“Ninja Selling: Subtle Skills. Big Results.”
by Larry Kendall
published in 2017 by Greenleaf Book Group Press
As an expert in tendering, I need to be an expert in selling. After all, a tender is a sale. To win more tenders, I need a deep understanding of selling, and how to apply sales processes, techniques and tactics to a wide variety of industries, products and services. For this reason, I am always looking to learn more and deepen my knowledge in sales so that I can be more effective for our clients. I also love ninjas and martial arts, so this book immediately appealed to me.
And it didn’t disappoint. I really loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is involved in sales, business development, customer service and client care. In fact, the first half of the book is a fantastic book about performance psychology and mind-set, so even if you don’t ever need to sell, there is so much for you to gain.
The book teaches a system called the Ninja Selling System, which has been designed, tested and proven in real estate in the United States, but the elements of the system can easily be applied to any kind of high involvement decision making sales or service situation.
Ninja Selling is built around 4 principles:
- Personal Mastery
- Stop Selling! Start Solving!
- Ninja Business Strategy
- Connect and Community.
Each of these principles is outlined below.
The Ninja Path starts with a commitment to mastery – to being the best you can be. A 4-paragraph treatise by Stuart Emery on mastery kicks things off to get the reader on the right page:
“MASTERY in one’s career and consciousness growth simply requires that we constantly produce results beyond and out of the ordinary. Mastery is a product of consistently going beyond our limits. For most people, it starts with technical excellence in a chosen field and a commitment to that excellence. If you are willing to commit yourself to excellence, to surround yourself with things that represent this and miracles, your life will change. (When we speak of miracles, we speak of events or experiences in the real world, which are beyond the ordinary).
It’s remarkable how much mediocrity we live with, surrounding ourselves with daily reminders that the average is the acceptable. Our world suffers from terminal normality. Take a moment to assess all of the things around you that promote your being “average.” These are the things that keep you powerless to go beyond a “limit” you arbitrarily set for yourself. The first step to mastery is the removal of everything in your environment that represents mediocrity, removing those things that are limiting. One way is to surround yourself with friends who ask more of you than you do. Didn’t some of your best teachers, coaches, parents, etc.?
Another step on the path to mastery is the removal of resentment toward masters. Develop compassion for yourself so that you can be in the presence of masters and grow from the experience. Rather than comparing yourself and resenting people who have mastery, remain open and receptive; let the experience be like the planting of a seed within you that, with nourishment, will grow into your own individual mastery.
You see, we are all ordinary. But a master, rather than condemning himself for his “ordinariness,” will embrace and use it as a foundation for building the extraordinary. Rather than using it as an excuse for inactivity, he will use it as a vehicle for correcting, which is essential in the process of attaining mastery. You must be able to correct yourself without invalidating or condemning yourself, to accept results and improve upon them. Correct, don’t protect. Correction is essential to power and mastery.”
A key element of mastery is mind-set, and the content in this book about mind-set is excellent. In fact, it is life-changing, both for sales success as well as for performance in any other area of life. The bottom line is this: “At any given point in time, a human chooses to be either a player or a victim.” When a person chooses to be a victim, they think, act and broadcast as one. Likewise, when a person chooses to be a player, they think, act and broadcast as one. You decide the frequencies you broadcast and receive on.
Importantly, like attracts like. People radiating positive energy will naturally move away from you if you are radiating negative energy, and people radiating negative energy will be attracted to you, bringing their fear, grief and negativity into your life. Change your vibe, change your world.
Understanding your emotional energy is crucial, and even more important is understanding how to change your emotional energy. The book describes the 4 quadrants of emotional energy as shown.
The emotions typically experienced in each of these quadrants are as follows:
- High positive: happy, inspired, confident, loving, positive expectation
- Low positive: content, relaxed, safe, loving, positive expectation
- High negative: angry, fearful, frustrated, vengeful, negative expectation
- Low negative: sad, guilty, depressed, lonely, negative expectation
People perform at their best when they are in the high positive quadrant, which is also known as the Performance Quadrant.
Victims spend most of their time in the negative quadrants, while players spend most of their time in the positive quadrants. And while players will also spend some time in the negative quadrants (they are human, after all, and stuff happens), they don’t spend much time there and they have strategies to move back to the positive quadrants. In the Ninja Selling System, this ability to choose to move back to the positive side is called ‘response-ability’ – the ability to respond.
To help the reader spend more time in the positive quadrants, or to move from low positive to high positive, the book proposes some rituals and a morning routine.
Rituals include focussing on gratitude, exercising, playing positive and uplifting music, getting back to nature, and spending time with other positive people to tap in to their good vibrations. Importantly, if you are in a negative quadrant, don’t fall in to the trap of spending time with others in the negative quadrants. Misery loves company and before you know it, you’ll be spiralling down together.
The Ninja Morning Routine is a simple 4-step routine that takes only a few minutes:
- Give thanks
- Read something positive to start your day
- Focus on a goal as if you have achieved it
- Write 2 personal notes to others.
The book then describes how to program your brain to help you achieve what you want. I have been an advocate of this approach for many years and truly believe that what you place your attention on is what you create. In this book, they phrase it as ‘what you focus on expands’.
The concept is simple and science-based. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) of your brain is essentially your central processing unit and it looks for what you tell it to look for. You will have already experienced this phenomenon when you’ve begun to look for something in particular and then suddenly you see that thing everywhere. For example, when you decide that you like a new kind of car, your RAS suddenly finds that type of car everywhere.
Your RAS is a very powerful determiner of performance, and if you can program your RAS to go after what you want, it will happen. But your RAS doesn’t discern right from wrong, so whatever you focus on expands. If you focus on the negative stuff, like your fears and concerns, they will expand. And if you focus on the positive stuff, like your goals and strategies, they will expand. Therefore, make sure you are focussing on what you want.
This super simple strategy is often ignored. As the author points out, most people don’t even take the time to write down positive and measurable goals, and as a result they can’t tell you what they want. But they can tell you what they don’t want. What does that tell you about what their RAS is focussing on?
To program your RAS to focus on the right stuff, the book outlines a simple 8-step process which includes steps such as setting your goal, making it positive and measurable, in the first person and present tense, and to cement your goal with written affirmations every day.
Stop Selling! Start Solving!
The second principle is founded on the premise that people love to buy but hate to be sold, therefore stop selling!
Ninja Selling is a process that gets people to move toward you, rather than distancing themselves because of aggressive sales tactics. There are 2 critical aspects to this: people move toward people they know, like and trust, and people move toward value. With this in mind, we want to position ourselves as likeable, trusted advisors who create value. We also need to be in flow with our potential clients and customers. Flow is the frequency of interactions with people – face-to-face, by telephone, by email, through social media or however you connect. The key is that interactions need to create value.
What do people value? People are willing to spend their time and money on 2 things:
- Anything that solves their problem (eases their pain)
- Anything that makes them feel good (brings them pleasure).
These are the 2 primary drivers that motivate people to take action. If you can think of ways to ease their pain and/or make them feel good, you have created value. We identify our potential customers’ problems and what makes them feel good by asking them. Then start solving.
The book outlines a full questioning methodology called the FORD questions to cover the 4 core areas of life: Family/Friends, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams. When customers are sharing FORD information with you, you learn about their pain and their pleasure, they feel you care about them, and you are establishing a relationship. With this information, and a relationship forming, you can start solving.
The book also outlines an excellent brain storming model for creating a value proposition that categorises services in to 4 areas: core/basic services, differentiated services, custom services and convenience services. Collectively, this information can create a service so valuable that your customers and clients will beat a path to your door, pay a premium for your service, and feel good about it because it equates to value that they appreciate.
In addition to creating a value proposition, the Ninja Selling System provides a framework for building your brand, including recognition, reputation, relevance and differentiation. Ninjas focus on all 4 pillars, particularly relevance and differentiation. The ninja strategy is simply to be more relevant, more customer-centric, and to give customers what they want. To be more differentiated, simply be more relevant.
The final element of the second principle is to become a proactive trusted advisor. There are 5 rules to achieve this: show up, pay attention, tell the truth and keep your commitments, create value for your customers, and don’t get attached to the outcome.
Ninja Business Strategy
Once you have your ninja vibe on, and know how to create value for customers, the next step is generating business. The Ninja Business Strategy gives a step-by-step process.
Underpinning everything is flow, which was mentioned above. Flow is the frequency of interaction, by face-to-face, telephone, email, social media etc. Flow is what builds relationships. Think of it like oxygen to the business: keep the oxygen flowing and the business with thrive. With 1 rule: flow must be perceived as valuable to your customers.
There are 2 types of flow: auto-flow and live flow. Auto-flow, such as newsletters, industry updates etc, keeps you visible even when you are invisible, such as on leave. The book recommends a minimum of 3 auto-flow touches per month. Live flow, such as face-to-face meetings and telephone conversations, deepens your relationships. The book recommends a minimum of 50 live flow touches per week!
There are 4 criteria to ensure your flow is powerful: each touch should be valuable, customised, personalised and a combination of art and science (art is for the heart and science is for the mind).
And finally, the book outlines the Ninja Nine – the nine activities that top-performing ninjas do repeatedly. These are a combination of daily habits (including the Ninja Morning Routine previously described) and weekly habits (including customer service calls and updating your database). With the Ninja Nine being consistently implemented, the business can’t help but grow. The system works.
In relation to personal commitment, the book contains a quote from Lawrence Pearsall Jacks that I found particularly inspirational:
“People who are masters in the art of living make little distinction between their work and their play, their labour and their leisure, their mind and their body, their information and their recreation, their love and their religion… They simply pursue their vision of excellence at whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing. To them they are always doing both. Enough for him that he does it well.”
Connect and Communicate
And finally, the last principle: connect and communicate. This is where the Ninja Selling System comes together.
This section starts with a summary of the DISC personality profile assessment in order to give the ninja the tools to tailor their services to each of the 4 personalities. I am quite familiar with the DISC profiles, but found the categories used here in the book to be simple and helpful. According to DISC, people can be categorised as Power People (15-20%), Party People (25-30%), Peace People (35-40%) and Perfection People (15-20%). When you can identify the personality profile of your customer, you can align your communication to their preferred style.
The book then outlines a range of tools for ninjas, including how to conduct a consultation, questioning sequences, using visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities, and so forth. Some of this content is specific to the real estate industry, but much of it can be easily adapted and is quite thought-provoking for high involvement sales. I particularly liked the ninja approach to customer communication which is to:
- Ask don’t tell
- Pull don’t push
- Probe don’t pitch
- Consult don’t present
- Solve don’t sell
- Serve don’t sell.
This is an excellent book, jam-packed with inspirational, provocative and highly valuable content. In fact, it is one of those books that deserves a few read throughs to squeeze as much as possible from its pages. I have gained much already and look forward to discovering even more. And to reaping the rewards from following the ninja way!
For more information about Ninja Selling, visit www.ninjaselling.com and for further information about Aurora Marketing and how we can help you win your tenders or build revenue in your company, call us on 07 3211 4299 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.