Effective sales communication asking the correct questions on Linkedin, as well as making conversations about divorce count
When we say we’re making conversations count, we mean it!
This episode is all about having those kinds of conversations that really do count.
Among the many things his website offers:
- Training in proven sales techniques that are making a difference right now in business.
- Interactive sales training with high energy.
- Keeping your team accountable so they make progress and hit their targets.
Niraj also has a bestselling book of the same name.
In it, he hammers home the point that whether we like it or not we all influence decisions around us.
2020 was definitely a pivotal moment for Niraj.
He began living alone after a difficult divorce, losing not only a wife but family and friends in the process.
Niraj then concentrated on his business.
Listen to his story of how he coped and overcame mental health challenges to come back stronger than ever before.
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Want to find out more about this episode or some of the others? Check out the show notes!
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Making Conversations Count – Episode Twenty-Two
March 22nd 2021
Wendy Harris & Niraj Kapur, Online Sales Coach
00:01:26: Starbucks shoot
00:02:40: Customers’ why?
00:05:25: Like them, you don’t have to love them
00:09:03: Pick up the phone
00:11:54: Face to face again
00:14:39: Niraj’s pivotal moment
00:18:08: Who do you surround yourself with?
00:20:46: It’s not what happens, it’s how you react
00:24:38: Final thoughts
Wendy Harris: Have you ever lost everything following a relationship breakdown or divorce? If this relates to you or someone you know, then you need to listen for the next 25 minutes. We are going to make conversations about divorce count.
Welcome to Making Conversations Count, the Podcast hosted by me, Wendy Harris, bestselling author and telephone trainer of over 30 years. We bring you business leaders who share honest conversations that have created a turning point in their life and career and what happened next.
Today I have got Niraj Kapur. Niraj is a sales trainer with lots of experience under his belt and I’ve invited him today to join us to share his pivotal conversation. What’s the weather like where you are today?
Niraj Kapur: In Northern Ireland the roads are still frozen and one thing I love doing every morning is going for a walk, but I end up almost ice skating or falling. I’ve fallen twice on my backside in the last week because it’s just ice. Literally, it’s not even pleasant snow, it’s just icy. It’s very quiet and I tend to be the only person walking anywhere at the moment. I say “walking”, I mean I’m taking small baby steps really.
Wendy Harris: So, there’s no selfie videos on the ice at the moment, you’ve got to concentrate on where you’re putting your feet.
Niraj Kapur: No, that’s a bit risky. I did shoot one actually outside Starbucks two days ago, it’s about time management because there was 24, 25 cars outside Starbucks. I went inside to get a latte; I was served within 90 seconds. I said, “Do you mind if I ask what the queue time is?” She goes, “It’s about 20 minutes”. I said, “Okay, these people are waiting 20 minutes in a queue, there’s 25 cars, I’m getting served in 90 seconds”, and I shot a video just off the cuff, but when you shoot something off the cuff it takes about five attempts. The queue’s going down and down, so I just speak faster and faster. A lot of the videos I do are prepared very carefully but some of them I just do off the cuff because I think of an idea in that moment.
Wendy Harris: I’m with you on the video thing, I’m only just starting to embrace it a little bit. I’ve got shot videos that were all captioned up and proper, but then there are moments when just doing a text post is just not going to really do it. When I’m trying to communicate with somebody, instead of sending an email I send them a voice message, because I think it’s really important to get that narrative across and the point across and of course you can only really capture that on video.
I love watching where you do things in, was it one of the supermarket’s car park about cucumbers.
Niraj Kapur: Yeah, Lidl car park. I’m working away about 10.00 am in the morning, my father comes into my room saying, “I’ve got to speak to you about something really important”, I said, “Sure, dad”. He goes, “I need cucumbers”. I’m like, “Okay”. “No, no I need cucumbers now, I’m having an early lunch can you go get them?” “Cucumbers, why now?” He goes, “I just need them”. I said, “Dad, cucumbers are 95% water, have a glass of water you’ll be okay”. He goes, “No, I need these”. I said, “But why?” He says, “Because Lidl do these special cucumbers, they’re really sweet, they’re actually delicious and crunchy”.
I’ve never had one before and I went and got it during my morning routine, it took up an hour of my day by the time I went there, queued, came home, but it was important to my father. So, the message of that was always understand your customers’ why. Because I was so annoyed at being interrupted, I should have asked, “Why”, in the first place. So, it took me a while to ask that, because I’m like, “Seriously, that’s not urgent”, but yeah that was one of those made-up videos that I did at the last second. I thought, “There must be a story here”, but personally I prefer planning things because when you plan things in advance you often get them done with less time. If you don’t plan it, Wendy, it takes several takes to get right.
Wendy Harris: I think that’s really important. I have started to adopt an acronym around talk:
Take your time
Ask the right questions
Listen then to what’s being said
Keep trying, never give up
Niraj Kapur: 100% agree.
Wendy Harris: For what you do in life and business having those conversations is really important, isn’t it?
Niraj Kapur: The biggest mistake I see people making, Wendy, is they go, “Here’s my product, here’s how I can help you”. What they should be asking is, “What challenges are you having right now, and how can I help you solve them?” It’s a very different way of doing business, it takes much longer, it takes more time; that’s why people don’t do it.
I had a very interesting conversation with my client Monday; we just had a kickstart to the year, how’s he getting on, and he shared me his screen on Zoom. And he showed me the spam messages he was getting from other sales trainers, one or two of whom I actually knew. They all said the same thing, “Hi, I’m an award-winning trainer. Here’s what I do blah, blah, blah. Let’s have a coffee meeting”, the next person, “Hi, I’m an award-winning trainer”.
Wendy Harris: I like the term, “To build relationships”, that’s the seat of pants that is. Everything in my being is around that. Like you, asking people for what their challenges are, even that can still feel a little bit too upfront and personal when you’ve only just met. My take on that is ask them, “How do you do this already?” If they think that they’re doing it, it will give you a level of understanding as to how serious they’re taking it, or how much effort is going into it so that you can build on that to be able to help them in the right time. I think it’s a much more flowing conversation that you have if you put what they’re doing and how they’re doing it up front and centre, would you agree?
Niraj Kapur: 100%. People don’t understand this, unless you’re working for a big corporate or a massive brand name, people buy people they like and trust. You don’t have to love the person. If I look at my customers, I would say about two thirds of them love me but only a third of them like me. They never invite me to golf days, they never invite me to parties, they never invite me to anything, but they know I have their best interests at heart, and they know I share lots of values.
So, your customers don’t have to love you, but they have to like you and they have to respect you and they really have to trust you and that’s really important. If people came more from a place of serving rather than selling it would be so much easier in business.
Wendy Harris: I think that’s really important that once you start to serve the rest kind of just falls into place automatically, doesn’t it? It’s a conversation I’ve been having a lot recently is that lots of people focus on closing business and how to close the business. Yes, it’s a really important part of the process and for me my speciality is if you’ve got ten customers that you want to close business with, that you know will buy your product if you start that conversation badly all ten will not buy.
If you start that conversation in a really good and positive way, putting them first and serving what they need and asking how they do things and taking the time, then the chances are that very quickly you will have two new clients and longer-term you should convert at least eight, because you’re never going to serve everybody.
Niraj Kapur: It’s very very important to do that. So, every now and again it doesn’t happen very often, but somebody will put a post on LinkedIn saying, “I’m looking for a sales trainer, who can you recommend?” Every man and his dog apply for this, so you literally, “Hire me, hire me”. Sadly, a lot of people who do this just do it for attention. A lot of companies who do this just do it because it soothes their ego and many people do it so they can get more LinkedIn connections. A lot of people don’t do it out of genuine reasons sadly, but every now and again somebody will be genuine, and I will win that business.
I always ask people when I win business, “What did I do to win that?” Because it’s very important to know what your success is and what your failures are. They often say, “Niraj, you’re the only person who didn’t sell. Everybody else was saying, ‘Here’s me, here’s me, here’s what I can do’, but what you did was you said, ‘Well, I can’t sell you anything because I don’t know what you want, so please let me know what your three biggest challenges are, I will do everything I can to help you. We may not even be the right fit, and if we’re not I’ll happily recommend you to somebody else'”.
That is a very different approach to all my competitors; every single one was like, “Here’s me”, spamming them full of information, using LinkedIn premium, sending proposals without even having a discussion. It’s a very, very way of different way of doing business, Wendy.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, there’s a lot of things that go on, on LinkedIn, that creep me out. I have to say in the main, I love LinkedIn; it’s a brilliant platform and it’s a great place to start conversations with people and one of my famous sayings is, “You never know where a conversation will lead”.
Niraj Kapur: True, but at the same time I’ve become much tougher in having conversations with people. So, when people say to me, “Look, I’d like to have a half hour synergy session with you or a networking session with you”. I used to say, “Yes”, and I never got any work done and a majority of the time it led to nowhere, so I am actually much more careful, and I will often say to somebody, just send me an agenda. If I don’t know you, just send me an agenda and some people say, “Why?” I say, “Well, because if I can do something in five minutes over a phone call, I’d rather do that than half an hour over Zoom”. Second of all, it gets rid of the timewasters and so many people don’t send me agendas in which case I’m like, “Okay, that’s good”. I don’t spend my time with that person.
Wendy Harris: I think you’ve perhaps seen my article that I did before Christmas which was, “How productive are you with your follow ups on Zoom versus the phone?” It’s like your time management thing; you can queue for a coffee or just go straight in and pick one up. If you book out your diary for half an hour to do a follow-up, chances are you’ll spend 25 minutes just talking about anything and everything and the last five minutes talking about what the reason for that meeting was; whereas if you just picked up the phone it would take you five minutes.
It’s not that I’m not for small talk or anything like that, but the preamble is cut right down and then you don’t feel guilty that you want to get it over and done with because you’ve still got 25 minutes in the diary to it. Five minutes in half an hour, that’s six people that you could potentially be touching and making an impact on. So, sometimes processes get in people’s way don’t they, to having really good conversations?
Niraj Kapur: I’m always surprised how many people are genuinely scared of picking up the phone. The number of people who have no idea what to say on the phone; they just hide behind email and I keep saying email is not a strategy. Email is good to do, of course, but it cannot be your only strategy. If it is you don’t have a business; if it is, you’re not going to succeed. You’re only going to go a certain extent with email.
You’ve got to pick up the phone, you’ve got to be attending networking events, you’ve got to be thinking of multiple levels of income which is the one thing I think we’ve really learned from the whole Covid situation. You’ve got to have different levels of income, so you’ve got to be thinking about podcast visibility, you have to be thinking of giving talks on Zoom, running masterclasses. There are so many things you should be doing, it’s not just one thing anymore because if that one thing goes, you’re in serious trouble.
Wendy Harris: That was my journey, I think. In 2020 nobody was at the end of the phone because they were all sent home. Communications weren’t in place; businesses had to restructure how they were operating. They were looking at survival before they could even go to the point of thrive again, so of course new business activity was really cut back. It taught me that I only had one revenue stream.
So, I sat and thought, “Right, what can I do?” It was simple, all the things that I’ve really wanted to do, write a book, launch a podcast, get my online training sorted. It was an incredible year for rebranding, new website. In actual fact, it was like a hidden blessing. But you’re right; you can’t rely on just one thing. The book gives you an insight to who I am, like your books give an insight into who you are and gives them an opportunity to see whether that’s a good fit without having a conversation. All the while they are reading your story and you’re educating them; you’re having the conversation. It’s making it count, isn’t it? There’s a lot to be said for bringing lots of different marketing strategies and conversational strategies. I think this is where the social selling really does play a big part, doesn’t it?
Niraj Kapur: You’ve got to be talking to people and you can also understand people’s problems so much easier when you talk to them. When you ask them by email, it can sometimes sound intrusive to people; and people often don’t reply by email, but over the phone or over Zoom it’s so much easier. People will open up to you much more and they’re more likely to discuss things with you and talk to you more about their problems, but on email they’re not going to get it into you. They don’t know you that well, why would they?
So, I often just find out people’s pain points more and discover more quicker over the phone. I also build better relationships with my clients. My clients, every single one of them — none of them say to me, “You know what, Niraj, I wish I had more email”. Nobody would say that. Nobody says, “Gosh, I just wish my phone would also ping more, ping more”. No, they’re happy to talk to people on the phone.
Most business owners I speak to are happy to have conversations over the phone or over Zoom and everybody is dying to get back to face-to-face again. Whenever that might be in 2021, we don’t know, but the first event I am meant to be speaking at this year is April and I’m really worried it’s going to be postponed again. It was postponed from last June, but I can see that happening, certainly.
Wendy Harris: It’s about staying realistic as to how long this situation is going to last isn’t it, that we’ve got to put health before wealth and whilst I am dearly missing hugging anybody other than my husband and my daughter at the moment, it is for our future. It’s safeguarding our future to be able to pick up again, isn’t it?
Niraj Kapur: It is, at least your daughter hugs you. Mine’s all grown up now so she’s too embarrassed to hug me. So that’s very good, at least you get hugs from your daughter.
Wendy Harris: We’ve got this new game going on where she hides behind doors to literally petrify her dad by going, “Boo”, and last night we were quite mean. He was upstairs in the bedroom and she was in her bedroom and I went up, went into the bathroom and he was still there, and I went and hid behind her bedroom door and I said, “Get your dad”. He opened the door, and I was behind it and he was like, “What?” Playing around thinking that she was going to scare him and then I just went, “Boo” and honestly, he held his chest for ages. There are different ways of having a good giggle these days but try not to send anybody into an early grave with a heart attack.
Niraj, every guest that comes on you’ve got lots of experience and a wealth of stories that you can share about clients and how you’ve helped them, but really what I’m interested in and I’m sure our listeners are interested in is finding out a bit more about you and a conversation that has affected you personally in your life and business. So, are you happy to share your pivotal moment with us?
Niraj Kapur: Yes, certainly there’s been so many. How do you choose one? Lockdown was a good one, I think the first one in March 2020 because I had just come out of a divorce, been married 21 years, been through a very painful divorce, not just financially but emotionally as well. There was a big fall out, because you don’t just lose your partner, you lose your in-laws and sadly you lose your friends as well, which I hadn’t expected. That was a big shock to me, so I came out of it really battling mental health problems.
In January and February 2020 my business just took off in such a big way, and I’m like, “Yes, I’m finally back on track. 2020 is going to be the best year of my life!”
Wendy Harris: Like a lot of us were hoping.
Niraj Kapur: Then March 2020. It was just horrible, within 48 hours I lost all my speaking slots events, I lost all my LinkedIn training, I lost all my sales training; everything went. It was like, “Oh God, no”. I think because I’ve lived or worked through two other recessions before.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, the same.
Niraj Kapur: It put me in a good position where I thought, “Okay, I’ve been through this before, let’s just stay calm. Let’s not panic like everybody else seems to be doing and let’s make some smart decisions here”. I did the old Brian Tracy thing of getting a pen and paper, writing down the top 20 things I can do and the first ten are always very easy but the last 10 are really hard. Within six weeks I had rebuilt my business and that was a big deal for me because I felt I was leading the way.
My second book, The Easy Guide to Sales for Business Owners came out, went to number 17 on the charts, stayed there for two weeks. Bearing in mind there was 500,000 books you’re competing with so that’s a big deal. I then launched a sales and wellbeing podcast, did 17 episodes of that. Then I have high ticket master classes, which you know about; every month, high ticket masterclasses on sales and LinkedIn. I refuse to do free because people just don’t value free, so I made them pay for it.
I got a lot of criticism from people who said, “You shouldn’t be doing such expensive masterclasses. I’m like, “But why?”
Wendy Harris: Everybody has an opinion, don’t they, Niraj?
Niraj Kapur: Everybody has an opinion and sadly they all feel the need to express it, but it was great. Then I ended up the year launching my course which I had been wanting to do for a long time. I just became overwhelmed with the platforms and the software and the automated systems. There’s so much stuff out there, it’s almost like going on a diet. How do you choose? Because I’m a great believer in coaching, I get coached heavily myself and I invested more money in the last six months of 2020 that what I’ve invested in two years. I invested over £10,000 just on personal coaching, sales coaching, business coaching because I expect clients to invest in me heavily so I should be investing in myself.
By doing that, meant I finished the year on top. It meant that now in 2021 where everybody is in lockdown, everybody’s just panicking, I’m like, “Why are you panicking for? We’ve been through this before. It’s frustrating, it’s very disappointing lockdown has been extended but stop panicking, you know what to do. All the information’s out there. Take good care of your mental health”. That’s the most important thing right now, not your business, your mental health because if your mental health and mindset is wrong, it doesn’t really matter what you do in your business.
So, for me the big lessons learned over the last year was when bad things happen, don’t make decisions when you’re angry; don’t make decisions when you’re under pressure; turn your technology off; get a pen and paper write down solutions then hire a sales coach, then hire a business coach then talk to people who are smarter than you for advice, read good books. These are all the things you should be doing. If you do that, you’re going to have way more success than other people who are just kind of panicking or doing nothing or just following the crowd.
Wendy Harris: It leads me to a conversation that I was having about a book that’s by Dr Meisner. Here’s a really quick analogy: so you’re in your room and there’s only one door and that door will only let people in. It’s an entry door only, so when people come in, they can’t leave. If you let everybody in, would you? Because I said, “That sounds like my worst nightmare letting everybody that I know in”. It’s like, if you can stick a doorman on; I went, “I’d rather have concierge”, but if you could monitor and you were in control of who came into your room, you would choose better. You would always choose wiser; you would surround yourself with the people that you want to be like or are on a level playing field with.
That is the same situation isn’t it, it doesn’t matter where you are, you can be really good at something but then when you’re learning something new for that growth, things go wrong. You need people that have been there before you in that new phase of learning.
Niraj Kapur: A lot of people don’t like asking for help. Men especially have too much pride a lot of the time and if you ask for help, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s okay to ask for help and you have to understand that even the most successful brilliant people in the world all had help. So, a great example is someone like Steve Jobs. People keep saying he’s a genius. Yeah, he was a very smart man, but he had a business partner called Steve Wozniak who was brilliant. He got coached by Bill Campbell his name is. He’s known as the trillion-dollar coach, because he coached the guys at Google, he coached Mark Zuckerberg, he coached Steve jobs.
Steve jobs also had Jonathan Ive, the brilliant designer; he surrounded himself with brilliant people. That’s one of the main reasons he was successful. It’s okay to do that, it’s good to ask people for help who are smarter than you. I do it all the time, I have no shame whatsoever in saying, “I don’t understand this, how does it work”. At the same time, a lot of people do not invest in themselves and that’s the thing that surprised me the most in the last year is the quality of sales is still terrible. I still get spammed relentlessly on LinkedIn Messenger and these aren’t by people in the Philippines or India, these are people in the UK and their job titles are not sales executive, their jobs titles are entrepreneur. They tend to do things like Bitcoin or Forex Trading or, “I help coaches go to seven figures a year”. Those kinds of people.
I just think, “God, have you never read a book on personal development? Seriously, have you ever been to a Tony Robbins course”, because you have to be investing in yourself, otherwise you have no idea how much you’re losing out in life.
Wendy Harris: 2021 is upon us, I think we have lots to look forward to, we can still get out. We can still look after our mental health by getting back close to nature. I think the other thing is that by being less physically connected we’re more socially connected through a lot of the technology and I think it is about listening to our instincts a little bit more as well, isn’t it; reconnecting with what that gut feeling is, whether we’re doing the right thing, the wrong thing or it’s something that drives us?
Niraj Kapur: Yes, I think that’s very important to know you and again, that comes back to reading good books; it comes back to being coached. When you read good books on personal development every day without fail, I started doing this in 2011. So, I lost my job in the recession in 2010 and it really affected me quite badly and I had a mid-life crisis because I was very good at my job. It wasn’t like I was fired, no; I was very good at my job, but the company was making cuts and I was devastated after almost six years of being a top performer, to suddenly lose my job was just a shock to my system.
I realised quite a few important lessons in life. It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you react to it. I reacted very badly to it. I was very angry. I walked round with a chip on my shoulder, so every time I’d go for a job interview nobody would hire me, because I was angry and had a chip on my shoulder. And the second thing is, my father very kindly flew over from Northern Ireland in Belfast, to England where I was living, and he had intervention with my wife at the time and my daughter.
They said, “Look, you’re suffering from depression. It’s understandable you’ve lost your job, you can’t pay the bills, we get it, but you have to get help”. So, I discovered personal development. I went to get help in the self-help section of WHSmith. I arrived there and it was full of middle-aged ladies in cardigans and sandals, and I was embarrassed, and I ran back downstairs like a complete coward.
On the way I came across this magazine called, “Success, how to improve your life”. It used to be a very popular magazine and there was Tony Robbins and John Maxwell and Les Brown and Jim Rowan, all these masters talking about you are 100% responsible for your life. I’m like, “Really? I am? I can’t blame the government; I can’t blame my parents?” The key to living is giving. Seriously? The more you learn the more you earn. All of a sudden, I’m learning these things and all these light bulbs are popping off in my head, going, “What is this?” It was quite emotional to read, and I went and spent about £100 on books to better myself. That day changed me.
Then all of a sudden within two months I’ve landed my dream job and that dream job meant I also got coaching, I went on management programmes, I went on sales courses, I got mentored and I got coached and it was just incredible. The next five years were the best five years of my life by a mile,; nothing’s ever come close and that was all because I invested in myself. The best thing and the smartest thing you can do is invest in yourself. Don’t look at it as a cost; look at it as an investment.
Wendy Harris: Well-played to your dad for coming and having that chat with you.
Niraj Kapur: Yeah, he’s a scary man, I wasn’t going to go anywhere.
Wendy Harris: Niraj, thank you so much for sharing. I think there’s possibly more to this story but we’re out of time this morning so if anybody listening wants to pick up the conversation with you, where’s the best place for them to find you.
Niraj Kapur: Well, no matter how many times I say to people, “Go to everybodyworksinsales.com, my website or go to salesmomentumacademy.com, they all keep going to LinkedIn and finding me, so just go to LinkedIn and find me. You will find me at everybodyworksinsales.com, you can email me it’s not a problem; I don’t mind.
Wendy Harris: Just Google it, you choose, yes.
Wendy Harris: Niraj, thank you so much. Please do keep that subscribe going for makingconversationscount.studio/podcast. We have some great guests coming up. If you’ve not listened to any of the earlier episodes, please do there’s a great back catalogue that you can work your way through. Stick it on while you’re working and hopefully, you’ll get lots more inspiration. Thanks again, Niraj.