Is Asking for Help a Sign of Strength or Weakness?

Someone I was coaching recently asked me: Is asking for help a sign of strength or weakness? I didn’t give them the answer. If I had, who would have owned and been committed to the answer? And how does that relate to life and business?

It‘s a simple but important factor in human communications—the person who answers the question owns and becomes committed to the answer.

As a leader, business owner, sales professional and coach it is a skill that you must master— to never answer a question, but to engage the other person into self-discovery so that they themselves come up with the answer. This way they learn, own and become committed to the answer.

Apply the 3 R’s

Get in the habit of using the 3 R’s: Respect, Repeat, Reverse .

  1. Show Respect when a question is asked of you i.e. “That is a great question.”
  2. Repeat the question.
  3. Reverse the question back to the other person.

What you will find is one of two things – they will ask another question either clarifying what they really want to know or answering their own question.

When you get an answer and then question their answer, you are digging deeper. We call this the rule of 3+. Never accept someone’s first answer—although it may seem to be the truth it never is. You will also be helping them to discover their true needs and you to determine if and how you can meet them.

An example of the rule of 3+ in action:

  1. Why do you go to work?
  2. To make money
  3. Make money to do what?
  4. To live life
  5. What kind of life do you want to live?
  6. Lifestyle answers that will be different every time.

Yet work is nothing but a stepping stone to helping you get where you want to go. The problem today is most people are so busy in the outside world that they have no time for the inside world to discover where they want to go. There is a big difference from living your life from the outside-in and from the inside-out.

More questions

Let’s continue with the questions:

Is success internal or external?

Is permanent motivation internal or external?

When you ask yourself a question, is it coming from the inside or outside?

When you ask for help, is it motivated externally or internally?

Does asking require courage?

Is having courage a strength?

Is the simple act of asking a strength or a weakness?

Want to learn more ways to improve your effectiveness? Sign up for a free 7-day trial offer of our online sales training at

Match and Mirror—Someone Just Like Me!

Have you seen the Discover card TV spot “We Treat You Like You’d Treat You” that shows the caller talking with a mirror version of themselves on the other end of the line. That “awesome sauce” is hard to forget!

Or how about the one in the car showroom where the salesperson morphs to match the way the customer talks and dresses?

Both are clever takes on matching and mirroring, a sales technique to establish rapport. Building rapport is an ongoing process that is only beginning early in the sales effort to:

  • Make the buyer comfortable
  • Begin to find out why the buyer is there—gain a sense of the buyer’s need and how you can learn more about that
  • Ensure that you will be able to continue the sales effort beyond its opening moments.

Many salespeople do this naturally and don’t even know they are doing it.

Pressing hands

When you first meet someone, what is the first thing that you do with them, physically? You usually walk up to them and shake their hand. When we shake hands with someone, we have always been told to have a firm grip. Now pretend for a moment that the person you are meeting has a very soft handshake and you give them a firm grip. Do you think you make them feel comfortable and important or overpowered and intimidated? The answer: the latter. What is important in this first step is to let them squeeze your hand first and within a second, match that same squeeze back.

I use this technique all the time, especially when I speak before large audiences. I will greet people at the door as they come in. They don’t even know who I am most of the time and I am just standing there greeting them and shaking their hands. The funny thing is I am matching all of their handshakes and starting to build rapport with them. When I get introduced and appear on stage, they are saying to themselves, “Hey, I know him, he was the guy at the door; he is just like me.” Why? Because I made them feel comfortable with me by matching their handshake.

There are many other physical acts that can be mirrored and matched. You can walk at the same pace as the other person, stand like they do, sit, lean, point or match their hand and facial gestures. The most important part is that they see themselves in you, without you mimicking them. So be aware of the other person’s physiology, and over time, mirror and match.

Matching tone and pace

Tonality can be matched by speaking at the same rate and the same pitch. This technique is similar to the handshake. How do you think a soft slow-speaking person will feel with someone who is a loud fast talker? Do you think the buyer is feeling comfortable?

When doing telephone work, tonality is your greatest asset because it is the person at the other end that answers the phone and speaks first. You have to clue in and match their tone and pace. Mind you, although they can’t see your physiology, you should still be standing tall and speaking up. Too many salespeople lean on their arm on the desk, holding the phone and speaking down. They sound depressed. Try standing up and looking at yourself in a mirror on the ceiling and you will notice how much better your voice sounds. You will find that it is clearer, more confident and enthusiastic.

Choosing the right words

Although words play a small part in building rapport, they are still important to match and mirror. All you have to do is listen to the words the buyer is using and use them yourself. Listen for and use their buzz words and their terminology. For example, if they refer to a hotel as a resort, use the word resort. If they say “correct” or “right” a lot, use the word “correct” or “right” with them when you are speaking.

Get the buyer talking about themselves and keep them talking, while you mirror and match their physiology, tonality and words. Listen to them, question their answers, show interest and concern and keep them talking. The more they talk, the more you listen, the more you learn, the more they will like you, trust you and buy from you.

Listen In: Tips on Being Interviewed on a Radio Show or Podcast

In our cars, at home or at work, or out and about, more and more of us are tuning in to more and more radio shows or podcasts.

And more shows mean more hosts looking for guests.

Being interviewed on a radio show or podcast is a great marketing opportunity. It provides you with exposure, positioning you as an expert and giving you mass visibility to the listeners who hopefully are also your target market. If done properly, you will attract buyers to you.

I typically give one or two radio interviews a month, especially when I’ve released a new book, and the questions usually relate to what’s in the book or connected to leadership, sales, goals, motivation and team effectiveness. Most are done over the phone.

An example: I was C-Suite Radio’s guest on January 6 to talk with host Thomas White about improving your bottom line with employee engagement.

I prepared for this interview the same way I do for every other interview, with the goal of making it easy for the interviewer and providing value to them and their audience.

As in sales, you are building a relationship.

Sales is not about pushing things onto people, it is about providing added value to those who qualify to be your buyers. Remember, the interview is about your buyers and their needs, and how you can provide them with more value, while not selling. This is not a sales pitch, it is about giving/sharing your knowledge and making it easy for others to take action and do it for themselves. It attracts buyers to you.

Keep this in mind before, during and after the show. And here are some other tips to make your interview a success.




  • The listener profile – their needs, not yours
  • The duration / format and style of the interview / interviewer
  • The objective of the interview – the interviewer’s and yours


  • Your introduction
  • (Outline) Questions that can be asked / draft replies
  • A draft summary – quote/ call to action–web site, etc. for more information


  • Be yourself – relaxed, engaging, informative and interesting
  • Refer to your audience and personalize it for them
  • Keep your answers interesting, like a story


  • Provide a personal thank you to everyone involved in the interview– your book, poster …
  • Request another interview or ask for a referral
  • Get a copy of the interview and listen to it—evaluate how you did
  • Promote the interview to your fans and followers—it benefits you and your host

Have you been interviewed for radio? How did it go? Do you have other tips to pass along?

Lead and Respond with Questions–Here’s Why and How

In order to be successful in your communications you must first understand your team members, as that is one of their universal needs–to be understood. We do this by askingquestions and active listening. Better listening = deeper understanding. Only after this point can we communicate our position and get their buy in to corporate goals.

As you proceed to ask questions, you can also expect team players to be asking you questions, and this is territory where you can lose commitment you have just gained. You lose commitment by answering the questions, and risk even more if you get into a lot of details. Continue to build commitment instead, with these internationally proven techniques to lead and respond with questions.

Respect, repeat, and reverse

When you are asked a question first take the time to respect the question. That is done by giving the person you are communicating with a compliment–something along the lines of “That is a great question, John.” Then, you need to repeat the question and reverse it back to the prospective buyer, by asking “Would that be important to you and why?” or something similar. When you respond to questions with questions you gain additional information, clarity, and more commitment.

Reversing helps you in several ways. It keeps the team member talking, allowing you to gather more information that can lead to more questions. Reversing also shifts the focus from you to the other person, where it belongs. Questions show you are interested in them and their point of view; it makes them feel important and understood, they build rapport, and support your credibility.

Giving brief answers

Another way of gaining commitment when asked a question is to again respect the question by complimenting the person you are communicating with and providing a brief answer, but to end with a question back to them. If you don’t, you are giving the other person another chance to question you and you will eventually lose their sense of commitment. Remember it is about them, not you.

A word of caution–should you be asked the same question twice, answer it; don’t antagonize anyone. Then ask another question and move on. It is rare for a person to ask the same question twice.

Digging deeper

There is another important rule you need to know—the Rule of 3+. This rule is very simple; question the answer, question the answer, then question the answer again.

The best way to keep team members talking, while getting to the real problem, is by asking questions, listening to the answer, and questioning that answer. The more you do this, the closer you will get to the real issue, while helping the team discover the need for themselves.

When you ask a question, you are not always listening to the answer, as you may be too busy thinking of the next question to ask. Stop doing that.  Listen to the answer and question the answer. Don’t get derailed by thinking of another question and moving away from the opportunity of going deeper.

Remember to always question the answers three to five levels deep to get more clarity, information, and the truth. Don’t ever accept the first answer to a question, as it is rarely the truth.

For example, if I asked you a question, “Why do you go to work?” you probably answered, “To make money.” Now, question the answer, “Make money to do what?” and question that answer, listen to the answer, question that answer, listen to the answer, and you will soon discover why you really go to work. You will realize that you go to work for your personal reasons—by working you are taking steps towards the realization of a personal dream. Realize that and you will be more motivated in going to work.

Improving clarity by asking additional questions

Team members will sometimes give you vague answers. If you are not sure what they mean, question them. You will always improve clarity by asking more questions. Quite often I hear answers such as “maybe,” “leave it with me,” or “I’ll think it over and get back to you.” I always question these answers because they are not clear to me.

Additional tips for questioning

Ask questions that will help you gather the types of information you need:

  • Use open-ended questions when you want people to open up and talk.
  • Use close-ended questions when you need to focus the conversation or reach conclusions.
  • Use directing questions when you need a specific answer or need to move the conversation in a specific direction.

Use a deliberate sequence of questioning that will take you and your team where you need to go:

  • Determine what information you need.
  • Use a mix of open, closed, and directing questions that will gather that information you need and keep the discussion on track.
  • Constantly evaluate whether you are getting the information you need—and if not, adjust your line of questioning accordingly.
  • Don’t assume that people will always “open up” with open questions, or “focus in” with closed questions. Be ready to rephrase questions or adjust your approach if you are not getting the answers you need, or if you are not moving the discussion in the direction it needs to go.
  • Be sure that you don’t give anyone the impression that they are being “grilled.”

Listen to the answers to your questions:

  • Listen 70 percent of the time, and ask questions for the other 30 percent of the time.
  • Focus on what the team member is saying; don’t focus on thinking about your next question.
  • Always question the answers for more detail; it is when you question the answer three or four levels down that you get to the root of the problem.

This subject is covered under preparing to lead a team effectiveness meeting in my latest book,Motivate Your Team in 30 Days.  Get your free 20-page excerpt .

Better Training Equals Better Sales Management Performance

No matter whom we are or where we are in life or business, there’s always room for growth. Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching, the saying goes. But the most value comes when the “teaching” is targeted to what we need, when we need it.

CSO Insights’2014 Sales Management Optimization Key Trends Analysis,” was developed from data sales executives provided on 122 metrics related to the performance of their sales teams. The study analyses provided an in-depth look at the variety of options sales organizations have available to increase the effectiveness of their sales teams.  I received access to the analysis by completing their 2015 survey referenced in this Selling Power post.



In their summary, CSO Insights note: Sales 2.0 is clearly about optimizing the performance of sales teams, but companies also need to focus their efforts on better supporting the sales leaders that salespeople are turning to for help.

Some findings in the report that I found especially valuable:

Coaching is a better use of a sales manager’s time than direct selling with reps.

The best results were achieved by companies that focused on more coaching.

A high level analysis points to a relationship between sales manager effectiveness and sales training budgets. That is, better training equals better sales management performance.

And in their2014 Sales Management Optimization Going Forward Analysis,” CSO Insights notes that

When Optimizing the Sales Process, “What” Needs to be Supported by “How”:

The “what” of selling is clear to most sales professionals: call high, create a sense of urgency, differentiate, sell value, etc. The struggle is how to do these things.

Optimizing Coaching Needs to Blend High Touch and High Tech:

The companies doing the best job at coaching their sales teams are investing in skills training for sales managers and technology.

Want to read more about the how and why of supporting sales management? See these earlier related blog posts:

Can Sales Management Increase Results

Sales Training Without Supporting Sales Management Training is a Waste of Time and Money

How to Get Continuous Sales Training You Can Afford

Start Your Work Life in Sales—Here’s Why

Sales has been a way of life for me since I was a boy. I was raised in a small family business and thanks to both of my later parents I was exposed to the world of sales. You may say I was raised to be in sales and for that I am really grateful.

For everyone needs sales to survive. Without sales, there are no transactions, without transactions there is no revenue, without revenue organizations would not exist, and no one would have a job. So the world revolves around sales.

But the strengths and strategies gained by working in sales are also valuable grounding “as fundamental to any role as putting air in tires,” as a commenter in Why Sales is the Best First Job put it. The article, written by Entrepreneur of the Year Winner Somen Mondal and recently published on LinkedIn, drew close to 8,000 likes and more than 500 favourable comments.

The author’s supporting reasons were:

  • Sales is everywhere. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, there’s always some aspect of selling involved
  • Speaking ability. There is no other profession that allows you to continually practice and get better at speaking and connecting to people.
  • Confidence. Gaining experience in sales— talking to perfect strangers and turning them into your customers and even friends— definitely increased my confidence.

I agree with all of the above. Don’t you?

We all have the need and challenge to sell something to someone, whether it is a product (to potential buyers), a plan or direction (to shareholders), or yourself and your ideas (as a job candidate).

People “buy” people first, particularly people they trust and like. Sales today is about relationships, relationships you build with clear communications, engaging buyers into conversation to build rapport or trust and then qualify them and prescribe solutions. These competencies—especially effective listening, clear communicating and problem solving—are valuable across all aspects of life.

Sales also builds confidence and resilience against rejection, an element in all human interaction. In sales, as in life, you have to fail to succeed. If you don’t try, you’ll neither fail nor succeed. The fear I had of public speaking in my early 20s could have set me back forever. But with coaching, I developed enough self-confidence to finally give it a try. And the audience applauded. I got on stage again the next day and spoke in front of another group of people. I got my first standing ovation. That was enough to give me the confidence to keep going and to accomplish my dream of becoming a professional speaker and a mass-volume salesperson.

As a certified sales professional, I am proud of my profession and believe, like the author of the LinkedIn article, that the strengths and strategies gained by working in sales are valuable grounding for any job.

Guide Your Team Members to Where You Want Them to Go

An effective leader, manager, facilitator, coach and mentor will never tell you what you need to do. They will ask questions and help you discover the answer for yourself. Only in this way will you take ownership and become committed to carrying out the idea.

So how can you guide team members to meet the objectives you’ve set for your session?

When you think about your own experiences as a participant, it’s not unusual to remember as much about the facilitator as about the session content. This is because behaviors modeled by a facilitator can have a powerful impact on group and individual performance. In fact, participants are likely to discount the quality and usefulness of the session content if the facilitator’s behavior is inconsistent with the values or behaviors being promoted.


Maintaining and enhancing the self-esteem of participants

For most participants, the motivation to participate can be increased by creating a climate that boosts their confidence. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. See Team Motivation:Boosting the Confidence of Participants in Team Meetings.

Focusing on a participant’s behavior and not on personality

Participants respond more productively when their behavior is discussed than when references are made to their personality or attitudes. The following will help you focus on behavior:

  • Ask for specific examples of general or judgmental statements
  • Use examples when presenting an idea
  • Ask, “In what way?”, or say “I’m not sure I understand your point”
  • Ask for evidence, whether praise or criticism, don’t accept generalities, and ask for specifics
  • When offering praise, explain why it is being offered

Actively listen and show understanding

In active listening, the facilitator accepts what is being said without making any value judgments, clarifies the feelings being expressed, and reflects this back to the participant. Situations in which active listening can be particularly helpful, or even critical, include:

  • When a participant is being uncooperative, or overly critical
  • When a participant’s comment is unclear and confusing
  • When participants keep changing the issue being discussed
  • When a participant is rambling or “grandstanding”
  • When a participant’s remark is important to the group’s learning
  • When a participant disagrees with a suggested process, or the direction that the discussion is taking

Using reinforcement to shape learning

Participant behaviors that are rewarded tend to be repeated and strengthened. Reinforcing is a three-step process that involves:

  1. Identifying the specific, observable behavior.
  2. Explaining what effect the behavior had on the session’s process
  3. Indicating your positive feelings about the behavior.

There are several verbal and non-verbal reinforcing behaviors to use, including:

  • Referring back to a participant’s ideas or examples
  • Using people’s names whenever possible
  • Paraphrasing or writing the participant’s suggestions on flip charts rather than your own
  • Nodding of the head
  • Making eye contact and smiling
  • Moving closer to the participant as they respond

It is essential for facilitators to be able to model the behaviors they are requesting of participants. One of the significant differences between effective and ineffective facilitation is the effectiveness of the facilitator as a behavioral model.

This subject is covered under preparing to lead a team effectiveness meeting in my latest book,Motivate Your Team in 30 Days.  Get your free 20-page excerpt .

The Return You Get When You Elevate Others

In each issue of my bi-weekly newsletter, I note articles relating to sales effectiveness or leadership that have drawn my attention. Here are two included in my February 16 e-minute:Why Many Smart People Miss Future Opportunities by Rajesh Setty and 3 Ways You can Boost Your Sales by Practicing Conscious Kindness by Jeff Shore.

Setty’s premise in Why Many Smart People Miss Future Opportunities  is that regardless of your goal you will attain it with much less difficulty if you ally yourself with others, but you will likely miss future opportunities if you focus only on others with the same or higher level of power.

Opportunity is created by other people, he notes. “Even when you do most of the work yourself, you need an ecosystem of support to amplify what you have done.”

Most people focus on others with the same or higher level of power. They tend not to consider how they could help those at a lower power spectrum.

But as we know, time can change everything. Career shifts can happen. And the “… heartfelt obligations (of those who have since risen) are now to those that helped them when they most needed that help.” They could have gotten help from you, but you didn’t offer it. Yet “you need the mindshare of those that are helping NOT because you are paying them but because they want to.”

His counsel is to think long term, to be aware of people that need your help but are not reaching out to you, to “commit to provide genuine and valuable help while blossoming to your full potential. “

I appreciate the reasoning in the article. At the same time, there’s a big part of me that believes strongly in providing genuine and valuable help to others in their career or in life unconditionally without any expectation of return on help other than seeing them succeed.

And it’s characteristic of a good leader.

“Elevate others. Take people somewhere they wouldn’t go without you,” says leadership expert Dan Rockwell.

Encouragement and mentoring are not limited to leaders, of course.

Be a model of empathy and listening

I identify more with the second article. In his 3 Ways You can Boost Your Sales by Practicing Conscious Kindness, Jeff Shore writes about the need for and the value of genuine kindness in sales. He notes that “having a healthy kindness muscle means that kindness is not something you turn off and on—it is who you are all the time” and that kindness is a goal worth having in sales as customers respond positively to its genuine presence in people.

Shore sees kindness as about action—“about serving others vs. oneself”— more than merely “being nice.”

In relation to his second point, to practice kindness as a lifestyle, he notes that “the best sales professionals do not have an internal switch they flip when a customer comes through their door. They simply leverage who they are (their character traits) in their sales presentation. They are who they are. Customers (like people everywhere) respond positively to salespeople who are genuine.”

For me also, it comes down to good, honest, open buyer-focused communications without sales techniques or tactics—a no-pressure exchange where getting to the truth and building a long-term relationship is the goal. Without trust nothing will happen.

Buyers have four universal needs: to be understood, to feel welcomed, to feel important and to feel comfortable.

Be a model of empathy and listening.

And above all, improve the lives of others with whom you come into contact.

Want to learn more about my winning sales process?

Download the free executive summary of my recent book: Velocity Selling: how to attract, engage and empower buyers to buy

Spark Interest with Your Cold Calls by Using the Right Words at the Right Time

Have you ever watched Survivor? After 29 seasons, don’t you think competitors would come into the game knowing how to start a fire? Yet clearly many still don’t. It’s all about being prepared.

Knowing our buyers’ needs and how we can best meet them is basic to success in sales. It is up to us to kindle and develop the relationships that are central to attracting, engaging and empowering buyers to buy. New tools and insights can help.

Kissmetrics provides data-driven insights for customer acquisition and decision-making. One of the “secrets” they included on a recent infographic was the best time to cold call—between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. AND between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. The worst times to make cold calls? Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., your prospects’ time zones of course.

But even if you succeed in reaching your intended target, your chances of kindling the connection go cold if you can’t quickly offer them something that is relevant to their needs.

Provide a major benefit statement

Start by defining the objective to the call; provide a major benefit statement— what is in it for them. Ask if it is a good time to talk— a telephone call is an interruption. If they say no, it could be that your benefit statement is weak; on the other hand, they may truly be busy when you called. If so, ask them when would be a good time to call back.

Setting the parameters is a good practice with respect to your return on time invested (ROTI)—likewise, asking questions, not answering them.

And unless you immediately engage the receiver of the call, they will quickly conclude that you are about to waste their time—the top buyer complaint about salespeople.

Remember, it is about the buyer and their needs and if there is an opportunity to do business together or not.

Basically, what are the benefits to the receiver of your call in terms of saving money, increasing performance, exposure, their bottom line and so on?

Here is an example:

Hello, my name is… and I am with… We work with organizations like yours to increase the performance of your salespeople while contributing to your bottom line. Is this a good time to talk?

The benefits are “increase performance and contribute to their bottom line.” Note that the statement doesn’t explain how. It is a spark, just enough to kindle interest and get permission to proceed.

Only after you have established rapport will you question further to determine whether or not you can help the buyer.

Know your audience and their needs

Of course, before you even dialed their number, you would have done your homework on these prospective buyers and their industry to know whom you’re speaking to. The Internet provides a wealth of information as do annual reports, association reports, government reports, present customers and suppliers.

While you can check any number of individual channels for “people” insights, I’ve just been introduced to Refresh, a free app that aggregates such data from social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. It provides an amazing amount of information including recent touch points, photos, activities, interests, and has a place for you to take notes.

You can also download the Buyer Information Form from my recent book Velocity Selling: how to attract, engage and empower buyers to buy to record details about individual buyers. The template includes questions to help you formulate action plans with respect to the relationship.

Motivating Your Mind – Inspiring Your Spirit

Where can you access insights from 95 individuals with a combined 2,700 years of business experience and 4,600 years of people experience? Right here!

Motivating Your Mind-Inspiring Your Spirit  is a 115-page e-book with stories, tips, insights and case studies from industry experts, CE0s, CFOs, company directors and business owners.

My son David and I each contributed an article.

Some contributors, like New Zealander Andrew Fleming, overcame life challenges at a scale most of us never face. Andrew’s story is very powerful in changing perceptions on everyday challenges we all face to moving us past our mental blockages.

Going back to study can be daunting. Simple, yet effective strategies make all the difference, like the five study tips provided by Karen Boyes.

Looking for help with delivering presentations? Check out David Goldwich’s Three Tips to a Powerful Message.

These three examples are just a small sampling of the contributions you’ll find in this e-book that we’re sharing as a gift for your benefit.

Go ahead! Download Motivating Your Mind-Inspiring Your Spirit here.