The Secrets To Becoming A Top 1% Earner With Ian Selbie [Episode 127]

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Do you want to know the secrets of the Top 1% Earners in sales?

If so, you’ll want to listen in. In this episode, Doug C. Brown speaks with Ian Selbie, founder of SalesMentorU. Doug and Ian discuss their insider knowledge of sales success (which Ian used to become one of the top salespeople in the world at Apple), expert strategies to differentiate yourself from others in selling, and much more in this episode about being in the Top 1% through selling.


In this episode you will learn:


Episode’s guest – Ian Selbie

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Ian Selbie has been delivering high-performance sales services internationally for over 25 years. He has delivered his proven sales methodology to over 17,000 sales professionals around the globe. His clients range from well-known multinationals to smaller regional companies. Prior to launching his own business, Ian held sales and leadership roles with Apple from 1984 to 1994. In 1990, Apple recognized Ian as their Top Salesperson in the World for his success in Enterprise Accounts in Western Canada. Ian has authored several books including: “If You Were Arrested For Selling, Would There Be Enough Evidence To Convict You?” He also produces a weekly podcast entitled “Confessions Of A Sales Pro” which is available on all podcast platforms.

Visit his website: www.salesmentoru.com


The Secrets To Becoming A Top 1% Earner With Ian Selbie

I have a great guest. His name is Mr. Ian Selbie. Ian was the number one representative at Apple, the number one most profitable company on the planet, as of this episode’s date.

Ian is going to share what it takes to think, act, and be a 1% earner in that environment. We’re going to go through a lot of great stuff. This will be a masterclass. I would get in a place where you can take your pen out and write notes because you’re going to enjoy this. Let’s go speak with Ian now.

Welcome to the CEO Sales Strategies Show. Thanks so much for being here. I appreciate it.

Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be on such a successful show with you, and looking forward to sharing some thoughts and insights with you.

I want to tell everybody that you’ve been teaching people high-performance selling for many years internationally. If I remember correctly, it was over 17,000 students. Your company is called SalesMentor. The URL is SalesMentorU.com, if I remember correctly as well. Ian, I appreciate you being here because this podcast started where we were teaching sales strategies of how you get to CEOs and high-level business owners. How did they build their business? What are they looking for from the person who’s trying to sell to them? That type of thing to help, then I ran across you.

I was thinking about this idea. When I ran across you, I was like, “He’s my first guest on the shift that I want to make on CEO Sales Strategies over to talking more about 1% earners” The whole focus now is shifting. We’re still interviewing CEOs and things of that nature, but it’s shifting to how you think, act, and be as a top 1% earner. I was so grateful to have you because you were the number-one producer at Apple. The tiny little computer company that we all know and love. You were the number one guy there for ten years. Do I remember correctly?

I was the top in the world one year but in the top 5% for several years, for sure.

The top 1% for one year is an amazing accomplishment because it’s Apple. It’s not like we’re talking about some unknown entity. I wanted to bring you on here and ask, what does it take to think like somebody who gets to the number one spot in the number one most profitable company in the world at this moment? How? Did it happen by accident, was it planned, or a combination of both? What was the journey?

I’m happy to share it with you for sure. I’ll go back to when some of your readers weren’t born yet, but 1984 to 1994 was my ten-year run at Apple. The year I won that award for top in the world, that gracious award, was in 1990, thanks to some enterprise accounts in Western Canada and a fabulous team. What does it take to be a 1% earner? How do they think? The team is a big part of it. No one person in the world of selling can get it all done, especially in enterprise-type accounts like the accounts I was asked with looking after and getting into.

Another thing that I had was a fabulous coach. He was my sales VP but he played a mentorship role. Another gentleman by the name of Ian, by the way. He challenged me to be my best. “You can get in. Why don’t you believe in yourself?” I said, “I do. Let’s do this.” There was some self-belief and great mentorship. That should never be underscored.

We all need mentors in our life. It doesn’t matter what stage of your sales career or the profession or business you’re in. Having a coach and a mentor to hold you accountable for your goals and your activities does nothing but good things, especially if there’s a bit of a boring champion inside there. You challenge yourself to get those goals accomplished.

That was important. When I say team, too, these are technical people. My big account was based on one of the things they did. I brought one account that I have been doing a little bit of work with. I had a little bit of business in Cupertino, California, for what we call an executive briefing. It was two days in Cupertino where there was the red carpet, golf at Pebble Beach, dinner at the Plum Course, and a briefing staff that brought all of the right people out of the back room to talk to these executives.

They were technical guys with ponytails and flip-flops but they knew their stuff. On the way back, I signed them up for a large trial and it went from there. It was a significant run for a few years. It can happen. Knowing the business pain of your customer as well as they do, instead of trying to sell something to them, help them solve real business problems and enable the growth or the savings that your solution can bring to bear. There are a number of strategic things to do but focus on aiming high, finding the pain, bringing the gain, and doing it again.

Instead of trying to sell something to customers, help them solve real business problems and enable growth or the savings your solution can bring to bear. Share on X

I’m feverishly taking notes. I want to go back to these if you’re okay with that. I have seven pieces of nuggets that came out of this for me. First, I hear team. On an enterprise sale, I’ve done enterprise sales. We all will say, “We need people to help us because it’s a peer-to-peer type selling situation.” If you’re going to talk about engineering with the guys with the flip-flops, you better have a sales engineer there, too. At least, if they bring their VP, we better bring our VP. They are like-minded. I get that.

What occurred to me when you were talking about that was two things. 1) That is a form of leverage for us as a seller. 1% earners are focused on the leverage component of the sale. 2) We don’t keep the whole amount. It gets split up among the teams. 1% earners are also willing to share in the fortune of what happens as a business owner would be. We would look at it and go, “We’re going to have this allocated from marketing, this allocated for operations, and this allocated for IT.” We know we’re part of a whole and we’re going to get our part of it. Is that an accurate statement to you?

The currency goes beyond money. For many of us in sales, we know we’re going to make money. The recognition and the sense of accomplishment, we’re sharing that as well. I remember when we were in Hawaii at the Apple sales conference with about 4,000 salespeople globally. It was time for the awards, so there was the top country of the year, the top systems engineer, and the top salesperson. My mugshot came up on the double screen. I was at the back and I started to run up to the front because it was a big place. It was hard to get there.

My systems engineer, a woman by the name of Shan, was sitting in the front row. She was such a keener. She’s still with Apple now, by the way. She jumped out to give me a hug. I gave her a big bear hug. I ran right up to the top of the stairs onto the stage with her. She was all embarrassed. I said, “Don’t be. I couldn’t have done this without you. Let’s share this limelight.”

Teams and sharing, there are leverage points too. It’s a great way to call on a CEO if you want to shortcut. What salesperson doesn’t want to shortcut? Bring your CEO. It’s funny how those doors open easily. When a CEO sits down with CEOs, that’s another leverage point. If you want to call or hire an account, leverage your internal team to help you do that. Selling is like being the quarterback.

It’s your ball. You’re calling the play, but you’ve got a coach on the sidelines. You can call a timeout. Go get some intel from what they are seeing. You could run the ball, throw the ball, and you have huddles. Sports and sales have lots of crossovers. The account manager or whatever title you want to give it, the salesperson is the quarterback.

That brings me to another point then. You’re taking personal responsibility for the rest of the team.

That’s my job. You have to own your responsibility. You don’t want to become a one-account wonder. When I say responsibility, I take responsibility for the whole pipeline. All of the deals, existing customers, and new prospects, I’m driving toward winning. That is my dashboard. That is my field to play. I need to own the whole territory on the pipeline. There are different places and different people that can help you.

You’re not always going to throw a Hail Mary. With large accounts, you want those all week long. But you don’t meet a big account and want to sell them $10 million worth of something within a month. That’s typically several months, if not over a year’s worth of pursuit to win those types of accounts. There are lots of different things and timing when it comes to pipeline development and those things.

That, again, leads me to another point. I’m just going to keep bringing these up because you’re saying everything that I’ve always thought about but what a lot of people don’t think about. You’re saying, “I want to establish a relationship first, then expand that relationship internally or externally with everything I do.”

There’s no doubt. In real estate, what are the three most important things? Location, location, and location. Successful sustained selling is relationship, relationship, and relationship. Not just one and done. You go in. You go up, over, and down. That’s where your team can play a pivotal role in building that spider web of relationships together. Now it’s a team of people working with a team of people and that’s hard to pull up. If you’re in there trying to do it all yourself, that’s not a strong enough situation to withstand any wind. These are your competition. I’ve always been a big believer in team selling. There’s no doubt about it but you need to be the quarterback. It still comes back to that.

Folks, we’re talking with Ian Selbie. He’s kind enough to come on. He’s been training people for many years internationally on selling. He was the number one top rep in the world for a tiny little company called Apple. He worked with Steve Jobs directly. I know all of you want to ask about Steve Jobs but we want to stay focused on the top 1% here.

Ian has a company called SalesMentor. It’s at SalesMentorU.com. Ian, I want to go back to this point because you said you constantly challenge yourself. One thing I found about 1% earners, including myself, is we are always challenging ourselves to get better, but it’s not necessarily even that we’re challenging ourselves.

We think and agree with ourselves that it’s about our own personal performance. When you’re quarterbacking the team, you’re thinking, “I’ve got to do my part so I don’t let down the team because if I’m going to be the best quarterback, I’ve got to lead this team. It’s about my personal performance as much as anybody else on the team.” Is that accurate?

You never stop growing. The learning model is a healthy model. The minute someone thinks they’ve got it all down, they know all they ever need to know – we’ve both probably had them in our classrooms, they’re the guys with their arms crossed and looking at the Wall Street Journal or your sales binder. Within two minutes, you have to convince him which one he’s going to read.

There are people like that. The minute you reach that level of thinking, you’ve started your career declined because there’s always something new to learn, even in enterprise selling. Depending on the verticals in the industries your clients are in, there’s so much to learn about their industry, their business, and what keeps them awake at night.

That thirst for that knowledge should never go away. There’s a wonderful thing now called the internet with websites. It makes that research so much easier than it ever used to be. I remember cold-calling on large companies, sitting in their waiting rooms after you signed the book, grabbing an annual report, and putting it in my briefcase because there’s great information in there. Now you have the website online with all of their management team for us to easily gather research from.

You have to keep growing and that’s not knowing at all. You have to continue that thirst for knowledge and wisdom. That ends up giving you currency with the customer. If you sit across from the customer, “I was reading that you’re losing your market share in Europe, but you’ve got a merger and acquisition on the table in South America.” What does that say to the customer? You’ve done your homework. You know some of the business already. That helps develop your currency in terms of bringing it up in front of the customer. What does that do for relationships? It helps grow them.

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 You have to continue to have a thirst for knowledge and wisdom.


It’s key. A lot of people say, “How do I differentiate myself?” Ian told you how you differentiate yourself. Be able to converse on their level about what matters to them and then be able to ask questions to get them to go, “I didn’t know that,” or get a little eyebrow raise from them. That’s what differentiates us. It’s not what a lot of people think. What I’ve noticed is that many people try to get themselves in the media and that’s great.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but when it comes down to the selling you’re talking about, it comes down to the personal one-on-one understanding. You had said, “Know your client better than they do.” That is another 1% earner trait. I’d like your feedback on this. Is it, “Know your clients better than they do,” so that they trust you more than they trust their own decisions sometimes or is it something different?

It doesn’t have to be that. Sometimes, it has been that and there are different ways to know their business as well or better than they do, depending on where you’re calling in an organization. Quite often, a VP or a senior executive, a C-Suite is running one division and they’re unaware of perhaps some of the tactics that are going on in other divisions. You can be a broker or a facilitator of that knowledge and help them share best practices. Every salesperson in the world has probably run into this. How many people will be deciding on this? Will it be 3 or 4 of us? When would you like to have that decision made?

Sometimes, those people don’t agree on timing. That means the date is void. They don’t agree on when. They might agree on what and who, but if they don’t agree on when, we still don’t have a deal. You can play the role of broker facilitator to get some collaboration going. What’s your business plan? Why is your urgency that date versus this date? What’s different? You can play that role.

The other way to get information is by networking with other like-minded individuals that might be selling complementary products or services. Certainly not competitive but complementary. They are calling on the same people and garnering other information. There can be a wonderful, only-trusted resource there to trade information to help both parties. That’s been used as well. Always feed your network. Don’t ask first. Feed it first.

That one’s huge. Always feed your network first. Many people don’t do that, Ian, I find. I’m going to give an example of you and me. We got to know one another, I was talking to you about how great you are and if you would like to be on other shows. You said, “Sure.” I said, “Why don’t I try to help you in this regard?” You said you wanted to be on eight shows or whatever. Rebecca’s given you something like that.

We supplied you with some people that you thought were great to get onto their show. That’s an example of feeding the network first. In turn, I asked you. I said, “Ian, since you’re the number one guy at Apple, “I’d like to have you on my show to talk about this,” and you reciprocated by saying, “I will.” The reason I bring this up is because people are like, “What do I do? How do I help feed the network for us?” You find out something as you said earlier, which is to know your client and what they’re looking for. They have opportunities they are looking for or challenges or frustrations they have. Try to help them. That’s what I found. Anything different that you want to add to that?

It’s something in my sales methodology that I teach, as you mentioned, for a couple of decades plus now. That’s why I have all the gray hair. It’s important when you are networking that it is not with just anyone. You have to have a sense of trust, mutual respect, and value in each other’s eyes in terms of what you bring to the table, not just with the products or services but with the person themself.

When networking, you have to have a sense of trust and mutual respect value in each other's eyes of what you bring to the table, not just with the products or service but with the person themself. Share on X

When I meet with someone, I want to know what type of business pain they serve. When I’m out there bumping, crashing, doing my networking, meeting people, and having people on my podcast, I want to learn what type of pain they’re looking for that they are good at fixing and solving. I want to know that. My radar can be on for them.

You said it right, feed it first and it will feed you in spades but it’s like pay it forward. Don’t ask for what you can get. Give first and all of a sudden, it’s like Christmas. You have gifts under the tree. What’s the pain? What gain do they bring to the table? What relationships that trust me would I be comfortable introducing that individual to? When you do it right, it’s a win-win-win. The person I’m networking with has a brand-new opportunity. That’s endorsed. There’s no cold call.

They’re right in for a meeting right away. There’ll be no problem. The best thing a salesperson can get is a referral. It’s a win for the client because it’s going to solve the client’s business pain. They knew I was looking out for their best interests beyond what I can only sell. What does that do for my relationship value with both of these people? It puts it up. It’s a win-win-win. It’s the right way to go about it.

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 Your reputation as a sales professional is paramount. You can spend years building it yet lose it with one bad decision or idea.

That’s cool because I preach win-win. I like win-win-win because a lot of people won’t disengage from something. I find 1% earners will disengage when they know it’s not a win-win-win. They’ll be the first to go, “This doesn’t make sense,” because intuitively, they know if you bring somebody in, it’s not a bad client. It’s a bad decision on the salesperson’s part. Would you agree with this or disagree with this?

Our reputation as a sales professional is paramount. We’ve spent years building it and you can lose it with one bad decision or idea. I wouldn’t say territorial but I’m pretty picky. I’m protective of the relationships that I’ve earned through the years. I don’t want to introduce any Tom, Dick, or Harry. Just because I know someone, why should I help you? I don’t know you. I don’t know if I can trust you. That takes time to build. Our stock prices can go down by doing this wrong and that’s something to guard against.

Along with maybe personal performance, it’s also personal reputation, you value your reputation because that is your brand. That is what people trust in you. As a 1% earner, you do everything you can to maintain and elevate that so that people look at you and they go, “Ian is a guy that’s stand up trustworthy and can help me with my challenges. I’ll now refer him to someone because I trust him.”

That’s what happens. Reciprocation happens all day long. If you’re good, first, you’ll get good coming back your way and you’ll never know where it comes from. Is that being a professional? Perhaps, but there are some guidelines around how to be a professional. If someone’s starting and they look at that big mountain and they’ve got to break into some new accounts, it can be daunting and intimidating.

It’s doing the right things and doing them over and over again. That’s how you get good at something but it’s not just practice. It’s perfect practice. Build a practice based on the right things and be selective about who your network is. Have a coach. There are lots of best practices that will help sales performance. It will become behavioral change. Once you get good at something, you don’t forget how that happened.

Let’s put an analogy together. Once you get a good bike, you don’t forget how to ride that good bike and you’ll never want to ride a different bike again. That’s your bike. Again, it’s like anything else. At first, it can be daunting and challenging, but what is it like when you do something, set a big goal for yourself, and accomplish it? What’s that feeling, apart from the money? I’m sure the money will follow.

If you pursue your passion and your purpose, your wallet will keep up. There’s no doubt about that, and you feel good about what it is you’re doing. I don’t want to say it’s pride. Is ego involved in that? Probably, but hopefully, in a healthy way. There’s not too much ego. There’s confidence and arrogance. We don’t want to cross that line. Some of the best salespeople I’ve ever met are confident, persistent, great listeners, and they always follow up. They always under-promise and over-deliver.

If you pursue your passion and purpose, your wallet will keep up. There's no doubt about that, and you'll feel good about what you do. Share on X

If you do those things and manage your confidence level, you’re an attractive source now. People want to work with you. You don’t want to be unconfident. We got confidence and competency. We can have those two working in symphony as an orchestra, and the music that comes out of us is going to be award-winning.

If you’re not writing this down, read this over and over again. Ian, you’re bringing it. Thank you. I appreciate it. I could talk to you all day long because every time you say something, I’m writing it down. Always follow up. By the way, folks, follow-up is a courtesy. People expect it, and you expect it. Ian, you might appreciate this. I used to do this when I was speaking a lot and there were a lot of women in the audience.

I would say to the women, “Women, let’s say you go out on a perfect date, the first date. Women, don’t answer this question. Guys, answer this question. How long do you have before you can call her back before she’s going to not want to talk to you?” Guys would go anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks and sometimes a little longer. I’d say, “Women, how long do they have?” They’d almost unanimously say, “If they don’t call me within 24 hours, they’re toast.”

Perhaps even sooner than that. Maybe both parties sleep on it because you don’t be too quick. It feels unseen. You want people to take your time and use it with courtesy. In the customer context, not the date context, when you don’t follow through on a commitment, and it might be a small thing like, “I promise I’m going to send you some information on that. I read an executive white paper on that. You’ll find it interesting. I’ll get it out to you.”

What happens if three days come and go and that customer doesn’t get that from me? What does that do for my reputation? I can’t trust you with the small stuff. How will I ever trust you with the big stuff? That’s how you earn trust. It is by completing and following through on commitments you make. Keep your promises.

That’s sage advice in life, in general, and I agree with you 100%. I want to go back to brokering relationships because sometimes people think they should only broker relationships with people they think could ever help them. That’s what average sales producers do. I’ve noticed the top 1% broker relationships with pretty much anyone and everyone and try to maintain levels throughout the organization. When you were at Apple, for example, did you do the same thing?

I remember this with one account that I had, and this is the big one that I popped that year I was fortunate enough to be recognized for that big award you referenced. I never got to the CEO level. I got to three different VPs and I brought them down to Cupertino. They drank the Apple Kool-Aid and they were buying. My photo went up the following year as it does for any success like that.

I’m thinking, “I got to do it again. How do I do it again?” I never got to the CEO of this account and the CEO of Apple Canada happened to be coming to town in a week. I went, “Here’s my chance. I’ll broker the CEO to the CEO meeting.” There was a military lunch. There was their CEO, VP, middle manager, our CEO, my VP, and me. The CEOs are talking and get along famously.

It cemented us into the account. It gave me access to that level of the C-Suite that I hadn’t been welcomed into prior. That’s one leverage point. Another leverage point is outside of your company. There’s a plethora of resources that can help solve business pain for one of your customers. Why would you not leverage those relationships as well?

We don’t have to get paid for it. What I teach in sales training is the three circles. The small circle is the business pain. The second circle is your game. What can you sell? It will address the pieces and components of the business pain. We’re not going to solve all business pain but what can we do by selling them something that would solve business problems?

The third circle is where you manufacture value. You create value out of things like brokering relationships. Someone that I know went through a business issue. I said, “Why don’t I put together a lunch? You and someone I know can chat it through. I’ll buy lunch.” What happens? Win-win-win and it happens again. I call that the outer ring. There are ways to create an outer ring, but you’ve got to know the business pain. One side will not fit all when it comes to outer rings. It’s not like giving someone football tickets and they appreciate it. That’s lovely, but it has to come back to solve business pain.

I would agree with you. Selling on value is a key component. I want to go to that in a minute. You reminded me of a thing because when we’re talking about brokering on all levels, you never know sometimes where it’s going to come from, the reciprocation. We know it’s going to come because it’s the law of the universe.

I remember when I had won a sales award and they invited me to the Biltmore Hotel down in Arizona. There were only 175 of us. They said, “We’ll pay for everything. Come on down. We want to take care of you. We’re giving away a Mercedes. You’ve got a chance out of 175 people.” I’m like, “Alright, a Convertible Mercedes. I’ll give it a shot.” I go down there and the guest speakers for this event were Tony Robbins and Harvey Mackay from Swim with the Sharks.

I always wanted to meet Tony because I had never met him prior to this. Tony does his thing for 175 people. It was amazing. I don’t know what they paid him. Probably $400,000 to show up there. He goes off stage and I’m like, “I missed my chance to say hi to Tony.” I’m walking later and talking with somebody on the phone. I look over and who’s sitting in the courtyard but Mr. Tony Robbins.

He’s sitting there and drinking something with a friend. I walked up to him. I’m like, “I’m going to go take this opportunity.” I went and I talked to him. I said, “Tony, I have a story. I know everybody’s probably told you a story.” He says, “We can talk,” and tells me to sit down. We sat down for half an hour. We had a great conversation. Super nice guy. Physically, a strong guy. He whacked me in the shoulder like guys do and I thought my arm was going to fall off.

Anyway, in the end, I said, “Thanks.” He goes, “Why don’t you come to one of my events complimentary on me? Come as my guest.” I’m like, “Mr. Tony Robbins, I’ll be happy to do that.” He goes, “Call my assistant and she’ll set you up.” He gave me the information and so I did. I called and she’s a super nice girl. Ian, what do I do? I broker the relationship on that level because I know most of the time, executive assistants are not thanked properly for all that they do.

I’m not saying Tony didn’t thank her, per se. I’m talking about people that she helps like me, because they aren’t always appreciative. I found where she was in the office and did the research you talked about. I sent this beautiful bouquet of flowers with a very lovely card that said, “I appreciate and I’m very grateful for the help that you bestowed upon me in getting this. Tony is a very lucky guy to have you in his organization.” It was something simple like that.

I show up at the live event. Tony comes off stage and he sees me. He goes, “I know what you did.” That’s how I started a relationship with Tony Robbins by taking care of his executive assistant. Eventually, I went on to become the President of Training and Sales for Chet Holmes and Tony Robbins, who owned business companies together. The reason I bring that up is because sometimes people think, “I’m calling up the higher level people. I got to go high on these relationships.” Sometimes, it’s better off building with a support team because they have the influence. Do you agree with this, too?

In my training, I’ve got four videotaped interviews with CEOs and I love playing this for salespeople. I still have the videos. I play them in my training. One of the questions when I interviewed the CEOs is, how should salespeople behave when they’re in front of you? How should they prepare? What should they do? How should they go? How much would they listen and speak? What research should they have done for the best practices? Salespeople usually say, “Could you play that again? I want to write that down.”

They’re mystified by it. What’s the worst thing a salesperson could do? What are the worst behaviors? What will make you want to throw them out of your office? They’re taking notes on that as well. The third question is, how should they work with your executive assistant? It’s fascinating. I agree with everything you said. The EA is as important as the executive themselves.

Treat them with respect and honor as you did with your display of appreciation. After a long wait, Tony said, “I know what you did.” And it wasn’t just to get in, but it was ongoing. A temporary friendship or a relationship to get the audience you want and then once you’re in there, ignore it? No, you want that relationship to be ongoing. Be kind, be nice, and have integrity with all your relationships and, certainly, with the EAs as well. They’re critical for your long-term success.

That also goes to your point of selling on values. How would you define value? People get a little confused about what value is.

I’ve got a formula for it, V equals B minus C. Anyone want to create more value for your customer? All the hands will probably go up. There are two ways we can do it using this formula. Value equals Benefit minus cost. That’s the formula at the C level. At the influencer level, it’s V equals C, Value equals Cost. Their job is to come monetize everything. We don’t sell them. That’s not our target audience. We got to go a few stairs higher on the ladder.

If we want to create more value for a customer, one way is to take the same set of benefits we bring to the table and charge less. That’s called discounting. It’s not a sustainable strategy. It’s a race to the bottom. A ratio doesn’t want to win. There’s another way to add more value, though. We can make the B bigger. Leave your price as is but bring and illuminate more benefits to them, which will translate into more value for them.

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 Bringing more benefit to customers will translate into more value for them.


Who defines value? It is the customer. It’s based on addressing business pains they have and business pain is like a coin. There are heads and tails. The heads side might be cost. The business is paying for this process and the poor situation is costing us X thousands of dollars a month. If I can get a solution that would fix that and has an ROI in 7 or 8 months, that’s measurable value. That is a good investment for most companies. If you can get ROI in a year on a business decision, you’re probably going to take it. That’s one way. That supports the value of your product. The gain you bring that solves the pain, that is value but you can expand your value with this outer ring map I’m talking about.

If you know their pain well enough as well as they do and you have other ways to broker value into the mix that you’re not getting paid for. I asked a group once, “Do we get paid for that outer ring value?” Everyone said no. It’s a bit like the game of hockey and being a fan yourself, you might appreciate this. We score goals from the second circle by solving business pain with our products and services, the game. We get a sieve with the outer ring. Those are translated to loyalty points that we are manufacturing that trusted advisor relationship with that customer for a long time. That’s how you can build even more value.

Thank you for sharing that and breaking it down as you did. You had mentioned calling up high. I wrote it down because I find a lot of people don’t call high enough for their own perceived value. I teach them because I know billionaires. I know people who have a little bit of money and people who have had fame and who don’t.

I’ve found a common thread across all human beings. We all have the same fears no matter what. We could take anyone from any elevated place. We could all go up in a hot air balloon and have that hot air balloon swinging around where we might be falling out. I guarantee probably everyone in that hot air balloon is going to be fearful at maybe a little different level but pretty close. We all have desires that are similar for love, connection, and all of the similar things.

When we strip away titles and we realize we’re selling to people, people have wants, needs, desires, fears, and things they value. I don’t find it to be a challenge, the calling upon higher people that way because I realize I’ve got something maybe I could offer them. When you talk about calling higher and calling up higher, can you elaborate on that? Because people understand it conceptually but they don’t ingrain it.

There’s a huge outcome difference that’s a heads and shoulders difference. If you’re calling it the influencer layer, at some point, you might have to engage with some of those folks. The typical is even purchasing or in the bowels of IT somewhere. Depending on what it is you sell, operations. These are people that can only say no. They don’t have the autonomy to say yes.

We’re trying to get something changed in an organization and solve the business pain. Business pain typically is witnessed by the influencer layer. It’s witnessed upstairs. It’s in the C-Suite. Is it harder to call on the C-Suite to get in? Yes. Does it take persistence and patience? Yes. Do you have the value to bring that will help them that they will be glad to take a meeting with you?

A lot of salespeople don’t believe enough in themselves. This goes back to how they think, the first thing you asked me. If you’ve got something that will help someone, it’s your right. It’s a privilege but it’s also a responsibility to get to them and show them how you can help their business. How do you do that? You do your research, you know their pain, you bring the game, and you’re persistent to get in.

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 If you have something that will help someone, you have a responsibility to show them how you can help their business.


What I’ve learned about influencers, they love free food. You could take them for lunch or dinner. Take them to the ball game. How many of you like shortcuts? There are two shortcuts I’ll give you. The best way to get to a C-level person is through a referral. Who knows them that could introduce you in and easily get you a meeting? That’s something to look at first.

Another place to look at is internal. Do you have someone senior in your organization that could help open that door for you? When CEOs call CEOs, it’s funny how appointments seem to happen and you go on that call as well. Those are two shortcuts that have worked very well for me. The network and the internal resource team back to the football analogy, that works. A lot of salespeople discount their own value and they lack maybe the vision or courage to think that they’re worthy. You said they all have the same fears. Guess what? They put their pants on one leg at a time like you and I. They’re watching their kids play in the rain on the weekend like you and I.

There are only five benefits to buying anything. Let’s make it simple. You’re either helping to make or save money. You’re helping them save some time. You’re reducing their effort and helping them with their ego. How do I sell a Mercedes versus a BMW? I eliminate the ego. The silver prize is the BMW. The gold prize that Mercedes. The ego takes over from there.

The best way to get to a C-level person is through a referral. Share on X

The fifth element is fun. Sometimes we make buying decisions just for fun. Why do we take vacations with our families or with our partners? It’s fun. Those are the five things. Sometimes we over-complicate our world of salespeople. There’s too much. How will I ever be able to hold water or hold a discussion? If you want to wait to help yourself, bring your own executive. That meeting gets easier. Not just to get but to have. Now you’ve got follow up door handles to work with.

That is such great advice because I always teach there’s BRI, Business Return on Investment, and a PRI, Personal Return on Investment. Ego and fun are personal returns on investment. The thing you said about free food, a lot of people will gloss over that. Folks, write that one down. Take them out because here’s the thing. I knew somebody. I wanted to get into a big company. A little-known company called NASCAR.

I knew somebody who was an influencer to the buyer. I would go have Chinese food with this person every quarter for two years. After two years, he looked across the table. He said, “We’ve been dating long enough. I’m going to bring you into this.” He did and I closed NASCAR. Here’s the funny part, it took less than an hour once I got in there because he had set it up so well. It’s one of those things that people write off, “Free food.” But it’s about building relationships and trust.

Stephen Covey wrote a book, The SPEED of Trust if I remember correctly. The faster the trust, the quicker the close on all things. You’re illustrating that so much through our conversation. The last thing I want to bring up, because this is what you do. You had mentioned coaching, mentoring, and how important it is to up your sales game by doing that. Your VP was named Ian, if I remember correctly, like your name.

What is the value of coaching and having mentors? I think I know because every time I have the right mentor, I always get an increase in something, customer, whether it’s loyalty, less turnover, or better whatever. I’ve had mentors forever. Usually, I get somewhere between a 15% and 22% growth rate every year when I’m focused on working with the right mentor. With a guy like yourself, why is it so important to have somebody as the right coach or mentor?

I experienced receiving it, being the mentee, if that’s the word, in my early Apple days with another gentleman by the name of Ian Adam. He and I are still very good friends. He’s running a software company in California. He’s still doing very well. I was the receiver of it and recognized the value of it and what it did for me. When I started my business, I thought this wasn’t about two days of holy training water and hope it drives right. There’s my binder on the shelf next to the other ones.

It’s behavioral change, not binder change. I quickly, after writing my training program, put together a coaching program. Do I love training? Do I love getting 20 or 30 people in a room for 2 days and sharing everything I know with them? I love that. That’s so much fun but the coaching is where the rubber hits the road and where the progress, the breakthroughs, and the performance happen. It feels like giving back.

I’m getting paid for it but I was giving some coaching at an early age in my sales career and now I get to do that for a living. It’s bigger than money. It’s purpose. I love it when people take what I do for them and do something with it for themselves that reflects their own success, their families’ success, and all those good things. You said it. It has to be the right coach.

There’s coaching for different things. I could have a health coach, gym coach, or workout coach. I could have a financial management coach, someone that helps me with investment. There are lots of different disciplines in our lives that we may want to outsource and subscribe to some coaching, specifically in the area of sales performance.

It’s important that the person you might pick has a proven track record. It would be hard to respect someone for something that they haven’t got their own credentials. That would be something I would advise. If someone wanted to be a great sales leader, Doug could be your coach for that. You’ve done that. You’ve got a proven track record.

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 There are different disciplines in our lives that we may want to outsource, and we should also look at getting coaching. The coach you pick should have a proven track record.


It’s important that the coach has proven themself in their field, whatever the coaching is about. I’d say this, though, the most important thing a coach does for anyone they’re coaching is a little word called accountability. Let’s set some goals, not a big hairy annual goal. Let’s have our target. How high up the president’s club’s list do we want to be on this? How high into the 1% do you want to go? Let’s have our goals but then let’s reverse engineer that math.

Write down to monthly activity. How many new meetings do you need this month? How many account reviews do you need this month? If we’re pulling, if we manage the process because you can’t manage results, all we can do is manage the activity that drives the results. If we’re measuring it, we can manage it. Having that accountability with a lot of the people works, and to this day I still do one-on-one group coaching. I do both.

I know when they’ve had a good month. They want to meet me wherever. It could be a restaurant. Maybe it’s an afternoon glass of wine. I know when there’s a smile on their face. I can tell if their chest is sticking out a little bit, “I got it done.” I don’t have to see their pipeline yet. I already know with that accountability. What do I do with shortfalls? Make up the very next month. “You were supposed to do 12 new this month and you did 9. You got to do fifteen for me next month.” I’m not trying to be a not-nice-guy. I want them to succeed. If we can keep our activity goals there and we’re working hard and smart, 1% is possible.

I’d like to add one thing to that because everything you said was spot-on. You are good at this. I want to highlight this. In all my conversations with you, I’ve noticed this. You also know how to transfer skills and behaviors to create change for the positive within people. That is another criterion for somebody who was a great coach.

When we’re looking at coaches, we want to ask ourselves the question. Let’s take hockey. Put the puck in the net all the time or be able to teach me and transfer the skills, the mindset, and the requirements to be able to put it in the net every single time. Some people can’t do that. They can shoot that puck like crazy, and score goals all night long in the game but when it comes to transferring those skills, they don’t have it.

There are other people who are great at transferring those skills. They may not be as proficient as another person or maybe they’re like Patrice Bergeron or Wayne Gretzky. That’s another thing I’ve learned that listening to you because I’ve had some skills transfer from you to me. I appreciate that in our conversations. That’s a key element for people when they’re looking at who should be their coach.

It’s a big thing. Sitting down, whether it’s a 2 or 3-day training program, is like drinking from a fire hydrant. We’re not going to internalize everything, all of those processes, strategies, and ideas all at once. You’re not going to wake up on day three, going, “I’m ready to take on the planet.” Coaching is what drives the behavior. That training and learning should never stop. Sometimes, it’s no longer a big part of the secret sales sauce. Now we’re doing it on as-needed basis whenever you need to get together because that’s how the real learning happens. It’s when they’re out there doing it, not sitting in a classroom.

Real learning happens when you're out there doing it, not sitting in a classroom. Share on X

As you said, having that accountability, being able to learn how to drive that standard shift car but also having the accountability too. “Come on. Time to get in the car. Do your part and I’ll do my part.” That’s a win-win-win too. Ian, I am so grateful you came on. People are going to be when they’re reading this as well. I mentioned your website a few times but if people want to learn more about you or you want to do whatever, how do they get ahold of you?

Thank you for the opportunity again for being on your show and being able to talk to such an accomplished successful individual like yourself. We always have good discussions any time we talk. My email address is Ian@IanSelbie.com. My website is SalesMentorU.com. I’m very active on LinkedIn. I’ve got my own podcast. I have two going now.

I’ve got seven different books. Some are free and some you pay for. You can find them on my website. Contact me on LinkedIn. I’m always growing my network there as well and that’s where I promote all of the podcasts. The 140-odd that I’ve done so far are all available on my website as well. Feel free to use me as a resource. If you want to reach out and chat, I’m happy to do that as well.

Once again, Ian, thanks for being here on the CEO Sales Strategies, soon to be the 1% earners show. I appreciate it and am very grateful you’re here.

Thank you. It’s a pleasure being here.

I hope you got a lot of notes. I’ve got two pages full of notes here. I believe you probably got a lot out of this. I would go back and reread this. Usually, I debrief this call and I say, “Here’s all the points,” but I’ve got about 24 different points here. This was a long episode by the nature of what we do in the show but I wanted to keep it going because it was such great information being conveyed and flowing so that you could pick it up. I would go read it again and again and study this episode if you want to be a 1% earner and if you want to think and act like a 1% earner.

You don’t have to be a 1% earner. You could be in the top 3% or 5% or whatever is good for you but you’ll know how to think, act, and be that person. If your income levels are designed to be a little lower than that or even a lot lower than that, you’ll be able to do that with leverage. You make more, you work less, or you work smarter, so you’ll have a more leveraged process. You can cut your time and labor in the process of doing that.

As usual, if you enjoyed this episode, please tell your friends. Do Doug a favor. Reach out. Share this with people because the more people that we share this with, the more people that can be helped and you can make somebody’s day win-win-win by playing win-win-win. Please share this.

It takes a moment or two but if you go up and review this episode, if you love this one and you want to give it a five-star review, I would be so forever grateful. As always, if you know a 1% earner or someone who thinks, acts, and is a 1% earner, send them my way. Somebody that should be good for this show. Have them send an email to YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com and don’t forget to check out. I wrote an eBook and released it. It’s called The Art And Science of Being a Nonstop 1% Earner in Sales. You could get that at www.CEOSalesStrategies.com/1PE for the eBook.

We also have a 1% Academy that’s going to be coming out. If you are interested in that, send a request and say, “I’d like to know more about the 1% Academy,” where you can learn how to think, act, and be a 1% earner. Send that to YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com. Until next time, go on. Sell something. Sell a lot of it. Play win-win-win because you win, they win, and you will win again, then someone else will win.

That is how life is supposed to be played in general. Sell it profitably. Make sure you’re making money because that’s all the win for you. Don’t rip somebody off because that’s not a win for them. I know if you tune in to this show, you wouldn’t do that anyways, but I remind people on a consistent basis to play win-win-win. Until next time, to your success.


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