In this episode, Stacy sits down with Allan Langer, an award-winning sales consultant and best-selling author who not only founded The 7 Secrets Center for Sales and Marketing Excellence, but also wrote The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less. The two discuss Allan’s philosophy of helping, not selling, and how that could positively impact your business and boost sales.
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Transcript For This Episode:
Stacy Jones (00:01):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of Influencer Marketing and branded content agency Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for topics, for us to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy, or money, whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.
Speaker 2 (00:31):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them). Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.
Stacy Jones (00:36):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones. I’m so happy to be here with you all today and I want to give a very warm welcome to Allan Langer. Allan is an award winning sales consultant, bestselling author, sales coach, and motivational speaker with close to three decades of sales excellence and award-winning performances in every capacity. Allan turned his experience and knowledge into a bestselling book on Amazon, The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less, and a highly successful company, The 7 Secrets Center for Sales and Marketing Excellence. As a sought after speaker and executive coach, he shares and trains people on how to solve instead of sell, to help instead of hinder, and to be selfless instead of selfish. Today, we’re going to talk about Allan’s philosophy of helping people solve issues, selling people, and how that will impact your business. We’ll learn what’s worked from his perspective, what should be avoided and how some people miss the mark. Allan. Welcome. So happy to have you here today.
Allan Langer (01:30):
Thank you, Stacy. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Of course. Well, what I’d love to do is learn a little bit about what got you to becoming this bestselling author, sales guru who knows everything. How’d you get here?Allan Langer (01:45):
I just woke up one day and it was there.Stacy Jones (01:47):
Magic.Allan Langer (01:48):
Magic, magic. It’s everything in life is a journey and I had a long journey in a sales career that spans almost 30 years. And what I learned as I started, I was in college athletics, marketing and fundraising in my early professional career in my twenties, and learned to cut my teeth of asking rich alums for money. That was my first sales job was trying to get people to give me money and to donate some money. But when I got into actual selling and many of it was, or most of it was in-home sales, so meeting people in their homes and those are one call close shops. They just… You met someone, they wanted you to sell them on the first visit. But what I discovered was many of the companies that I either looked at or worked for, everyone has a sales process.Allan Langer (02:39):
Everyone has a sales training method. You get hired by the company and then you actually get trained. One week, two weeks of training. And all the training is always about selling obviously, but it’s never about helping the customer. \never was. And so you finish the training and you come out of training and I realized as I was moving along, I was pretty successful. It wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t… I was whatever they say, 31% closer. I hate that term, close. But once I started realizing that I’m doing a sales pitch, I feel like a salesman every time I’m talking to someone, I hated that feeling. And then I realized people don’t want to talk to salespeople. They need a product, but they don’t want to talk to us. So I started shifting what I was doing on my own and really decided to just talk to people and just help them. Forget the sales pitch.Allan Langer (03:33):
They’re going to tell you what they want to hear if you know what to look for and know what to pay attention. So once I started doing that, and again, it took some many years to hone those skills, but I became the number one sales rep at Anderson Windows for almost a decade, closing close to 60% because I wasn’t following the sales pitch. Now again, the sales pitch is not a bad thing. The sales training is not a bad thing, but you need to learn the company products and all of that stuff, but you also then need to learn how to talk to a customer not like a salesman. So I decided to put it into a book and the book became a bestseller and then I started my company and there you go. Sorry, that was a long winded answer.
Stacy Jones (04:18):
Oh, that’s a great answer. Basically you are a soft salesman who listens instead of having people have to hear you, basically.
Allan Langer (04:29):
Yeah. You’re going to listen. And then, the book is called The 7 Secrets because it’s basically, I don’t like to call them techniques, they’re basically just ways to interact with a customer and things to look for that are natural. The way the brain works, the way body language works. If you learn to look at these things and understand them and what’s happening with the customer in front of you and obviously shut up and listen, you’re just going to be much more of a successful sales person. A sales person that people want would like to talk to.
Stacy Jones (05:04):
I thought people liked being backed in the corner and have the heavy pressure on.
Allan Langer (05:09):
Oh, they love it.
Stacy Jones (05:09):
They have to keep buying right now. No? That’s not the number one way.
Allan Langer (05:15):
The first line in my book is, “I decided to do an experiment and my experiment is this true story.” I asked 271 people in about a 10 day period. Everyone I saw. One question. I said, “Hey, can I ask you a question?” “Sure.” “Do you like to meet with or talk with a salesperson?” All 271 said no. Then I said, “All right, let me talk to actual sales reps.” And I know a lot of sales reps in the business. I decided I’d email and called and stuff and texted. “Do you guys, you’re salespeople, do you like to meet with salespeople?” Every one of them? No. Wow, that’s amazing. Everybody needs to buy something and nobody wants to meet with a sales person. Why is that? And it’s simply because salespeople are trained to just go for the sale. No matter what’s happening in front of them, we got to go for the sale. That’s a fact.
Stacy Jones (06:10):
I know. Yeah. And I know a lot of businesses are so turned off on not seeing a lot of sales success that they’re like, “Ah, doing outbound sales, it just doesn’t work. We have to figure out our inbound sales program only.” And that’s not the truth of the matter, either.
Allan Langer (06:26):
No, not at all. No. I’ve talked to so many companies and just the concept of, well, here’s a great example. So I mentioned I hate the word closing percentage. One of my chapters in the book is you got to change your mindset as a salesperson and I tell every company that I train, I’m like, “Get rid of the term closing percentage in your vernacular. It needs to be called the helping percentage.” So instead of your reps cheering about how many customers they closed that week, because the term close is very, to me, it’s very adversarial. It’s very conquering. How many customers did you help this week? What’s your helping percentage? If you saw 10 customers and six of them bought from you, you helped six customers. You didn’t sell them. You helped them. Because if you honestly believe that your product is going to change their life or help them with their problem, then you helped them. You didn’t sell them. And just that change in the mindset helps the reps in front of the customer, because they’re thinking about that rather than the close.
Stacy Jones (07:29):
So is that one of the seven steps?
Allan Langer (07:32):
It’s one of the seven secrets. Yes. See, I just revealed a secret. Look at that.
Stacy Jones (07:35):
You did. Can we get you to reveal another one, maybe?
Allan Langer (07:39):
Maybe. Maybe. I’ll see. I might do two of the seven.
Stacy Jones (07:43):
Okay. Okay. So when you’re meeting with a company and you are talking to them about how they can help instead of how they can close, how they can solve instead of how they can poke and prod and make their individual prospect run away in sheer fear and shut the door on a face, what is some additional guidance that you give? How do you sit down and jump in here to this conversation with someone?
Allan Langer (08:13):
They have to get rid of the robotic sales pitch. If their reps are following a pitch, A-B-C-D-E, they have to get rid of that. And a lot of times, and this is very prevalent, they do role playing. They do role playing in the office where one guy is the salesman and one guy is the customer. Oh my God, stick needles in my eyes. First of all, that helps you become more robotic, but the customer is a sales person so they’re not going to… There’s nothing realistic about role playing. So I tell that the companies that do role playing, they should not do role playing. And there’s just certain things you should look for when you first meet a customer and number one is body language. You’ve got to look at the body language.
Allan Langer (08:58):
One of the things when I was writing my book and putting together my seven secrets, I wanted to back everything up with science and make sure that what I was actually doing in a home was actually researched and all of it was, but I found, it was amazing to me, that there’s very little sales stuff on body language.
Allan Langer (09:18):
Because body language, there’s a million body language books, but not many point to sales. So I decided to do an entire chapter on body language and what you should look for as a salesperson in the customer that you’re speaking to, or the prospect. And that’s number one, because you can lose a sale in about a three second time period if you didn’t and the meeting could have gone great. You could have… How many times do salespeople listening to this podcast right now walk away from a prospect saying, “Wow, that was a great meeting. How come they didn’t buy anything?” They didn’t buy anything because you missed something in their body language and you missed something that made them uncomfortable. They’re not going to tell you. And it could be a very small tell like a purse of the lips or something like that.
Allan Langer (09:59):
So body language is a huge thing. And then again, there’s the other techniques that I have in The 7 Secrets, but number one, get rid of the sales pitch. Become human beings. Your first goal before you shake hands with that customer, after this is all over, we can shake hands again hopefully, you have to walk in saying, “I’m here to help you. I’m not here to sell you.”
Stacy Jones (10:25):
How much is an emphasis placed on the importance of your sales individual actually truly understanding the product backwards and forwards so that they can actually find out ways that that product can solve the solution?
Allan Langer (10:44):
Well, yeah, you obviously have to know your product, I mean. But you not only have to know your product, you have to really believe in your product. If you’re selling something you don’t believe in, then you got to get a different job. You got to find something you believe in. You can’t… If you’re selling something you don’t believe in it and you’re enjoying that, then you may have to look in the mirror a little bit because you need to, in order to sell something, you need to believe in it. But you need to… See for me, people think like, “Oh, if I use this technique or if I use this procedure, it’s trying to get one over on the customer. It’s unethical.” I always answer that. I’m like, “Nothing is unethical if you believe your product is going to help the customer.”
Allan Langer (11:25):
If you believe that, if it’s going to change their life, if a new roof is going to stop them leaking in the living room or whatever it is, if you believe that it’s your job as a salesman to try to figure out how for them to buy it. And you got to make it easy for a customer to buy your product, and that starts with them liking you and trusting you, obviously. But yeah, knowing your product, I mean, because there’s also a whole chapter in the book on the different personalities you’re going to meet and there’s four different main personalities that you’re going to run into. And if you run into the analytical personality, the engineer of the world, he’s going to grill you or she’s going to grill you on your product so you better know what you’re talking about. And that’s a completely different sales process in front of that person. So, there’s different ways you have to approach different personalities as well.
Stacy Jones (12:14):
Today in our, yes, we have COVID-19 and so we’re really not front and center and talking to people, but how do you suggest some of the best ways for a company to get in front of individuals is at this point? Is it the cold call? Is it emails? Is it inbound marketing you’re following up? Where do you think the sweet spot is for most companies to create that magic sauce of being able to be something that consumers want and your sales team can actually respond to in answer of that consumer need?
Allan Langer (13:01):
Right now in our current environment?
Stacy Jones (13:03):
Yeah. Knowing that our current environment’s probably going to stick around for a little while.
Allan Langer (13:07):
Yeah. The one thing I would suggest and I’ve told some of my clients already is you have to avoid at all costs coming across as a company that’s trying to take advantage of the situation. You can’t. There was an email I got the other day that if the guy lived in this town, I would have drove over because it actually got me angry because the email said, “The airlines are going under. The cruise ships are going under. This company is going out of business, but we’re thriving during the pandemic.” That’s what it actually said. That to me is, how are going to get business or get any-
Stacy Jones (13:45):
It’s like a big F You.
Allan Langer (13:47):
Yeah. Exactly. So yeah, you don’t want to be that person. You want to be the person that’s showing that you obviously still have to sell, you still have to stay in business, but you got to come across as the company that’s really caring about their customers and helping. I’ve been, as a consumer, I’m looking at the companies that have been helping. I’m waiting for Netflix to say, “You know what? Here’s a free month everybody.” Something like that, because guess what? If they do that, when this is over, they look like just the hero. So companies like that should do things like that. So the companies that are, especially the local businesses that are doing that, I’m remembering them. And as a consumer, you’re going to remember them.
Allan Langer (14:29):
But to answer your question, you really have to… People are online more now than ever because they’re home and people are checking out websites more now than ever. And I think website traffic and capturing someone on your website is absolutely critical. Not only anytime, but right now it’s especially critical. And the majority of websites that are out there do not work for selling anything and if these companies can fix their websites, I’m going to give them a tip right now. Look at your website and the website within 10 seconds needs to answer these three questions. If it does not answer all three of these questions in 10 seconds to the person viewing it, your website is not set up properly. What do you sell? How do I get it? And how’s it going to make my life better?
Allan Langer (15:27):
That has to be on the very front page and in eight to 10 seconds, the viewer has to see those things, otherwise they’re gone to another website. That’s the attention span. It could be six seconds today because there’s so many people online now checking things out. So if your website doesn’t have that, I’ve seen so many websites where there’s pictures of mountains and the line says live again or something, and I’m still like, “Well, what did they sell? I don’t know what they sell.” And I’m onto the next website because I’m looking for something specific. So I think right now, today, website traffic and having that first page is absolutely critical to capture-
Stacy Jones (16:06):
What about chat box on websites and having your sales team leveraging that? Are you seeing that as something that companies are doing successfully?
Allan Langer (16:15):
Yeah, I actually like that. Personally I like that. I think there are people who do not want to talk. Still, they don’t want to talk to a sales person especially over the phone, but the chat thing, you get your information, but you still have that wall up in front of you. You have that virtual wall. Then you can actually warm the customer up and there are salespeople making sales through the chat box. I think a chat box is enormously, is becoming more and more popular. And I think it’s very important to have on your website, as long as it’s manned. Obviously the most frustrating thing is you have a chat box and nobody’s there to answer your questions. But yeah, they’re huge.
Stacy Jones (16:54):
Yeah. We did a test of chat box and I realized that there was a little ability that you can set your hours on those things. You need to actually do that because people do get really [inaudible 00:17:04] They reach out to you at three in the morning.
Allan Langer (17:06):
Yup. And everybody’s in bed.
Stacy Jones (17:08):
Three in the morning and no one’s there.
Allan Langer (17:09):
And nobody’s there.
Stacy Jones (17:11):
You’d think that someone would rationally be able to say, “Oh, it’s three in the morning,” but nope. Nope. You definitely need to set your boundaries on those types of tech.
Allan Langer (17:20):
Yeah, but I mean, just as, again, as a consumer myself, I like the chat boxes because I look at all different things from an email marketing standpoint, I’m always looking at different software and most of the time I’ll start the conversation with a chat box. Or if the website has one, they automatically move up my rankings as who I want to do business with simply because they have one.
Stacy Jones (17:42):
Right. And they’re easy to get ahold of. You think that they’re going to be able to solve your questions and problems more easily and faster.
Allan Langer (17:49):
Stacy Jones (17:50):
What else do you think companies should be looking at with technology and knowing this landscape is a little bit more hands-off right now?
Allan Langer (17:58):
Well, they really need to have an email campaign. They need to have a nurturing campaign. They need to have a sales campaign. They need to have a sales funnel. If they have a list, if they have their mailing list or their email list, they need to start that four to seven email campaign to gently ease people into buying your product. And the other thing is to remember, to me, especially now, unless you’re a $500 million company like Coca Cola or a big brand company, work on your marketing, don’t work on your brand. If you’ve already got a good brand, let the brand say that. Don’t spend money on working on the brand. Right now you need to make sales.
Allan Langer (18:48):
People need to make sales. So work on your marketing and really get these email funnels out there. People are getting them, but if you have good copy, good copy’s everything. If you have someone who knows how to write your email copy, and that’s what I do for majority of my stuff when I do my marketing, is I do email copy. You’re going to not only appear as a company that cares, but a company that has, “Listen, we’re still in business. We’re still around. Here’s an offer. If you’re interested, take advantage of it.” There’s a way to do that and sell without looking like you’re taking advantage of the situation.
Stacy Jones (19:26):
Are you working more with typical retailers or are you working with… What type of companies do you work with? Brick and mortar?
Allan Langer (19:39):
Yeah. Mostly it’s smaller companies. I’ve recently done some work with a couple of gyms, where they’re personal training gyms. I just did a whole campaign for a roofing company in central Pennsylvania. That was from ground up. Basically they had no marketing and we set up their sales presentation, we set up the email campaign, the website, we did everything and his sales went up 45% in the last five weeks or so. So I’ll work with anyone at all. I haven’t worked with a gigantic company yet, but I like working with the small companies because you normally work with the owner or the vice president or something like that. I’ve worked with a couple of media companies. There’s a small media company here that still does those weekly newspapers. Those are still out there. And he kept wondering why his sales are going down. I’m like, “You got to get online.”
Allan Langer (20:41):
Number one, you got to get online. But I’ll work with it. I’ll work with anyone who needs help. I really enjoy helping people. I just did, actually. I just, there was a customer in Hawaii. What she does is she hosts and teaches people how to host princess tea parties. Who knew that was a thing?
Stacy Jones (21:02):
Right now it’s probably a very big thing.
Allan Langer (21:04):
Yeah. And she had these PDF books and a nice website. So we tweaked a lot of stuff for her and I did two email funnels for her and it’s been great. Right now she had to change her funnels because we started working before this started. And now it’s like, when this is over, you should be ready to do your tea party business. Don’t sit around and wait. So that’s the gist of her emails and it comes across as a very like “Here. I’m here to help you. You’re going to make some money when this is all over. This is how you do it.”
Stacy Jones (21:38):
Interesting. Yeah. That’s great. Well, how can people learn more about you and find your book?
Allan Langer (21:46):
So my website is www obviously Allanger.com. So it’s A-L and then my last name, Langer. L-A-N-G-E-R dot com. On there you’ll get a page that my book is on and you can go right to Amazon. If you go to Amazon straight, you just type in Allan Langer or The 7 Secrets and my book should come up. It’s in three different versions. It’s an audio book, a paperback and ebook. And you can, if you want me for training or for speaking, there’s a form on the website that comes right to me. And you can also check out other podcasts and speaking engagements that I’ve done on my website as well.
Stacy Jones (22:26):
Awesome. Any last parting words of advice to our listeners today on how they can be upping their sales game?
Allan Langer (22:33):
Wow. Going back to what I said at the beginning, stop being a salesperson. Start being someone who helps people. When you go to meet someone, take a breath. Say, “I’m here to help this person. I’m not here to sell them.” And if you do that, I guarantee you will increase your sales.
Stacy Jones (22:54):
That is good advice. And to listen.
Allan Langer (22:57):
And to listen. Absolutely. And then to listen. And then if you read my book, you’ll get the other six things to do.
Stacy Jones (23:05):
Awesome. Allan, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing this advice and your insights. It was great to have you here.
Allan Langer (23:12):
Stacy, it was a pleasure. I enjoyed it a lot.
Stacy Jones (23:14):
Perfect. Well to all of our listeners, thank you for tuning in to Marketing Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them). I look forward to chatting with you on our next podcast. Everyone stay safe.
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