Becoming the Most Productive YOU Ever

Productivity: Make it Happen

Contrary to the opinion of many, productivity is not a function of speed. It’s all about results.

Making 20 sales calls in an hour is working fast. But if you make a bad impression on 20 good prospects, the hour was unproductive.  (Cold calling is rarely productive, by the way. At least for most of us.)

Entrepreneurial people live in what Dan Sullivan calls the “results economy,” not the “time and effort economy. Working harder, faster, and taking fewer breaks may seem like a more productive way of living. That’s not necessarily the case. In the end, the value you produce is what matters.

All things are not equal. Knocking out 90% of the tasks on your checklist may be unproductive…if you’re doing it to avoid the handful of things that will have the biggest impact.

Now, I’ve never claimed to be the world’s leading authority on productivity. But as an obsessed freelance copywriter with 4 kids and a gorgeous wife who deserves my attention, I have to maintain a degree of focus. Not just activity, but money-in-the-bank results.

My more productive days have distinctive characteristics that my unproductive ones. When I’m “on,” here’s what’s usually happening:

  • I get into motion. Inertia kills many people and projects at the starting block. It drains our reservoirs of enthusiasm and energy. Getting going is tough! Sometimes it makes sense to make the first step ridiculously easy to take. Get the forward momentum started and accelerate from there. Don’t overthink!
    • Once momentum is working for you instead of against, you might be surprised how productive you can be. A little step forward, a mini-victory can go a long way.
    • As a writer, this is HUGE. Don’t stare at a blank page for too long. Start writing. Your thoughts will clear up before you know it. Then go back and edit.
  • I prioritize in advance. I decide what results I need to accomplish and plan activities accordingly.
  • I prepare in advance. The work starts before you start working. You wipe out a lot of dilly-dally if you come fully prepared.
  • I set deadlines. Without them, I’m practically dead in the water.
  • I use methods already proven to work instead of reinventing the wheel every time out.
  • I schedule my day, slotting my high-priority action items into times when my energy levels and focus are likely to be high – that’s usually evening for me – and my time will be uninterrupted.

The Other Part of Productivity

You have go beyond affecting your own mental and work habits. You’ve gotta produce an effect on other people.

How do you avoid doing all the right things only to fall flat when dealing with customers?

Go after the right prospects. Vegans don’t buy steaks.

Who wants what you sell? Who’s most likely to buy in the near future? Who has the ability to say “yes”? Who is already inclined to do business with you?

Strengthen the messaging. There’s a reason good copywriters and salespeople make a lot of money. Communicating persuasively multiplies productivity. I’ve seen conversion rates rise 400% and more simply by rearranging some words.

If you’re going to make sales calls or send emails, you might as well close some deals.

Use leverage. Make your intelligent efforts stretch even farther. Productivity levers include

  • authority
  • relationships with your existing customers
  • strategic alliances
  • expanding from one-to-one to one-to-many
  • repurposing existing materials.

A Word About State Management

I’ve found that I’m most productive when I’m excited about what I’m working on. Creativity emerges more effortlessly when I’m confident in my abilities and knowledge.

Negativity and disagreement put me into a funk.

You have to figure out ways to get yourself pumped up and confident that you’re going to knock it out of the ballpark.

*Update May 2017*

Here’s the recording of a livestreamed video I shot for my Facebook group. It’s about writing faster. Because… you know…I’m a writer (and there’s a good chance you are, too):


One last thing.

I wanted to share this cool infographic. Salesforce Canada did some research to uncover “Simple tips to Becoming the Most Productive Salesperson Ever.” One of their reps reached out to me and asked to share it.

Good stuff for you to think about.

salesperson productivity


You Should-Be Customers Say “No” Because… (Pt. 1)

marketing message

Who is the hero of your marketing message?

It is a common mistake for businesses to promote themselves by…promoting themselves:

“Quality Service and Affordable Prices”
“Over 40 Years of Excellence”
“Nobody Does XYZ Better Than Us”

Each of these statements has some degree of meaning. They’re fairly generic, though, and almost completely focused on the leadership’s opinion about the business itself (or how they hope to be seen by potential customers).

Marketing claims like these are not very persuasive, are they? Why not? Because consumers do not care about businesses; they care about themselves. They care about fixing their problems and getting the various things they want in life.

That is the key to connecting with customers. When a business is the main character in its marketing messages, it sacrifices a large part of its persuasive power.

The Reality: People are Self-Interested

The late David Wallace Foster, a renowned writer and professor, made the following remark in his commencement speech to Kenyon College in 2005:

“…everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth.”

I’m not saying it’s right. It’s just true.

Customers owe no loyalty to a business that doesn’t make their life better in some way. If that life-improving potential isn’t communicated in customer-centric ways, the business will probably be ignored.

People are self-interested. Businesses are self-interested, too.

Something wonderful happens when a potential customer hears exactly how buying a product will make his life better — in clear, specific, compelling language. He buys! That kind of message can penetrate the inward focus that dominates the customer’s worldview.

Emphasizing a prospect’s self-interest is in the business’ best interest.

how sales persuasion happens

“Results — Nothing Less.” Drayton Bird tells potential clients that they’re not paying for marketing or consulting (which they don’t care about). They’re buying the results they want.

“Income On Demand: The Simple Secret to Unlimited Stock Market Payouts.” Who doesn’t want income on demand? Rather than saying “Great Stock Market Tips,” Agora Financial adds emotional punch and begins telling you how easy it is to reach your objective: making lots of money on the stock market.

“Is Cancer a Fungus? Can It Be Prevented? Learn How To Help Your Body Destroy the Candida Fungus, Get Your Energy and Your Life Back” Specific, surprising and all about the reader.

Now, who is the hero of your marketing message? Remember, your should-be customers are not thinking about you. They’re looking out for their own best interest, not yours. (And rightly so!) They care about you only insofar as they can benefit from doing business with you.

It is in your best interest to show potential customers that you’re looking out for them and you’re uniquely equipped to help them achieve the results they want.

Check out Part 2!


Is Something Missing from the AIDA Formula?


Almost every marketer and salesperson in the English-speaking world knows about AIDA. It’s often one of the first lessons in many of our training programs. As a framework for persuasion, it has stood the test of time in every industry you can think of for over 100 years.

A – Attention
I  – Interest
D – Desire
A – Action

It is my contention that there is something crucial missing from this basic sales and marketing formula. I talked about this in a recent newsletter (if you’re not subscribed, you should fix that expeditiously). If you missed it, you can find out what’s wrong with AIDA as it currently stands in my newest guest posts on the Rhino Daily blog:

Is AIDA Outdated As a Marketing Process? Part 1 and Part 2

P.S. The article wasn’t written in two parts, and to be frank, I’m not crazy about the split. It reads better as a single piece. But I submitted to the Rhino Daily editorial process. The good stuff is in Part 2, but you Part 1 forms the foundation for my ultimate conclusion.


Persuasive Language: An Interview with Matt Fox

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Choosing the words we use in our sales presentations, marketing messages and everyday conversations can make all the difference in the world. Unfortunately, many of us do not select our words purposefully or even consciously. It’s impossible to count how many times a cautious “no” might have been turned into an enthusiastic “yes” if we had been more thoughtful communicators.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of speaking with Matt Fox, who is an expert in the use of persuasive language in sales, marketing and all sorts of personal interactions. He gave me nearly two hours of his time, explaining how to use words more persuasively. I was able to record about 75 minutes of golden material.

During our chat, we talked about

  • the 3 kinds of psychological resistance
  • why closing techniques are often very ineffective
  • how tiny words can create huge impact through presuppositions
  • why “increasing perceived value” is not necessarily the best way to increase sales
  • a simple way to make it impossible for someone to ignore what you’re saying
  • and tons more.

If you have a 100% conversion rate and you always get what you want, you may not need to listen to this interview. But if you’re not quite there yet, you can learn a lot from Matt. Take a listen.

Persuasive Language interview with Matt Fox

Note: I started recording my the conversation before the formal interview began. We attached that to the end of the MP3. Consider it bonus content!

Note #2: Don’t forget to check out Matt’s website at


If Your Marketing Stinks…

Please join the inimitable Andre’ Harrell and me for what promises to be an exciting and insight-packed conversation on sales and marketing at 7pm ET tonight.

The show is called “If your business marketing stinks, so will your sales.”

Check us out at

No opt ins, no sales pitches. Just marketing, sales and persuasion concepts you can put into practice right away to improve your business results.

Update: You can download a recording of the call at the link below the media player at the aforementioned link, or get pick it up on iTunes at itpc://

Getting More Yeses Without Pressure, Hype or Dishonesty

Live radio is tough.

As an outsider, I don’t know how the professionals move so quickly, transition so smoothly and keep everything fun and interesting.

For those of you who missed it, I had a spot on George Kilpatrick’s show last Tuesday evening. (George is the consummate professional). We talked about how to get more yeses in sales, marketing and other situations where you need to be persuasive. I had 5 points and only 5 minutes to cover them. Needless to say, we weren’t able to discuss any of the concepts in much detail.

I’d like to flesh out the ideas a little more right here.

Here’s the list of ways you can get more yeses without resorting to pressure tactics, hype or any kind of dishonesty.

1) True Empathy
There are few things in the world more powerful than empathy. If you can demonstrate that you truly understand what your prospects is experiencing and how they feel about their experiences, they won’t be able to help feeling a bond with you. Defenses go down, skepticism decreases and trust flows naturally.

John Dewey is quoted as saying “The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.” Show them they’re important to you by asking genuine questions and really listening. Listen in order to understand, not just to figure out the best sales approach.

Henry Ford said ”If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own.” When people believe you want to know what they think and how they feel so you can help them, you’ll have less trouble getting your message through (when it’s your turn to talk).

Consider the African concept of Ubuntu. Bishop Desmond Tutu tells us that “A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.” Treat your customers like people, not walking wallets. You’ll get a lot more yeses if you do.

2) Appeal to the built-in motivations of the prospect.
No one can “sell ice to Eskimos”–at least not visiting igloos door-to-door.

You’ve gotta sell stuff people want. I talk about this fairly frequently (in fact, this point made up 1/3rd of my most recent newsletter), so I won’t belabor the point too much.

While you’re empathizing with your target audience, find out what sorts of solutions will help them get what they want or put an end to what they want to stop in their lives. Help them see the transformation it will bring; don’t focus on features, but appeal to their current thoughts, feelings and priorities.

3) Educate
Salespeople sell stuff. Teachers shape the minds of those who shape the world. Which do you want to be?

Every study you see indicates that there’s a shortage of school teachers in America. Classrooms are bulging with students, eager to learn. In private schools and institutes of higher education, people pay thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to listen to teachers who will (hopefully) equip them to succeed in life. When sales people greet potential customers, the reply “I’m just browsing” is all too common. Which do you want to be?

Teachers help interpret reality. Then they help their students act accordingly.

Education is an amazingly powerful way to persuade without pressure. Done properly, you’ll never have to pitch anything. The mental pictures you paint are so compelling that people naturally see the need for what you’re selling.

4) Tell (true) stories
This is another subject I address frequently, but know this: stories are rarely seen as sales pitches. Our brains are inherently receptive to narrative. We love them in every form: movies, music, magicians, etc.

Tell stories about past client successes, your own personal journey from doubt to domination or lessons from history that make a clear point.

5) Establish credibility, but don’t toot your own horn
The more you’re recognized as an expert, the more people will trust you and take your advice. But telling people you’re trustworthy usually gives the impression that you’re not. That’s why it’s counterproductive to toot your own proverbial horn.

Credentials, degrees, awards, media appearances and publications all work in your favor. Testimonials, personal recommendations and referrals probably work even better. Don’t forget about celebrity endorsements!

If you’ll allow me to act like a teacher for a moment, I have an assignment for you: Think about specific ways you can utilize these 5 ideas to increase your yes-to-no ratio. Make sure to raise your hand if you have any questions.