Convincing people to check out and patronize the items or services you are offering is the trickiest part of being a salesperson. And yet, even a few selling secrets is enough to change your marketing game – if you know what you need to do. Author and speaker Allan Langer is more than happy to help any entrepreneur in this regard as he speaks with Terri Levine about his book, The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less. Allan shares a bit about his secrets by explaining how body language can make or break any meeting, how the pandemic pushed salespeople to embrace technology, and why a simple mindset switch can change the way you go after your goals.
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Unveiling The Most Effective Selling Secrets With Allan Langer
Heartrepreneur means that we do business on a relational, not a transactional level. It’s something that’s needed in our world and in our society. Only working with people and selling your products and services if you’re sure that they can help and benefit people to get a result they’re looking for, to get to a goal that they want, or to overcome a problem. We’re not going to think about doing a transaction with everyone. We’re going to think about helping the right people. I have someone that I’m excited to introduce you to. His name is Allan Langer. He is an award-winning author, a sought-after speaker, a sales trainer, and his company, The 7 Secrets Center for Sales and Marketing is arriving.
He has been in sales and marketing for many years and his book, The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less was a bronze medal winner in the prestigious top sales competition and is also an Amazon bestseller. He has his own podcast, which is titled Marketing and Sales, Over Cocktails. He’s been interviewed on over a hundred podcasts, radio shows, and I’m honored to have Allan with us as our guest. Welcome to the show, Allan.
The honor is all mine, Terri. Thank you for that introduction. What you said about selling not being transactional is at the heart of everything I do. I loved everything you said.
I was excited to have you on the show. I went to do my little checking you out and researching you. I’m like, “You’ve got to be on.” We’re very like-minded. How did you get into speaking, sales training? How did this all evolve for you on your journey?
I wrote the book because I wanted to write a book. It was in me. Writing is my happy place. I always tell people to try to find their happy place or what makes their heart sing. That’s for me was writing, but also helping people in sales and things. I write the book and then I realized that I like this. I have always liked training people. I’ve always liked helping, going on a ride-along with reps, and trying to get them to not being the sales robot and be a human being. It morphed. I didn’t write the book and be like, “I’m going to be a speaker after I do this,” but I started getting requests for speaking engagements. As I was doing speaking engagements, I was getting clients on the side like, “Can you help me with my sales team? Can you coach me?” That’s how it started. I then realized that this is where I want to be. I love sales. I’ve been doing it for many years. This is my next progression in life. This is where I need to be. I’ve had my 25,000 meetings with customers so it’s time to help other people to do that. That’s how I got to that point.
I even love the name of your company, The 7 Secrets Center for Sales and Marketing. It’s a brilliant name. That’s a great marketing name. What are some of these secrets? I’m dying to know what they are.
I’ll tell you why I wrote the book. This will answer that question in a long way. I worked for a large window manufacturer, Andersen Windows. I was their number one rep for years, nationally. This is not against Andersen or anyone else, but every company has a sales process that they train and you need a sales process to train. They are also trained to do the process the same way, every single rep, person, and personality, they do the same sales pitch. As I went along in sales and became more successful, I realized I wasn’t doing the sales pitch. I was doing things that made the customer feel more comfortable.
My average closing percentage was in the high 60%. The average rep was around 28% to 30%. That’s pretty common. Most companies want their reps to close 30% and then they feel like they’re successful. One day, I went to my boss who’s a good friend of mine, but we differed a little bit in sales. We butted heads a little bit. I saw these two new reps and they were closing under 20%. I went to my boss and I said, “Send me out with these guys. Why don’t I help them and see what they’re doing? I’ll give them help.” I’ll never forget what he said to me. He went, “No, I don’t want you to go with them. I don’t want you to bother them because you’re going to mess them up. You’re a feel salesman. You sell with feel. What you do can’t be trained.” That’s what he said. I said, “First of all, how am I going to mess them up? They are closing at 18%. How much worse can they get?”
He told me, he rather me not train them away from the sales pitch, leave them alone, and let them figure it out or let the company help them. I was like, “What I do can’t be trained? That’s not true.” That’s when I sat down and I started figuring out, “What did I do?” It’s funny when you’re comfortable doing things and it’s the right thing to do. You sometimes don’t even know it just comes naturally. You don’t think of, “What am I doing here?” When you think about it, I’m like, “I do this.” I was backing it up with science. I was like, “If I do this, why is this working?”Sometimes, you simply need to become an anti-salesperson. You don't want to become the same salesperson over and over again. Click To Tweet
For example, the first secret is called make the switch. It’s changing your mindset. Most salespeople have the mindset of selling. “I’m going to go here. Terri, I’m going to meet you and I need to make this sale to hit my quota.” That’s all they’re thinking about. Whereas, they should be thinking, “I’m going to see what I can do to help Terri. I’ll naturally hit my quota because that’s my mindset.” I train people that before you meet anyone in a sales appointment, you say to yourself three times, “I’m here to help this customer. I’m not here to sell this customer.” It’s not rocket science, but most salespeople don’t think that way. Their managers are on them like, “You didn’t make your 100 phone calls. You didn’t hit your quota. You got to hit your quota. You got to do this. You got to do that.” It’s all about the salesperson. It’s all about the numbers.
Changing your mindset is one secret. I have other secrets. We are talking about body language. There’s a lot of books on body language, but I have yet to find a body language book that is specific to selling. There are all these different body language books about telling about how people lie and dating and things like that. What about when you’re in a front of a customer and you’re selling, what should you be looking for? I have a whole chapter on body language and how your body language also reflects the customer. I have a chapter about telling stories. Those are three real top secrets, but there’s all of them blend together. Those are my little teaser.
That’s a good enough teaser for me. I’m going to go right to Amazon and get the book. I was in sales and marketing also. I wrote a book years ago called, Sell Without Selling: Lessons from the Jungle for Sales Success. What fascinating to me is first, I went through traditional sales training with the top “men” that are probably in their 80s or 90s now, but they’re all the famous men who were writing the books on sales. I learned all these closes, the Penney close, the Ben Franklin close, all this stuff. The first time that I sell that way and somebody bought, I went home and I threw up. My husband’s like, “What is wrong with you?” I’m like, “I felt like I wore the person down. I kept overcoming every objection until they had no choice, but to buy for me. They weren’t buying happily. I don’t even know that what I was selling was a fit.”
I took all my manuals training courses back in the day, it was cassette tapes. I threw everything away. I said, “I’m going to see if I can help people. I’m going to stop with everything else.” You talked about a couple of things that I want the audience to get. When I was in college at the University of Pittsburgh, I took a course on nonverbal communication. Out of all of the courses I’ve ever taken, including my PhD and everything else along my journey, that body language course was the best course I’ve ever taken. I learned so much about monitoring my own body language and reading other people. To have body language incorporated into one of the secrets of selling is important. The other thing you mentioned is there is an art to be able to have a conversation where you’re tuned in and listening to the other person not transactional. You can incorporate stories in a natural way because you’re coming from a place of helping. I’m excited to learn this. I’m going to get your book, The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less. Tell us about that name.
The book was initially called Selling More by Selling Less. That was in my head and I’m writing the book and that’s the title of it. One day, my wife goes to me and said, “Have you checked if that title is anywhere else?” It never dawned on me. I’m like, “I guess I should.” I Googled it and there’s some guy in Canada who wrote a book many years ago with the same title. It is weird, it’s about industrial selling or something. It looks like he sold six copies, but it was the title of his book. I’m like, “He took my title.” I was racking my brains for a couple of months like, “What am I going to change the book’s title to?” Lo and behold, my ten-year-old daughter says to me, “You’re writing about seven secrets, right?” I’m like, “Yes.” She went, “Why don’t you name the book, The 7 Secrets?”
I was like, “You are right. I should.” I love numbers. I love pricing. Pricing is another category that too many sales reps and companies don’t think about. The retail industry thinks about pricing, but everybody else doesn’t. Pricing becomes an algorithm or, “This is what I need to make a profit so let’s multiply it by 3.7 and this is the price.” They have no idea that pricing is a psychological thing. You need to do certain things with your pricing. When the customer’s looking at it, it presents much more comfortable to them and psychologically, they’re moved toward different numbers. I initially had ten secrets, but three of them were extended versions of the other ones so I lowered it to seven because I knew seven is a comforting number for people, so was nine. I changed it to seven, but my daughter was the one who came up with The 7 Secrets at ten years old.
The wisdom of kids. For me, it’s a good title. I’ve read books that have hundreds of secrets. It’s too much. Seven sounds like a great number. I love the name of your company. I love the name of the book. It is brilliant. Let’s make sure that we tell the audience how they can connect with you, find you, and how can they get a copy of The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less?
I’ve tried to make it easy. Everything is on the website, which is AlLanger.com. On there, you can get my book. You can visit my podcast page. The link to the book on the website goes right to Amazon. On Amazon, there’s an audiobook, an eBook and a hard copy version.
Who is ideal to read the book? Who’s ideal for you to work with? Who’s the perfect audience for you?You are going to sell more just by listening to the customers. Click To Tweet
I get that question a lot and I’ve always said, “It’s anybody who sells anything,” but there are certain people who are selling to C-level people. The book’s going to work anywhere because whoever has a human to human connection, the book is going to work for. There are some times where there’s purchasing committees that will make a decision, so there’s five people. If you’re in front of humans, if you’re going to be at a face-to-face situation, at some point, the book is going to help. I did a video on LinkedIn. It was one of my more popular ones. I’m like, “You want to become the anti-salesperson. You don’t want to become the same salesperson that sat in front of that committee or people need something, they’re talking to you, you become opposite of that and they’re going to remember you.”
I always say to people, “Even if your product is not as good as the other product, you believe in your product.” Let’s say, you sell a computer software. This other software, Photoshop, is a little better than yours, but they’re going to still buy you because your software is good. They’ll remember you. It’s not about the product. If you’re clear in your communication, if you’re personable, if you’re listening to the customer, you’re going to sell more. It’s as simple as that. The seven secrets helps you say, “Let me do this and I need to do social proof. He crossed his legs that way. He crossed his arms or pursed his lips. I’m doing something wrong.” You have to be aware of that stuff and you’re going to sell more.
I always call it tuning in. It’s not just listening with your ears. You are paying attention with your eyes, listening underneath the words for tone, for feelings, and for emotion. What about if you’re doing sales over Zoom? What if you’re making connections that way? Is this still applicable?
I did a blog post about sales over Zoom because the body language component from the shoulders down disappears. Here’s a little tip I’ll tell your audience that most people don’t know. The question I ask is, “What do you think is the most accurate form of body language? What part of the body do you think is the most accurate to tell you what a person is thinking?”
I’ll say the face.
That’s the least accurate. The face can be manipulated. If you are trained on body language, you’re going to be able to tell when someone’s manipulating their face, but many times you can’t. Some people do fake smiles. Some people think they’re real smiles. They’ll do something with their eyebrows, which is not indicative of what they’re feeling. The most accurate part of your body to find out how people are thinking are the legs and the feet. The limbic part of your brain, the caveman part that we can’t change, that’s been with us for billions of years, will always control the feet and legs. You never think down that far. For example, one of my favorite studies was when they studied the people going through Customs. When someone said, “I have nothing to declare,” when they had something, their feet were facing the exit 87% of the time.
They are ready to take off.
There’s no way that the person would know that they’re doing that. It’s a limbic reaction. When I would meet people with people, they always train you in B2C sales when you’re meeting someone in the home, sit at the kitchen table. I remember Tom Hopkins, he said, “Put the pen on the table. Make sure you set up this way. You’re in command.” That’s an old school. I would always sit in the living room. I’m like, “Can we sit in a living room?” First of all, it’s much more comfortable for the customer because they’re in their living room, but I could watch their feet. There are ways that when someone crosses their leg. If they cross their legs, their foot is shaking, or their leg is moving, all of these tell you if they’re comfortable or not with what you’re saying.
To go back to your question, we can’t watch the feet anymore so you have to watch the face. All I say is to practice to watch people. Don’t be floating around and saying, “He’s not even paying attention.” Think to yourself, “Is that a real smile? Is that a fake smile?” A real smile goes toward the eyes. A fake smile goes back toward the ears. You’ll be able to see the body language. Are they leaning toward the camera? Are they leaning away from the camera? Are they looking away at their phone? There are a lot of easy things to tell when you’re on a Zoom call if people are paying attention to you.When you're comfortable doing things, the right things just come out naturally. Click To Tweet
If I have a choice that I can speak with a prospective client on the telephone or I can meet with them on Zoom and on a video call, what advice would you give?
It’s 100% on Zoom and I would not have said that back in March 2020. It is because I can watch them. I rarely say to someone, “Let’s hop on a call.” I always say, “Let’s hop on a Zoom call.” You’ll notice it. I was on a Zoom call and it was a sales call. I was talking to this company and the sales person, the marketing person who got me on the call was on their Zoom, but her boss and her boss’s boss didn’t have the video on. First of all, I’m like, “That’s rude.” It was distracting where I’m talking to the girl that set up the appointment and the other two are just there. I didn’t see their name, not even a picture or anything. If I get people to turn on their video, most people will, but Zoom is the way to go.
We’ve been closing sales on Zoom since inception. We’re a virtual company and it’s interesting to me that many people are like, “I’m going to use the phone.” I’m like, “You are missing out on nonverbal communication. You’re only on the phone able to hear words.” I’m glad that we touched on that. What kind of companies do you train or do you speak for? We have lots of corporations that pay attention to us here and they might want to work with you.
If you’re selling, I can help you. I do individual coaching, but I love to get in front of a room and work on company’s team. I have a couple of sales trainings coming up. Two of them are virtually. One is from a small company. They only have six reps, so we’re going to meet in a room. I’ve been in a room where there are 150 and we go through it. Whatever you need and a lot of companies are specific with, “I need help in these areas or these guys are struggling here.” I’ll either focus on that. I like to spend a lot of time hearing about their processes first. I don’t come in and say, “Here’s what you need to do.” They might be doing a few things that are correct, and they’re just messing up. Two other things so I spend a lot of time that first part of the training, digging into their processes and how they got there and what their philosophies are. Sometimes they need some tweaking and they needed a complete overhaul where the marketing is messed up and then sales is even worse. It depends, but I can come and evaluate everything first and then I go from there.
I want the audience to pay attention for a moment. I believe that every single company, even if you’re a one-person show has to learn the selling secrets. I get on calls all the time for fun. When someone pitches me on LinkedIn or something, I’m like, “I’ll get on the phone.” It is because I want to hear how they pitch me. Much of the time in my experience, they’re talking at me, but they’re not listening. I’ll give the audience an example. I had somebody message me on LinkedIn and the message went like this. “I can help you grow your business.” First of all, how did they know what kind of business I have, if I’m looking for help, or if I want to grow my business? I messaged back and I said, “What is it that you know about me? How can you help me?” There’s the link to get on a call.
I said, “I’m going to have some fun with this.” I get on the call and for five minutes, the guy talks at me, “I can help you start your business.” I went, “You don’t even know who you’re talking to. You haven’t asked any questions about me. My company averages $3 million to $4 million a year for many years. I’ve started eight multimillion dollar companies. I’m going to make a suggestion to you, get a sales and marketing training.” We have a lot of people to refer to you, Allan, because of your message. I’m sure our audience notices this too, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, email, people are trying to have this one-to-one conversation and not to explore what are your needs? Can my products and services help you and make a difference? Can I send you to somebody? In which case, they might. Do have any feedback on what I just said?
You’re speaking my language. When I get those LinkedIn generic pitches, those InMails or whatever, I write back in a professional way, “I can help you. This is not going to work, but if you want something that will work, let me know. I’ll help you with your selling.” I never even get a response usually with those, because half of them are done by robots or bots as they call them. They’ve hired a company to send them out and they’re not even sending them out themselves. There are companies that will send the stuff out, engage with the potential client, and then send you to the sales person. You think that you’re talking to the salesperson, but you’re talking to the company, who’s setting up that appointment. It’s crazy out there, but you can’t cold call and cold email. It’s difficult. Here’s a big piece of advice that I will give people. If you’re not on LinkedIn, get on LinkedIn, but don’t just be on LinkedIn and float around.
You need to intentional on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the greatest things that was ever invented the first sales person. If you get on LinkedIn and you know what you’re doing, and you engage and you post valuable content, you will get customers. You will get clients interested in you. All of your cold calls or cold emails go away because they at least have heard your name. If they start engaging with you and you start targeting your perfect client, it’s not a cold call anymore. It’s not a cold email anymore. Start with LinkedIn. I can’t stress it enough. I even started training people on how to optimize their LinkedIn profile and how to approach people once you establish a relationship. If you’re just sitting there sending these silly DMs that are sales pitches, I guess they work at some point because there would people happy doing it, but it’s got to be a half a percent conversion rate. It can’t be very high. That would be a big piece of advice is to get on LinkedIn. If you need help with it, I can help you though.
That was a huge tip that Allan just gave you so pay attention. I couldn’t agree more. I have organic natural conversations on LinkedIn and we have qualified prospects, raising their hand on LinkedIn saying things like, “I saw your video. I read your article. I’m looking for help in XYZ area. Can you help me?” I think that’s a huge piece of advice. Allan, you have been a delight. We are speaking the same language. I’m going to recommend to the audience to get The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less. Tune in to Allan’s podcast, Marketing and Sales, Over Cocktails. Thank you for joining us.
I wish we had more time, but it’s been a pleasure. Thank you, Terri.
I’ll have to have you back. For the audience, not only go get Allan’s book, The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less, but think about what are the top things that you learned that you can implement in your business? I don’t care if you’re a one person show or if you’re on a sales team or you’re a sales manager, I believe that this kind of selling is what is needed and what is necessary. I’m going to learn the seven secrets so you should too. Finally, if you can do us a favor and give us a review, share the show. Our entire goal here is to help more people through natural organic conversation. We’re truly here to help you. Thanks for tuning in. We will see you next time.
- The 7 Secrets Center for Sales and Marketing
- The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less
- Sell Without Selling: Lessons from the Jungle for Sales Success
- Marketing and Sales, Over Cocktails
About Allan Langer
With close to three decades of sales excellence, and award winning performances in every capacity, I have turned my experiences and knowledge into a best selling book on Amazon – The 7 Secrets to Selling More by Selling Less – and have turned that into a highly successful speaking and coaching career. Sharing those experiences, motivating people to achieve more, training salespeople and business owners to solve instead of sell, to help instead of hinder, and to be selfless instead of selfish, is my calling and what I am meant to do.
My first short story about dogs taking over the world was written on yellow loose leaf paper, and then typed with my grandfather’s vintage black Underwood typewriter when I was eight years old. I then read all three pages to my mom as she sat at the kitchen table, and it was the first time I fell in love. Not only with writing, but with speaking as well. Those two have been the figurative loves of my life ever since.
And now, almost five decades later, I turned my love for writing into an Amazon best-selling book on sales, and my love of speaking and training into my second, amazing career, helping companies and individual reps reinvent their process as well as their selling confidence and results.
Once sales became my profession close to three decades ago, it didn’t take me long to learn that most of the training given to the majority of sales reps were tired, coercive, and built on high-pressure, uncomfortable-for-the-customer techniques. The sales “pitch” was the car, and the script reps needed to follow was the engine supposedly designed to take the sale home.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the garage…people started hating sales people, despising meeting with sales people, developing phobias when presented with talking with salespeople. Now, NO ONE wants to talk to a salesperson. And when they have to, they hate the experience. And that experience is what is being trained every day, in every company.
It was with that premise that I started developing my own style, my own ethical yet effective techniques that turned the sales appointment with me into an enjoyable experience, instead of a trip to the car dealership.
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