Chantal: Jeb, are you ready to fire our global tribe of fitness business owners and managers?
Jeb: I am absolutely ready.
Chantal: Awesome. And are you ready to overload our tribe with pearls of wisdom, strategies for success and tips to make them better leaders and business people?
Jeb: We’re gonna overload them so much that next week they’re gonna be carrying out wheelbarrows of money from their businesses.
Chantal: Oh, my God. That sounds awesome. Well, let’s get stuck into today’s show. Now, I wanna say a huge welcome Jeb, I’m so excited to have you on the show. Our fellow podcaster, I might say, so welcome along.
Jeb: Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.
Chantal: You know, I actually think you’re probably my first guest that has his own podcast show.
Chantal: I think so. I think so. I was having a think back before we spoke and I was thinking, ‘You know what, I don’t think I’ve had another podcaster on the show.’ And Tribe, I want you to jump on and check out Jeb’s podcast. It is, correct me if I’m wrong, Sales Gravy Podcast, The Sales Gravy Podcast, is that what we-
Jeb: Just put my name in, Jeb B-L-O-U-N-T and The Sales Gravy, there’s a couple Sales Gravy podcasts out there, but that’s the one you wanna get.
Chantal: Yeah, guys, you’ve gotta go on and check this podcast out. It is absolutely awesome and it’s a real treat for us to have Jeb on the show today.
Now, as all of you were hearing, I mean, Jeb’s had such an impressive career, got amazing amount of experience behind him, but, Jeb, tell us this: Surely it can’t have all been smooth sailing. Have you had any hurdles along the way?
Jeb: Oh, goodness gracious. I’ve had so many hurdles, so many mistakes, so many roadblocks, and we wake up and we have roadblocks every day. I mean, I’ll go back to 2010, we’ve invested our life savings into building salesgravy.com which is a sales job portal, and our website went down one day. And it was down for two weeks. And I’ve customers, I have a subscription programme, and there was a point in time there and I can tell you I thought that the whole world was gonna end. And my body hurt, because it was like all this work I’d done, I had taken everything that I’d owned and put it at risk to build this company, and all of a sudden it was gone. And, we fixed it eventually, it came back up again, we didn’t lose any customers but the time, Lord have mercy, but it made me stronger because I vowed that that would never happen again, and I made a lot of changes to the way I ran my business and the people that I was doing business with, and thankfully we’ve never had that problem again.
Chantal: Wow. That’s an incredible story. Thank you for sharing that with us. Tell us this, Jeb, we actually discovered you after reading one of your books, People Buy You, tell us what inspired you to write that particular book.
Jeb: That’s how I sell. I love People Buy You. It’s my bestselling book, it’s been read all over the world, but it’s how I sell. I believed, and I was looking at the way that people were going about doing business, and we’ve got a lot of focus on processes, on technology, and when I looked at all of the pendulum swing to that, I noticed that what was getting left behind was the human experience. And also there are a lot of millennials, a lot of younger people that are coming up into our world, into business, into sales, into the fitness industry, and they have a hard time seeing customers and prospects as human beings, and they see ’em more of an abstract.
So I wrote People Buy You to show people that the human experience is far more important than any of the other stuff that we think is important in terms of building our businesses, retaining our clients and building a reputation, and in fact a number of studies have come back over the last five years or so that show us and indicate that although there is an overall buying experience based primarily on the aesthetics, so if you run a fitness centre or a gym, the aesthetics have a big part in the experience, and technology as we all know is driving a lot of the customer experience when people are dealing with you. But the studies come back over and over and over again that indicate that more than 50% of the experience is human related. So whether it’s dealing with a customer that you currently have or it’s working with a prospect, it’s how they interact and how they feel about the people in your business that’s gonna have more of an impact on their decision to choose you and to continue to choose you than any other aspect of the total experience.
Chantal: Jeb, that’s really sums up why we wanted to have you on the show, because the book and your philosophies around sales is just so relevant for our fitness business owners, for our fitness professionals. So I wanna dive into that a little bit further in that people sign of things. Can you maybe share with us the term likability, what does that mean?
Jeb: If you think about just the way we operate as human beings, so when we first got on the call, I’ve never met you before, we hopped on, you were immediately a likeable person. And the way our brains operate is that when we meet another human being, we’re making these subconscious decisions about whether we actually like them. And those decisions are happening without our conscious [inaudible 00:05:19] or conscious mind making those calls. And sometimes we know whether we like somebody in the first four or five seconds. So, if we know that, if we understand that, what we have to do is recognise that there are some patterns that determine whether or not we’re gonna be likeable to other people. They’re easy patterns like how you dress and how you look and how you carry yourself.
For example, in the fitness industry if the person comes in and meets your sales person and your sales person is fit and they’re well put together and they’re dressed well and they look good and they’re groomed well, I mean, that immediately makes that person more likeable. That’s the aesthetics. But there’s also are you polite, are you nice, are you confident, are you enthusiastic about what you do, and do you have a smile on your face? As human beings, some of that subconscious or unconscious decision we make about whether we like someone is based on our ability to read facial expressions, and humans are fantastic at looking at these patterns. We all do that, and worldwide, no matter whether your in Australia or the United States or you’re in Asia or you are in Africa or South America, the smile is the universal language of likability. And the problem that we have, especially when you’re working in the fitness industry, is your head’s down, you’re working on your business, you’re focusing on those things and you sometimes forget that you’re always on stage and that your customers are watching everything you do, and especially your new prospects are watching everything you do.
So, when I’m working with businesses like the businesses in your tribe, it’s all about, it’s one walks in the door, look up, smile, pay attention to them, shoulders up, chin out, show them that they’re the most important part of your day and you want them to be there. And to me, all of those things together create likability. And likability is the gateway to human connection. If people don’t like you, they’re not gonna connect with you. They’re not gonna do business with you, they’re gonna keep doing business with you. And if people like you, they’ll at least give you a chance to connect with them and to build a relationship, and I think that we all know, especially in the fitness industry, relationships are huge.
Chantal: Absolutely. You know, it’s interesting, Jeb, because in fitness all over the world now, we’re seeing a lot more 24-hour gyms come into play, we’re seeing a lot of models where staff are coming out of the gyms, and, I guess, technology is going in. Where would you say technology and interpersonal skills, how can that work? Do you have any suggestions, any tips around how fitness businesses might be able to make that model work?
Jeb: Absolutely. I mean, I think that the reality is that we know that people wanna do things easier and faster. And then I think about the 24-hour model is that I can do the gym any time I want to. That’s the beautiful thing about the podcast model. I can listen any time I want to. And we have the same model in YouTube, we have the same model at Sales Gravy, we’ve built a lot of online courses, because we know people want to take courses when and where they want to. So we understand that.
And I run a tech company, I mean, my company, we sell stuff via our website, our online courses, we have these beautiful apps that we have on Android and iPhone, and the thing that we keep finding is that when people are making decisions about whether to do business with us and to keep doing business with us, it’s all about the human interaction. And there’s so many cool ways that you can interact with people these days. I mean, you can interact via your newsletter and staying in touch with people and making that human, you can interact by what I’ve got in my team, our account managers who reach out to my customers who basically do business with me via arm’s length. They have a credit card and I have a portal and they buy things from one part of my business. I have several companies, but they buy things from my business, but we found out that if we call them and we talk to them and we build relationships with them, that they stay with us longer and if they’re thinking about leaving and going to one of my competitors, they at least call us and give us a shot at keeping them and most of the time we can. And when they go to my competitors and realise that my competitor is not going to have that type of relationship with them, they’ll often come back to us because the grass isn’t always greener.
And so I think that if I’m an owner, especially of a 24-7 centre and I’m pulling people out, you’re probably not pulling everybody out, and there is some point somebody has to decide they’re gonna sign up for you. Now, if you can do the entire transaction on the Internet and they give you the credit card and they come in they do that, what I would is I would go back and look at my retention rates. How long am I keeping them? And what does that look like? And if my retention rates are dropping in that model, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna figure out how I can weave in human interaction that helps me build a better client experience, and overall keeps them retained over the longer time, ’cause we all know the longer we can keep someone, the more money we make. In the fitness industry it’s notorious, especially as these long term contracts come out and we give people more choice, it gets harder to keep people and it’s just easy for people to drop out if they don’t have another human being encouraging them and bringing them along.
Chantal: Jeb, in the book you talk about, and I love this part, you talk about breaking business down to one person solving another person’s problems. Do you wanna explain that to us, and tell us do you think that possibly modern sales people have lost sight of that?
Jeb: I do. People tell me all the time that sales is harder and more complex, and then if you read books on sales, we over complicate it, whether it’s prospecting, bringing someone to the top of the funnel or closing or we’re presenting things to people, and the real message behind that is sales is just a conversation. For example, two days ago, I was in Annapolis, Maryland, with a group of yacht sales reps, and I had a couple of Aussies in the group too, that moved to America sell yachts. They actually sell to America to sell yachts, and we were going through the process of how do you interact with someone at a yacht show, for example. And it was funny how over complicated some of these guys had made it. They were basically having interrogations. They were asking all of these questions versus just engaging in a conversation, a human conversation.
And when you peel all of the complexity away and I’m in the conversation, you’re gonna do business with me if I allow you to tell me what your problems are, or you tell me enough that I can show you that you have problems that you don’t even know about. And all I have to do at that point is begin bridging my solutions to your problems using your language, which you taught me because I was listening to you, because instead of me following some complex process to get there, and that’s not to say that sales isn’t a process; it is, but I understand that I’m just having a conversation. And if I don’t over complicate it, it’s pretty easy for two human beings to figure out how to do business together.
Chantal: So the listening that you talk about is so key, and we do talk a lot about it in the fitness industry, and I know that you broached it in the book as well, but it goes to show how important that is in that process that you talk about.
Jeb: Yeah, I think that let’s just step back and take a look at the process where people buy, and I spent a lot of my early career, and I’ve written a lot of curriculum, I’ve worked with a lot of weight loss franchises, and I love the weight loss industry, I like it because it’s emotional. I like it because a lot like the fitness industry, they’re sees risks in the status quo or disruptions in the status quo for people and all of a sudden they’re open to changing their lives. And if they have the right person there that can pull them in and bring them along, you know you could do some extraordinary things, I just dig the industry.
But if you think about it, let’s just say that we’ve got a new prospect coming in, there’s basically a couple of processes: there’s your sales process. So for example, someone may come in, you greet them, you get to know them, you do a little qualifying, you do some discovering, maybe you take them on a tour and there’s steps of the tour, and along the way you’re asking them questions and you’re collecting yeses, they’re saying, “Hey, this is what I want.” You’re having to break through all of the failures they’ve had in the past before they make a choice to do business with you. All of those things are happening. You have your process. But they also have a process, and that’s decision making process. How do they decide to buy from you?
And I go back to arguing that people are buying the person that’s taking them on the tour, they’re buying your rep, they’re not buying your gym. That doesn’t mean that aesthetics aren’t important. Trust me, they’re very, very important. But people don’t typically buy from people they don’t like or they don’t trust. So, along the way, there’s five questions, and these are the five most important questions in sales. Your prospect, and by the way, your customers are are asking these same questions when they decide whether they re-up with you, but these five questions are do I like you, so they’re asking that question of you, do you listen to me? Very, very important. Do you make me feel important? Our most insatiable human need, in fact, the singularity of all human behaviour in the first world is based on do I feel significant or important, and most of our behaviours, good and bad, stem from that. Do you get me? And this is important. They’re asking, “Do you understand me? Do you understand things from my perspective?” You can only get there if you listen and if you understand people, you make them feel important, and, “Do I trust and believe you?”
Your prospect says, “Do I like you? Do you listen to me? Do you make me feel important? Do you get me, and do I trust and believe you? And when you answer those five questions during your sales process, your tour or however you take people through your facility, when you answer those questions in the affirmative, it becomes almost impossible for them not to do business with you. And all of that’s predicated first on the things that we’re talking about, understanding that it’s just a conversation you’re pulling people through. And you have to be able to present the compelling reason for them to make that change in their life today using their language, using their situation, using your understanding of where they are, and using that to present it, not your words, because people don’t buy for your reasons, they buy for their reasons.
Chantal: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Thank you so much for sharing those five questions with us, Jeb, ’cause I know that that is something very practical that our tribe can go back, and, I guess, look at what’s happening in their businesses, talking to their teams about how that walk-through is happening, whether or not we are taking those things into account. So, thank you very much for sharing those, that is absolutely so valuable for us.
I wanna talk more around that relationship, that rapport building, because if you set a foot in the fitness industry, rapport is such a popular word that we use all the time, and every sales trainer on the planet emphasises the importance of rapport. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions around that topic?
Jeb: Sure. You’re probably gonna get me on my soapbox now.
Chantal: Tell us, how would you define rapport?
Jeb: Well, I don’t talk about rapport very much, and when I’m with a group of sales people and I tell people, “Forget about rapport,” I can always see the [inaudible 00:17:01] present in the back going, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe you just said that.” But the problem for rapport is that the way it’s taught by most sales trainers is it’s a thing that you do. Like, it’s a step along the way. So, I qualify them and then I build rapport. And so, for far too many sales people, the rapport building step is just checking off a box. And if you go back to the iteration of rapport, it’s a big part of something called Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP, and which is very popular, and if you’d like to go drop $2,500 dollars, I can give you a trainer that will teach you NLP.
The problem for most sales people, if you own a gym or you own a fitness centre, and you’ve got sales people and you’re spending a bunch of money on lead general, you know that those folks are coming in off the street, walking into your door, because there was a trigger event in their life and they heard your ad and they walked through the door because of that, they saw you online. You have a really, really short window to get them to sign up before they just swing back to where they were before.
And your salesperson, if they’re just going through the motions of checking off rapport and building rapport, the problem is it comes off as manipulative. They ask stupid questions, they say stupid things, and then the sales person goes right back to doing the one thing that pretty much runs people out of your door: they start talking. They talk and they talk and they talk and they talk. And the reason they talk is because when they talk, it makes them feel important. And they’re not asking questions, not listening, and when I go back to this concept of asking questions and learning about people so that you can build a bridge to your product using their language, not pitching, which is basically these kitchen sink data dumps that you give to your prospects, you’re actually using what’s important to them to show them how you can solve their problems, how you can help them. That’s important, but the rapport step gets in the way.
My pitch is forget about rapport. Just forget about it. It doesn’t matter. Here’s all you have to do. And in fact, I don’t have to teach a single sales person how to build rapport, I don’t have to teach them any rapport building techniques, and although I do teach sales people there are different personality styles, and especially in B2C sales or a couple [inaudible 00:19:30] sales that it’s important for them to, for the most part, personality styles don’t matter either as long as you are doing one thing. And that is your prospect is talking and your mouth is shut. That you’re asking open ended questions that get your prospect telling their story. And when people are telling their story, and when they’re talking, they feel important. They feel significant. It makes them feel great. And when you listen to them, in essence you give them the greatest gift that you can give another human being: you make them feel important, like you care about them.
And this is why listening builds such deep emotional connections. So while your competitor sales people are out there trying to build rapport by asking stupid questions about stupid things, your sales people are actually listening to your prospects, making your prospects feel like they’re the most important part of their day, and getting that prospect to really talk about their story so they begin to get below the surface, so they get below the buyer language that your prospect walks in with, all the things that they know about gyms, and they actually get the prospect talking about the emotional reasons why they’re gonna choose to join your fitness centre. And when that happens, when that happens, magic happens. I mean, all bets are off. Because you can move people to make those decisions, because now you’re demonstrating, “Look, I understand you. I understand that this is where you wanna get to. I understand all about why this is important to you. I understand that your daughter is getting married in three months and this is the most important thing that you look great in that dress.” And so you can shift people into a gym membership by asking the right questions and simply talking about what’s important to them.
And so, my suggestion is this: be likeable, open the door to a connection, ask questions and listen to them. And this is the one thing, and I’ll leave this discussion with this, that I think that we miss sometimes, is that when you’re listening to people, because it makes them feel so good, it taps into something called the law of reciprocity, which means if I [inaudible 00:21:41] I do something nice for you, it’ll make you want to do something nice for me. And so, as I’m moving you through the sales process, you feel more and more compelled to say yes to me, because I’m making you feel so good about the buying experience.
Chantal: Okay, tribe. That was part one of my interview with Jeb. Now, next week, make sure you tune in when he talks about how to dive even deeper to uncover prospects’ underlying motivation. He answers the question, can anyone sell? And he shares his top three tips on selling services.
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