The Do This Sell More Show is a weekly interview between Dave Lorenzo and a special guest. This week Dave's guest is Alan Weiss.
In this episode, Dave and Alan discuss:
Moving beyond your own cocoon and taking in the rest of the world.
Differentiating yourself as someone you and others want to know.
Networking – it’s a process, not an event.
Creating and maintaining a healthy self-esteem when you’re an independent professional or sales executive.
Key Takeaways and actionable tips:
Be well-read and well-traveled.
Stop talking about your field and start talking about other things.
Charge for value.
Appear in the public square that makes sense to your clients frequently with new intellectual property.
Do not listen to unsolicited feedback.
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The show is hosted by attorney/entrepreneur Nicola Gelormino (Nicki G) and author/consultant Dave Lorenzo (The Godfather of Growth).
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Dave: Welcome to the Do This Sell More Show, and this is our very first episode, and I am honored and pleased to welcome a gentleman who has been a mentor to me over the years, and to hundreds of other people. His name is Doctor Alan Weiss, and I’m going to read you a portion of his incredibly impressive bio.
Dave: Alan has attracted clients over the years such as Merck, Hewlett-Packard, GE, Mercedes Benz, State Street Corporation, The Times Mirror Group, and hundreds, hundreds of independent consultants and professional speakers. He speaks himself at 20 keynotes a year, he’s one of the best keynote speakers and probably the best keynote speaker you’re going to see. He’s spoken at Case Western Reserve University, Boston College, Tufts Saint John’s, University of Illinois, every university that has brought him in to speak, I’m sure has gotten incredible value from him. He is an inductee into the Professional Speaking Hall of Fame, he also has published over 60 books, including his bestseller, “Million Dollar Consulting.”
Dave: And as a special treat to those of you who are joining us on our inaugural episode, if you’re listening to this right now and you have a question or you want to mention something of value you got from Alan, I’m going to send you, as long as you send me your email address, I’m going to send you a copy of “Million Dollar Maverick,” that’s my favorite book that Alan’s written. It’s one of the over sixty that he’s written, and this book is a memoir, along with Alan’s tips on how to be a fantastic consultant and deliver value. It is valuable to professional service providers, it’s valuable to independent sales professionals, you will get a lot out of it, you’ll enjoy it, it’s a quick read. So the first ten people that leave a comment on this episode will get a copy of “Million Dollar Maverick.” Send me your email address and I’ll get your physical address and send it to you.
Dave: Now, without further ado I want to welcome in Alan Weiss, good morning Alan.
Alan Weiss: Good morning Dave, thank you, very happy to be here for your first episode. Thanks for inviting me.
Dave: I appreciate it very much, and I was just saying before we went live that everyone else will have to live up to this standard. So those of you who are future guests, I encourage you to try and outdo the great advice Alan’s going to give us today.
Dave: I want to begin with a concept that you teach to those of us who call you a mentor, and that is becoming an object of interest. And I want to get into this by telling a story. I came to see you earlier this year at your home, at your retreat center. And I took an Uber from the hotel to your house, so the retreat center. And on the way over, I gave the gentleman the address, and you were very detailed in giving me instructions about how to get in the driveway and everything. And I was reading the instructions to him, and he said, “I don’t need that. I know how to get there, I know who this guy is, he’s the guy that drives the Rolls Royce.” So Alan, you are an incredible object of interest. Can you tell those of us who have not yet achieved the level of success yet to have a Rolls Royce, how do we become an object of interest to our audience of prospects and clients?
Alan Weiss: Well I think you have to become an object of interest to everyone. Don’t just focus on your clients. You have to be well read, you have to be well traveled. I get a kick out of people who tell me, for example, they won’t try uni, a very nice Japanese sushi dish. They won’t try uni because they just don’t like the sound of it, or what it looks like, and so forth. Now if you’ve tasted it, you don’t like it, that’s fine. But not to taste it is ridiculous. I had somebody tell me, I really don’t want to go to Vietnam, I was thinking about holding a special event there, and I really don’t feel like going here, really don’t feel like going there. Well the person’s never been there. And too many people narrow their world arbitrarily like that.
Alan Weiss: So you have to be willing to travel, to read, and to take in the world around you. Probably of all the reading I do, the least reading would be business books. And so if you want to be an object of interest, you have to talk to people on their own terms. And my wife says I can probably talk to anybody about anything, maybe not in the depth that they can, you know if they’re a musician or a nuclear physicist, but I can talk to them. And so you have to allow yourself to get beyond your particular cocoon, beyond the kind of work you’re doing, and take in the rest of the world.
Dave: That’s a great concept. So if I’m a financial advisor out there, another story you’ve told is “Hey listen, you’re a great financial advisor, why are you cold calling me? How come I’ve never heard of you?” That financial advisor, how does he establish himself as an expert, differentiate himself from everyone else who does what he does, so that someone who is successful will say, “Hm, this is an interesting person, this is someone I need to get to know more.” How does that financial advisor establish himself as someone who’s an object of curiosity, who you would want to know?
Alan Weiss: Well, stop talking about finance. Start talking about other things. I remember I met a prospect once, at one of the air clubs in New York, and when I walked in he had been waiting for me, and he had a copy of one of Tom Wolfe’s newest books at the time on the table in front of him. And I said, “Oh, A Man In Full, I finished that, what did you think of it?” And he said “Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t I haven’t finished it yet. Don’t give anything away.” So we started talking about Tom Wolfe, and then we started talking about some films and so forth. And so before you knew it, we had rapport. We had camaraderie. And so moving into business then, we already had a trusting relationship.
Alan Weiss: So whether you’re a financial advisor, or you’re a realtor, or you’re an IT specialist, whatever you are doesn’t matter. You need to stop talking about your field. You need to start talking about other things. And that means that every day you need to read. You need to read the Wall Street Journal, you need to read your local newspaper, preferable the New York Times on Sundays, you need to see what’s going on in the world.
Alan Weiss: And you also need to broaden your experience, and broaden your willingness to consider things. Once you do that, you find that you can talk to people about a wide variety of things, and it gains this momentum toward more of a profound business relationship if you do it that way.
Dave: That’s great. Now, there’s story that you’ve also told, about … and this is one of the things that endeared you to me early on, ’cause I feel like I’m in the same situation. It’s the story you told about going to a party and sitting on the couch, and you have a unique talent of being able to exchange one glass for another, of your favorite beverage, without ever having to leave or say a word. Tell me how you start those types of conversation, at a cocktail party, or even a networking event. For me, that’s one of the most incredibly awkward times, one of the most incredibly awkward opportunities. So how do you do it?
Alan Weiss: Well you have to separate what we’re talking about here. I’m not interested in cocktail parties. It’s usually banal kind of small talk, inevitably the people in the room were not people who could help my business, and in fact most of the time they’re not people I’d like to work with. It might be acquaintances and so forth, but these aren’t people who I want to work with or develop long term relationships with, and so if my wife wants to go to one of these things, I’ll sit and drink and keep her happy until we can leave.
Alan Weiss: Now, networking event is different. At a networking event, what you want to do is find somebody who could be a potential buyer or recommender, and that’s not hard to do. But what you don’t want to do is try to give them a pitch. Try to give them anything. I mean I know people who try to hand out business cards, they even try to hand out books, it’s ridiculous. All you want to do is get them to talk about themselves, tell them that you can provide help, but this isn’t the time or the place, and are they open to have a call or a meeting later in the week. And so it’s a five minute kind of transaction, because networking is a process, not an event.
Alan Weiss: So one, you make sure you’re talking to a buyer or a recommender, two, you provoke them a little bit, you pique their interest by providing some value, number three you make an appointment to talk to them later. And if you can come out with just two or three of those, in any particular, say, two hour networking event, you’re doing a good job.
Dave: That’s great. Tell me about when you … I want to take you back to when you first started, and you were just realizing that you had success as a consultant, as an independent professional. What was the most important thing, what was the thing that kind of put you over the top, that took you from survival into thriving?
Alan Weiss: Well, I think there were two things. The first was, I recognized this was a relationship business. And so you had to establish relationships with true buyers if you’re going to get anywhere. And I focused on developing those relationships at executive levels by being able to talk about a wide variety of topics, but also being sure that I provided them with such unique value that they started to think, “If I’m getting this value for free, what would I get if I hired the guy?”
Alan Weiss: The second aspect was, I determined since I had come from the training industry, I would never, ever, ever again charge for a box of materials or a participant in a seat, or a time unit. That’s no way to make money, in fact it’s unethical, because clients are entitled to quick resolutions, but the only way you make money that way is through long, elongated solutions. And so, I decided I would charge for value, I really pioneered value-based fees in the consulting profession.
Alan Weiss: And those activities, developing relationships with executives, and charging for value, is what accelerated my career.
Dave: You know, it’s funny you say that. That’s how I discovered you, I purchased, I think it was an eight dollar booklet on Amazon in, I want to say it was 2006, on exactly that. On value-based fees.
Alan Weiss: It was seven dollars.
Dave: Oh, seven dollars, okay. And I realized at that point that I already had purchased two of your other books. I had originally purchased “Million Dollar Consulting” and the “Million Dollar Consulting toolkit,” and I said “oh, this is the guy who wrote those books.” And to me, that spoke to me. Because I worked over the years with a lot of lawyers, and inherent in their industry is the need to charge by the hour. And it puts in dis-alignment, if that’s the correct tern of a phrase, it puts in dis-alignment their interests and the interests of the client. So that’s how I first ended up meeting you and connecting with you.
Dave: Now you’ve built an enormous body of work over the years, 60 plus books, hundreds of articles, you speak all over the place, and now with video and audio, podcasts and videos have made you … it’s almost impossible to Google ‘consulting’ without seeing a video or audio program or a book from Alan Weiss. If I just get this concept now, I’m a sales professional or I’m an entrepreneur and I’m just getting this concept, where do I start to build my body of work? What’s your best recommendation for starting to build a body of work?
Alan Weiss: So, not talking about my body of work, you’re talking about someone building their own body of work?
Dave: No, no, I’m talking about a … let’s say I’m an entrepreneur, and I own a store, I own a dry cleaning business or I’m a professional working for Stryker selling orthopedic products, I want to differentiate myself by building a body of work. What’s your recommendation on how I get started doing that?
Alan Weiss: Well you have to appear in the public square frequently. What I call the public square frequently, with new intellectual property. So you need to determine the following, ’cause you mentioned a wide variety of specialties there. What do your ideal buyers read, what do your ideal buyers attend, where do your ideal buyers hang out, and who do your ideal buyers listen to? And once you determine those things, you know where you want to speak, where you want to publish, where you want to network, and who you want to impress. And so you start publishing in those periodicals that those people read. I mean you’re not going to get an article in the Wall Street Journal, but you would get an article in something like Dentistry Today, or something.
Alan Weiss: You want to start speaking at events they attend, which means trade associations and professional association events. Most importantly, I think, you want to continue to pump new intellectual property into your environment. So the people are getting new ideas, and you’re recognized as the source. So for example I publish more books on consulting than anyone in history. And you want to be in a position where you’re publishing or writing or speaking about more on your specialty than anyone else around.
Alan Weiss: I’ll tell you one final thing. The major way that people make buying decisions today, is not on the internet. It’s by word of mouth, it’s by peer reference. And Johah Berger, a professor who wrote “Contagion and Invisible Influence” was a guest speaker at one of my events. And his research is fascinating, because only four percent of that kind of word of mouth occurs on the internet. All the rest occur interpersonally, not virtually, but in reality. So these are the people you have to impress, who are talking to each other. Because if you came to me and said, “Alan, I need a good dentist, mine retired.” I would give you the name of my dentist, ’cause I’m doing you a favor, and my dentist a favor. That’s how it works. That’s how peer-to-peer references work, and that’s the sequence we have to get into.
Dave: Okay. That’s great, I’m going to put a link Johah Berger’s group along with the books I mentioned from you in the show notes. Let’s talk a little bit about that. Last time I spoke with you, you mentioned that you were working on something, I think it’s going to be something, I think it’s going to be a book eventually, called Evangelist Selling, or something along those lines. Tell me about how you create an environment where people are evangelists for you.
Alan Weiss: Well you attract attractors. And so, what you do is, you know your current clients love you, your prospects don’t love you ’cause they don’t know you. Too often we assume they have to love us too. So I bring these people together. I bring them together at my events, in reality.
Alan Weiss: For example, in April of 2019 I’m doing the Million Dollar Consulting convention outside of Washinton DC. This is my fifth one. And at that convention will be 140 people or so, some of whom use me as a personal coach, some of whom just read my books and everything in between. And the people who use me to a great extent will be telling the people who don’t, “Here’s a better way to deal with Alan, you have to get engaged with this and that.” That’s evangelistic selling.
Alan Weiss: I bring them together virtually, as well as in reality. Right now, as you and I are talking, Alan’s Forums dot com is going on 24/7, people in my community automatically belong to it, people outside of it can pay to join for life, and people are exchanging ideas who wouldn’t know each other except through their knowledge of me. And so, right on the forums somebody will say, “Well you have to attend the Million Dollar Consulting College, that’s the next thing you have to do.” So you create that kind of interaction between your best clients and your prospects, so your best clients and your second best clients.
Alan Weiss: And what happens is, the evangelism is far, far more effective than personal selling.
Dave: I love it. That tip alone is worth the time that you’ve invested to be with us.
Dave: We’re talking today with Alan Weiss, he’s the author of over 60 books, if you leave a comment or a question or simply tell us how you like this episode, if you leave it on either iTunes or any of the social media outlets, and you leave me your email address, I’m going to send you a copy of Alan’s fantastic book, my favorite book of the ones he’s written, “Million Dollar Maverick.” I have ten copies left, I’ll be happy to give it to the first ten people who share a comment or a question with us.
Dave: So, the final topic I want to discuss with you today, Alan, has been the probably the most valuable thing that I’ve gotten from you over the years. And I think I initially read, or I heard you say that when you first began down this road of helping folks with their consulting business, or helping professionals with a professional service business, you thought the biggest issue was going to be lack of financing or the inability to get financing. Yet you found out, I think either quickly or over time, that the issue was not that, and the issue was self-esteem and maintaining a healthy self-esteem while you grow your practice, while you grow your business.
Dave: And this show, the Do This Sell More Show, is designed to help sales people. And there’s no one that takes a beating in his or her self-esteem as frequently and with as much vigor as the independent sales professional or the entrepreneur starting a business, because we’re all in the sales business.
Dave: Tell me about creating and maintaining a healthy self-esteem when you’re an independent professional, or a sales executive out there.
Alan Weiss: Well you can’t let your ego be at risk, you can’t let your ego be vulnerable. You have to understand that just because you get a ‘no,’ doesn’t mean anything about your self worth. You can still be a good person, a valuable, worthy person, even though you haven’t succeeded at something. Behavior is important, not necessarily constant victories. Moreover, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying. Everybody I know, everybody I’ve respected, has failed in the midst of succeeding. And so, you can’t take a setback or a critique or a critical review, or somebody unsubscribing as some kind of personal setback. You just have to accept it as part of life.
Alan Weiss: You also need a support system. And your family, or your colleagues, or your association friends, or whomever it is, have to constitute a support system, which tells you the truth about things, helps you when you’ve suffered defeats, but also helps you celebrate when you’ve had victories.
Alan Weiss: And so you have to get over the fact that it’s about you personally. There’s a famous example where somebody took “A Tale of Two Cities,” one of the classic novels of all time by Dickens, and re-typed it on a conventional typewriter, but took off Dickens’s name and put his own name on it. And he submitted it, and four publishers rejected it.
Alan Weiss: Right? And it just shows, that the editors there didn’t know one thing from another, or they were having bad days. And so you can’t take defeats personally, and you cannot let your ego be exposed, so that every time something adverse happens you feel it’s a negative commentary on you. And you need people to help you do that.
Dave: And how do you, maintaining that over the years is just having discussions with these people, and having the folks in your life continually remind you of times when you were successful? Is it as simple as that?
Alan Weiss: No, it’s more than that. I call it a personal mastery. And personal mastery occurs when you realize that a critique is valid or not valid. And it could go either way, somebody could tell you, “God, that was just horrible, what you just did.” But you realize it wasn’t. You know, people come up with their own agendas. People come up to me, some guy who says he’s a speech coach in London, comes up and says, “Would you like me to tell you how you can improve your speech?” And I said “No, get away from me.”
Alan Weiss: On the other hand, a woman says to me, “You’re the best speaker we’ve ever had here,” and I said “No I’m not.” And she said “You’re the best speaker we’ve ever had.” I said “I’ll tell you what, tell me why.” And she said “Because you’re the only speaker we’ve ever had who could hold the microphone and walk and talk, all at the same time.” So people have these crazy kind of criteria. And so you have to know yourself, when you’re good and when you’re not so good. And you can’t rely on the feedback of other people.
Alan Weiss: And I’ll tell you something, I believe in the one percent solution, which means if you improve my one percent a day, in 70 days you’re twice as good. It’s in all my books. And this might be the one percent for some of your listeners: Do not listen to unsolicited feedback. Solicited feedback is feedback you ask for, from people you respect. But unsolicited feedback comes from people who just decide they’re going to give you some feedback. Ignore it, it’s for the sender. And if you accept this stuff you’ll just be a ping pong ball.
Dave: I love it. Alan, that’s fantastic advice, thank you. And I love the phrase that you use all the time, to help, I think it’s to help reinforce it, it reinforces it for me, “No guilt, no fear, no peer.” And that’s been something that I’ve had written on just about everything that I look at. I use a notebook every day to keep notes when I’m walking around, and on the first page of every notebook when I change it at the beginning of the month, I write that down to help keep my self esteem pumped up so that I realize that I am as capable as I need to be in the moment, and I need to focus on the things that I’ve done well and continue to constantly improve.
Dave: So Alan, I know you’ve got a great new website that you’re launching right now, for 2019. You mentioned the Million Dollar Consulting Convention, what else do our listeners need to know? What’s the best way to get involved with Alan Weiss right now?
Alan Weiss: Well there’s several ways. I think one is to attend my Million Dollar Consulting College, which I run generally once a year in Newport, Rhode Island. I take no more than twelve people or fifteen people at the most, and that’s a good way to get two and a half days of really intimate, high-powered growth and development. Another way is to enter my personal coaching program, we call it KAATN, which stands for Kick Ass And Take Names, and you work with me personally for nine months on a weekly basis, and we create assignments for you and so forth. And then I also have master mentors, and you can work with my master mentors on a six month period, and learn from them.
Alan Weiss: So there are some easy ways to get involved, and I also have a livestream broadcast series for 2019, which you can sign up for on my site. Every month’s a different developmental behavior and trait for people. And then finally for this point you raised earlier about being well-rounded, 2019 I’m starting Alan’s Riff, it’s a once a month phone call on topics that will make you a better conversationalist, and enable you to talk to almost anyone. And again, you can sign up on Alan Weiss dot com.
Dave: Perfect, Alan Weiss dot com is the website, and those of you who leave comments on this episode on iTunes or on any of the social media outlets, if you leave me your email address I’ll contact you, first ten people will get a copy of Alan’s book, “Million Dollar Maverick.” Please visit Alan Weiss dot com, and in any way that you possibly can, even if it’s something as simple as buying a book, or connecting with his livestream, get involved with Alan, because this is the graduate school of consulting and professional services, there’s nobody better in the business at helping you go from where you are to where you need to be.
Dave: He’s especially valuable if you don’t know where you want to go. Because Alan can help you clear that up, and get back on track if you were successful and you want to be successful again.
Dave: Alan Weiss, it’s been an honor to speak with you today on our inaugural episode, and until next time, we will have you come back and listen to us with another great guest on the Do This Sell More Show.