henry:   At what age do we stop asking questions? And we start to do everything by ourselves?

David:   That’s a very good question. Probably when we think we know it all.

Henry:   Right. After a certain age you know you don’t know at all. But people fall into their comfort zones and deny themselves their assertive right to ask questions.

David:   Which is sad…

Henry:   Yes. We make assumptions about people. So I think it’s vital that we maintain our curiosity, legitimate curiosity, not just the general questions but the sort of, follow through. “Did you do anything different?” “Where do you work?” “Do you enjoy your work?” The more curious you are, the more they’re going to be curious about you and what you do.

David:   Yes. Someone once told me that it’s not necessarily the amount of questions, but it’s more about asking better questions, which opens people up.

Henry:   Well, and what constitutes better?

David:   Curiosity.

Henry:   Yes, that’s the right answer. Whatever you’re curious about. If someone says they’re in the construction business, like when I met this man on the plane. He said, “I remodel old homes.” And I said, “Did you suffer the downturn in the construction industry?” He said, “No. Our business has never been better.” So then we started this conversation, and now I’m going to meet this guy. I don’t sell anything, but I want to meet this guy. This guy could become a friend, plus, he’s a fly fisher, and there’s not too many of those people I know. So, you meet a guy on a plane and you start asking questions and he asks questions about you and you find a common interest and all of a sudden, you start a new relationship.

David:   Oh yes, that’s good. One of the other golden rules here is make others feel good about themselves when they’re with you and also appreciate and respect the feelings of others. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Henry:   Well, the first part, making people feel good about themselves when they are with you is the singular, major point in Dale Carnegie’s book. If you say something to me like, “I just bought a Toyota.” Now that’s a declarative sentence, “I just bought it.” Now I can say nothing, and that declarative sentence evaporates in the air. Or I could say, “You know, I hear that the Acura’s better… Or, I hear…” Now, you feel badly about your purchase, right? You don’t want to do that, to repel them. But if you actually believe that the Toyota they bought is a good car and that the model is good, and you give a specific statement, saying, “Wow, the Toyota Avalon is just a beautiful car. It’s almost a Lexus without the price…” This guy’s going to feel really good about himself that he bought the Avalon. Now, I have kids. I used to be very wound up when I came home after a ten-hour work and all sorts of issues coming from a fast-growing company, and they wanted to talk to me. Now I just want to lie down and get a drink or something. What I learned from Dale Carnegie was to say something so your children will feel good about themselves. And guess what? My kids sparked up! I would say, “Did you write anything today in your English class?” Or my daughter would say, “Hey dad, want to look what I did?” And I would say, “Absolutely!” And if I could honestly say, I really thought that was well done. They blossomed! I made up a lot of points I was losing by not being home a lot in those days. But you’re with me on that. The first part, there’s no question about it and you can make friends very quickly in the first ten minutes of meeting them. If you just know what they say, and what they say is really a positive or specific comment, say it, and see how fast people get to like you. I forgot the second part of your question, I’m sorry…

David:   It was appreciate and respect the feelings of others.

Henry:   Right. Empathy. Just because you have an experience with a bad salesperson, which is usually due to the fact that all they wanted to do was talk about their product and their services… They don’t care who you were, you’re just another pair of ears that stopped long enough to hear their pitch. The issue of listening… And if you get into my book, I will have these principles laid out in black and white, no questions asked. I said, “If you talk 20% of the time, and your prospective customers talk 80% of the time, I will almost guarantee that you will sell what you are trying to sell. Salesmen talk too much. Not my big problem, I may be hogging the airwaves right now, but I feel this is a good question that I want to share with the audience right now.

David:   Oh it’s really good stuff, so keep going.

Henry:   Listening. I have one thing better than listening. All the salesbooks say listen, listen, find out what the problem is, find out why that person called you, find out if you can help them. You’ve got to listen, not only what the words are, but the underlying emotions. I have one idea that seems better than that.

When I’m in a meeting with a prospective customer, I get a piece of paper and a pencil out. I ask a question, and I write down the answers. And in the sheer act of doing that, which is called very active listening, your prospect will tell you everything that you want to know because you’re memorializing what you’re saying and showing great respect for them by taking notes. And these are just a few of the things that I discussed in my book, and I could go on and on and on because I love this subject as you can tell. But these things really work. Without manipulating and is perfectly ethical. So, where do we go next?

David:   Well, these golden rules are really gemstones. I really enjoyed this. Be disciplined on how you spend your time is the next one.

Henry:   When I was in the office in Merrill Lynch, we had 14 stockbrokers. Each of us started with the same basic background, technical knowledge, and so forth. And I sort of knew this, but I didn’t think it was very good. Stockbrokers in America in the 70s and so forth were pretty busy in the morning, and then they have lunch and came back, put their feet up on the desk, and start reading the Wall Street Journal! Or, you know, talking to their friends, or calling their wives or girlfriends, and I’m saying, “I’m not that person, I’ve got to make a living.” These people have to make a living, but they feel that they do a lot of work in the morning so that they could flop around the rest of the day. Well, I did all my work in the morning. I was very aggressive about getting all my jobs done. I took lunch by sitting in my car and going to meet people, because I felt that if someone’s going to trust their life savings to me, to help them manage their money, they should meet me. See how I looked, and what I thought about.

David:   Yes. Making a point of contact is so much more important.

Henry:   It is! Would you trust your life saving with somebody who called you over the phone?

David:   No!

Henry:   Same thing if you’re going to sell a consulting service, legal services, anything. The phone has a limited role, and that is, to arrange an appointment if you’ve properly pre-qualified the person that you’re going to go see. I saw something in your literature about e-marketing. I’ve been asked this question a lot recently, and if you’re interested, it’s not part of the golden rules, but I would like to add something. My learning is pretty low on the curve as far as emails, and Facebook, and that sort of thing, and I have a pretty negative attitude towards them. I didn’t think like you. And the more I studied, my son is a senior technologist and really up on this, I said to my son, “Son, electronic marketing is a distribution tool. It cannot mess out your product, it cannot nurture the relationship, it is basically a funnel where you can get people their information very quickly, and they expect it to do more than all it was intended to do. I’d be interested in your reaction to that.

David:   Well, mine would be that, with email marketing, Facebook, and the other social marketing tools, all they are is a point of contact at a delivery, and you cannot sell anything unless it’s the last apple in the whole fruit shop. Or, you have to build a relationship to be able to say you’ve got a great fruit shop, come in and see what we’ve got to offer because I am establishing myself as someone who is approachable, and I want to build a relationship with you. I don’t want to feed you junk, I want to give you the good stuff. Basically resounding what you said, these tools are a delivery mechanism, that’s all. If people rely on them simply as the answer to everything, then they’re going to be mistaken when things go pear-shaped. Meaning, it starts off nice and round at the top but it’s all lumpy at the bottom. You start off with an apple, nice and round, and you end up with a pear if you don’t look after things.

Henry:   I like that. I haven’t heard of the expression, but I like that. One of the things I was hoping you’d ask me is, “What is it that makes your book unique?” And it took me 11 years to write it. And I’m not a good writer, but I became a better writer. I used to write economic stuff all the time. I want to write a book that would give me the opportunity to play Merlin to young King Arthur, that would allow King Arthur to do his own thing. He had to bring the ambition. I’m not a motivational speaker, although I have been asked many times to do it. I declined because motivation must come from within. You can get people inspired for a moment, but it’s not going to change the behaviours. This is what I believe.

David:   The fact that it took you 11 years to write the book, it’s obviously got some real gemstones in there based on real life experience. And based on the fact that you’ve seen others go down the wrong path, perhaps you could’ve helped them in the beginning, and that’s what this book is probably more aimed towards, I imagine.

Henry:   Absolutely. The discovery I made that I taught in my book is applicable to anybody who sells their services. I’ve helped plumbers, salons, and I’ve helped people build their business. So, the principles that I suggest are applicable as a basic manual for anyone who is struggling to increase their standard of living, by bringing in more business. The secondary benefit is, if you’re out meeting people, your universe of potential friends grows exponentially. They may not be your customers, but you’ve found people that you can play with, travel with, and talk with. Many of my friends don’t do business with me, and I never would have found them had I not been in the business and tried to meet them.

David:   Well, that’s fantastic. These are really gemstones that I’m sure our readers will certainly be able to apply in their lives, whether they’re in small business or whether they are the leader of a multinational firm. They just apply these things in their everyday business and in their everyday life. Then things will really turn around for them.

I really appreciate your joining us Henry, it’s really, really good.

Henry:   Well, you honour me and I’m tickled that you found me and contacted me. I hope that you and your readers prosper from these advices which are based upon my experiences in America. I’m not sure everything I said is valid or useful, but I hope that you’ll give my book a chance. Take a look at it, you can download it from Amazon. And I thank you for the opportunity.

David:   If people want to get hold of your book and they can’t find it, they’ll just have to go to your website and click on the tab there to buy the book, which will take them to its direct link. So that’s probably the other easy way to get it as well. If you’ve got any questions for Henry, contact him through his website as well.

Thank you so much once again, I really appreciate it. ‘Til next time.

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