Unleash Success Through Your Inner Entrepreneur

success Business can be very tricky. You need to stay ahead of the game in order to succeed. Learning that edge, that winning drive to satisfy customers and attract others is certainly the key. At business video marketing strategies, we believe there are so many ways to do better business. Ultimately, we have to keep our customers and prospects happy. That led us into seeking the additional thoughts from a very special individual, the author of “Attract, Sell, and Keep: The Art of Marketing Your Services.” He is a certified financial planner, has set up multiple companies, and retired in 2007. He wishes to teach and mentor entrepreneurs, just like you! Take a look at this interview we had on Henry Feldman.

Henry: Good to talk to you David.

David: It’s great to have you on the line Henry, it really is. Now, can I ask… How did you first get into this industry? It sounds very interesting.

Henry: Well, almost by accident, actually. I had some background in business school and was told by a professor that I should get out of the pre-law major that I had and reconsider because I wrote some A+ papers in marketing. And it was almost by accident, I found it to be understandable and a lot easier to think about than microeconomics. So I went to market research and advertising and I went into franchise, and I was one of the original people employed when our corporation was started. We opened up 400 licensees in four years and I was travelling all over the United States. Eventually I wanted to get married and have children and so I decided to go into brokerage business, which had been a hobby. Investing had been a hobby of mine since I was 14 years old. The first stock I bought was USD 27 and I sold it at 92, and I said, “Wow, this is a great way to make a living!” So, I joined Merrill Lynch, the leading brokerage firm in the late 60s. So I went there and started my career in 1969 as a retail stock broker with no sales, no marketing experience, and a fanciful belief that if I told people what stocks to buy and they went up, they would tell all their friends and I’ll build my business. That was the totality of my business plan. So, you want me to keep going on with all this..?

David: Absolutely. This is good stuff.

Henry: With three months of planning and training in New York, I came back to Merrill Lynch and I was handed a pile of coupons that had been sent in by a potential customer who wanted a free brochure from Merrill Lynch. I was told to “smile and dial.” In those days it was easy, you don’t have voicemail and all those defences that people now have. I started smiling and dialling, although I was basically shy. I was recently married, scared to death, and I thought that this was the most undignified way to get new business, but I persevered out of fear of failure. In the process, I learned what I needed to do to start bringing in new business. Four, fast years later, I was the leading broker nationwide. When I went over to Smith-Barney, an American-based company, I became number one in the United States in new business and I said, “Oh my God, I got a talent I didn’t even know about!” And I kept studying, studying, and studying it. The more I studied, the more I realized that it was an art that could be learned, rather than some kind of inborn talent that I was sure I didn’t have. And the more that I realized that I could make a lot more money working for myself. And in 1977, I left a good job at Smith-Barney, which is a fine firm, and I set up my own firm, hired my own secretary, and set up a lot of phones. I started calling small community banks trust departments in the States. By the end of ’87, I had about 193 banks in 38 states, and building a substantially fast-growing business. The more I did it, and the more that I was in the trenches, I realized that this was the most important part of business. Are you familiar with Peter Drucker, the man that wrote a pre-eminent management book to date?

David: Personally, no, I don’t know him.

Henry: It’s an excellent book, and he said that the job of entrepreneuring with your audience is threefold. First, you have to have administration. Second, you have to have implementation. The third is you’ve got to have marketing sales. The first two, administration and implementation are costs. The only thing that makes business and grows in business is the ability to market and sell your services. So I said, if I have a choice among these three, I would think I am a particularly good administrator, and I was sort of an average manager. But what I found the best realization of my time was to go out and build my two businesses, which became substantial businesses. By the day I retired in ’07, I had sold both and I went into retirement, being a proud one percenter of the United States. So that’s a fast review of my business. I’m retiring, but being a bit neurotic and productive most of my life, I wanted to get this university of hard knocks experience down on paper because I have read well over a hundred books on marketing services and not one of them satisfied me. Most of them were written by consultants that really didn’t have feet on the ground. Going after a new business, I figured there is a need for a basic manual and a workbook that would teach people, who had to sell, how to go out and sell a business.

David: Well, that certainly wraps up a big chunk of experience. And a lot of people, I can say, as you mentioned, don’t think they like to sell, but they’ve got to realize that everyone is selling something every day. That is quite a resume that you have. So that’s how you got into the industry and got this book around in 2011 which is “Attract, Sell, and Keep.” What was the actual drive for getting in and start writing it?

Henry: Good question. When you reach that marvellous age of 70 years old, well, actually mine is 67 years old. I realize I had a gift to give to my friends, my former employees, and just anybody who would listen to me. I didn’t mention that I had taught various aspects for 30 years, but no one was teaching the basic lessons. I wrote the book simply to give to anybody who was willing to read it and practice the skills that I talked about to just about anybody. You go out and really attract, sell, and keep your business. It didn’t require a silver-tongued double because I sound maybe a little better now, but when I started out I was awkward, frightened, and very tentative about what I did. But like anything else, if you keep doing it, you get good at it. And I just want to share this information with others.

David: I’m sure it has really paid off. I mean, you published a whole book and moved forward in that respect. So with that said, the actual, “Attract. Sell. Keep.” book… If I’m an average Joe on the street and I want to learn how to start my own business, then how would this book change my life? How would this point me in the right direction, in starting me up?

Henry: Well, first of all, there has to be recognition of the importance of learning the skill. Then you have to recognize that the reason why you’ve never learned this skill is that in the United States, there are only 14 schools out of 4,000 that have been teaching this. Yet, in the US, 3% of the gross domestic product is from sales services, as we become less and less committed to manufacturing, which is a danger in my judgment. But, somebody is selling services to someone. So if you went to undergraduate or even graduate school, and they are offering a course in marketing selling services, you wouldn’t take that course. And this is what the universities told me. They really didn’t want to hire me to teach this to their alumni, which is one of the things I really wanted to do when I retired, because they thought if they had to pay money and spend time learning how to sell, no one would show up at the class. Because if you become a professional, one of the reasons you do that is because you don’t have to market yourself. You live on the technical knowledge and your bedside manner and personality. My contention is with a hypercompetitive environment, like the US, with the internet coming on board and a weak economy, and you sit by your phone waiting for it to ring, you might be waiting a long time. In fact, I just finished a new blog about the fact that when business is weak, people start shutting down their marketing expenses, active outreach programs, and just wait for the phone to ring. So, rather than going passive, go active! Cost of marketing will be a lot less and your ability to attract attention can be tremendously magnified.

David: Yes. I noticed another one of your blogs there, called Selling Apples.

Henry: Actually, it’s a double entendre, because my son, who is in a 2-year technology course in the States, sent me a copy of the Apple Store training manual that he had gotten hold of. I read it and it was pretty basic. But one of the key points in this manual is that when you’re standing on the floor, your number one job is to create friendships, build friendships with people who have questions. Something as modest as that is the way most new business is created. I talked about that in the chapter on relationship marketing.

David: I think it comes back to the basics, doesn’t it? That you build a good relationship with somebody and they’re more willing to trust you and do business with you, rather than with someone they don’t know.

Henry: Well, I read some of the information you have in your website, and the concept of relationships, and I don’t think they will ever change. That does not mean that you cannot improve your chances of being contacted and increase the efficiency of people finding you using e-commerce. But it will never replace, in my judgment, the sale of higher priced, more sophisticated services, because it’s a sterile medium. And people buy from other people they like, they trust, and they think are competent.

David: Oh, I totally agree. And the other great seller is word of mouth, isn’t it? If you do business with me and I liked you, then I’m sure to tell my friends about you.

Henry: Everything starts with your friendships and family. Let them know what you do. Build your friendships as a radius around where you are; one person at a time. No agendas, no frontal assaults to grab their wallets. I’m a very big believer, and people said, “How did you build these two big businesses?” One time we had about 3.2 billion dollars in assets under management with my little company, and I said, “Well, I just met one person at a time. It’s like putting bricks on a wall.” You build friendships and some people are not interested in being your friend. But the people who know what I do, they know me, they like me… I like to think they like me over a period of time. And when you learn what they do, you try to help them, they try to help you, and this to me is the basic cell of any new business… the ability to create relationships.

David: Yes, I entirely agree in that respect. So, I suppose that begs the question, “Why haven’t more professional service providers taken up this whole concept in learning to promote their services this way?”

Henry: Well, in the past, and I speak only of America, we have a very rich economy. All you have to do is get a license, technical knowledge, and good bedside manner. You could build businesses, just one client at a time, and you could create referrals. Everything was easy. Fast forward to the time we have now, we have less marketing and less manufacturing in the United States, and people are crowding in MBA programs, business programs, legal programs, and they’re crowding in the service industry. So if you live in an area that is fairly populated, you don’t have the market to yourself. And it’s not a gentleman or gentlewoman’s game anymore. People will try to steal your clients. You don’t have the ability to gain attraction because you can’t afford the type of marketing that Coca-Cola and Walmart does to attract attention. Especially when you are young, you don’t have the kind of resources to really promote your services. Well you start with the basics. You have to say “Hello!” When you see a person, perhaps a nice one, you say, “Hello! Good morning! How are you?” And I have met fancy people, wealthy people, people who have become friends, just out of a simple act of saying hello. The downside of saying hello is very little. You understand what I’m saying?

David: Oh, absolutely.

Henry: And once you start realizing people are basically okay. They may walk away or don’t care whether you say hello to them. Other people may be a little bit more interested. Every person’s different. I could meet three to five people, and one of them, almost inevitably, becomes an ally in my success. Now I can’t prove that, but you don’t become number one in the United States in new business for a big firm like Smith-Barney. I don’t have a lot of connections, the fancy ones anyway, just by being a human being. I think you’d agree with that.

David: Oh absolutely. A decent human being will hold a smile when needed and point someone in the right direction. They’re bound to turn around and say thank you.

Henry: Absolutely.

David: So if someone does say hello and they warmed up a little bit, then what are some of the psychological examples that we need to overcome, to free ourselves from this comfort zone that we’re always stuck in, to go to the next step?

Henry: For me, the biggest obstacle to people’s success is the fact that they’re frozen in their comfort zone. In other words, they use a certain point of success or comfort, or whatever, and they don’t have to put themselves out for the possibility of being rejected, or shame, or failure. They don’t take chances. There are three reasons why people are kind of frozen: One is the basic fear of failure. No one likes to be rejected. I mean, would you?

David: Oh yes, that’s absolutely right.

Henry: If you don’t put yourself out there, you can’t get rejected. So I see a lot of people who walked right past me, I mean, all I did was say hello. I’m not being smart, or funny, I just say good morning, or how are you doing today? Those people have come up to me later on and said, “You broke the ice. I so wanted to meet you too, but I was afraid to say hello.” It is remarkable how many people have told me that. They said, “You are the friendliest person!” And I said, “Well, good! I like that you see me that way.” So, fear of failure is a major, major reason and I say that fear of failure is a very, very fragile membrane that you can puncture with your baby finger. All you have to do is try to realize that the downside is nominal. The more positive reinforcement you get just by saying hello, the more eagerly you’re going to be able to do it. That’s one of the ways in getting out of your comfort zone and trying things that are a little bit risky. What can they say? I mean, how many times have I had my phone slammed down on me? I don’t internalize it; that’s the price you pay for calling people. The second thing is that there is a lot of bias, I don’t know about your country, but we have movies and plays. They have been portraying sellers as liars, con artists, and just horrible people. Now if you’ve got an advanced degree or if you are a smart guy, do you really want to be profiled in that way? And so people will say, “I’m not a salesman; I’m a doctor, or a lawyer.” Well, guess what, you’re either going to be a good lawyer, or, at the very least, you’re going to have to learn to say hello to people.

David: Oh I agree with that.

Henry: And the third thing, which I think is an alibi, I have a blog on alibis, is when people say, “I’m not allowed to reach out and help people. People are supposed to find me. I’m not going to bow my head and try to persuade someone to contact me. Well, you can do that, and you’ll remain poor, and have a substandard quality of life. And I heard a statistic recently. Some research group said that 40% of the population are introverts. Did you see that at all?

David: No, I haven’t.

Henry: My feeling is that in teaching lots and lots of people with lots and lots of support, there are some people who might have false notions about what they’re supposed to do, what works, and what doesn’t work. They would say that they would just work at it hard enough or long enough and keep at it, and be nice and trustworthy to people, then they’ll build a path to my door. And I’m saying that to my community, in Chicago, which is quite a big city, that you can’t just rely on those precious moments. You actually have to reach out and dispel those false notions. Find a way to escape your comfort zone.

David: Absolutely. I do this experiment sometimes where you walk through a building and you’re getting to a lift, and other people get into the lift, and there’s usually silence. And if you want to make a little bit of a remark or say, “What a beautiful day it is.” You’ll be surprised at how many people actually turn around and smile and say hello back. It’s quite amazing that a little word like that, in amongst quiet people all of a sudden turned the whole room from tense and stressful into a really relaxed and happy atmosphere, even if it’s just for a few seconds. I suppose it’s about charisma then, isn’t it?

Henry: I think charisma, when it comes to selling, is a grossly overused word. Charisma is human interaction among human beings. There’s no agenda, you’re not trying to sell anything, you’re just saying, “Hey, I’m one of the people on earth, you look like an interesting chat, and I just wanted to say hello to you.”
I was on the plane, coming back from a wedding, and I’m sitting next to a guy, and I asked him a question. I said, “What brought you down here? Are you going to or coming from North Carolina?” And he said, “Well I was fly fishing.” And I am a fly fisher, I’ve been fly fishing for almost 50 years, that’s why a chapter on my book is on marketing and fishing, where the parallels are unbelievable. And it’s really fun to read too. The parallels are phenomenal and it’s one of my hallmark chapters that I think are worth reading.

David: That’s definitely interesting. One of the other questions I’ve got Henry is that… well, you’ve obviously got an extensive background and experience, but what makes you an expert in teaching this subject?

Henry: Well, when I was 16 or 17 years old, my mom and dad asked me what I want to be when I grow up, and I said, “I’d like to become a teacher.” And that was not an approved job description, because it didn’t involve making money. My family was all about, you know, building wealth, and living a secure life. So, all my life, I wanted to teach, and I found excuses. I taught three schools for bank trust officers, I went around the country teaching service people how to market and sell their services. I think it evolved out of those early experiences. Now, as a retiree, I wrote these two books, one is a manual and the other is a workbook, so I could go teach it and fulfil my desire in my whole life to be a teacher. In fact, what most people don’t realize is that the subject of teaching is the more respected term used for people who are good salespeople. My joy is sharing my knowledge, it’s trying to help people solve their problems, and satisfy their needs. If I know something that will help them, I think it’s a noble job, a noble purpose to say, “Hey, you might want to try this.” Or, “This might be a good idea to help solve this problem.”

David: I really agree with that, especially on the lines that if you’ve got some secret which could really help someone else out, then it’s your responsibility to offer that to someone so that they can have a better way as well. That’s really interesting when you said you wanted to do it as a child. I suppose your inner feelings as a child is that you wanted to help out other people, and it’s really carried through by the looks of it, especially with this book.

Henry: I’d like to think there’s a really nice flow. But that doesn’t mean I’m not maniacal about building up my businesses that sometimes, I was so preoccupied with myself that I wasn’t the best husband or father. That’s the downside of building something substantial. But I really have no regrets, and I think that what I did, when I look back at my life and my business life, I say I had a really good time. I really enjoyed it and I helped tons of people make more money, protect their money, plan for the transfer of their money, and I really felt that I brought something to the public or to those who were willing to listen to me, and it had value. I think if your audience, that are in the business of selling their services or products, believe that what they’re doing is really a noble cause, they’re going to enjoy their job a lot more, and get better at it.

David: Yes, absolutely. It looks like this book is really meant to help them dig down and find their inner feelings, allow them to express themselves through their business.
Henry, this has been a lot of fun. I hope we can continue this again. Thank you once again and I really appreciate your time.

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