Earlier in 2008 a fellow Jay Abraham fan (thanks Tim) introduced me to Mitch Axelrod and in particular to his "New Game of Selling™".
I liked the Jay Abraham Reunion summary very much and I have been impressed by Mitch Axelrod and his promotional videos. Last week I listened to a free review copy of his major sales training program - The New Game of Selling and I found it difficult to stop.
It is excellent.
Before telling you more about the New Game of Selling, here is a 9 minute video of Mitch Axelrod so you can see his style for yourself.
The New Game Of Selling
Mitch Axelrod loves to talk but he delivers great content.
The New Game of Selling is a series of teleseminars which you will want to listen to again and again until you absorb these excellent ideas and incorporate them into your selling approaches.
What Is In The New Game of Selling?
The heart of the New Game of Selling is a series of six teleseminars
- Introduction to winning the New Game of Selling (139 minutes)
- Introduction to winning the Inner Game of Selling (131 minutes)
- The New Game of Prospecting and Marketing (155 minutes)
- The New Game of Positioning and Qualifying (155 minutes)
- The New Game of Conversion (138 minutes)
- The New Game of Serving and Multiplying (164 minutes)
Linked into these audios are a series of extra resources:
- diagrams to help communicate the important issues and
- PDFs which give extra details.
Make no mistake, the New Game of Selling is very extensive.
Before I go on to rave about this exciting sales program which will help you to attract, convert and keep more customers let me get a few negatives out of the way first.
What I Don't Like About The New Game of Selling
I don't believe that there is a perfect business development program so here are my thoughts on how the New Game of Selling could be improved if Mitch Axelrod was to do it again.
- The teleseminars recordings are too long. This is a habit of Mitch because he transmits so much content.
This has two consequences:
a) when Mitch throws the New Game of Selling calls open for questions and feedback from the listeners, there is little response. His eloquence and delivery deserves better but there is so much going on inside the listener's heads.
b) the recordings take a long time to listen to.
The main modules of the New Game of Selling have been edited into smaller standalone sections so that you can focus in, listen and refresh yourself on particular key topics.
- There is an element of duplication. Mitch Axelrod believes that individual training modules should standalone. The forced repetition helps the important concepts to enter your brain and moves you closer to applying the New Game of Selling and gaining the benefits from this ethical way of selling your products and services.
These issues are very minor when compared to the value of the advice given in the New Game of Selling.
What I Like About The New Game of Selling
This could be a very long list but I will look at the individual modules of the New Game of Selling separately so this section just relates to my general comments:
- Mitch Axelrod is a great communicator. He is very fluent and articulate and I find that Mitch is very easy to listen to. Mitch is an American sales guru but he isn't one of those "over the top" evangelists promoting actions that you could never see yourself taking.
- The New Game content is excellent. There is plenty of original material here to explain why companies have paid Mitch a fortune for his training and why Jay Abraham chose him in 1990 to train the Abraham proteges on how to sell marketing consultancy.
- The sales material is very much focused on doing right by the customer and building and sustaining relationships. If you find that other sales programs come over too strong in manipulating buyers, then the New Game of Selling is just what you are looking for.
- The values and principles of the New Game of Selling fit into a wider suite of business development programs and tools that Mitch Axelrod offers.
- the New Game of Selling is not designed as a "one size fits all" program. Mitch recognises that some models will appeal to you more than others. There is no problem with cherry-picking key concepts. You use what you like and what you will do. As Mitch says "take what works, leave the rest."
- The long sessions for the main elements of the New Game of Selling have been edited into smaller sections. There is a complete transcript for those who prefer to read - the Billion Dollar Playbook available as a bonus.
I will start looking at the individual modules of the New Game.
Introduction To The New Game of Selling
Mitch Axelrod spends the majority of this first call explaining the new principles of the New Game of Selling.
If you have read his book, "The New Game of Business" you will be familiar with many of the concepts. However it is nice to hear the written concepts translated into words you can listen to as these important ideas become even warmer and more relevant.
Mitch Axelrod outlines eleven rules of the new game in the call:
- It is a new world - events in September 2008 when the credit crunch have really come to a head show very vividly that the old rules and what you take for granted no longer apply.
- Shift from buyer beware to seller beware - the Internet has given buyers access to much more information and the ability to have much more power since, if the supplying company won't listen to an unhappy customer, other prospective customers will.
- New thinking - you can't win the new game by playing to the old rules.
- New mission - put people ahead of products and profits.
- New strategy - it's not just business, it is personal.
- New message - re-conceive the way you think about and describe the business you are in.
- New mantra - serve, deliver and serve some more.
- New solutions - don't make the mistake of falling in love with your products.
- New skills - master the new tools of the game as Mitch runs through eight "successabilities".
- The new model - integrate or be prepared to disintegrate.
- New money - everyone in a business must accept responsibility for finding new profit.
Mitch then extends this Introduction to the New Game of Selling with an introduction to the sales skills value profile which I will describe separately. It is a very interesting technique for sales people to make a self assessment across nine different areas.
Then he moves into the performance pyramid which is a technique to identify why performance may not be up to standard as you consider it across three different dimensions.
Finally Mitch introduces a sales style model which I hadn't seen before based on three distinct personality types commonly seen in sales roles. This explains why some people are strong prospectors, others are very effective closers while others build strong relationships.
The Introduction to the New Game of Selling is fascinating to listen to and you are likely to find yourself nodding along with the ideas that Mitch explains, not because you have already verbalised the issues but because when Mitch does, it feels so right.
Winning The Inner Game of Selling
On the second call which introduces you to the New Game of Selling, Mitch Axelrod focuses on understanding yourself and winning your own inner game.
The key items covered in this session are:
- Your potential return on investment from implementing the New Game of Selling.
- How to overcome inertia. This is twenty minutes focused on how you can use the laws of inertia and motion to create change in both yourself and other people.
- Then there is a fascinating introduction to the world of Axiology and how values influence what people will do. I will be explaining more about this in a separate blog but Mitch offers a value profile based on 46 skill sets for selling divided into 9 different categories.
- The New Game of Selling then looks at the stimulus response model and how bad experiences in the past (which you don't know about) will cause prospective customers to react badly if you deliver the same stimulus.
- Finally Winning the Inner Game looks at the 33% model which explains an easy and clear way to grow a business by 33%.
This second module or session is packed with information which will certainly make you think about how well you know yourself. The premise is simple, if you don't know yourself and recognise how you think and act, how can you influence others.
As you improve your ability to win your own inner game, you increase your skills in helping other people to move forward and make the right decisions based on what they want.
The New Game of Prospecting & Marketing
In this session of the New Game of Selling Mitch Axelrod teaches you how to find the people you are best suited to serve and create the vibrations in the market so that these people find you. This draws on many of the New Game of Business principles that were covered in the first introduction.
Next Mitch explains his RAMM Formula which is both a method to keep you on track to achieve what you want, and also a technique to help you to work with prospective customers to help qualify their needs.
Then the New Game session covers the six key questions that must be answered to be effective in target marketing.
Mitch invited a friend into the call to provide tips for telephone marketing. It is a nice, simple, straightforward approach which removes many of the difficulties and irritations with this technique although telemarketing is still tough if you find rejection difficult to handle.
In "take a millionaire to lunch", Mitch Axelrod explains his formula for building up a short elevator statement which avoids tagging yourself with a label although I believe the people you talk to will still want to categorise you. I agree that labels hurt you and cause you to be stereotyped.
Finally in this session of the New Game of Selling, Mitch covers the marketing pipeline and how you can categorise your prospective enquiries and adjust your approach based on where they are in their buying cycle. This way you spend extra time on those who you have identified as ready to buy.
Another excellent session from the New Game of Selling. The introduction was long as it covered a summary of the two part introduction to the program and then outlined the contents of the main four sessions - marketing, qualifying, converting and multiplying.
The New Game of Positioning & Qualifying
This is an interesting section into the New Game of Selling since most of the time trainers talk about lead generation, conversion and then building a back end of future sales.
Mitch Axelrod makes the essential point that attracting prospects is expensive. You will know that the process of converting leads into customers can be both time consuming and expensive.
This is what makes the conversion rate such an important measure since until you have a customer, all you have is expense and not the revenue you want. Qualifying your prospective buyers is essential to reduce wasted effort.
The first key topic that Mitch covers in this New Game of Selling module is the Buying Cycle. While I find it natural to think in terms of "helping a customer to buy", many of the marketing / sales experts focus on the selling cycle.
This seems crazy to me and it is crazy to Mitch Axelrod. He has spent years teaching his clients to turn the process around and see things from the buyers perspective.
You either meet your prospective buyers where they are and help them to move forward at a pace that they are happy with or you commit to a long fight trying to persuade them to do something which they don't want to do.
Yes you could potentially manipulate them by playing with their emotions as some sales training approaches recommend. But is that the way you would want to be treated and the way you want to treat other people?
It's not the way I work and it is not what the New Game of Selling teaches. Conventional sales training can encourage you to act against the customer in a self-fulfilling relationship of doom.
Who wants to buy from someone who is manipulating them? Who will believe someone like that and trust them enough to spend money unless they are desperate?
No wonder that closing rates are so poor and why selling can be so hard. Buyers have been trained to resist which is why the insights from the Stimulus Response model are so important.
If you want to be treated differently, you have to act different when you are approached by a prospective customer.
OK enough of a rant but the way Mitch Axelrod and the New Game of Selling explains the buying cycle is excellent and will make a lot of sense to you when you hear it.
The RAMM formula is touched on as a qualifying technique. Then Mitch explains his idea of the value of a second opinion which has worked for him. It is certainly an interesting idea I will try.
Then a quick recap of the Stimulus Response model before moving into an alternative qualifying technique - the seven steps to qualifying which adds extra flexibility to the New Game of Selling.
Then Mitch covers the entire issue of questioning and how sales questions can be such a powerful tool in your sales technique (or should that be "helping the customer to buy" technique?)
This second main session on qualifying in the New Game of Selling will be a revelation to many of you who are experienced salespeople and have received hard selling training with the emphasis on overcoming objections and closing techniques.
The New Game of Conversion
Another excellent module in the New Game of Selling with Mitch Axelrod extending his ideas on how you convert an expression or interest or an opportunity into an order.
Building on where your prospect is in the buying cycle the entire aim is to move through an entire process which Mitch calls Alignment, Agreement and Commitment which are all necessary for you to convert a complex sale.
Some purchases are what is known as "low involvement" since the value is small and the consequences of the purchase are low so the buyer will seek an easy solution, either on impulse or through convenience.
Most of us have a cut-off point which is likely to vary depending on how experienced we are buying this type of product or service and beyond that point, the consultative selling approach of the New Game of Business is an essential element in building a long term relationship.
Mitch Axelrod takes advantage of the Huthwaite research which is the foundation for SPIN Selling and uses a very similar approach in the need to move beyond the common habit of presenting a solution after a problem has been revealed.
At that stage there is little to indicate that the buyer is ready to buy which is why the best sellers move forward into understanding the implications of the problem and the pay-off from the solution.
Present too early when you don't understand the full situation and the buyer may not either and you will meet a series of objections.
You have probably been there yourself when you are buying.
As the buyer, you feel that you are being rushed through a process to persuade you to spend your money when you are uncertain of the value of the solution.
Both buyer and seller are trapped into the raising objections and handling objections dance because the buyer isn't ready and is too polite to come straight out with "Stop I am not ready" but eventually you will get the "I need time to think it over".
I have to be careful that I don't upset Mitch by giving too much away at this stage but the entire process of the conversion process is very much targeted towards "helping the prospect to buy what is right for them."
The more you are the trusted adviser, the more you build rapport and you show that you have your prospect's best interests at heart, then the stronger the relationship. Even if another company has an apparent stronger offer, the customer may choose you because people buy people they know, like and trust.
Conversion is another terrific model in the New Game of Selling and whilst aspects are similar to other successful selling methodologies, as I explained in my blog about SPIN Selling I prefer the combination of implication and pay-off questions to those techniques that concentrate on manipulating the emotional reaction to the current pain.
The New Game of Serving and Multiplying
The first three modules of the New Game of Selling have focused on how you attract and convert the first order from a customer. Module four is potentially the most important because it takes you through a process of how you turn that first order into multiple orders.
This is the longest of all the modules and it starts with finishing off the Alignment, Agreement, Commitment model introduced in module 3 with the 5R's of commitment and the 6 Customer Responses and how you respond.
In total this first hour is focused on completing the conversion process and you now have a customer who is buying from you and sees you as one of their most trusted of advisers because of your selling process.
Mitch Axelrod then introduced the 7 Rs of service which define your ongoing relationship with your customers as you continue to focus on helping them meet their objectives and then move to higher and better objectives.
Mitch then introduces you to his Mega-Referrals process which can be purchased as a standalone product to create powerful testimonials and ringing endorsements.
As you would expect, since the entire approach is extremely customer focused, your customers will be delighted and will be keen to give back and the 5-4-3-2-1 referral system is a great way to cover this vital topic.
There is no getting away from it. Referrals and word of mouth recommendations will increasingly become the way most of us choose to narrow down our buying options. We are hit with so many marketing messages, it means that it is becoming more and more difficult to be very successful with traditional outreach marketing.
Introductions to new prospective customers s just one way to profit from a successful relationship. Many companies have been forced to create business models that make their profit on the back end because it is so difficult and so expensive to create a customer.
The New Game of Selling introduces these add-ons for up-sells, cross-sells and backend marketing. I would have liked more detail to be included but this is an area that I specialise in so I am always interested to hear the ideas of other successful marketers.
Overall, module 4 of the New Game of Selling is another winner which brings the entire system to a logical conclusion.
Summary Of The New Game Of Selling
I am sure that you will be hearing much more about Mitch Axelrod and the New Game of Selling, both from me and from other people as it becomes better known.
It is a genuine new approach which takes away much of the sleaziness, manipulation and trickery that seems to come with the selling profession.
The emphasis in the New Game of Selling is on relationship building, acting in the buyer's interests and helping them to find the right solution.
I believe the New Game of Selling is a terrific program for ethical relationship selling and I recommend it to anyone who doesn't operate in a hard sell, transaction based market and especially if you don't want to be stuck in the old game of objection handling and sneaky closing tricks and techniques.
Mitch Axelrod Rainmakers For Hire
I liked the New Game of Selling and the Mitch Axelrod approach so much that last week I bought the rights to be a "Rainmaker for hire".
This means that I can now offer the New Game of Selling as a sales training and coaching program to add to my own business coaching model (Eight Pillars of Business Prosperity) and my Guerrilla Marketing Coaching.
The New Game of Selling fits in so beautifully with my mission to help customer focused entrepreneurs find hidden profits that I could not resist. It has cost me a significant amount of money but it shows my belief in the New Game of Selling.
I recommend that you take this opportunity to win the new game with the New Game of Selling.