Listen to the podcast here:
Successful Sales Strategies With Jim Miller
I have the one and only Jim Miller. Jim, how are you doing?
I’m doing well, Adam. Thanks for the introduction. I appreciate it.
What I love about this is I know there are people reading this and be like, “Who is Jim Miller? What has he done?” Jim, I could speak for your accolade because I know how great you are. Take this one. Brag for a little bit. Share with people some of the incredible things you’ve done.
My background relevant to this starts in 2001 where I was hired to be the vice president of sales for Tony Robbins. At that time, his organization was in quite a situation. He was going through a divorce. The company, for the most part, was going out of business. I remember my first day of work. I arrived from the airport. I hadn’t even put my suitcase down and I had the vice president of the company as well as the CEO telling me, “Jim, for purposes of transparency, we have to let you know that the company’s going bankrupt.” This was quite a shock to me. First of all, Tony Robins going bankrupt. Secondly, I had just gotten married. I hadn’t even taken my wife on a honeymoon and left the altar to fly to San Diego from New Orleans to take this position.
I told them, “Let’s not do anything rash. Give me a little bit of time and let’s see what we can do.” In the end, by the 24th month, we had generated more revenue in the company than the history of the company combined with the sales strategies, the programs that are many of which are still in place including a $20 million coaching program. I worked with Tony and traveled around the world with him for a few years. I met many of the world’s biggest thought leaders and worked with guys like Jay Abraham, Keith Cunningham, Harvard professors, Nobel Prize winners, you name it. It was quite an experience.A business’ number one focus should be developing sales personnel, and then developing a sales methodology. Click To Tweet
We have a lot of different experts that come on to the show in different areas of business. What I love most about you is you put this pedigree. You’ve worked for this household company. Everyone knows Tony Robbins coaching and you’re the one that brought him back from the brink of bankruptcy with your sales methods.
We build up a pretty extraordinary sales team. It was interesting because when I first got there, after my first day and that initial shock, the second day, they had flown me out to Hawaii to be with Tony because he wanted to meet me again after having hired me. While we were in Hawaii, 9/11 hits. We were stuck in Hawaii. I had to get back because the very first event we were doing was a UPW in Orlando, Florida. I had to get my sales team going. We had to get sales going. Otherwise, if we didn’t have a big hit in Florida, we were shut down. Ultimately when I was able to get back, still no one was willing to fly.
All of the attendees in that Orlando show, most of them were all East coast fly-ins from the Northeast. We had a big problem on our hand. We had the anthrax issue that hit in Florida. There was a big reluctance to go to Florida. We were able to put together a sales strategy and none of my sales team wanted to sell because they were all bought into the fact that, “We can’t ask people to fly because there may be another terrorist attack.” Because there were still a number of terrorist attacks that were still happening. My first biggest challenge as vice president there was to change the psychology of my sales team because my entire sales team was bought into the fact that there’s no way we can get people to even take this event serious after having faced what it is that the nation was facing.
Even irrespective of the inability to fly, they thought that it was something that people would rather not even talk about going to a Tony Robbins event while the nation was mourning and under the scare. The big psychology conversation than I had to have was if there was anybody in the universe that stood for changing the psychology of this country from one of fear to one of courage, to take action, to not allow every single day, every single moment that we were under the threat of terrorism, it was Tony Robbins. People came to Tony Robbins for a psychology of courage, for a psychology of taking action. I got the team totally motivated and gave them specific strategies and sales conversations to have with the general public. We ended up filling up Orlando. I believe we set several sales records for the company at that event, so it was quite a success.
I love that turnaround because there are so many companies that during that time would have felt the opposite and have failed because they bought into that climate of fear. I love how you turned it around into a selling proposition to sell out an event at a time when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy.
Absolutely, because I used a very visual analogy for the fear that we faced from the general public and the fear that we faced even internally. I said, “As long as you allow fear to embrace you, then you are allowing those planes to strike those buildings every single day. It’s just simply another replay every single day of those two planes are striking those two buildings as long as you’re living in fear. It’s not where we operate from.”
One of my clients specializes in teaching Zen and stoicism. There’s this great story about these two monks that have vowed to never touch a woman. There’s a woman trying to cross a river and the older monk picks up the woman and carries her across the river. Once they get the other side, they keep walking and the younger monk keeps looking at his tutor and he’s all awkward. About two hours later he says, “Master, why are we not going to talk about the fact that you’ve touched a woman after taking a vow of not touching a woman?” He said, “I left that woman back by the river hours ago. Why haven’t you?
People hold on to problems for such a long time. Whereas sometimes, the bigger picture is so much more. Jim, I want to talk some more about the psychology of sales and specifically for business owners, because I always tell people that when you start your business, it’s better rather than starting with a product that is refined and perfect start with a sale. I believe that the most important department of any company, yet for some reason, entrepreneurs build the sales department last. They do everything except the sales department and then be struggling for cash. Where I see the most successful businesses start with sales first. As a sales professional, what do you think about that?
The evidence is very blatant. I can’t tell you how many dozens of times where me and my team were engaged in the sales of a product or a program that had not even yet been developed when we were pre-selling. To the point where we generated so much capital, it was a very easy play than to manufacture the product that we were selling or to develop the program that we were selling, and then we ultimately delivered.
I love that you say that because that’s the biggest strategy in our company. We always pre-sell a product. If the product doesn’t sell, then we would rather go to the two or three people that have already bought and say to them, “We love that you like this. However, we couldn’t get enough buy-in.” We have an alternate product or we’ll turn it into a one-day live training or will switch it on them and offer them a full refund instead if that’s what they prefer.
The truth is that there should be no reason for having to do that because the number one focus is developing sales personnel. Number two, what’s most important is developing a sales methodology. Because what sales personnel end up becoming under any sales force that I build simply they are executioners of the sales system that they are provided by me. I don’t ask people to sell; I don’t ask people to close. All I ask is a faithful, energetic, and professional execution of a system that I know already works.
I love that you talked about sales systems. Let me jump in for a second on this. Everyone knows Jordan Belfort because of The Wolf of Wall Street and Straight-Line Persuasion. What do you think about his sales system? Does it either compare to yours or are there differences?There's no such thing as an objection in sales. The only condition that you cannot sell into is a person's inability to buy. Click To Tweet
I can tell you this, my methodology of selling is not so much the rah-rah type of selling or whipping up a sales team into a frenzy. My methodology is very professional. It can be delivered by any intelligent person. The subsequent training that I do because that’s what’s important. It’s not only to provide an individual with a system that you know already works, but then secondarily to continue to train. I train sales forces at least three times a week. Irrespective of how long they’ve been with me, how long they’ve been in sales, I continue the sales training because we are always talking about human psychiatry, negotiation and influence at a very deep level, at a level that college students study so that we can very quickly become extraordinarily advanced at what we do.
This is for the sales manager, the vice president of sales or even the CEO. Your responsibility is to develop these masters of influence so that the money you’re spending on your marketing, the money you’re spending on the development of your product, market share, whatever it is, the investment that you’re making will in fact be covered by the revenue generated in sales. It’s absolutely the most important along with marketing because you’ve got to have leads. You’ve got to have sales opportunities. When I say sales opportunities, what I do is I break down the lead into two categories. In sales, marketing is either going to give the sales team either a suspect or a prospect. A suspect is someone who has no money and has no availability to money.
I’ll talk later about the fact that there are no objections. There’s no such thing as an objection in sales, but the only condition that I cannot sell into is someone who has the inability to buy. They either have no money or they have no access to money. That is a suspect. Suspects can be filtered out through application forms for example or from the initial marketing itself. Generally, I will use application forms and questions in there that filter and reveal the financial status of the individual. Even subsequent to that, very early in the conversations, I’ll determine whether or not I’m working with a suspect or a prospect. A prospect is somebody who has money or has the availability to get money. That person is fair play. Irrespective of whether they want to do it now or they want to do it later, they need to talk to this person or that person, none of that matters to me. They are a prospect that is now my responsibility on the call. Where they missed the mark is in their mind, that person becomes a client once they buy. That’s a fallacy. Your job and why we have the degree of success that we have is because we turned them into a client on the call and then ask them to buy once they are a client, but the sales methodology is designed to transform a prospect into a client and then get them to pay.
I had a great interview with a guy by the name of Tom Breeze. Do you know Tom? Have you met him?
I do not know him.
He’s a YouTube ad specialist. He talks about in his methodology, he gets people to identify with the person they want to be in the future. Once they’re sold on imagining themselves as this future person, he’ll get them to state what kind of decisions that future person would make or has made and he’ll say to them, “That future version of you, did they make the decision to take this training?” They’re like, “Yes, that person would have.” He says, “It sounds like you’ve already made that decision.” This is a big part of the methodology. I love what you’re saying as well. The focus is on making them be the client in their minds before they even purchase the products.Pain uninvestigated is very dangerous because that pain is determining the direction and the trajectory of your life. Click To Tweet
There is a methodology. When we’re talking about advanced sales, we’re talking about selling programs that are $5,000, $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 programs. That’s half of the formula, that you just mentioned that this gentleman uses. We use a process called Cognitive Dissonance where we’re creating something within the individual through the use of the question. The question is the tool. What we do is we identify, first of all, from that individual, the actual pain and price that they’re experiencing in life by not being who it is they want to be. What does it cost you to not be an entrepreneur? What does it cost you to not have the financial freedom, to not have the ability to take off whenever you want, to not have the ability to control your time so that you’re there for your family?
What does the emotional cost? What’s the intellectual cost? What’s the opportunity cost? We go into this deep conversation about costs so that we can get to what the individual has sublimated in themselves, and that’s the pain. We all walk around with this sublimation of anxiety and pain that we’ve got shoved down and we cope with it. We’re all walking coping mechanisms, which is not how to truly live life. It’s not an authentic life. It’s a simple way of being able to function in life. While the pain is still there, we shove it down. We sublimated and then we developed coping mechanisms. There’s a great book that’s called Immunity to Change. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s by Robert Keegan out of Harvard University. It talks about the way that we create these mechanisms within ourselves that allow us to operate in life even though we have the pains of not being who we authentically desire to be.
What I do in my methodology is I access that pain. Let’s uncover that pain. Let’s talk about it because it’s real and it’s relevant. That pain is defining the trajectory of your life. You’re making all of your decisions, you’re taking all the actions, especially in moments of stress as a result of all the sublimated pain that you have inside you. It’s determining. It’s like an invisible water that’s determining the direction and even the trajectory of your life. Pain uninvestigated is very dangerous. We investigate it through the question, through query. After we have access to all of this and we’ve got it laid out on the table, then we shift, we pivot and we talk about the fantasy. We go from the fatal into the fantasy.
If you were to live the life that you truly desire to live outside of that pain, and then we do the mental construct, what would that look like? Just like the gentleman does, what would it look like to be the CEO? What type of decisions would you be making? Where would you be traveling? What type of individuals would you be hanging around? What type of internal conversation would you have about yourself? How would others see you? Now we have this cognitive dissonance. We have the pain and we have the pleasure. The truth is that human beings cannot coexist in both at the same time. It creates what’s called a condition of cognitive dissonance. The only way out of cognitive dissonance is to take action, to seek a solution.
The solution is our product. The person now is more predisposed. They are now a client, somebody that’s very clear about their needs, their wants and their desires, why it is that they want to join our program. They see the benefits, then we describe all the benefits and all the features of the program. This is important. We don’t just describe it in isolation of the individual. We then attach the features and the benefits to the fulfillment of the desires of the individual. We reveal the price and then we call them to action.
You did mention that there’s no such thing as an objection. I know there are business owners reading this being like, “That’s not true. I get objections all the time.” What did you mean by that and what’s the solution there?
Let’s take a look at it. I use etymology as my first witness. When you take the word objection, the root word in there is object. To object an object. There is no object in, “I want to think about it. I want to talk it over with my wife.” These are all subjections. They’re subjective feelings. They’re subjective thoughts. What they are is resistance, the inability to move out of the status quo that the individual operates in, that they’ve created for themselves, where it’s predictable, comfortable and safe because this is how we want to operate as human beings. Our human nature loathes unpredictability. Our human nature loathes risk. What we do is we construct a life of safety where we’re safe. We go back into the wound. The first experience that we have of anxiety is when we’re born, when we come out of this wound into the big bad world. We all have this infantile desire to create this world around us where everything is safe, peaceful and everything is predictable.
The truth is that when we call an individual to action, what are we calling them to do? We’re calling them to change. We’re calling them to risk. We’re calling them into uncertainty. If you look at the etymology of the word decision, it comes from the Latin word decidere and the word cidere is the root word of scissors. The prefix de- means away from. The first impulse of a decision is to cut away from, to not move forward. The first impulse of a decision is for us to take whatever is holding us from moving forward and deal with that first. We’re reluctant where salesmen fail is they don’t deal with that first. That’s why we get into that pain first so that the individual can cut away and see that the life that they’re living is failing, to see that the strategies that they are living are no longer producing for them what they desire, that these strategies are in fact working against them.
It’s like safety in the womb of the life that they’ve now created, that is predictable and boring, is also the chains that hold them back from the life they seek and want.
That’s why we create the fantasy phase of it to create motivation, to create the desire, to move into something new. We help them paint that picture. When we annunciate something, when we speak into the reality of what could be, then the possibility of it taking place becomes very strong. More importantly, it becomes very desirable.
I think this is so powerful. There’s going to be some business owners reading. One of my very good clients does all their own sales themselves. They do great. They make $27,000 on average a week, which is pretty good money. I’ve been trying to convince this person to start a sales team for so long but they have a fear that they’re going to grab a salesperson and the salesperson is going to suck. They won’t make any money.
They have subjection. They have resistance.Human beings cannot coexist in both pain and pleasure at the same time. Click To Tweet
In getting them past this, the one question I always have is how do I hire somebody? How do I find salespeople that come on board? To somebody reading this, you’re incredible at building sales teams. How does somebody go about starting a sales team?
The first thing to start a sales team is to make sure that you have already codified and you are very adroit at being able to teach a sales system. The first thing that I would say before anyone hires a salesperson is to make sure you have a sales system. Because if you rely on the innate skills of an individual to come in and just start selling, they’re not going to get anywhere. There must be a formal scripted system that you are able to very effectively teach because remember what a sales personnel is. I don’t ask them to be salesmen. I don’t ask them to be closers. What I asked them to do is to execute into this system, and I will train you on the system and then I will continuously coach you because that’s what you end up becoming. The salesperson is the internal client that I’m continuously coaching. I’m coaching them into effectiveness, into proficiency, into efficiency and into purpose.
Why is that? Because we can very easily lose our purpose. If you lose your purpose, you lose your effectiveness. Why is it that you’re doing what you’re doing? Purposes of a strong motivator. It’s not rah-rah. It’s a scaffolding strategy. I would look for, first of all, someone who’s very intelligent and someone who’s very persuasive in conversation. Being a conversationalist, when I look to recruit, what I will do is I will engage in conversation with that purpose. I’ll ask them a very challenging question, first of all. It’s something that we did in this event at Las Vegas. In order to initiate deep conversation with an individual and get them to access what it is inside of their being as opposed to what’s inside of their mouth.
Because a lot of times we just give the first answer, it’s inside of our mouth. It’s quick and easy. It’s at three-second elevator talk and we’re able to say it. What I want you to do is I want you to spit out what’s in your mouth because what I’m interested in is what’s inside your gut, what’s inside your heart, what’s inside your loins, what’s inside your being. I want to find out who you are and if you’re able to annunciate that. The first question after connecting with the person is I might say, “Adam, if you would please tell me what is your purpose in life?”
That’s the kind of thing that’s going to get somebody to start analyzing themselves and start bringing it up to you. I can see that some people might freeze up on that, and they’ll be like, “I don’t know what my purpose is.”
What I’m looking for in the individual is I’m not looking for the right or the wrong answer. What I’m looking for is your ability to speak into your purpose, your conversation. Your ability to influence me. Because when I asked somebody, “What is your purpose?” Subconsciously I’m challenging them to influence me. In other words, what they hear is, “I need to give him the right answer. I’ve got to nail this.” When somebody asks you, “What is your purpose?” This is a question you’ve got to nail. There is no willy-nilly answer to this because then you would seem to be someone of insignificance.
If they can convince you of their purpose, then you know they’re a good salesperson.
Absolutely. I want to hear how they converse. I want to watch them go down deep into the kitchen, as Robert Bly says in his book, Iron John. We go down deep into the kitchen to get the answers of substance, what it is that substantiates us as human beings down deep. If they are convincing and if they are able to annunciate, they speak well and it sounds to me as if I’m speaking to a professional, then that person has the ability to be convincing to others if given the proper framework, which is the entire thing that I provided.
Jim, this has been absolutely invaluable. I can tell that many people coming into this are going to get a lot out of it. I want to talk about something about where people can learn more about what you want you do and where they can get it from, but before that, leave people with one psychological hack. What’s one thing that they could do to maybe either make themselves better at sales or to level up the income from their business? I can just imagine you have so much experience. There’s probably one thing you could say to a business owner that if they went and put it into practice, it would probably increase their revenue by 10% easily. What would be a simple psychological hack that you could maybe think of to share with a business owner?
It’s to question deep. Go vertical with your questions. Go subsequent with your questions whenever you’re speaking to an individual. What life does not do is give us significance. The truth is that we all need to be recognized as a human being. We need to feel relevant in life. We need to feel significant. Many of us take it to higher degrees, more so than others. When somebody stops us and they question us about our life, the existential meaning of who we are, this is something very unique because very few people do this. Very few people want to know you at an existential level. Meaning why do you exist? Who is it that exists? Who are you? What are your motivations? What are your fears? What are your desires? You become an expert at truly questioning an individual, not interrogating, but questioning within an authentic way, with a true desire to get to know that individual, to get to know their motivation, to get to know their fears, to get to know how their models of reality.
I’m reading a book called Changing Minds. We all have these models of reality that we deal with. How is the world modeled for you? How do you see the world and most importantly, how do you see yourself in the world? When somebody comes at you with this line of questioning, you feel that you’ve been authenticated. You feel that you are relevant. You feel that you’re important at least to this individual, and then you hear it in yourself. You hear yourself expressing your own true realities and it just gives you a sense of vitality. It gives you a feeling of purpose and significance, at least in this encounter because these types of deep encounters are very rare. I would tell you that if there’s one hack it is learning to question well, to question vertically, to subsequently follow up one question with the other.
I love that, Jim. I’m convinced. I feel like I need to send my sales team to talk to you. I know people reading this are going to be like, “I’d love to maybe take a take some time for Jim to have him have a look at their team.” What’s the best way for people to reach out to you or to communicate with you if they want to get some of that insight?When we speak into the reality of what could be, the possibility of it taking place becomes very strong. Click To Tweet
My personal email is probably the best way and I’m more than happy to have a conversation to take a look at what it is that an individual has on their plate and what their desires are. There will be a sequence of questions that take place. My email is [email protected].
I love that it’s such a real email as well. You can tell that’s your personal email. It’s not like [email protected] or whatever.
I have several others. I work as a consultant and as an executive. I sit on the executive board of other companies and I’m working as a private consultant. I have other emails, but for your clients, Adam just hit me up directly on my personal email.
Jim, thank you so much for taking the time to do this.
It’s my pleasure.
I want to thank the audience for taking the time to read.
About Jim Miller
Jim Miller is a Senior Sales Executive with expertise in all areas of sales recruiting, training, peak performance management, branding, massive revenue generation, strategic alliances and negotiations.
He was the VP of sales for companies owned by Anthony Robbins and T. Harv Eker