If you want to sell more products without resorting to sleazy, overused sales tactics then you need to master the art of storytelling. In this episode, Internet marketing legend Alex Mandossian reveals his powerful, yet subtle storytelling system that he’s personally used to sell millions of dollars in high priced products and services.
Transcription Episode 102: Alex Mandossian – Using Stories To Sell High Ticket Products
This is your host Derek Gehl, and today we’re going to be diving deep into storytelling as a sales mechanism.
Today’s guest is someone that’s been online for as long as I can remember, and there’s not too many people I meet that have been online doing this longer than I have, but this guy has. He’s a pioneer in the world of digital business and online marketing since 1993, generating over 400 million in sales and profits for his students and clients and joint venture partners all over the world.
This guy’s shared the stage with some of the biggest names out there, from Richard Branson, Harvey Mackay, Donald Trump. Everybody’s familiar with him today. Tony Robbins, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama, to name a few.
This is not his first rodeo on the show, he’s been here before. I’m happy to have him back.
Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Alex Mandossian to the show.
Give us your story. How you got into this whole online thing and how you became the expert flying around the world, working with entrepreneurs globally, give us your story.
Much like you with your podcast, mine is not an interview-based podcast but when it turns into an interview, which will be a second podcast each week … I can’t wait to have you on board.
I want to demonstrate to you how powerful seeding, which is like planting seeds … Now, they can be karmic seeds if you’re in the spiritual world. They can be physical seeds if you’re a farmer, or they can be allegorical and symbolic seeds if you’re in the business world, because before a seed comes nothing. Before the root of a tree or a plant, comes the seed.
People say, “What’s the root cause of that thing?” That’s really not that accurate. If you said, “What’s the seed cost?” The seed comes before the root, which turns into the trunk, then the branches, the leaves, and then more fruit and what’s inside the fruit? More seeds. If you have fruit, which is a new client, the seeds are inside that client. That’s called a referral.
Now, timeout. I just told a quick story, right?
As they became an adult, they got more sophisticated, and after they hear the second or third no they stop. For me, Derek, a no is a shy yes.
Okay. Let’s go back to “BG”, before Google. Mutual friend of ours, the late Corey Rudl. We go back to the 1990s and I was online and I was consulting a company called 1 Shopping Cart, and another Canuck, Rob Bell, lived up in the Toronto area.
He sold that company to web pros and he stopped working after that. His son still works for the company and there are still some folks there, but 1 Shopping Cart was the Infusiosoft, the Ontraport of its day, from 1995 all the way to probably 2002, 2003. Then Infusionsoft and others came along.
But my story starts way before that. I start in 1989 when I’m on a park bench and I had just lost $242,000, none of it mine. My grandparents left me $200K, my parents lent me the balance, and then I opened up a frozen yogurt and bakery franchise. I was a franchisee.
Now, the franchise wasn’t very honest. They didn’t know what they were doing, but I didn’t know anything about due diligence. At the time I was in my late twenties and I was not employable. I got two degrees; one Bachelor’s degree from University of California at Irvine in Southern California in the U.S., and then one in economics and one in psychology, so I had two BA’s. Bachelors of Arts degrees.
I decided to be an entrepreneur. I knew nothing about it. Then $242,000 in debt and I’m on a Park Bench, MacArthur Park, Los Angeles, headed home to live with my mother because my girlfriend kicked me out of our apartment.
Not a fun time. Borderline wanting to pull the plug. I don’t know if anyone listening right now, if you’ve ever felt the level of shame with your family or guilt internally even though they’re worthless emotions, when they are with you they are not worthless, they are consuming you. That’s the situation I’m in.
I had to stop at this park because I’m on my way home to my mom’s house and my mom’s house is in foreclosure because she put a mortgage up to help pay for the store. I’m going into a house that’s in foreclosure and that’s the only asset my mom has and we don’t have a lot of money.
No one in the family’s ever made over $250,000 in a year. I think no one ever makes over 100K in a year back then. In my entire family, both grandparents, parents, et cetera. I’m on a park bench and what I observed in about 10 minutes changed my life. Pregnant pause.
That’s the beginning of a story. I’ve just planted the sides to the store. Now the best part is this is not fiction, this is actually true. It’s true and if you can see it, like where was it? Well, it was in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. When was it? It was 1989. All right. What happened? Pay attention.
When it was and where it was, that’s how you start a story. You don’t start with why it’s important like Simon Sinek, “Start With Why.” That’s a whole different context. With a story, when was it? Where were you? So you get situational awareness, so you can get the mental picture.
Now, the next step in this template, which we’ll talk about later in the interview, is what happened? All right, well what happened is I’m sitting on the bench, I’m contemplating taking myself out, which is the unthinkable. It’s called suicide. I’m ashamed to even talk about it but when I was in it, it was just real. Because I just … Why am I living? I haven’t even gotten started. I’ve busted my butt through college, university as you call it in Canada, and I’m in debt over a quarter million bucks and my mom is about to lose her house and there’s nowhere for her to go.
The only reason I didn’t follow through, thank God, is because who’s going to take care of my mom? Because if you think about it, that’s the most selfish thing you can do, but imagine you’re leaving people behind that you created a mess for. I was my sense of responsibility that really kept me away from those unthinkable, unfathomable thoughts.
Plus, it’s just money. I say that now but man when you’re in it, it’s not just money. It is shame, guilt, and everything else. I’m sitting on this bench and I’m watching this is old woman, older, she looks like she’s in her 60s. She had a little hat on. It was comfortable. It was summer time.
I’d love to say it was snowing in the middle of Toronto and that’s my park bench story, but it was warm and comfortable. It was the summer. But I’m still on a park bench with my Volkswagen Jetta out of gas because I can’t afford it, parked there on the side getting a ticket from a police officer.
I’m watching this woman and she’s putting a nickel into a bird seed machine. She turns the knob and the nickel goes in, and she gets all the bird seed that comes into the palm of her hand. Some of it spills out. Then, she walks towards these pigeons that are there at the park.
Parks have pigeons. They say pigeons aren’t very intelligent. Well, they are fairly intelligent. If you walk towards them, they’re afraid, they walk away with their heads bobbing back and forth. They’re bobbing away. They’re walking away. She didn’t walk very fast towards them. She didn’t run at them.
All right, so, timeout. When you sell someone, you probably are running at them saying, “Buy, buy, buy. You need this, you need this.” She didn’t do that. Time back in. I’m telling on myself as we go. What happened? You know where we are, you know when it was.
She’s walking towards the pigeons, and I’m watching, and the pigeons walking away. Now, she turns around and she holds the bird seed. Now, the bird seed could be the lead magnet, it could be the ethical bribe, it could be bait. You don’t feed fish, you bait fish. You feed fish, you won’t pull it in.
She shows the seeds to them and they’re not that stupid. They follow her. Again, their heads bobbing back and forth horizontally. She turns around and they turn around. It’s like a dance.
This is what is transpiring. Now, this whole thing is taking about about three to five minutes, but what I’m observing Derek is the space or the gap between the pigeons and the elderly woman is getting tighter and tighter and tighter.
As she’s going towards them, they’re moving away. She’s moving away from them, they’re moving towards her, and it gets tight tight tight. Finally, she gets down on her knee and all she wants is to have one pigeon feed from the palm of her hand, just like as you’re listening right now, or you Derek, you probably want your clients, your students, your members, whatever you call them, patients, customers, you want them to feed from the palm of your hand. Not manipulatively, but ethically.
She got down on one knee, she went through the rapport, she went through the dance, and one pigeon came up and plucked her palm. The moment the other pigeons observe that one pigeon do it, probably some adolescent, reckless Harley Davidson pigeon. He’s like, “All in, man. I’m going for it.”
Now, the other pigeons follow and they start pecking from the palm of her hand. Then, this miracle happened. Now they’re landing on her shoulder. Everyone else is being ignored, everyone else, all the pigeons are afraid of but she’s now the pigeon lady.
Well, I had the good grace and the unfortunate circumstance to sleep out of my car. I came the next day and I’m on the park bench. Again, it’s warm. In centigrade it’s like 35.
People are just walking around and she doesn’t even have to go to this dance anymore, Derek. She doesn’t have to go through the dance. She doesn’t have to go back and forth and have the gap get closer. They observed her, they recognized her. If you’re listening and you have a dog and you have a friend who comes over who your dog likes, that dog won’t have to go through that process anymore.
That dog’s been sold into that friend. There’s a dog here in Australia, I’m actually in Australia right now. It’s my partner’s dog, her name is Chloe. She remembers me from six months ago. She doesn’t bark. I’m no longer a threat. Because they’re smart, they’re unlike humans. They don’t forget.
The pigeon’s just landed on her shoulder, probably pooped on her head and whatever. That’s good luck in the U.S. This young man age five or six, he was there with his mom, it was a summer vacation, wants what the woman has.
Just like if you’re not good at sales but you see a really good sales person or this digital marketer who has a great business, and they’re making a million dollars a year, or maybe even six figures or maybe a 100 million. I know a few of those.
You want what they got but you didn’t observe what they had to do to get it. You didn’t see the dance they went through, you didn’t see the process they went through, but you want that result. Just, you’re not familiar with the process to get there.
This young kid didn’t see the process, only saw the result, thought, “Hey, give me a quarter, or give me a nickel.” Today it’s a quarter. He got a nickel from mom, mom gave the nickel, He got the bird seed. Runs at the birds say, “Buy from me, buy from me, buy from me. I want the same thing this woman has.”
What did the pigeons do? They flew away. He gets pissed off, this whole thing takes 10 seconds, I’m watching on the park bench. One woman with pigeons all over her.
I’ve been to Venice, Italy and in Venice there’s a square there where the pigeons are very familiar with the tourist, and they come and they land on you, they’re not afraid. They’re trained. It was like a Venetian woman in Venice, only this was MacArthur Park Los Angeles.
She’s hounded by pigeons and here’s this little kid. The woman was heavy set. She was big. The kid was tiny. He didn’t pose that much of a threat. They flew away, he got pissed, he threw the bird seed at them, and he walked away completely rejected, like being rejected in a sale. He didn’t even bother to look. The seeds landed and the pigeons came to the ground and started pecking the concrete and eating the birdseed.
Now, that’s about a seven to ten minute story. I learned how to sell, I learned everything I’m going to teach today, if you choose to accept it, through that one story. Now, back then I was still depressed, I still wanted to take myself out on route to Pasadena, California where my mom lived, and I lived with her for three years and I didn’t get out of that hole for another seven years.
It didn’t turn around overnight, that’s only in the movies. It took a while. But what I learned was if you sell too soon, you won’t get the sale. If you give up and quit too soon, you don’t get the sale.
But if you do the dance and build rapport, such as the first date, and then dating exclusively, then getting engaged, then getting married. Then if you have children, that’s called backend marketing. Then if you have a divorce, that’s like someone asking for a refund request.
Marketing and sales is just like building rapport with another human being, or in this case, pigeons. Pigeons are smarter and they remembered her, and they’ll keep coming back. They get referrals. They probably went and got some more pigeons to say, “Hey, this lady has some bird seed and it’s really good and we don’t have to pay five cents for it.” Because with your beak and claw, how do you turn that bird seen machine and where do you put the five cents? You can’t do it. You’ve got to rely on humans.
I learned how to sell there. I’m trying to be a little funny but at the same time it’s a serious story because the kid gave up and I know a lot of people like that young kid. The woman didn’t give up and I ended up embodying that woman. I refused to give up, and then I went on to become a digital marketer. I started in the infomercial business, originally, in the 1990s.
I learned that wow, it’s so much less expensive to land on a website. It costs nothing and we can make money with the same skills, and then I ended up teaching students who end up becoming my teachers. From Russell Brunson to Ryan Deiss, to Perry Belcher, and the list goes on and on. Vishen Lakhiani of Mindvalley. I’m proud of that.
I used to be resentful. Like, damn, how come they’re smarter than me? Then I thought, I guess that’s an honor to teach students who ultimately become your teachers and they are literally my teachers today.
That’s what I do. I’m in the realm of digital marketing. Live a very comfortable life, have a few homes, have two kids; Gabriel and Brianna. They turned out really good, they’re in their teens. I have to constantly dance with them. Not with bird seed, with money.
It’s with cars not bird seed anymore. But, seeding through storytelling is the new selling is just exactly what I did. That is how you ensnare the intention and you get engagement with a listener, a viewer, or a reader, and the best sales people whether it was a Zig Ziglar or Jim Rohn, these are the guys I grew up with as mentors. They always were great storytellers. You’re a great storyteller.
The thing is, you don’t say, “Hey, I’m about to tell you a story so I can sell you something,” you just tell the story, make sure you’re seeding and planting seeds there to get fertilized so that when the people who you’re seeding and storytelling to, they can end up buying because as one of my friends, Jeffrey Gitomer, says, “People hate to be sold but they love to buy.”
So I don’t sell. I just put people in the position to buy. I’m not selling anything right now other than, hey, if you think this is worthwhile listen to my podcast and I’ll give you information about that later. Timeout. I’ll give you information about that later, that’s a seed.
The podcast ends up becoming seeds to becoming high end clients or low end clients. People don’t realize it but they’re not as good as they think they are, they’re better if they just apply this very simple principle.
But because you framed it as a story, because you took us on this emotional, mental adventure with you, I found myself on the edge of my seat listening and completely enraptured by this story. I ask listeners, “Did you feel that way?”
If I am correct, this is where you’re going with this, is you’re engaging people but at the same time, and this is where I think a lot of people miss the boat and this is where I think you’ve got the real angle here is the seeding in the storytelling. Because a story on its own is all good and well, but you have to be able to effectively use that story as a mechanism in the sales process.
For example, if I am selling on behalf of someone else, let’s say a mutual friend of ours, Joe Polish. If I’m selling Genius Network for a $25,000 Mastermind, and I’m at a morning breakfast with a panel, then I’m going to tell a story of why I didn’t join Genius Network for eight years even though I was one of the first 20 to be exposed to it.
Within that story, I’m going to tell them the reasons why I didn’t join. Well, I didn’t join because I know a lot of people in Genius Network. Some of them I introduced to Joe, so why am I going to make 25K to people I introduced to Joe?
That was one. Number two, my business wasn’t applicable to that type of Mastermind at the timer. Number three, well, I didn’t want to share my best case studies. People would steal and then compete with me. Number four, I didn’t have time to attend the events. I’m a busy guy. Number five, it’s not the right time for me to join now, this thing is coming out of the blue. You’re just asking me “Hey, do you want to join for 25K?” I’ve got the 25K, but I can’t just join. Next, how do I know I’m going to get a return on investment?
There are about six different objections there. I tell the story and I talk about those objections there and then the panelists, each panelist, has their own story and I give them one of those objections. I’ll go to one of the panelists, let’s say Allison Maslan, Ally Maslan, and I’ll say, “Okay, tell me your story.” “I think that one of the reasons you didn’t join right away is because you didn’t think your business was applicable to this Mastermind. Tell us more about that.”
Now, each panelist is drilling even deeper to the surface that I’ve hit. Now, if you think about it, I don’t know NLP and I don’t know influence the way a lot of people have been trained. I was trained by my mother, Carol Mandossian, and I can tell you if Richard Bandler and and John Grinder met Carol Mandossian, Carol Mandossian would eviscerate both of those guys.
Armenian mom, in her 70s, third grade teacher for 50 years, NLP. None of the influencers have anything on Carol Mandossian. She was my trainer growing up. The happy ending to the story is I burn the mortgage because we ended up paying for the home and now she lives in that home, mortgage free, and it was a great ending.
But, going back to the story. You see, I’m going back to the story. If you’re going to enroll someone into something, let’s say selling, if you don’t like the word selling enroll someone. You’ve got to enroll in order for your business to work. Well, I can enroll you at $100,000 or $30,000 or $12,000. and I have more $100,000 clients than I have 30 or 12 combined.
If I just apply a story that’s going to eliminate an objection, and you can tell many stories, but if each story represented an objection and the moral of the story is why that objection is silly, now you’re seeding by eliminating the roadblocks to the yes. You’re doing it not by telling him through advantages or benefits or features, which is selling to the head, what you want to do is win the heart so that the head will follow.
A story will win the heart first, and once the heart opens up. Once the heart is following you, then the head will follow through logic. You’ve got to do both but most people start with the head and then follow with the heart. That’s a mistake because they already have said no, and it doesn’t matter what you tell them.
You’re not going to win their heart over for a decision, but if you start with the heart and follow with the head, then you’re starting with emotion following with logic.
It’s a lot easier to get emotional about a story. I’m talking about suicide here. I can’t get any more vulnerable than that. That kind of sucks for me to say it. I’m saying that to complete strangers who can pass it on. But that level of vulnerability that a story offers you can’t get with checkboxes, and 400 million dollars, and Dalai Lama, and blah blah blah. That’s why I think it’s so effective.
I think as you’re listening now, I think you know it’s effective. The only doubt you may have, and I only know this because I’ve so many students on six continents, is you don’t think you can tell a good story. We’re going to eliminate that because I’m going to give you the storytelling template on how you can do it.
I can use a story I heard from one of my mentors. Let me demonstrate because demonstrating is so much easier because experience is not the best teacher, experience is the only teacher, and a story is experiential.
I have a friend, a very good friend. He and I have a goal to train over a million trainers by my 77th birthday. His name is Jack Canfield. In 1968, someone walked into a laundromat, he was a high school teacher in Chicago, and he’s drying his clothes this friend of his, Says, “Jack, you’ve got to come see this guy.” He said, “What guy?” He says, “This guy.” “What’s his name?” “W. Clement Stone.” “Who’s he?” “He’s Napoleon Hill’s partner.” “Who’s Napoleon Hill?”
This is Jack Canfield saying it. Jack says, “Listen. I have clothes drying in the dryer. I’ve got a class to teach tomorrow.” He says, “Jack, just follow me.” So he does.
He goes to W. Clement Stone’s lecture in 1968, cold Chicago, and he sat and he was mesmerized. He waited until everyone left, and he asked Mr. Stone, “Can I go to another lecture?” Stone said, “I’ll do better than that. I’ll pay for you to go to other events.”
For the next 23 months, Stone paid Jack Canfield to go to almost two dozen seminars and workshops. If it weren’t for that one incident in 1968 that evening, who knows what happens to Jack’s clothes? Who cares.
Jack Canfield would have never written Chicken Soup for the Soul, meeting Mark Victor Hansen. He would have never written the Success Principles. He would have never had his One Day To training workshops, which I am the MC for, and I would have never interviewed him or he wouldn’t have several million dollars with him if he didn’t say yes to that moment.
A story starts the inflection point, that’s your origin of what happened. It’s the seed cause not the root cause of who you are, and that’s why I think it’s so important.
It’s nothing new I’m saying. I’m just hoping I’m saying it from a different angle so you have new appreciation for it as you’re listening.
For example, one of the things I love that you said there was using storytelling to effectually silently overcome objections.
What are the objections? That’s the first thing I do. Then the second thing I do is, what stories can I tell to overcome those objections? Now I have the objections, now I have the stories.
How does the moral to each story lead them to what I want them to buy? You include storytelling. You want to do it on purpose, you want to do it intentionally. Don’t make the mistake of just half-haphazardly coming up with stories just to tell a story.
You’re not telling a story to tell the story, you’re telling a story so that you clear the path and they can get to the very end. The light at the end of the tunnel is not a light, it’s a mirror. One of my mentors taught me that. You want to get them to the mirror at the very end of the tunnel.
The arc is where it’s going up to the climax and then there’s a happy ending and it goes down. That’s called the falling action, and then it ends. One of the most perfect scripts that identify that arc is called Die Hard, the movie Die Hard. Script writers in Hollywood know this. It’s not the greatest movie ever but it’s the classic arc.
I’m not going to focus on the arc because that confuses people. I’m just going to give you the flat out template to use. If you want a story, first of all go back to a specific incident that had a meaningful impact on your life. If you’re married, you’re marriage. If you got divorced, the pain of the divorce. If you had kids, the moment they were born.
I got origin stories for each. Starting of a new business, I got that one too. Just start with some content, something that has a meaningful impact in your life.
Ask yourself these six questions in this order, and you can put them down vertically on a page, and just put a few words next to it. This is your outline. Forget the story arc, you can weave in humor with practice. You can weave in entry like a pregnant pause, like I did. I told on myself. You can do that with practice. But first you need version one, which is better than version none.
Version one looks like this. When did it happen? Where did it happen? I’ll give you another story. This one I told at least 400 times and 15 million dollars later, almost 15 million dollars later, after six years a lot of my students became my teachers.
It’s a warm Autumn evening October 26th, and the year is 2000. That’s when. Boom. I’m giving you context. There I was on the fifth floor of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. That’s Manhattan. It was the recovery room. Boom, that’s where. Fifth floor, Mount Sinai Hospital. You don’t have to know where it is, I say New York City and I even say Manhattan. I add some color. I say warm Autumn evening. I have the when and the where. Boom, you’re done.
If you have a story then start with when. It’s real life, it happened to you. Where. Where was it? Now the third part is what. You end with why here, you don’t begin with why, you end with why, because you’re building rapport.
You’re winning their heart, their heart is opening up so that the head will follow. Win the heart and the head will follow, that’s how you sell. You’re not really even selling, you’re getting them to buy. All you’re doing to them is opening up the buy. I can’t sell, but I can put you in a position to buy. Maybe I’m putting you in the position to buy into this formula, which is so simple.
Number three is who was there? It’s when, where, and who. It’s October 26th, the year 2000, warm Autumn evening, fifth floor Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. That’s the when and the where. And there I am with my newborn son with his beanie on. He’s got a conehead because that’s the way it came out.
The doctor said that would be okay, I was I was a little nervous, thought he was a Martian, and my then-wife, now I’m divorced, her name is Amy, and there they are exhausted, laying in bed in the recovery room. It was a private room because they had gone through 17 hours of labor. That is who is there; me and two people. No nurses, nobody.
Now, what. What happened? When, where, who, now what happened? This is the longest portion. Now here’s what happened. I was in a dilemma because my then-wife wanted her doctor to deliver Gabriel, my son. He’s one-year-old. And her OB-GYN, her doctor, was going on vacation to Europe for a few weeks and so he decided to induce her so that he could deliver the baby three weeks early.
Gabe came into the world three weeks early. It was perfectly safe, but if you’re a woman and if you’ve ever been induced with pitocin, which was back then, it’s not fun. Even as the father watching because it looks painful. We tried acupuncture, lamaze, everything. None of that stuff works, man. It’s just painful. I think god I was a guy.
They’re exhausted, and I have a teleseminar that evening and I’d already planned it because I had 550 financial managers, and CPAs, certified public accountants, and bookkeepers, and I was going to sell them this $500 course, $497.
It was part of a network marketing movement that I was part of in financial services. I was really excited about it, but my son came into the world three weeks early and it collided with the teleseminar that evening, which in Manhattan time, New York time was at nine PM.
I have this dilemma. I’m looking at the chair that the father sleeps in as for poetic justice from the universe for not delivering babies, and I’m looking at this phone. I look at the phone, the chair, the phone, the chair, the chair, the phone, the phone.
I go, “Hey, I’ve got a new family. My wife’s not going to work for at least a year now, I better go make some money.” I got the phone. Old school. It has a little touch pad, long cord, this is what happened. I pulled the long cord underneath a door of the only private room in the recovery room at Mount Sinai, we would call that the bathroom, or the restroom, or the toilet.
Then I shut the door and for the first time in human history, this is where all the women in the audience laugh, but for the first time in human history I put the toilet seat lid down and I sat on it and huddled. I had the phone on my lap and I was ready to do the teleseminar and I began. I was proud because I wasn’t going to get found out.
Okay, timeout. Now I got the when, the where, the who, and the what. The stage is set. Now, there’s only two more steps left. How did it turn out and why is it relevant to my audience? Let me take a timeout and just check in with you Derek so I don’t finish it. What are your thoughts right now? Is this easy enough to duplicate for your audience?
But you’re sharing a lot of details that are allowing me to visualize the moment. You’re not just saying, “I was in this room, this was happening, et cetera et cetera.” You’re pointing out, “I was dragging the chord underneath the door into the …” It’s all those little subtleties that really, I think, engage and draw people in.
The best analogy I can give you is version one is you have this jigsaw puzzle and you’re only good enough to put in maybe 10% of the pieces, and it’s a broken picture. But it’s still there. You kind of know what it is. Version two you add another 20%. Three, 30. Version nine, you’ve got 90%. Version 10, you’ve got 100% and now this jigsaw puzzle is complete, the cord is coming under the door, I’m putting the toilet seat down for the first time in human history. I’ve done it so many times practice makes permanent that I just get better and better at it.
You’re not going to have your best story the first time. Expect that. I want you to normalize in perfection because you’ve got to get started, and that’s the only thing I will say when people say, “Well, why are you successful?” I tell them, “I’m more willing to look bad in public than you are. Otherwise you’d be teaching right now.” That’s what you want to do.
I was ready to pull the plug on my life, you think looking bad in public telling a story even compares to that? It’s nothing. It’s like a piece of lint in the belly button of humanity.
I’ve been blessed with the ability to have had this traumatic experience … And we have mutual friends who were in similar situations. You just get better and better at the story but you’re not going to be really good at it from the beginning. Anything worth doing well was worth doing poorly in the beginning, just like anything else.
Crawling … What were you as a baby? Naked, you pooped on yourself, you were screaming, you had to have someone else take care of you. Then you crawl, you walk, you ran, and the step after running for me is skipping. You’re skipping because you’re so happy.
Thank you for bringing that point up and I want everyone to know, as you’re listening, it’s not going to be your first version but chances are the more you tell it, the more you sell. The more you tell, the more you sell.
We’re at what happened. Now, here’s how this thing evolved. It was 9:40 in the evening and I’m pulling this thing off and I’m going to sell a bunch of these $497 packages because I’ve done it before. I’m getting ready to just line up my enrollment close because I’d seed it, I told all my stories, everything was going perfect, and then at 9:40 something terrible happened.
Timeout. Pause. You’ve got to pause. Time back in. I’m telling on myself so you trust me more. Time back in.
Out of the corner of the room, I couldn’t tell where the hell was this thing … There was this giant speaker, it was like a Woofer, man. It was right above the sink and there am I in the toilet and it’s right above the sink.
I hear this, in the worst Manhattan New York City accent, from the entry of the hospital most likely, a woman saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, visiting hours will end in 20 minutes. Visiting hours will end in 20 minutes.” I said, “Oh, shit.” I took the phone, I put it underneath my butt, hopefully they didn’t hear it.
They could hear me … It was the butt to toilet seat experience. I took it out and I go, “Excuse me, I’m sorry, I just got interrupted for one second.” And I just kept going. I thought, “Okay, maybe they did hear it.” This is how this has evolved. You know what happened now? How did it resolve?
In 10 more minutes, visiting hours will end in 10 minutes. Visiting hours will end in 10 minutes, and she says it three times this time. Visiting hours will end in 10 minutes. I said … WTF, I couldn’t hide that one. I’m just praying … I picked every deity I can think of; Buddha, Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, anything, just please get me out of this mess. Well, there’s a two-minute warning for visiting hours at Mount Sinai Hospital.
By that time, I apologized to everyone. I said, “You know, I’m thoroughly, thoroughly ashamed. I’m so sorry. My son came into the world three weeks early. He was born yesterday. He’s outside with my wife, they’re sleeping, I thought I could get away with it. I’m on the toilet and I’m doing this teleseminar because you know how I am, the show has to go on and I wanted to serve you. It ruined our content. if you want to buy what I have, go for it, you know where to go, but please forgive me and I hope you accept my apology and you stick with me into the future. I hung up the phone. Not done yet.
Next morning, go back to our one bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side 63rd Street between York and 1st, if you know Manhattan. I turn on my computer, my then-wife and son go to sleep because that’s what newborns and their mothers do, and then I turn up the computer. Ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching.
That is the signal that I’m making money. I go, “What the heck is up?” All of the orders are coming in in my Outlook. If you can see it, it’s going ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching. You’re seeing all the names come in and they are comments next to the orders. I had 1 Shopping Cart.
There are comments that are saying, “Alex, you’re so inspirational. Alex, that was so beautiful.” And they’re not only women, there were men. These were financial people. These are like … They’re unforgiving.
I start weeping because men don’t cry. I start weeping and I go, “God, what the heck just happened? I almost made $13,000. You mean I can make $13,000 being transparent, telling the truth, telling a few stories and then telling on myself about the story that happened? Nothing is persuasive as the truth? I don’t tell the truth because it’s the right thing to do, I tell the truth because I make more money, and that’s more believable.
That’s how. Now the final point. If I could make $13,000, almost, from the toilet of Mount Sinai Hospital after the day my son was born, doing teleseminars, can’t you make one tenth of that doing what I’m about to teach you from the comfort of your home? This is why teleseminars are your future, because you can do them anytime, anywhere, with anyone. I hope the next 90 minutes will be well worth your time and I can engage you as much as I have in this first 10 minutes.
Boom. That’s my opening story.
Some people want pear trees, other people want watermelons, other people want an apple tree. You never know which seed is going to work, but the story will never tell them why it’s important. They’ll decide why it’s important. You’re never arguing with their why, which is why I believe it works.
What I do is I tell the story, I say, “Look, if you’re ready to go, I’ve got some gifts in the back.” It was a pre-loaded iPod. That’s a whole different story. Steve Jobs called me. 4,000 pre-loaded iPods in five years and I had all the materials pre-loaded. I had 24 in the back of the room. They would go before my close to get the iPod and preloaded with my stuff.
I called it a learn pod and they would listen to me on the way home. It was a $2,500 sale. If there were 250 people there, we’d get somewhere between 45 to even 60, 70. The best I did, I think is over 100. I put them in a bus, I take them to a restaurant, I shave off some of my profit and tell more stories in the restaurant. That was my stick strategy. Then, I’d bring them back and some of them are still with me. That’s 2006. Some of them are still with me.
But that’s how a story can build an empire and a reputation. It stuck with me. In fact, it stuck so much I can’t get rid of it. I’m still the teleseminar guy to some people and I haven’t done a teleseminar in years.
I wrote down all those stories and I thought to myself, “What is the origin story for my podcast?” I wrote a book with Paul Colligan called The Business Podcasting Bible in 2007. I didn’t have a podcast until 2018. Talk about the cobbler has holes in his own shoes.
But here’s my excuse. Because I wanted to wait until iTunes got to over a billion people strong, now it was worthy of my stories. That’s my story. Then I BS it. What I did is I wrote all those stories and I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can start every episode with a story, and then every story has a moral, and I can teach people how to sell by flanking and by seeding through storytelling. That’s how I started my podcast.
He said, “Alex, you have nearly a dozen episodes now. I started April 2nd 2018. I think I had 11 episodes at the time. So he said, “Why don’t we do this three day launch idea? I tried it with one of my other clients.” He’s had a podcast for about four years and we want to shoot some adrenaline into it. He got into the top 100. “You have relationship capital, let’s see what we can do.”
I said, “Sure, I’m game.” I told everyone whom I knew and friends. I said, “Look, this is not a JV, this is a favor, okay?” You owe me one and if you don’t think you owe me one then do this favor for me and I’ll owe one back to you but you do owe me one.” Just to remind them. People have convenient memories, Derek. You know how that goes.
You can steal this, borrow it Derek. It’s so powerful. I have swipes for email, for social media, for Facebook, for Twitter, and they’re all there for people to promote the podcast. Now, I’ve never seen that on a podcast website. I’ve seen the notes, I’ve seen the podcast, I’ve seen the about page.
Then the contact page and all that. All right, well, I have a swipes page. I send them to swipes page, and these are all my students, these are all the people that want to support. All they’re doing is letting people know if they have a list on their Facebook or whatever, “Hey, Alex has just launched this podcast. It’s called All Selling Aside. If you hate to sell, the podcast is for you. It’s free, it’s 25 years of sales and marketing knowhow. I paid Alex X number of thousand dollars, he’s giving this for free in 25 minute chunks every week. So go check it out, subscribe.”
Day one is subscription. A bunch of people subscribed. I got in the top 100 on day one. Then day two is review and rate. Day two, now they’re telling friends, “Okay, you subscribed. Rate and review the podcast. You can listen to more than one episode. There’s 11 there,” at the time. There’s more now. Now people are actually rating and reviewing. I got to the top 60. Jeff Brown, my coach, is saying, “Holy cow, I can’t believe it.” It’s his strategy and he can’t believe it.
On day three, day three is tell a friend. Refer it. Share it. I have swipes for each, and you can check them out. allsellingaside.com. Just look at the swipes, forward slash swipes, and you can pinch them, poach them, steal them. Doesn’t matter. I have people do it every Thursday, Friday, Saturday now. If Thursday was subscribe day, Friday was rate and review day … This is with iTunes. We only focus on iTunes. Not Stitcher, not Google Play, just iTunes. Then, day three, which is Saturday, that was share day.
Well, by 11 p.m. on Saturday, in three days, I have 11 episodes, I went from who knows what, it doesn’t even register if you’re not in the top 200, I went from maybe the bowels of 100 or 500 or 1,000. I went to number 22 barely, beat out Daymond John of Shark Tank, I got my little screen capture. Plus, all the other ones like 163, 143, and when it jumped. I got all those. But I went to 22 and I’m in the top 100 doing that.
Now, did I sell? No, I didn’t. Did I tell stories? Yes. You know what I told everyone? I said if you help me, I’ll help you. I’ll show you exactly what I did. Then I do a debrief in teaching people how I did it and I’m giving them that gift for simply sending out an email or for doing a Facebook post and getting me to the top. I didn’t get [inaudible 00:53:43]. They were subscribing to iTunes. Nothing came to me.
Now, what’s the backstory to that? Well, I sell $100,000, $30,000, and $12,000 packages in consulting, provisional marketing, teaching people how to attract and convert high-end clients. That’s what I teach. There’s a link there in the podcast itself. It’s sponsored by Marketing Online.
They come in and ever since the podcast, I went from three or four applications, which are a 150 bucks each by the way, they have to pay, to a dozen a week. All because of a free podcast. I think I got lucky, but I can directly assign probably $250,000 in the first three months of that podcast as a result of people coming in and getting new clients. The podcast being the lead generator for it.
That’s the story and that’s the three day up to number 22. I’m more than happy to show you-
For a podcast, ideally a grand opening would be when you have about 12 episodes, because there’s something there. For you, it could be a grand reopening. It would be ideal for you. I’m on record, you can hold me to it because I’m doing it publicly, I will support you.
They’re not a beginner, they know more than the beginner. They’re not brand new to it but they don’t make 100K a year. Sometimes they lie and they say they do but they really would like to make a 100K a year. They really would. They’re like the young kid who wants what that elderly woman had with the pigeons. 100K isn’t financial freedom but it’s the path to financial freedom. That’s a good first step. Whether it’s in Canadian dollars or U.S. dollars, or pounds, or euros or whatever. Swiss marks. It doesn’t matter. 100K is a lot.
They don’t make 100K. Now here’s the kicker. They hate to sell, and they hate to be sold. They don’t have any high-end clients, none, and they hate technology, they can’t stand it but they know it’s important. But they’re really, really, really good at coaching and consulting.
They’re good at what they do and they’re afraid of telling their story. They’re ashamed of it. They don’t think they’re good enough. They don’t have enough issues. I don’t want them to die not reaching the potential. It is my Dharma duty, it was my birthright to have people reach their potential. If I can provide that by coming at them from a different angle, through storytelling, then I’m going to do it.
When I ask them, “Do you have any high-end clients?” They say, “No.” I say, “Well, do you want to know how to get high-end clients?” They say, “Yes.” This is after I’ve told stories. This is my close. I said, “You have to become one and I want you to become one of mine. Because experience is not the best teacher, the experience is the only teacher.” If you have teenagers, you know that to be the truth. That’s how I get them.
They become a high-end client of mine, or maybe they’re not, but it starts with what they learn at All Selling Aside. I don’t even send people to Marketing Online anymore, because that’s like pimping, which is not a good word but it’s funny. I’m pimping my stuff. If I send them to All Selling Aside and the podcast, now I’m pampering them. I’m pampering them.
Pamper first, pimp second. If you pimp first, they don’t want to be pampered because you’re shooing them away. It’s for the person who hates to sell, who’s good at what they do, who wants to make 100K, who wants to have clients, they don’t know how to generate leads. They wish they could sell better but they just hate it because they feel like they’ve got to take a bath when someone sells to them.
Right now as you’re still listening, because you’re still here, if you feel clean about this, if you feel like you could do what I’ve been teaching but doing it in your way not my way, and if you could do it and start building it and do exactly what Derek’s been teaching you through this podcast and however else you’re associated with him, just add story in the way that I’ve taught. In that very simple template, you will be shocked that you’re not going to be just selling people on return on investment, which is how most people sell.
Sell them on not ROI, return on investment, sell them on COI. What’s COI? What’s the cost of inaction.
When someone comes to you, what is their cost of inaction of not taking action with you? What’s that going to cost them a month from now, six months from now, a year from now. That’s what we do. We focus on what’s the cost of not taking action versus focusing on what’s the return on investment. I can’t guarantee return on investment, I can guarantee cost of inaction.
When people say, “What’s my guarantee for $100,000, Alex?” I look at them, I take the check, I slide it on the table towards me and I say, “Derek, my guarantee is you will never see this $100,000 again.”
But I can guarantee it’s going to cost you $20 to $30,000 in money you could have made but you’re not because you’re not making the change you need to make. You don’t have your high-end client funnel. You told me that, I didn’t. I can’t guarantee ROI Derek because I can only provide you the electrical grid to the switch.
You have to flip the switch. If you don’t flip the switch, you can’t hold me hostage about ROI, so don’t talk about ROI. I slide the check back to them. It’s not always a check, it’s sometimes wire transfer. I slide it back to their side. If you’re doing it for the guarantee, don’t do it with me I’m not your guy.
That’s pretty powerful, right?
But I’m going to go back to our listeners and say, okay, if you didn’t fit in that profile, maybe you’re not a coach, maybe you’re not a consultant, I’d still suggest that they go connect with you and start listening to this podcast because yes, storytelling is a powerful sales tool when you’re selling high-end, high ticket items, stuff like that, coaching and consulting and stuff like that, but I think storytelling plays a role at every level of marketing. I don’t care where you are.
If you know that some of my favorite movies are Gladiator, Braveheart, English Patient, you know that loyalty is a big part for me. Derek and I’ve known each a long time. It’s Derek’s loyalty to me and to you as his listening audience that I’m on here, honorably. It’s an honor and a privilege a second time. That’s loyalty.
If you know my movies are all about that, I love loyalty themes. Maybe they’re not the most social redeeming movies, but man, I get emotional every time I see Ralph Fiennes holding up her body walking out of the cave during The English Patient, that part sucks. It’s a loyalty theme. He came back and he got her. It’s a romance story but it’s loyalty. Titanic, it’s a loyalty theme. It’s a love story, but it’s a loyalty theme.
You want to learn about your customer and if you’re in digital marketing and you don’t want to do any service business, my avatar is the bullseye. That’s the yellow dot in the middle of the target if you know about bow and arrow. You may be my ring, you may be the white ring or the black ring on the outside. I’m still hitting the target, you’re just not in the bullseye. That’s why they call it target market. I’m aiming for the middle, I’m hitting the target. You may be a digital marketer, which I am. You don’t want to talk to anyone. No problem. You still have to be able to tell a story so that people can purchase from you.
That being said, we’re about to wrap up here, Alex. Just one more time before we do, where do people need to go to connect with you?
But the place to go is just starting learning from what we’ve discussed here, is allsellingaside.com. You can listen without opting into the podcast, or the notes are there. My preference, because it would only assist me to get my show higher so more people could see it, is to go to iTunes, to subscribe, to rate it and review it.
Now, if you listen to an episode and … Here’s another thing, Derek. I wanted to tell you this at one of the workshops, now I can’t. Most people say, “Rate my podcast.” I don’t like that because you can’t possibly rate the entire podcast and you always get these watered down ratings. Okay, five stars, and then review it.
When they review it, they say, “Oh, Alex is great, Derek is great.” There’s not much there. I don’t do it that way. I tell people I want you to rate it and I want a five star rating.
I can’t force you into five stars, but if you’ll listen to an episode and you think to yourself, “Well, Alex, it was interesting.” But that’s a four. Don’t rate it. I want you to listen to another episode, and when I’ve earned a five star, I want you to rate it a five and then review what your biggest takeaway out of that episode was.
You only get one review, but now every review is specific, an ah ha from a specific episode, and it gives me the ability to get five star review. I got nearly 60 five star reviews in a few days as a result of that launch.
Guys, now it’s time to take all these strategies and tips that Alex shared with you around storytelling and make them work for you. The only way that works is if you’ve applied that final ingredient, which too many people don’t apply, and that ingredient is action.
Go forth, take action, apply what you’ve learned and stay tuned for more info-packed episodes with the Project Ignite podcast.
This is your host Derek Gehl signing off.