Selling From Your Heart

I discovered Mark Silver’s work about two years ago and have been paying close attention to him ever since. His ability to effectively combine spirituality with marketing is unsurpassed in my opinion. His capacity for kindness and giving serves as an example to us all.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him a bit more as I am one of the facilitators for the Heart of Business Alumni Community. I can tell you that, after working with him closely over the past few months, I am now totally unconvinced he was not bitten by a radioactive spider or dropped from a meteor onto his parents’ farm as a child. Superhuman, in every sense of the word.

Mark’s about to launch this year’s Sacred Selling course and the core message of these teachings is something we can all benefit from. The following insights and advice can transform your sales conversation from one of discomfort and doubt to soulful success. Don’t forget to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts and experiences with this topic. Enjoy!

Jenny: Can you tell us about your journey? What did you find most difficult when you first started out in your business? What had to happen to transform that?

Mark: There was so much that was difficult. The biggest thing was that I hated business. 🙂 You see, I spent a lot of time as an activist early on, and I witnessed injustice and unethical actions from large corporations that hurt my heart and outraged me. I never could trust that.

On the other end, there were lots of small businesses, including my parents’, that seemed to be full of a tremendous amount of hard work. Just an exhausting, day after day grind.

Finally, when I went into business, early on I was in a model of business that involved a lot of cold calling, a lot of approaching strangers, and it was just painful.

So I had to work through all of that: that business was unethical, that it couldn’t do good, and that to make it successful was a grind of painful, unenjoyable tasks.

Not so much, right. 🙂

What transformed that was being introduced, through my now-wife Holly, to the holistic healing community, and all the people who were doing tremendously fantastic work, and yet were struggling so hard to get clients. I found that my experience in the nonprofit world, and later my spiritual work in Sufism, allowed me to find a different path through business, one that was both effective and heart-nourishing.

Jenny: When I first heard you discuss the sacred origins of selling, it was such a welcomed insight for me. Can you explain the beginnings of selling and what’s happened to make us so averse to it in our modern world?

Mark: One of my favorite things to do is go to the dictionary, it often provides a wonderful insight into the intellectual origins of ideas. In this case, the verb “to sell” comes from the Ancient Norse “selja” which meant “to give up” in the sense of giving an object to someone in response to a request. So for me to ask you to give me a book, you giving me that book is to “sell” the book to me.

This insight is at the heart of all sales, and what makes it MUCH easier. That we, as business people, are providing something that people are needing, something that are asking for. Far from bothering people, we are helping people out.

The problem, of course, is that selling has moved from that to trying to get people to take what you’re offering in exchange for money, so that the focus people in business have had over the last centuries has almost solely been on the money, losing sight of everything else important in the sale.

What is so sacred about these interactions, I won’t say “transactions,” is that it takes a tremendous amount of trust, vulnerability and intimacy to create the trust that is needed for a significant purchase to happen. Trust, vulnerability and intimacy are the foundations of something very sacred indeed, if you’re aware of it.

Jenny: Heart-centered business owners are natural born nurturers and givers. They would help the world for free if they could and nothing would make them happier. This can show up as a big brick wall of hesitation in their marketing, preventing them from making a decent living with their businesses. What steps do you suggest to climb over (or blast through?) this wall?

Mark: The first thing I say to this is: trust your heart. If your heart is stopping you from marketing, trust it. However, also look more closely. Notice that what your heart is saying is “don’t market this way” whatever way this is. You may have seen how someone else markets, and it doesn’t sit right with you. Don’t do that. But also don’t generalize with the decision that because some people are marketing in ways you don’t feel comfortable about, that marketing is therefore this thing you can’t approach.

So, trusting your heart, begin to approach marketing and see what it is. I define “business” as the “relationships around your livelihood.” And I define “marketing” as the “art of starting, maintaining, and deepening relationships.”

Does that feel a little better?

Something else to notice is that great marketing, marketing with integrity, comes from the core of your business. However you help your best people, marketing is on the spectrum of help you provide. At your most engaged, you are giving everything to a client/customer, and they are giving back to you in a sustainable manner.

Earlier in the relationship, before that much trust has been built, marketing is the help you are giving to people before a two-way relationship has been formed, before they have decided to receive really deeply from you and your offer, and before they have felt the generosity of wanting to give back to you.

Therefore, because the relationship is newer, less deep, less committed, you give less.

Not out of any sense of “holding back” or miserliness, but because it’s inappropriate given the depth of relationship there.

“Let me repeat this: marketing is on the spectrum of giving help to your clients.”

Jenny: What are the keys to holding a successful sales conversation? Are there any practices you recommend to help acquire these keys?

Mark: There are a few keys to having that conversation with a potential client who hasn’t decided to hire or buy from you yet. The first key is to know that these conversations don’t happen in a vacuum. That you can’t just launch into a sales conversation right off the bat.

Often someone’s first expression of interest means “Oh, tell me more. I’m curious.” Not,”I’m considering buying from you.” Treat the initial interest at the level it’s truly at, instead of jumping the gun. It takes the pressure off you and them.

When you do get into talking to a potential client, you need to 1) be prepared, 2) be focused, 3) have your heart open, and 4) be curious and wanting to know about them.

Prepared means you know your own business and what you offer.

When participants go through Sacred Selling they are often surprised by how much vagueness they have in what they are offering and in their enrollment process, so it’s no wonder they stutter and trip at key points of the conversation. Price is a big stumbling block, but there are many others.

Focused means don’t waste your potential client’s time. You want to be friendly, you want to be open-hearted, but you also want to be a professional, and dive into the meat of the conversation. Friendly people without focus can have a sweet chat that lasts two hours, and no client at the end of it.

“Heart open goes without saying. You want to care. You want to be in service.”

Curiosity is linked to having your heart-open. You want to ask questions to help determine if this person is someone you can help. You want to spend a lot less time talking about what you do, than you do asking about what’s going on for them.

Jenny: Your Sacred Selling course is coming up soon, can you tell us a little more about it?

Mark: Sacred Selling is a process I love! One participant finished it and said, “If people would follow this process in their lives generally, we would be creating peace on earth.” And I think it’s true. Sacred Selling is based on profound spiritual principles I’ve learned through my Sufi teachers, as well as practical business knowledge, and helps connect the sacred, the practical and the effective in a ways that feels totally natural and organic.

It’s common for folks to come out of the course, or even during the course, to find so much more ease in the enrollment conversation that suddenly it’s fun, it’s effective. One past participant shared that their newest client remarked on how fun and pain-free the sales process was. Who has clients who remark on the sales process? And this client was at a new, higher price our participant was charging.

There are three areas that people need to prepare prior to the conversation, and three part of the sales conversation that help to structure it, not script it, but give it form and focus so the flow is incredibly easy.

In preparation we cover how to craft an offer that sells itself, how to price yourself from the heart, and how to have a trip-free closing process.

In the sales conversation, we teach a profound way to connect and create trust at the heart-level, based on ancient Sufi principles, without even using words. We then teach how to translate that heart-connection into words so you know what to say during the conversation, and how best to use the time. Then the third part is how to reach an agreement, what is commonly called the “close” (ugh!). It’s not a close, it’s an opening, and there is a very natural, stress-free way to reach that agreement and get paid.

94% of past participants report the course as incredibly effective. I’ve taught hundreds of people over the last seven years, and it continues to be a foundational part of business-building skills.

We have a free learning series right now, and a free call coming up April 17, you can sign up here: Sacred Selling Free Learning Series 

And the full course begins May 1 and runs seven weeks. You can learn more about it here: Sacred Selling Course

Hopefully that helps! We’d be delighted to see people take advantage of the free learning series, and to join us for the full course in May.

 

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Mark is a fourth-generation entrepreneur who has run a distribution business, turned around a struggling non-profit magazine, and worked as a paramedic in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He is the author of seven different in-depth programs and a number of other smaller teachings and classes for entrepreneurs. Together they form a comprehensive entrepreneurial wisdom academy curriculum. Learn more about this work at HeartofBusiness.com

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3 Must-Have Ingredients for Any Successful Micro Business

Do you ever wonder why some micro businesses flourish while others quickly fade away? Ever wondered why some people always seem to be busy while you’re struggling just to get the next client? Of course you have. We all have.

A successful business is like a successful recipe.

While every successful small business is unique in what they offer, who they offer it to and how they approach those people, there are three main ingredients they all share. These three main ingredients are absolutely essential to their ultimate success. They cannot be substituted for, cannot be omitted and each must be present in sufficient quantities to let their flavor shine through.

If you do a quick search on Pinterest for “s’mores” you’ll see an example of what I mean. There are hundreds of permutations on this most basic (and yet oh-so-wildly successful) recipe. There are s’mores martinis, s’mores cheesecakes, s’mores ice cream, s’mores in a box, s’mores on a stick and s’mores stuffed into jars. The list seems endless.

How can three simple ingredients lead to so many mouth-watering creations?

Once you have a trifeca of flavors, anything is possible. While we’re using the sweet toothed combination of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows the same can be said for basil, tomato and mozzarella or raw tuna, sticky rice and seaweed or chickpeas, sesame paste and lemon…you get the point and I’m getting hungry.

You want to create something that is uniquely you with your business but you still need to rely on time-tested flavor combinations in order to build a recipe that will appeal to all of your guests.

The Graham Cracker

Let’s think of this ingredient as the foundation on which everything else is built. The graham cracker is your marketing and this includes your blog, social media interactions, copywriting, email list and product creation. If your cracker is cracked everything else is going to fall through the…cracks (fuck it, I tried to resist but I’m only human). But really, it’s that simple. If your cracker falls apart your business will too.

The Chocolate

This rich and delicious ingredient is your support network. It is the glue that holds everything together. Learning how to build meaningful relationships in your business is the only way to expand your field of opportunity. From these relationships spring accountability, advice, friendship, joint venture projects, increased visibility, people who will celebrate your wins and shoulders to cry on when needed. Without it? Well, you’re just a sticky cracker that no one really wants to touch. Not only is this a lonely place to be, it’s not very profitable either.

The Marshmallows

Delicate and delicious, sweet and sticky, the marshmallows represent your personal growth. This may be the ingredient that is most often overlooked by the budding solopreneur, but successful small business owners know it is just as vital to building their business as any other ingredients. We can’t carry the same baggage around from project to project and expect different results.

The truth is, you can succeed at anything you set out to do as long as you clear the path of all the stumbling blocks your lizard brain has laid down before you. It’s true, but can be easier said than done which is why I’m a strong advocate of having a kick-ass life coach in your corner.

The Fire

“But you said there were only three ingredients!” Correct, and there are. However without fire, the magical melting and alchemical transformation that turns a plain cookie, a piece of cold, hard chocolate and a so-so marshmallow into the yummiest treat on the planet will never happen.

Sandi Amorim, my dear friend and personal Deva Coach, and I have decided to light that fire for you. Starting May 8th and running until July 17th, we will be hosting the S’mores Summer Camp for Solopreneurs where you’ll get the chance to gather ’round the campfire, roast some s’mores and transform your business into an equally tantalizing treat.

We have a ton of games, monthly challenges and special surprise guests planned. Sandi and I are committed to making this summer the most fun (and profitable) one you’ve had in a very long time. Ready? Learn more and apply for your spot here: S’mores Summer Camp.

I should note that there are only 10 spaces available. While this summer camp is going to be a BLAST, it is also designed to be an intensive program in which you will nurture yourself, your business and leap past those stumbling blocks. Sandi and I want to ensure that all campers get the full support they need on this transformational journey. For this reason, we’ve decided to limit enrollment. So if you’re keen, don’t delay.

PS: There are extra goodies for you if you register before April 17. Go…now…get ’em while you can 🙂

Perfect People Finder – Exercise #2

Our perfect people are the clients and customers who will transform our business from a source of struggle and woe to a source of nourishment and spiritual enrichment. They are the ones who will have us running to our computers each morning instead of dragging our procrastinating feet.

They are not our target market or ideal demographic. They represent a new way of identifying our audience and are the reason so many of us have chosen the path we have.

In the previous perfect people finder exercise we talked about getting brutally honest with yourself about the types of people who you are instantly attracted to or turned off by. These are vital clues as to who your perfect people are.

Today we’re going to go a little bit deeper and figure out who really gets access to the Real You…the You that’s about to transform people’s lives.

Mentors

Hopefully you have met one or two special people in your life so far who influenced you in some positive way. It may have been a teacher, a family member, a spiritual leader, a sibling or that homeless guy you passed every day on the way to school. Angels come in many disguises.

Whether you have one such person or a dozen, take time to bring each of them back into the moment. Sit with their memory and remember how you felt when you were around them. Next, try to identify which traits endeared this person to you.

Why did you let them close to you?

Why did you open up to them?

What was it about them that made you receptive to the teachings they had to offer?

Instead of figuring out which age range, gender or socio-economic group make up your ideal market, spend some time meditating on this exercise. Begin to get crystal clear about who touches your soul and opens your mind.

Because if you can build your business around these people, your life will be richer than you have ever imagined.

Coming soon…how to turn this information into a Perfect People Magnet (using only your words). Sign up in the big yellow box on the right so you don’t miss it.

Lessons from the Felt

Some of you might be surprised to hear that for a few years I made much of my income playing poker. It’s true, and I was a damned good shark if I do say so. I played online (before The Man cracked down on online poker sites) and would travel to Atlantic City every weekend to rid the tourists of their Social Security checks. Hey, don’t be judgin’…it’s a tough game and all’s fair in love and no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

I always donned well-manicured nails and wore low-cut cleavage-heavy blouses to distract the predominantly male tables. I’d shuffle my chips and act aloof hoping the men were paying more attention to thoughts of hitting on me than calling my bluffs. I wore dark sunglasses to hide my tell-tale eyes, my ability to keep a poker face ended with my pupils and one must know and cover their weaknesses wherever possible.

Here’s a few other invaluable lessons I learned:

The Only Person Who Can Beat You is You

As with golf and transcendental meditation, poker is a game you play against yourself. If you are able to accurately identify your weaknesses, address them head-on (with compassion for yourself!) and keep your cool, you will win more often than you will lose.

The same is true for entrepreneurs. You know you’re your own worst enemy. Embrace it. Use this to your advantage. Never stop growing, learning, and deepening your understanding of what makes you tick.

Take Calculated Risks

In a poker tournament, the clock is ticking. You start with a limited amount of chips and the game gets increasingly more expensive each round. If you sit there and wait for the perfect cards before making a move, you’ll be sure to be one of the first ones out.

Do not wait until you think you know everything there is to know before taking a risk and starting a new business. You’ll never know all that is needed until you jump in. If you sit and wait for that perfect moment to act (which rarely, if ever, comes) you’ll be swept aside by others’ success in no time.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Make Your Decisions

Poker players are a superstitious bunch. But most of the top players in the world have learned not to depend on these emotional crutches. In order to be a true champion, our emotions must be transcended. Those urges to throw your water bottle across the table at the donkey who called you down with pocket twos can mean a quick end to your game. Don’t let the donkey win!

It’s tough not to get emotionally attached to our businesses. They are our babies, our creations, and they are soaked with our blood, sweat and tears. But sometimes it’s best to walk away and start anew and I’ve seen so many clients unwilling to let go and move on. When making a major decision with your business, spend some time purging any emotional responses you have and approach the decision instead with logic sprinkled with a sense of adventure. This takes courage, so don’t forget to strap on a pair of ovaries first!

Never Assume You’re the Best

You’re not. No one is. Only strive to be the best you can be whether in poker, life or business. The moment you begin to believe you’re the best, keep your eyes open. Life is likely about to remind you otherwise. ‘Nuff said there.

Pay Attention to Everyone Around You

It’s not enough to battle our own demons and strive to be the best player we can be. We also have to keep close watch on how the other players are behaving. Are they on tilt because of that last big hand they lost? Do they have a tendency to always bet on the button? Have they gone all-in more than is reasonably believable? These clues can give us the information we need to make those calculated risks I spoke about earlier.

Always know what other people in your business’ niche are up to. Subscribe to their newsletters, engage them in social media discussions about how they do business. Take stock in everything that is working for them but play closer attention to what they’re doing wrong. Unlike in a game of poker, this information won’t be used to “beat your opponent,” but rather to lift your business up to new heights.

Suffer No Loss of Enthusiasm

I saved the most difficult two lessons for last and this is certainly one of them. When you lose a big hand in poker, it can be crushing. You were so certain you were going to win that hand, and yet Lady Luck had other plans. You feel your heart sink into your stomach and your blood pressure skyrocket. Staying in the emotion of disappointment and frustration is what is known in the poker world as being on “tilt” and it is deadly poison to your game.

The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who have failed the most. Ask them, they’ll tell you. Much like Jim Carrey (one of my favorite success stories), many of them started from meager beginnings and endured thousands of “no’s” before ever breaking through to success. What separates them from the rest of us who hear “no” all the time? They shook each one off, never lost faith in what they were doing and carried on with the same enthusiasm with which they started.

Stay Present (and Sober!)

Last but certainly not least, one must stay fully present. You must learn from your mistakes but not dwell in them. You must enjoy your victories but not take them for granted. The key to success is to stay fully present in the moment. It is quite Zen, truth be told, and vitally important but admittedly no easier than it sounds.

There are few pieces of advice more powerful than “be here now.” As an entrepreneur it is paramount to your winning. We cannot live in the past or future. Rather, we must be fully passionate about everything we are doing right here and now. As for the sober part…well, just take a lesson from Susie Q. and never tweet drunk.

What lessons have you learned through your entrepreneurial journey? Which of these, if any, do you struggle with the most?

Perfect People Finder – Exercise #1

We talk a lot here about our perfect people and why it’s important to identify them, but to date I have only shared my secrets for finding your perfect people with my coaching clients. When I decided to transform my coaching business, I promised to share with you these secrets at no cost. Today we’ll go over the first exercise you can use to begin to uncover your perfect people.

Everyone has an inner critic. Much of the time this critic is telling us what we’re doing wrong, what we’re not doing enough or, simply, why we suck. There are ways to quiet this critic and these methods will be revealed in an upcoming ebook I’m working on. However today, we’re going to shine the light on that critic and let her take center stage.

Your inner critic also makes judgments about other people all the time. Good manners and the need for a serene life teach us to quell those judgments and keep an open mind about others. We learn to respect others, even when they make look, act or smell different from us.

In order to accurately identify your perfect people, I’m afraid you are going to have to let your critic speak openly…only for a short time…then you can go back to being all-loving and all-accepting, okay?

As we approach people in our daily lives, we begin making subconscious judgments about them almost immediately. Think of the last time you were in the grocery store. As you walked up to the check-out person you already made an unconscious decision about whether you were going to meet his eyes with a smile or whether you would keep your head down and try to get through the transaction making as little contact as possible.

Why do we diss some people and not others?

Sometimes it’s PMS, or that we’re in a rush, or that we’re particularly self-absorbed at the moment. But many times it is because something about that person turned us off. Whether it is their greasy hair, beady eyes or the wiff of Italian hoagie when the lift their arms, for whatever reason they are not someone we feel instantly connected to.

Yes, this is a shame. Yes, we are all interconnected. And yes, it is important to transcend these types of judgments if one is to live a life of virtue and compassion.

That said, this type of information about who turns you on and off is absolutely critical in determining who your perfect people are. The whole point of this is to identify the people who get you excited about meeting them. The people you want to invite over for lemon drop shots on Saturday night.

There is no one who feels this way about everyone on the planet. No one.

And that’s okay!

Over the next few days, allow your inner critic to speak about the people you encounter throughout your day. Take notes! Jot down your gut reactions to people and reflect on what, exactly, turned you on or off about them.

We’ve become used to not paying attention to, or arguing with, these types of judgments…and for good reason. But I promise you, you will uncover some extremely valuable clues as to who your perfect people are precisely if you follow this exercise for a week or two.

After you feel you have a good handle on the personality traits that you are most drawn to or disgusted by, go back to working on keeping that inner critic quiet. We don’t want to stay in this hyper-judgmental state for too long, just long enough to really take a look at what makes us tick with the people around us.

Return to a compassionate state of being and try to be as friendly as possible to everyone you meet.

You might even be surprised at how much easier this is once you’ve allowed yourself to honestly examine your subconscious reactions to others.

Please share some of your immediate reactions to what turns you on/off about people in the comments section below. It may very well help others open up this pathway to their perfect people!

Jenny B’s Online Marketing Training – Introduction to My Madness…erm…Marketing Approach

As promised, I’ll be providing you with all my gems of wisdom regarding online marketing and blogging that I’ve developed through my coaching program.

We’ll be discussing your perfect people, your tribal dialect, email marketing, writing titles that get clicked, see through purple panties and SO MUCH MORE.

I want to start off by giving you a brief introduction into my philosophy of online marketing. Why it’s changed and why the tried-and-true methods of marketing no longer apply.

Let’s say you’re opening up a purple panties shop in a new neighborhood. You hire a marketing specialist to research your target market (women ages 18-50 who live within a 15 mile radius of the new store). Then, you send your mailers to only those people hoping they’ll take advantage of your grand opening sale.

You’ve done this so as not to waste a bunch of money sending mailers to frat houses and church rectories. You wanted to reach only women aged 18-50 who live within a 15 mile radius. Your target market.

Now, let’s try to fit that same model into marketing online today. You set up a site that sells purple panties as well as some female sexual aides. You blog about some racy topics that you find amusing and informative.

What happens if you only target women aged 18-50 who live in a 15 mile radius of you? Well, that just doesn’t make sense. We’re ONLINE, people. Sheesh.

So what if we just target women aged 18-50. Sounds easy enough. Except many of those women will not like the articles you write. Many have never seen a purple glow-in-the-dark nightstick dildo before and might be frightened away or even insulted. There’s just no accounting for taste in this world. None.

There are more than 3 billion women in the world.

Let’s just pretend half of them are 18-50 and half of THEM are online. This means you will be targeting 750 MILLION women using the old method. (Assuming my math’s correct…after six zeros my brain goes wonky.)

Do you NEED 750 million customers? Can you even handle them? Are you sensitive to all the cultural differences and personality variables in a sampling of 750 million women? Are your values in alignment with each of theirs?

Of course not. It’s impossible.

The old paradigm simply will not work in today’s market. Social media and the quiet revolution that followed has blown it all to hell. And I, for one, could not be happier.

What we are going to discuss in the coming weeks is the antithesis of the old ways of marketing. By that I don’t just mean redefining things like ‘target market’…I mean ALL of the old ways.

The sleazy marketing tactics, the elevator pitches, the rules of engagement for networking…all out the fucking window and not a moment too soon.

Are you getting excited? You should be. What you’re about to learn will change the way you do business online forever.

Don’t miss any of these upcoming posts. Everything I’ve learned in over a decade of marketing online will be revealed to you here in the next few weeks. If you haven’t already, sign up in the big yellow box below!



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