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Leading Sales Expert Shares How to Sell More And Feel Good About It with Anthony Iannarino: Podcast #79

We all want to elevate our brand and get to that next level of success. Anthony Iannarino, coach, consultant, and entrepreneur, believes that everyone has greater potential to make a difference. Over the last few years, Anthony’s brand has grown significantly. He shares how you can sell more and also take your brand to the next level by identifying what you are capable of and having that abundance mindset to execute the greatness that you have within you.

Listen to the podcast here:

Leading Sales Expert Shares How to Sell More And Feel Good About It with Anthony Iannarino

I’m very excited to have Anthony Iannarino joining us. Anthony, welcome. This is our second podcast. I’m honored to have you back.

Thanks for having me on. I’m happy to be back.

For those who might not know much about you and your world yet, take a moment and share what you do.

I’m a speaker, a coach and a consultant. I’m a business owner and an entrepreneur. I would probably sum it up by saying I’m a teacher, but I’m also a writer. I’ve written three books in the last few years. I’ve kept a blog at TheSalesBlog.com for several years where I publish every day minus thirteen days when I went to Tibet in 2010 only because I didn’t think I was going to have Wi-Fi, but it turns out Wi-Fi even in Tibet, because of China Mobile, is exceptionally good. I could have done it from there, but I didn’t know that when I left. That’s what I do.

Whether you're a leader, a consultant, or a writer, whatever you're engaged in is teaching. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting the way you described yourself, one thing resonated with me there for a moment when you said that you call yourself or describe yourself as a teacher. I’ve felt the same way over the years. I never would’ve thought that I would describe myself as a teacher. I still don’t, maybe outwardly, but inwardly what I’ve noticed about myself is that’s where I get the most joy is when I’m helping and working with others. Many years ago my mother said to me, “You should be a teacher. You’d be good at that.” I was like, “No, I don’t want to teach. I want to make money. I want to build businesses.” I’ve realized over the last few years at the core, that’s what resonates with me the most. That’s where my passion is teaching. It’s nice to hear you say that.

If you’re a leader, if you’re a consultant, if you’re a writer, what you’re engaged in is teaching. That is what you’re engaged in at some level, even if it’s teaching someone to have an awareness of something that they’re unaware of as a problem or a deficiency or an opportunity. A teacher is a good word.

When you came on the podcast several years ago, you already had very successful staffing and recruitment business. You were well established as a sales coach and a consultant. The reason I wanted to have you back on the show is that over the last few years I’ve watched your brand grow significantly. I don’t know numbers-wise what that exactly means, but I see you a lot more than I did before. It seems like your brand has been adopted and accepted. There’s a lot more going on. What happened, Anthony?

It’s an interesting question. I’ve thought about this because you think something like, “When this event happens and I get 50,000 views on the blog a month, then everything is going to start happening.” It’s better, but there’s no real change in your day-to-day life. It continues to go on. You think, “When the first book comes out, that’s going to be the launching point.” The first book did great. It’s a USA Today bestseller and we sold 12,000 copies the first week. That’s a huge accomplishment. I worked hard to sell that many books. It adds, but your life doesn’t change dramatically. You think the second book, ten months later, two books, who does that? That’s hard to do. It got a lot of attention. You don’t notice that the perception changes. The third book came out. You think this is going to be it, and in a lot of ways, that book did well because I don’t think people expected this book from me. When they read it, they were again surprised like they were in the last couple of books as to what’s inside the book. You think that’s going to do it and there isn’t one thing.

CSP 79 | Selling More

 

That what happens is the more you work at it, the more people know who you are. The more you try to go into the world and create value for other people, by sharing ideas with them and you’re not charging a toll for them to get the ideas. They can come out and read your blog and watch your YouTube videos on these things. More people start to become aware of you. More people start to share things. You don’t know that it’s happening. I didn’t know what was happening. I have hundreds of people that tell me, “My sales manager uses your Sunday newsletter for his Monday morning meeting.” I don’t know that. I don’t know that sales trainers use my YouTube videos to train salespeople, but they’re getting introduced to me by other people because the content is there. It’s the right ideas for the right time for those people. It gets shared and so you start to have more and more awareness of who you are and what you do.

I also think that I’m a different voice than many in my particular world because the sales world where I live, people are hyped up about digital. They’re hyped up about social selling. They’re hyped up about LinkedIn. I believed that the way to determine what the future is going to look like is not to try to predict the future but to look backward. Don’t look for what’s new, but look for what’s been sustained over long periods of time. I continue to argue that digital is not interesting for a whole bunch of reasons. One, the phone is an interesting piece of equipment, but it didn’t make anybody a better salesperson. It made them may be more efficient, but it didn’t make them better. The things that make somebody a trusted advisor are the same things that made someone a trusted advisor for the pharaoh or for the king or for Caesar. It was, do you have insight? Do you have a situational knowledge or the type of experiences that allow you to say, “Based on what we’re looking at this fact pattern, this is probably the best choice of action of these two or three choices that you could choose from?” That hasn’t changed. The character hasn’t changed, values haven’t changed, presence hasn’t changed. Being somebody who has the ability to come in and give you the answer to difficult situations, that’s still really important and digital hasn’t changed that.

What would you say for the consultants reading this who they’re already doing well? They’re out of place. Maybe similar to where you were years ago when we had you on that first podcast episode or somewhere around the same level in terms of how they might judge their own success. They want to elevate their brand. They want to get to that next level of success. You’ve been writing daily on your blog. You’ve put out three books. You’ve worked hard at them. If you had to give me one piece of advice for someone who wants to take their brand to the next level to make a greater impact and ultimately to build their business, what would you tell them?

Let’s go back to digital. I will say I’m fascinated by an ex-Navy SEAL who’s an ultra-athlete named David Goggins. If you’re not paying attention to David Goggins, he’s got a new book out called Can’t Hurt Me. It’s worth watching his interview with Joe Rogan on Joe Rogan’s podcast. You can watch it on YouTube. Search David Goggins. I’m reading his book. It’s maybe a 330-page book or something like that. I’m maybe halfway through a little bit past halfway. He finishes an ultra-event that he shouldn’t have been able to finish in the first place. It was a marathon after having run 100 miles a week before and he was broken, but he still did it. The question he asks himself is, “What am I capable of?” That’s such a powerful question because I believe everyone has greater potential to make a difference. No human being as far as I can tell has ever reached their full potential. I imagine if Da Vinci had two more years or Michelangelo had two more years or Einstein would have had two more years, they would have probably told you, “I’m going to use this time that I have left to try to create the best outcome I can and to try to make the biggest contribution I can.”

The more you try to go into the world and create value for other people, the more they become aware of you. Click To Tweet

I don’t look at this as a brand building exercise like some do like, “I want to be a brand.” I look at it from, what are you trying to do? How are you trying to make a difference in the world? Who were you trying to help? If they can’t find you, if they don’t know what you stand for, if they don’t know how you help them, then you’re depriving somebody of a potential way to help them produce better results. The reason that you do all this work. This is where digital is handy, especially for people in our category. It’s handy because the thing that someone needs to know is, do you understand my problem? Do you have ideas about my problem? Do you have experience helping people with the thing that I’m challenged with right now? If you’re what I call a secret agent, if no one knows what you do, then they can’t reach out to you. They can’t discover you and have an awareness of who you are and what you do, even though they need your help right now.

I don’t think digital has changed. The thing about us that is most important is do you have the competencies? Anybody that would take the time to read a blog like this, they have that. There’s no question about that. Can they find you? Can you make it easy for them to say, “This person sounds like they understand the challenge and we should probably reach out and have a conversation with them or start signing up to get their information so we can take a deeper dive into knowing who they are and see if they’re a fit.” You have to go out and do marketing. I don’t know if we had this on our last conversation, but a lot of people in our space like consultants generally think, “I’m good at the consulting part. I’m not good at acquiring customers.” You have the tools. This would be like somebody saying to you, “You can advertise on NBC, CBS, and ABC for free. All you have to do is develop the content and we’re going to run it for you.” That would be amazing if that happened in 1982.

You can go out on Facebook and start publishing content for people. You can go out on Instagram. You can go to YouTube for sure. You can write a blog. All of this is going to be indexed by Google. When people search, you’re going to have the information and answers for those people. You have a group of people working hard to put that information in front of the people that need it. As much as I’m opposed to Facebook as it pertains to privacy, we know what IQ is and you know what EQ is. I’ll add MQ, moral quotient. They have a very low MQ at the leadership positions. Google may too. I think that they put money above people. They have nice sayings like, “We’re here to build communities and bring people together so we can sell their data to other people,” or “We don’t want to do any evil, but the fact of the matter is we’re going to turn your data over to people that we like.” There’s that going on right now.

Anthony, what would you say to the people though who say, “I understand that,” but they hesitate to put content out because they’re concerned that they might not be the right content or they don’t know where to start? They’re finding reasons not to put all that content even though they might recognize that it is an opportunity. There’s something stopping them from doing that. For you, where does the commitment come from? You said it’s not about building a brand, it’s about making sure that you’re getting out there. This is a much bigger vision for you, more a long-term mindset and approach. What’s driving you to put out all this content, to write all these books, to get up every day and write the blog post? If you still do the same way before it was like you’d get up, you’d go make your coffee and you hit the keyboard. What is the driving force and where is that commitment coming from in your case?

CSP 79 | Selling More

 

We started there. I’m a teacher. I’m here to help people transform in areas of their life where I have the experience and the ability to do that. I get up. I do that because what makes me happy is helping other people. When I was teaching a college class, undergrads would tell me, “I want to work in a nonprofit when I get out of here.” I would say, “Why are you so selfish?” They’d say, “No, I said I want to work for a nonprofit.” I’m like, “Why do you want to work for a nonprofit?” “Because I want to help people.” “How do you feel when you help people?” “I feel great when I help people.” “See how selfish you are. You won’t take a job unless it makes you feel good.”

They would laugh, but there’s a truth to that. It feels good to help other people. I saw the research at Christmas this year that basically said, “The satisfaction people get from giving is far greater than the satisfaction they get from getting the gift.” I believe that’s true. When you look in the United States at life expectancy that’s declining and it’s declining for two reasons, suicide and overdoses of heroin or opiate-based drugs. That’s because people don’t have purpose and meaning. They think somehow that that purpose and meaning is external when in fact it’s a decision you make for yourself. Where do you want to invest your time? Where do you want to invest your energy? Where do you want to invest your psychic energy and your emotional energy? Where do you want to do that work? If you don’t have that purpose and meaning, then I don’t think that you’re motivated because the word motivate means you have a motive.

What is that motive? Mine is to help other people produce better results. It’s what I know my calling is. That’s where I spend my time working because it’s where I do the work that helps others and makes me fulfilled. I would tell you there’s only one thing that stops you from doing this work. There are two maybe. One, you don’t have clarity of purpose. The second is fear. What if it’s the wrong content? What if somebody judges me? What if someone doesn’t hire me because they didn’t like my take on this? What if somebody criticizes me? There’s all the what ifs, but it’s always fear that’s behind the reason to not go all in and do something like that. It’s some fear that’s stopping them. I can promise you when you have enough attention, you will have people that don’t like you and will say something.

I have my favorite review on Eat Their Lunch who says, “Nothing new here. Same old B2B fluff. It’s supported by people who want you to know how good of a salesperson they are.” I love it because the book has all kinds of things that aren’t new, but something about me makes this person feel something about themselves. What they feel about themselves is not good. I bring that out in them. I don’t mean to bring it out in them. It’s not my intention to bring it out in them, but there’s nothing I can do about it. You’re going to bring that out in somebody. Somebody is going to say, “No, that’s exactly the wrong idea. They should be doing it exactly their way.” Maybe that’s their experience and maybe that’s their truth. You can’t let that stop you from living your truth and sharing your truth with people who need it because the people who need it are going to find you and they are going to engage with you and you are going to help them.

The way to determine what the future is going to look like is not to try to predict the future but to look backward. Click To Tweet

It’s a great message. Thanks for sharing that, Anthony. You talked about this idea of being a trusted advisor and being able to provide ideas or counsel to those that you want to serve. Where do you go to gain your insights or what do you suggest that a consultant wants to stay at the top of their game? What should they be doing on a regular basis to ensure that they can stay as sharp as possible and have the opportunity to play that role of a trusted advisor?

One thing I would tell you is that you probably have to be a lateral thinker. What you’re going to have to do to do that is you’re going to have to broaden there are the fox and the hedgehog. When you look at people who make predictions about the future, foxes who widen their knowledge always beat hedgehogs because hedgehogs are narrowly focused, “I know this area. I know economics.” Do you know sociology? “I don’t know sociology.” Do you know tech technology? “No, I don’t know technology.” Those things aren’t separate from each other. They all exist in this reality that we occupy. You have to be broader than that.

I would tell you while we’re talking, I’m pulling up my December reading list. My December reading list started with human evolution, Our Brains and Behavior by Robin Dunbar, the guy famous for Dunbar’s number, which says, “You can manage something close to 150 relationships and some people can get up to 225.” It’s an interesting book. I followed that book up with The Hope Circuit, which is Marty Seligman, who created positive psychology’s biography. It’s a deep dive into the difference between the behaviorists and the cognitive people in psychology and how that came to happen. I followed that up with Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and Building Dynasties in the NFL. I probably have 30 bookmarks in that book of things that are practical and tactical that you could immediately apply to help a customer in a bunch of different areas, including even managing the clock oddly enough.

In my world in sales, it turns out managing the clock and how much of your client’s time you get as a metrics worth thinking about Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear, who’s a local guy. It’s a terrific book. Everyone should read it. Steel My Soldier’s Heart by Colonel Hackworth, who was the most decorated soldier in US history. He joined the army to fight in World War II when he was fifteen. This is how he turned around the worst group in Vietnam. Bedtime Stories For Managers by a Canadian, Henry Mintzberg. It’s a wonderful collection of 100 blogs. I interviewed him for my podcast. It’s a breadth. I’m not just reading sales books. I’m not just reading marketing books and books on customer acquisition. There are all these lessons that you can pick up and apply. You need to be broader than that so you have a deeper understanding.

CSP 79 | Selling More

 

I’ve heard this from many wise people over the years. I remember way back in the day hearing Jay Abraham talk about the importance, the opportunities, and the breakthroughs that can happen by applying something that works well in one industry to a different industry that has never had that approach in it before. I can see the value. For firsthand experience seeing what you’re talking about play out here. That’s great advice. You were talking about a lot of books like you have a big reading list for people, Anthony. I want to talk about your books for a moment, your three bestselling books.

The first is The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need. The second is The Lost Art of Closing. The third that came out, which is Eat Their Lunch. Writing a book is one thing but turning that book into a successful tool or a tool that helps you to create a bigger platform or reach your goals is a whole other thing. You mentioned that with one of your books, you got 12,000 plus copies sold in the first week or so. In your experience of publishing and promoting and launching these three books, what is maybe the biggest one or two things that people should keep in mind if they want to have a successful book launch? Not just writing the book but making sure that the book reaches enough of the right kinds of people.

You’re going to have to work hard for that to happen. The first thing that I would tell you is this is a team sport. It’s a 100% team sport.

Elaborate on that. What do you mean?

Everyone has a greater potential to make a difference. Click To Tweet

If you don’t have 50 friends that are in the community, that you have a willing to email their list on your behalf, willing to read the book for you and give you thoughts and write a review for you and share it with their peers, you’re not going to be able to do very well unless you already have a big brand. The difficulty is can you reach enough people? You want to start making friends long before you publish a book. The second thing you have to know is almost no one reads a book. I know so many people who are afraid of it. I have my whole framework in here and this is my IP. It’s copywritten number one. Trademark it if you want to. If people can’t see something, they’re not going to buy it. They have to be able to see enough of it to know what that is. Where I did the right thing and I would love to tell you I’m prescient. I do like to study the future, but this is luck. I found my way into a group very early on. I decided not to publish the book for a long time while I built a big enough audience to sell a book to.

I worked on building the audience, continuing to nurture them, building a newsletter list and then building all the friends so I could do that. A lot of the reasons people get this backwards is they think, “When I have the book, then I’ll have the audience.” No, first you have the audience and then you have the book. That’s what’s changed. The world is now so fragmented. There’s never going to be another Led Zepplin. There’s never going to be another AC/DC. There’s never going to be another pick your favorite television show from ten years or fifteen years ago. There’s probably never going to be another Seinfeld because we’re not all confined to three channels or three music channels. There’s so much fragmentation out there. You have to work really hard to overcome that and build a community. If you have friends and they’re willing to share you with their community and you’re willing to share them with your community, then you start to get this synergy that you can’t get on your own. You need other people that are willing to help you.

Where does this mindset come from, Anthony? I’ve seen more and more people, not a lot, but people who are at the top of their game. I’m very interested in where this mindset comes from for you. Even the ability with so many people who are trying to have instant gratification and short term thinking want the result right now. You’re doing the exact opposite. You’re front-loading. You’re depositing as much as you possibly can into that relationship and value bank before you try and take a withdrawal. Is this from your own experiences? Is it reading and studying? Where and how did you get to the point where you feel comfortable and confident with putting on a lot of value, investing a lot in relationships before you try and transact, which is what the opposite of what a lot of people do?

I’ve spent a lot of time working on eliminating debilitating infections of the mind like scarcity. The reason that I don’t want to share my audience with you is that they might like you better than me. They’re going to hire you and not me. That’s scarcity thinking. The fact of the matter is the fact that you pointed to me and you said, “Anthony is worth bringing on.” First off, that’s a gift to me, so thank you. It also means I’m the trusted advisor because I’m telling you this person is worth paying attention to. I’m now sitting in that spot. I have an abundance mindset. I do a conference with three of my friends. I was on the book launch. We did an event in Chicago. One of the first questions asked me was, “Why do you promote Jeb Blount, Mike Weinberg, and Mark Hunter’s work? They’re your competitors. You do the same thing in the same world with the same kind of companies?”

CSP 79 | Selling More

 

I said, “Because there’s enough to go around. There’s no scarcity. There’s an abundance.” If you believe that there’s scarcity, the world will look like scarcity for you for sure. If you believe that the world is abundant and you go out and try to make a difference for other people, even these guys do the same thing I do. There’s no question about it. We treat each other work all the time. “I can’t take the stake, and you take it?” We trade work back and forth because there is an abundance out there but only for the people that believe that and act as if. You have to act as if there is abundance. There is not scarcity. If there’s scarcity, then go back to where we were a few minutes ago and decide are you putting enough out that you should expect people to know who you are and come to you? That’s a decision.

Anthony, clearly, you’re a sales expert. You’ve written the book. I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you maybe a couple of real quick, specific sales questions. Are you okay with that?

Yeah, sure.

In your book, The Lost Art of Closing, you have a quote that says something along the lines of, “Selling isn’t something you do to someone. It is something you do for someone and with someone.” Does that go right?

If people don't know what you stand for and how you can help them, you're depriving them of a potential way to produce better results. Click To Tweet

That’s exactly right.

I love that mindset because the first part is like what holds so many people back. They’re trying to transact. They’re trying to sell to people. They’re always going with a mindset of, “I need to sell.” That’s how they’ve been trained. That’s what they know. You’re saying it’s the exact opposite. It’s figuring out how you can do something for someone and with someone more collaboratively. Share a little bit more for everyone reading what you mean by this and maybe the opportunity for those that truly embrace this mindset.

In a sales interaction, your intention is to win the sale. There’s no doubt that that’s your intention. The question is how do you do it? Do you do it in a way that’s self-oriented where you’re saying, “I need you to do this and this is what I want,” or do you say, “What is this person in front of me need right now? Are they satisfied with the status quo and they need an awareness of how different the results that they’re capable of are from what I’m looking at right here? Do they need to understand what their choices are about how to think about this problem and how to make some decisions and what trade-offs they should be thinking about? Do they need to evaluate their options? Do they need to bring in the rest of their team to get engaged in this so they know what their companies possible love? Do they need help with managing that?” If you start asking yourself a different set of questions like, “What does this person need? What does this person need help with? How do I help them?” If you decide I’m going to try to serve them in this interaction, I’m not going to get them to sign something in this interaction. I’m going to serve them in this interaction. Everything after that gets easier and easier because you’re not concerned about winning the deal.

The way that you win a deal is not trying to win the deal but trying to serve them and create a preference where they say, “I want to work with Michael because he’s smart. I wasn’t even aware of these things. He got the right experience. He shared with us what his trade-offs were and we weren’t even thinking about it.” That that’s how you create preference and a desire to work with you. You give people the experience, what’s it going to be like to work with you. If the whole thing is about the transaction, then that’s what they can expect in the future. They think, “That’s not what I want in the future. What I want is somebody who understands me.” If you go to my friend, Charlie Green, and you ask him about trust, he’ll tell you it’s reliability times credibility times intimacy divided by yourself orientation. If you ask him which of those three reliability, credibility, or intimacy has the greatest impact on whether or not somebody trusts you. It’s intimacy. That’s do you know me? Do you understand me? Do you understand what I’m trying to do? Do you care about me? That’s the part that you have to focus on. If you get that part right, everything else is easier.

Your book, Eat Their Lunch, is all about how to or looks at how to take away business from the competition, which might sound harsh to some people, but that’s what we’re about is, growing business and looking at how to capture more market share in many cases. For the independent consultants or the small consulting firm owner, Anthony, who’s reading this, what would be your best advice or a couple of ideas that they should start thinking about or considerations that they should have to win business away from maybe larger more established consulting firms they sometimes find themselves coming up against.

My best advice, especially for small firms, is you have an enormous advantage over a big firm even though it doesn’t feel like that and even if you don’t know it yet. I’ll share the secret with you because this is how it works. If you want a large industrial, we already have a slide deck worked out. We’re going to charge you millions of dollars for the same slide deck we gave to your competitor. Our slide deck looks a lot like BCGs. It looks like veins. It looks like everybody else’s because we’ve all been benchmarking. You’re going to get a little bit of attention and a lot of stuff that’s been manufactured for somebody else. Definitely, you want to go with a big firm. If you want high trust, high value, high carrying, the reason that people choose a boutique to do this work is that it’s somebody who is going to be intimate, who’s going to understand your needs. Who’s going to be able to work with your team. It’s going to be here to help you execute this work and generate the better outcomes that you’re looking for. That’s your advantage and what happens is we think that we have to be all buttoned up. We’re going to go and compete with the McKinsey. You don’t even need to worry about McKinsey.

If you show up and say, “If you want somebody who’s going to be here and do this work for you and have a presence and get to know your people and spend time here, I might be a better choice for you and I’d love to explore that,” that’s the conversation. If you even use the words that I use, you can say, “In comparison to the big firms, there’s no comparison. There are much bigger with many, many more people. If high trust, high value, high caring, and generating the outcomes important to you, I’d love to ask you for an opportunity to compete for your business.” You can be that straightforward about it because it is your advantage. They can’t be boutique. They’re too big to be a boutique. They’re too big to care. They’re a machine. They’re a well-oiled machine, but they are machines. They have to keep that thing churning all the time. To do that, that means they don’t have time to do some of the work that a boutique can do. That’s the work that part about the caring and the intimacy, that’s where you’re going to win. I’m telling you that from personal experience.

I was going to say that rolled off your tongue beautifully. It sounds like you’ve said those words more than once before.

People think that purpose and meaning is external when in fact, it's a decision you make for yourself. Click To Tweet

Almost everything I’ve said, I say over and over again. When we punish my children, I don’t take their car away from them. I say, “We’re going to sit and talk until we resolve this.” They’re like, “No, please take my car.”

Anthony, I want to thank you again for coming on. I want to also make sure that people can learn more about you and your work. You’ve mentioned your blog and the three books. Go ahead, share me the URL, the best place that people should go to learn more about you.

The best place is TheSalesBlog.com. If you want more of the kind of things that we talked about, you sign up for the Sunday newsletter at TheSalesBlog.com/newsletter. That’ll get you there.

Anthony, again, thanks so much as always. It’s a lot of fun.

Thanks for having me.

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