Developing Employee Culture with Dr. Terence Jackson and The Selling Formula with Brian Robinson

All organizations have a culture, whether it’s the culture they want or a culture that was created through application. Executive performance advisor and thought leader Dr. Terence Jackson says leadership and employee culture dictate how innovative or disruptive an organization is. When leadership allows and enables their employees to look at innovation from an unlimited perspective, they create, innovate, and disrupt better than others. Dr. Jackson shares some great information on how to develop employee culture and touches on all kinds of issues that organizations have.
What you imagine happening prior to a conversation tends to play out. If you take a few moments before your contact with your prospect to sit still think about them and care about them even before you’ve ever open your mouth or even seen them, you wind up telegraphing what you’re feeling. It’s always to your benefit to think positively about that interaction. Bestselling author, coach, and sales expert Brian Robinson helps banks and credit unions effectively cross promote their products and services. His book, The Selling Formula, outlines some helpful tips of how to get your sales message across and be effective.

TTL 280 | The Selling Formula

I’m so glad you joined us because we have Dr. Terence Jackson and Brian Robinson here. Dr. Terry as he sometimes is called is a Certified Executive Coach at Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching. He’s got some great information on how to develop employees’ culture and all kinds of issues that organizations have. He helps develop them. He works with that MG 100 Group, which is an impressive group. We have Brian, who is a bestselling author and coach and he’s a sales expert. He’s got a great book. He gives some helpful tips on how to get your sales message across and be effective in a way that I have not heard other people do. He’s connected to some powerful people who I’ve had on before and I’m interested in finding out what he has to say.

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Developing Employee Culture with Dr. Terence Jackson

I am here with Dr. Terry Jackson who is an experienced and dynamic executive performance advisor and thought leader. He is a TEDx speaker and is a Marshall Goldsmith 100 coach. He’s also become a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered coach. He was named to the Forbes Coaches Council and he’s a founding member of the Goldsmith Thompson Growth Leadership Accelerator headquartered in the Silicon Valley. I’ve talked to so many of these people that you work with, so I’m excited to have you, Terry. Welcome.

Thank you very much, Dr. Diane. I am excited to be here. I’m humbled to be here. I look forward to the conversation.

I did watch your TED talk. I’ve looked at a lot of your information. First of all, I know I mentioned you’re with MG 100 Coaching Group. I’ve had quite a few of that group on the show. Each time I meet any of you guys, it’s just so impressive. It’s a nice group of people who have good intentions to help people as compared to sometimes you get some of these groups that maybe are more financially motivated. You have a very centered approach. How did you get associated with Marshall?

Several years ago, I was doing a show around self-mastery. I said, “If I’m going to take my show to the next level, then I have to have the best on the show.” Being a fan of Marshall’s for many years, reading a lot of his work having been in the industry, I decided to reach out to him to see if I could have him as a guest on the show. Initially, he was busy. He didn’t have the time. About six months after the initial invitation, I received a phone call that said, “Marshall has time to be on your show.” We did it. We talked about triggers. From that point, we connected. I gave him what my personal mission was and that is helping others improve their quality of life. That was consistent with what he was thinking about and paying it forward. From that point forward, we developed a relationship. I was chosen to be a part of the Marshall Goldsmith 100. I still my pinch myself about that simply because there are so many wonderful, talented, giving people as a part of the group. I’m humbled to be a part of the group such as that.

Bob Nelson invited me the last time you guys were here in Arizona and I got to meet a few in person. Sally and Marshall had written How Women Rise. There are so many great books that have come from that group. I enjoyed meeting everybody. Marshall was great to be on my show. What you guys are doing is important. There’s so much that can be done to help leaders to understand. Organizational change is some of the topics you deal with. We both have a PhD in Management and Leadership and Organization Issues, so you and I have plenty to chat about. I saw your talk that you gave where you were defining what’s leadership and what’s coaching. It’s interesting to look at the difference between leadership and management. The first degree I earned in the early ‘80s, we’ve held everything management back then, do you remember?

Yes, I sure do.

Breaking rules allows you to play with many alternatives regardless of what you're doing. Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, I remember that long ago. We look at it in a different way. How would you differentiate leadership and management?

Peter Drucker said this. He said, “Leadership is doing the right thing. Management is doing things right.” As a manager, I have a process. I’m going to follow that process one through ten. Doing the right thing means that you’re going to evaluate the entire situation. You’re going to do what is right at that given time, given the data that you have in order to make the decision. You’re considering all factors when you do the right thing as a leader. That for me is a key differentiator as it relates to leadership and management.

There are a lot of people who are good at being strategic. There are a lot of people that are good at being tactical. It’s interesting to see where people fall in the spectrum. It’s hard to be great at everything and sometimes we have a problem delegating. Sometimes the best leaders find good and more tactical people to help take direction and implement their directives. Your talk was interesting because you spelled it out nicely. I also watched your TEDx Talk, which was about change versus transformation. I teach a lot of courses that deal with transformational leadership versus transactional leadership. You’re touching on a lot of touchy subjects. You were going for the big stuff there. You said that you’re mischievous and disobedient as a child. I’d like to go back to that a little bit. You seemed very well-behaved now.

It’s amazing because I was having a conversation like that. I work with an underprivileged at-risk school population. Every Wednesday, I’d go over and I coach the principal. I coach the staff and all the students who are at risk. There were three gentlemen who were then mischievous at school. As a walked in, I didn’t want them to think that I was holier than them. I was listening to their situation. I related a story to them to show them that I too at that age was mischievous about thirteen or fourteen. I’ve told them about a time there was a tree with blue-green chili berries. We used to pick them and throw them at each other. They would hit and they would hurt. One day, I was in the woods and we were near a dirt road. We started throwing these chili berries at cars as they rolled back. We were sitting there and we were like, “Nobody sees us. ” By the time I got home, I found out that there were some people who saw us. I paid the price dearly from being mischievous.

That’s just one thing. I remember times when my mother and father would say, “You can’t ride the bicycle today,” but we are going over to some friends’ house. All of a sudden, I climbed through the window. I got my bicycle out. I was riding the bicycle not where they are. All of a sudden, they got home and somebody told them that I was out riding my bicycle going against their directives. I did little things like that that was mischievous. You put the little pins in people’s seat and they sit down on them. You laugh. You chuckle. You get ex-lax and you put it in somebody’s food. We did little things like that. That was mischievous. It didn’t hurt anyone. I still didn’t have any business of doing it.

It brings up an interesting point though because I remember talking about this when my kids were young and mine are grown now. I almost liked it if they had a little mischievous side because I thought that showed some spunk, some initiatives that they might be a little risk-taking. Do you think that shows potential for their future and what they’re wanting to do than if they just follow all the rules? Is it good to break a couple of rules?

It is very good to break the rules because as we walk through the day, I think that the universe wants to break rules. As we find better ways to live, better ways to function and better ways to interact with one another. As we find new and different ways of producing products, you have to have the innovativeness of breaking the rules to see what can happen. One of my favorite questions is what if. What if is a rule breaker because it allows you to play with many alternatives regardless of what you’re doing. Also, it allows you to prepare proactively of what could happen. That’s breaking the rules. I am a rule breaker. I am non-conformant and I have been all my life and I think that’s a great trait.

I tend to fall into that with you. I love that you brought up the what if because my work with curiosity fascinates me to ask those kinds of questions and the why nots. A lot of people are held back at work from asking questions because they’ve either fear looking dumb or something in the past stopped them or maybe their childhood. No one wanted them to ask things and shut them up. Children are supposed to be seen and not heard or something might have shut them up. You don’t know what somebody’s background is. You don’t know what it is that’s holding them back. I’m into believing the research that I’ve found. People are more fearful of things that won’t happen. It’s keeping us from being innovative. In a time when we need to be more innovative than ever because of AI and jobs being disruptive, how can we get more people to ask what if and why not?

A lot of that comes along with being nurtured in your home, whether or not you encourage curiosity within your child. Whether or not you encourage curiosity within your spouse or other family members, that’s a part of nurturing. However, that’s also something that can be learned even outside of the home, in the school system. It’s to know that you can step out into nature and ask what if because nature is the greatest teacher that we have. One of the questions I always ask myself is, “When I have a situation that I’m examining, what would nature teach me about this, as you look through natural systems?” That what if question is extremely powerful. We must teach our kids to ask that and not ask it in a way where they think if they’re asking the teacher that they’re smarter than the teacher. Ask it in a way where they can use it to learn all that they can learn at any given time.

TTL 280 | The Selling Formula
The Selling Formula: Considering all factors is a key differentiator as it relates to leadership and management.


It is an interesting look at the education system. I went to an event where City Year had a big event where they honored Keith Krach, who is the chairman of DocuSign. City Year does a lot of work with the underprivileged children trying to get them through school and it’s not that different from some of the work I’ve seen you’re up to and Gerald Chertavian, who’s the head of Year Up who was on my show. I was inspired by Keith Krach who donated $1 million on the spot to these kids. They’re starting to do more things in school. I’d also like to see more encouragement at work because some of us have gotten past that age. I know in your talk you talked about diversity and inclusion and some of that is important in the workplace. We look at those words and we need to understand the meaning.

When we talk about innovative thinking and having a curious mindset at work, it’s important to look at the factors that hold us back and then develop them and have action plans at work. That’s why I have a lot of consultants and HR professionals working with me on this. When you go to organizations and they’re talking about innovation, what kinds of ways are they looking at improving? For me, I’m looking at it from that curiosity angle and developing that spark to ask questions? What other angles are they coming at from? Are you dealing with that in your consulting?

That’s a great question because we know that all organizations have a culture, whether it’s the culture they want or a culture that was created through application. One of the most important things when I start asking the what if question is to take a look at your culture. What if it were the opposite of what you have now, where would your organization be? Leadership and culture dictate how innovative or disruptive an organization is. When you encourage creativity, that innovativeness will be there.

They may create processes or products that may not even be consistent with what they are currently creating or currently manufacturing or the services that they’re currently offering. It’s because they’ve allowed and enabled their employees to look at innovation from an unlimited perspective, “Innovate and then we’ll figure the rest out.” I used unlimited because I’ve often said, “What if we never heard the word limitation in our life? Where would we be?” I look at innovation and disruption, and I talk about this a little bit in my TED talk, but I look at it from creating something totally different, something that never existed before.

Let’s go from being the caterpillar to the butterfly because the butterfly never becomes the caterpillar again. When I look at innovation and when we go into organizations, we’re looking at creating something that never existed before, something that may or may not be consistent with the current culture. It’s something that may or may not be consistent with the products or the services that they offer, but then again it may be consistent with what they offer. We want to create and so we have to open the minds of people in order to do so. A lot of the older organizations and some of the more entrenched industries, it’s tougher to innovate because of the culture that is there. I find most of the more technologically savvy organizations, they create, innovate and disrupt better than others.

Change can be reversed. Transformation cannot. Click To Tweet

I’ve seen the same. You talk about in your TED talk about some of the changes we need to make not individual but social and global and everything. You talked about change and transformation not being synonymous. How do you differentiate change from transformation?

Change can be reversed. Let’s talk about the many times I said I’m going on a diet. I might lose ten to fifteen pounds and that might last for six months. Seven months, eight months, all of a sudden, I’m gaining the weight back. There was a change which was temporary in my mindset, my eating habits and probably even my daily exercise regimen. I didn’t commit to transformation, which meant that once I began that journey of transforming my mind, my body, my dietary regimen, it was no going back. I had to put myself in a different type of environment as it relates to what my dietary regimen maybe.

I put myself in a different environment as it relates to my exercise regimen was and a different environment around people and their eating habits. Oftentimes where we might be on a diet and your friends coax you to go out a little bit and say, “Let’s go grab this quick. I know you’re working hard. You could make it up tomorrow,” and so then you use justification. Change can be reversed. Transformation cannot be reversed. I used the analogy of going from the caterpillar to the butterfly, the butterfly never becomes the caterpillar again. That is what true transformation is. Oftentimes we use those two words interchangeably and they’re not interchangeable at all.

I’ve taught so many courses, maybe over 1,000. I stopped counting after that. I’ve trained so many organizations where you deal with a topic maybe like emotional intelligence. You go in and you help them. They see the importance of it. They get the assessments. They take these assessments and they do say they want to make these changes. They start off on a nice roll and things get going and then they don’t follow through. I’m sure you have other examples. What examples do you see where they’ve started a change, but they stop? They lose momentum. They forget that they need to go through the entire transformation. Are there certain areas that seem to be typical of what you run into?

I was working with a large medical group and in doing so, initially it was about understanding the culture and getting the culture to change, a culture of performance. Initially as we started to work, you can see people make the “change” and headed toward transformation. All of a sudden, maybe there’s an obstacle that comes up. In that obstacle, people revert back to what’s comfortable for them and what’s comfortable for them are the old habits. It is the habits that create our future for us because habits dictate the behaviors that we exhibit on a day-to-day basis. It is a habit that is the underpinning of how we behave and so we have to get at the habit. That’s another distinction between change and transformation. It’s understanding the habit that causes the behavior. Once you could understand the habit and to begin to work on that underlying habit, then behavior change can happen. Transformation can happen because now you’re going to create a different being.

As I work with this large-scale group, I begin to understand that it was their habits that are underpinning all of their behaviors that created that culture. Once I worked on their habits and their behaviors change, the culture changes and so now they became a more high-performing organization. I went through the same work with a telecommunications firm, a large telecommunications firm. It was a merger and acquisition, and so had two cultures merging together. It was understanding the types of habits that they wanted to create in their organization versus the existing habits that existed within each organization. It was about now creating new habits. That’s difficult work because you can’t change your human being that doesn’t want to change. Sometimes you have to manage people out of an organization.

Habits create our future for us because habits dictate the behaviors that we actually exhibit on a day to day basis. Click To Tweet

It can be challenging. I was around during the AstraZeneca merger in the pharmaceutical industry. I know you’ve worked with a bunch of different industries, so you’ve seen all kinds of things. You worked with Bristol-Myers, Google, McDonald’s, Exxon. It’s a who’s who on your list of companies with whom you’ve worked. It’s an impressive group. Do they all have very similar kinds of requirements from what they want from you or is this very unique based on their industry or do you see them across industries the same issues?

I’m seeing across industries the same kinds of issues. Here’s what’s interesting about that list. There were three or four of those organizations that I’ve consulted with that I worked for. I came out of the culture, for instance Norfolk Southern Corporation. I worked there out of college. ExxonMobil, I left Norfolk Southern and went to ExxonMobil. I left ExxonMobil and went to Bristol-Myers Squibb. Having known the cultures of having been there, knowing people within the organization, it gave me more insight. The first thing I’ll take a look at is leadership. Once I look at leadership, it can give me an indication of what the culture looks like. Once I work with leadership and culture then that gets into process change, and it gets into strategy development. I’m seeing it across the industry. I’m seeing the same issues even though they think that their problems are unique, at the very root, they’re all the same.

I often get the question, I’m sure you’ve heard the question, “Do you have industry experience in our industry?” I can say, “No, but I have people experience and what we need to deal with other people and their habits. As it relates to the services or the products that you offer, you might be unique there. However at the end of the day, as an organization, you’re trying to optimize profitability by minimizing costs and it’s going to be the people that are going to help you do that. Let’s work on your people.”

That brings to mind, you have Uber listed. Did you work with them before or after Travis?

With Uber, this was after that. I had already been into the consulting business. I ran a $500 million division of an organization from 2008 to 2013. A lot of what I learned throughout my education and a lot of what I learned in other organizations, I wanted to test because prior to that I was self-employed. I wanted to take all this back into Corporate America and test it. I did it for five years and we did extremely well. I never missed the number. I had operations that I was responsible for as well and we never missed the number in five years. In testing that, that brought me back into consulting because I said, “I’ve tested all of my theories within an organization that I was able to run. Let me step out and move into consulting,” because it is consistent with my personal mission and vision, which is helping others improve their quality of life. I happen to do it through leadership development, strategic planning, process improvement but it’s all from a people perspective. As I make them better as professionals, I hope to also make them better in their personal life.

There’s so much involved in what you do. I was so fascinated by watching your talks and looking at the past experience you get. You’ve been honored for your work with children. You’ve done so much. I thought it would be so fascinating to have you on the show. I’m glad that you joined me. You also have your own show, Executive Conversations.

We look forward to having you as a guest on our show in the near future.

That will be fun. I’m looking forward to it. How can people find out about Executive Conversations, your work, your consulting, everything? How can they get a hold of you?

Thank you so much. You can go to my website. It is the You can also find me on LinkedIn, Terence Jackson PhD. You can find me on Twitter, @DrTerryJackson, or you can find me on Facebook. We have a JCG Facebook page that you can find me on. I like to be a leader and someone that people can touch and so I’ll give out my email address. That is as well as my cell phone number, 910-232-0425. I like to be able to have those authentic conversations with people. That’s how I stay in tune with what’s going on with everyone as they take their issues into their workplace, I can help them better solve those issues.

Thank you so much for being here. This was so much fun. Maybe I’ll see you again at another one of MG 100 events or something else. Thank you for being here, Terry.

Thank you. I’m honored and humbled. I hope to see you at MG 100 event here very shortly.

The Selling Formula with Brian Robinson

I am here with Brian Robinson who is a best-selling author and coach. He helps banks and credit unions effectively cross-promote their products and services. It’s so nice to have you here, Brian.

It’s great to be with you, Diane. Thanks.

TTL 280 | The Selling Formula
The Selling Formula: 5 Steps for Instant Sales Improvement

This is going to be fun. I had told you I spent decades in sales. You had a long successful career with Johnson & Johnson. You’ve done quite a lot of different things. I was looking at some of the things that you deal with in terms of selling. You wrote The Selling Formula. I want to get a background on you. Can you tell me a little bit about your history that led to your interest in selling?

Right out of undergrad, I was fortunate to land a job with Coca-Cola corporate and that’s where I cut my teeth in selling. I was with them for several years. I left them and went to work with Johnson & Johnson and was also fortunate to be in four separate divisions with them, two of which were startups within the organization. That honed my focus and approach to selling particularly in one division called Ethicon Endo-Surgery where we trained surgeons on advanced laparoscopy procedures at the time that was taking off back in the early 2000s. I left Johnson & Johnson and helped a friend with a startup, which I’m still involved in years now. Based on the accolades and awards I received with the previous two corporations, I thought I knew how to sell. When I got out into a straight commission environment where if I didn’t sell, I didn’t eat, life dramatically changed. That’s why I recognized I better figure this out quickly, otherwise I’m in trouble.

That’s funny because I had something similar. When you’re in pharmaceuticals, you get a pretty good salary and it’s not exactly the same sales as when they throw you the phone book and say, “Dial for dollars or you don’t eat.” That’s what I did. I left pharmaceuticals to go into lending and it was completely commission. It does change your perspective. What did you learn from going to be in that setting, that straight commission? What was different for you?

What was different was multiple things. First of all, the lead generation process was hugely different because when you walk into a major corporation, you’ve got a previous book of business that’s been established or you’ve got direct targets you’re going to go to such as surgeons and specific hospitals. When you’re a startup, you’ve got virtually no sales. You have to figure out how you’re going to communicate to get someone to even talk to you, to begin with. The very first slap in the face was I was handed a couple bankbooks for Kansas and Nebraska, a copy of Microsoft Streets and Trips I put on a laptop and told to go sell. We did what we called cold call assumptive appointment’s setting. That simply was to go into Streets and Trips, you map out a particular bank that you’re planning to go visit. If you set an appointment with them then you ring out 10 miles, 20 miles, 30 miles out from there and try to continue to make appointments in concentric rings out from the first appointment.

That whole process was assumptive. We’d call somebody. We’d introduce ourselves typically on voicemail and say, “We’re going to be in your town at the specific time on this day to show you what other folks like you are doing with this type of service. If you can’t make the appointment, please let us know. Otherwise, we’ll see you then.” Astonishingly about 70% of the appointments would hold and some wouldn’t. Some would call back and confirm. Some would call back and say we can’t make it. There’s a general level of courtesy in that industry that we certainly appreciated when we started the business.

It’s not that unlike what I did when I had my pharmaceutical territory. I would get a map on the ground and start mapping out. It was so different than it is now. Technology has changed everything. You can do so many different things, but then it’s also at a different level of gatekeeper that we used to have. You could find out so much about people now on LinkedIn and different things. How has that impacted on how people sell? The ability to find out more about customers and the gatekeeper’s situation.

It certainly helps with your targeting. The interesting thing with LinkedIn and other means of communicating and finding out information is that everybody else is doing that as well. What I’m finding is there’s a path that everybody seems to be going down. If you don’t differentiate in some form or fashion from the ability to create some level of trust with your communication, you’re not going to get an introduction to that individual that’s going to work as far as talking about your product or service. In a lot of ways, it’s become a lot more difficult because it’s way easier to hit the delete button on a lot of these things. What we used to do is we’d cold call. We’d walk in the doors. There’s a mantra out there now that cold call selling is dead. I think it’s still viable, but not as a primary means of generating leads.

Things have certainly changed. In The Selling Formula, you have a selling formula. What is that and how can they best use it?

A little bit of backstory and how that even came into existence was I was traveling three to four days a week logging about 1,000 to 1,500 miles a week with the assumptive appointment approach to selling. My wife, we have eight children, at the time we have six. I was at a conference and called her to see how the ultrasound went. We were on the phone and she said, “The ultrasound went great. The baby looks great.” We chit-chat a little bit more. I was getting ready to hang up the phone and she said, “The other one does too.” I said, “The other one?” She said, “Yes, we’re going to have twins.” I was like, “My gosh.” Here I was driving that much, gone from home that much, she has six kids, fourteen and under. She’s pregnant now with twins. I had to figure out a way to get off the road. What I had to do is turn this whole process into doing it over the phone in order to get off the road. It forced me to figure out a way to do this in a much more direct fashion, in a very methodical way that allowed me to close deals.

TTL 280 | The Selling Formula
The Selling Formula: Most of the more technologically-savvy organizations create, innovate, and disrupt better than others.


The ultimate result of that is this process that I codify in the book, The Selling Formula. The key points of the formula are nothing new in terms of what people have heard at the top side. For example, the five steps are very straightforward. It’s connect-and-set agenda that’s step one. Number two is the interview. Three is present your solution. Four is to show your pricing and guarantees. Fifth is close the deal. The way you approach each of those steps is absolutely critical. That’s what I had to hone because I was doing this by phone. I no longer had the feedback of body language, of office appearance and of location. That’s all I had. It forced me to be very specific and methodical. This approach has worked exceedingly well to get it got me off the road completely after a couple of years. Now everything has been done over the phone and it works.

What products were you selling at that time?

At that time, it’s on-hold messaging for the phone system. If somebody calls and is put on hold, it’s the messages they hear that talks about products services.

Does this work with anything?

It can work with anything. The only thing I’d say it might not work with exactly is the pricing recommendations I make. I do suggest three prices for specific reasons that you offer three options, but that doesn’t work with many products or all products.

Are you still selling the same way or are you doing other things other than sales now that you do your writing and everything else? Do you technically still do sales?

I do. I still talk to clients weekly. I’m still honing what I do. I love it. I love the interaction. This whole thing has turned into more of a serving approach, which is great for selling.

It is interesting as you are giving me that list. Before I get into the solution which was where I want to focus a little bit, you have to have a pre-call mindset before you even make that call because you’ve got to deal with whatever reaction you get. How do you get yourself into that mindset?

What I discovered is you take a few moments before your contact with your prospect to sit still think about them and like and care about them. Even before you’ve ever opened your mouth or even seen them, like and care about them and become grateful for them and fascinated with the person you’re about to speak with because what you wind up doing is you wind up telegraphing what you’re feeling. If you’re not feeling that way and appreciating that individual as a person before you ever talk with them, it tends not to go well. I’ve discovered that what you imagine happening prior to a conversation tends to play out. It’s always to your benefit to think positively about that interaction.

Looking at the leadership can give an indication of what the culture looks like. Click To Tweet

It reminds me when I was in mortgage sales. I had a tough client and my manager was strong and very right to the point. She goes, “You need to tell this guy, it’s this and that.” I wasn’t a person to do that. I felt like I was going to insult him. I got on the call a little bit freaked out about having to say what you wanted me to say. The guy got mad at me. He goes, “People don’t talk to me like that,” and he hung up on me. I don’t think I talked to him in any way that was really that bad, but it was different for me. It wasn’t my comfort zone. What was funny is he ended up calling me later and he ended up being one of my better customers. We got to be friends.

She was right in a way, but it was not comfortable for me. Maybe that’s why he ended up hanging up on me because it was out of character. I wasn’t in the right mindset for it. A lot of preparation is important. You talked about liking and caring and that ties into my research of curiosity. My book on curiosity and my assessment about that comes out soon. It’s important to be curious and ask questions and act like you care because you should care. That ties into the solution because you can’t give them a solution if you don’t ask questions to find out what the problem is.

That speaks to the second point, which is the interview. That to me is the most critical part of the entire process. What I’ve discovered is salespeople tend to take a nonchalant approach to the questions they ask. They tend to ask questions that they already know the answer to, which is okay to an extent. What I discovered is if you will truly take time to work exceedingly hard on the questions that you’re going to ask to dig as deep as you can, to elicit the most information possible, to uncover that need, you will crush your sales quota if you do that properly. You’re going to help a lot of people in the process, which is what you want to do.

TTL 280 | The Selling Formula
The Selling Formula: At the end of the day, as an organization, you’re trying to optimize profitability by minimizing costs. It’s going to be the people that are going to help you do that.


People are afraid they’re going to get an answer or question back that they don’t know how to answer and in sales, the worst thing you can do is fake it. You have to say, “I don’t know the answer to that question, but I will find out immediately and get back to you,” or whatever it is. Otherwise they’re like, “I can’t trust this person.” We talked about this a little bit. I don’t like to have preset questions per set because I like to dig in and find out more. I don’t like to put people on the spot and ask them things I don’t think that they’re going to know. It’s a more genuine conversation sometimes to go around and find out where we lead. In the sales call, you can have a preset list of things you want to ask. I think that when they bring up something if you have it completely canned and disregard it and go on to the next thing, that’s where you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot. I see some people do that, don’t you?

It’s sad. I call it sales malpractice. If you bring it into the physician realm, the physician’s job is to diagnose the issue that you’re having. When you provide a treatment without a thorough diagnosis, that’s known as malpractice. You don’t want to perform sales malpractice.

That brings up the selling challenges and how to overcome them. You have an entire chapter about that. I could think of a lot of selling challenges that I’ve faced. What are the top ones that you talk about in your book? Can you give some examples?

One that’s universal is when you’ve got great rapport with somebody. They’ve given you all the signals they’re ready to move forward. You’ve got a follow-up appointment set in both your calendar and theirs, and they refuse to return your call or answer your emails anymore. They disappear. What I’ve discovered is an email template that I use that I get about a 70% to 80% response rate from people that turned off their hearing. The subject line is the first name of the prospect for example, “Diane, is it dead or alive?” That’s the question. “Dear Diane, I’ve attempted to connect with you via phone and email and unfortunately, haven’t received any response so I’m curious, is it dead or alive? Thanks for letting me know one way or another if you’d like me to make any further contact or if I should go ahead and close your file. Either way, I look forward to the courtesy of your reply. Best regards.”

I will sometimes get responses within two minutes of sending those emails. The psychological piece of this I’ve discovered is people are not wanting whatever it is to be over. You’re saying, “I’m going to go ahead and close your file. Is it over?” They’ll respond and some of them will say, “Yes, it’s over.” Basically they’re saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth when we initially met.” Others will say, “This completely slipped off my radar,” or whatever reason. They re-engage and you end up closing them. That speaks about having an authentic and honest approach. That’s authentic to ask the question, “Is it dead or alive?”

I’ve had people contact me with notes. I get so many people through the website. Sometimes they’re trying to write blogs for me. Some of them are out there that I don’t respond because I’ve been so busy. I’ve had them get almost angry if you don’t respond. I’m thinking that’s not a good way to come back. The pleasant tone that you use is important. I’m not trying to be too pushy. I’m not trying to upset you. I want to know, yes or no, so we can go on. It was a pleasant way of doing it. We learn things from trying different things. I’ve tried a lot of things in all the different sales jobs I’ve had. I learned some hard lessons of things that didn’t work. I’m sure you probably have some great selling lessons that you’ve learned. I’m curious what’s worked well or what hasn’t worked well that you would like to share?

One of the things that pop to my mind is when I initially started selling in the straight commission environment, the general feedback I would get after a discussion with a prospect was, “Brian, go ahead and call me back in a week and I’ll let you know what I’m thinking.” I would pack up my bag and say, “I’ll talk to you in a week.” I didn’t calendar anything. I wasn’t specific. I didn’t ask why a week from now. Was there some concern I could address at the moment?

Probably even more important than that was one single question that almost doubled my sales. This is a closing question. It was, “If I could offer you some incentive to move forward now as opposed to later, would you be open to hearing about it?” I wasn’t offering the incentive unless they’re open to hearing about it because some people would say, “I don’t want an incentive, Brian. It doesn’t matter to me,” which is strange when you think about it but that’s where they were. I’d say, “When do you want to talk? We’d calendar a time to follow up.” That simple question made a difference. It’s very authentic. It’s very honest because I do have something I can offer if you’re open to hearing about it.

You have to figure out how you're going to communicate to get someone to actually even talk to you to begin with. Click To Tweet

It’s a good advice to give these tips. I like the specifics that you’re giving to everybody because everybody can learn from not having to reinvent the wheel because you’ve done this. In your book, you have ten power phrases you should be using. Can you give me some examples of those because I think that can help people?

One of my favorites is the question, “Would you be opposed?” Because you have to answer that question by saying no. No means yes. What I love about it is would you be opposed to moving forward with this. They may be in a no mindset and no means yes, “No, I wouldn’t be opposed,” and it works well. One of my other favorites is, “I’m curious.” You could preface virtually any question with that. It softens it very nicely, “I’m curious, would you be opposed to us getting together next week at 10:00? I’m curious, what is it that you’re most concerned about with respect to what we’ve talked about. What’s your biggest concern?” It’s something special about using that question.

It is to me since I wrote a book about it. That opens up a real dialogue where they think that you care about them. Any more examples?

Another one is, “With your permission.” It’s prefacing the next action. For example, “Diane, with your permission, what I’d like to do is pencil in a time to get together with you as a follow-up for next Tuesday at 10:00. Would you be opposed to that?” It’s a very comfortable, non-threatening approach.

You’re putting the power in their hands but in a friendly way where they don’t want to slam you.

No one has ever given me a push back with the “With your permission” question.

That polite nature makes it so important and that’s hard. You’ve generated a certain amount of goodwill by that point and it’s a little different though when you have to generate leads. A lot of people hate cold calling. They hand me the phone book and tell me to dial for dollars. How do you get leads without cold calling these days? Is there some new trick that I’ve missed?

I don’t think you’ve missed any new trick here. I think it’s what tends to work for a specific business. We’re business to business, our company. What I’m about to share with you is a direct mail to pointing a prospect to a landing page with a video and then generating a lead that way. The way this started was years ago, I stumbled upon Joe Polish’s Piranha Marketing program, a CD program. In that program he talks about pre-recorded messages and recording a message about your product or service, putting it on an extension and driving people to it, to listen to it and then they can leave you a voicemail telling whether they’d like you to call them.

I started that when faxing was in vogue years ago. We do a fax blast to our associations that we were connected with. We put it the voicemail on an extension to listen to. When we started doing this, we were overwhelmed with calls of people calling, listening, leaving messages. That morphed into what I discuss in the book, which is direct mail to our prospects, CEOs and presidents. In our case, banks and credit unions, driving them to a simple landing page with a video that’s about three minutes long that overviews our system and the problems they may be experiencing with their current scenario with a lead capture page.

TTL 280 | The Selling Formula
The Selling Formula: When you’ve got great rapport with somebody, they’ve given you all the signals that they’re ready to move forward.


How long was that video? Did you say fifteen?

The video was about three and a half minutes. In my opinion, we need to shorten it a little bit, but it’s still working. We’ve been getting 5-10, 12-1 ROI on a direct mail piece. You’ve got to be careful not to fatigue your list by over sending. We do it about once, twice, maybe three times a year to our key list. That’s the ROI we get. It’s a beautiful thing when you can generate leads of people asking you to contact them as opposed to the phone book.

That’s interesting you’ve got that from Joe. I’ve been to Joe’s Genius Network events. He has a lot of people who get on stage and he gives great tips. That’s a good one. I remember him talking about that. A lot of people are using so many different ClickFunnels to get people who wants to be on their site. What advice do you give to get the best mailing list for CEOs?

That can be challenging sometimes. That is a difficult thing. There are so many direct mail list providers. The best approach I’ve found is to reach out to a few, ask for a sample of their list and verify the quality of the list that they give you. You don’t know unless you test it.

What you imagine happening prior to a conversation tends to play out. Click To Tweet

In your first mailing to the CEOs, how long is your mailing to get them to the website to watch the video?

The letter is two sentences. What I found is you want an approach of a single action in each touchpoint. It’s a simple question on the opening of a letter and then pointing them to the landing page. The key is getting a landing page name that fits with your offer. Ours is called your The question is, “Have you used or ever used, if you’ve ever used in-lobby digital signage?” This may be the most important video you watch, go to and then it will give you the URL. That’s essentially it. The PS is a recap of asking the same question again. It’s probably one of the shortest letters anyone ever gets. That’s intriguing. It’s not a bunch of spammy garbage that they’re reading. They’re prompted to go to the site.

Because it’s not an email, it’s a little more challenging. Instead of clicking, they get to type it. Is it better to do it as an email or you think is it better to do an actual mailing?

TTL 280 | The Selling Formula
The Selling Formula: It’s a beautiful thing when you can generate leads of people asking you to contact them as opposed to the phone book.


My experience is we’re using a direct mail approach where it’s hand-lettered on the envelope. We have a hand-lettered note inside on a post-it-note or not. We highlight things. It is absolutely authentic. Even Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan had his assistant reach out to me from our direct mail piece. That’s how effective it can be if you do it the right way.

Are there examples in the book to see? Do you write about this in the book? If anybody wants to get the book, this is the time to share the links and to tell what they get in there.

There are two links. The first link I’ve got is where you can download the first three chapters of my audible book and listen to it. The second link is where if you sign up, you can get the complete overview of the lead generation package that we use and the vendor we use for it and everything.

Brian, this has been so fun. It’s interesting to me because this is all the stuff I’m interested in and have done my whole life. Thank you for sharing this great content. I hope everybody checks out your site.

Thanks so much, Diane. I enjoyed it.

You’re welcome.

I want to thank Terence and Brian for being here. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Dr. Terry Jackson

TTL 280 | The Selling Formula

Dr. Terry Jackson is an experienced and dynamic Executive Performance Adviser and Thought Leader. He is a TedX Speaker and is a Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coach. He has also become a Certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach. Terry was recently named to the Forbes Coaches Council. He is also a Founding member of the Goldsmith Thompson Growth Leadership Accelerator headquartered in Silicon Valley.


About Brian Robinson

TTL 280 | The Selling FormulaBrian Robinson is a Bestselling Author, Coach, helping banks and credit unions effectively cross promote their products and services. He is a sales expert and the author of The Selling Formula.



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