Book Coach Lisa Tener met Thane Crossley when he pitched his book, 25 SalesBoosters, at Harvard Medical School’s CME Healthcare Leadership and Publishing Course in 2014. The book has much to teach authors about selling their services–and also their books!
Tara: What prompted and inspired you to write 25 SalesBoosters? What was your goal?
Thane: I think that most people who write books, whether it’s a novel or non-fiction, have a story or message they want to share with the world. What do you have to say? In the case of 25 SalesBoosters, my goal was to help sales professionals elevate their incomes by incorporating simple yet powerful techniques into their selling routines. It’s exciting to reach a larger audience beyond my psychology practice. It’s inherently rewarding to give people the benefits of what I have learned working with individuals one on one. Any person selling anything will achieve greater prosperity if they apply what’s in the book. Easier said than done of course, because there is a big difference between intellectual understanding and application. But having said that, I am pleased to offer proven solutions to sales challenges.
Tara: In Writing 25 SalesBoosters, did you find yourself applying any specific techniques to your writing? Which ones and how? How about with publishing? How did your sales boosters influence the book’s design? The target audience?
Thane: Yes, I did endeavour to apply the suggested techniques to my own writing. Two examples – the Chapter, Small Gains, recommends setting easy to reach targets as opposed to going for the home run. Each day, I write just a little. That much created a book in two years. Big dreams can be achieved with compact, seemingly insignificant, steps. In Take Action, Chapter 20, readers are reminded to move forward with their intentions. There is great power in being clear on what you want and then moving towards the target. What’s that expression – ‘if wishes were horses, beggars would ride’. In other words, actualize your desired results. What one step can you take now? I ask myself that from time to time. How did what’s in the book influence it’s design? Well, the book is deliberately short, and focussed on the principles it is promoting. Sales people are busy selling and they don’t have a lot of time for development. So I tried to say the most in the least amount of text. I also provided a wide range of examples from different fields of selling to show how the concepts in the book are universal. At the extreme, If someone needs to be better sold on themselves, 25 SalesBoosters might be a good place to begin.
Tara: You mention that 25 Sales Boosters is written in hypnotic language to help readers absorb and integrate the information. What does that mean and how does it work? How does that affect your voice as an author?
Thane: Hypnotic language is a complex topic that deserves lots of study and reflection. What I can say right now is that top sales people intuitively use such communication in their dialogues with customers. Telling the right story about an enthused purchaser, for example, may help persuade a reticent client to buy. Pausing between words or phrases can subtly influence what a customer hears. If you (pause) buy this car, (pause) you will really enjoy driving it. You can see that hypnotic language can smooth the way to making a sale or selling an idea. Fortunately, you can’t force people to act against their wills. Hypnotic language can give people more of what they desire. In a therapeutic or self improvement context, hypnotic language allows people to experience the best of themselves more frequently. And what could be better than that?
Tara: This website is about how to write a book: What’s your process for writing a book? How did you go about it?
Thane: I have spoken with probably a dozen authors over the past 30 plus years and they all completed their books differently. One said he spent half his time planning and blueprinting his thesis. Another told me she did a complete draft of her book and then kept refining it. One writer wrote a few key points for each chapter of his book and then dictated his text as if he were talking to his audience . Do what works for you. I set aside 30 minutes each professional day. My goal is to complete a decent paragraph. Some days I struggle to produce a good sentence. Occasionally the words come faster than I can write them down. Generally, I am a slow writer. Once I have completed a chapter, I will go back and make it better. I like to tell myself that I have done a good job and I will feel pleased with my work. 25 SalesBoosters is my second book. I did the first one, Five Steps to Coaching, in a similar manner–one paragraph at a time.
Tara: In Chapter 8- Saying No to Rejection you say, “Climbing the mountain is challenging, but the view from the top can be inspiring.” What were some of the biggest challenges you came across in writing/publishing 25 SalesBoosters?
Thane: Two of my biggest challenges writing 25 SalesBoosters were time allocation and editing patience. I have found it best for me to block out a half hour in my day schedule. Most days this works. On very busy days I’ve had to reduce my writing window to ten or fifteen minutes. At least I am writing something. My personality is such that when I’ve completed a task, such as a book chapter, it’s done and I like to move on to something new. Of course, formal editing requires changes that never seem to end. I try to talk myself through it–one paragraph at a time–and remind myself that it is going well. I have to say the editing portion is not all that satisfying for me. How many times do I need to revise this? Okay, overall, it’s looking good; just relax and do the edits for this paragraph. Once all the Chapters are finished, it’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.
Tara: Can you estimate how much of 25 SalesBoosters is based on research/interviews you conducted and how much comes from your own prior knowledge/experiences as a psychologist? How did that ratio come about?
Thane: All the SalesBooster themes come directly from sales people. The topics (Chapter headings) are the essence of my one on one discussions. The advice given, or the prescriptions for success, are based 75% on research with sales people, and 25% on my knowledge as a psychologist. Recommendations provided in the book have been extensively tested and refined, based on feedback and suggestions from clients. I think the psychological portion of the solutions are not exclusive to the sales area. They have a wider application. For example, we can all benefit from Feeling Gratitude (Chapter one). Most people would like greater self-confidence (Chapter 10). And who wouldn’t want more wealth (Chapter 25). Although I wrote the book for sales people, there are a few suggestions hidden in plain sight for any reader. These gems have been gleaned from others. They are not mine; I am happy to pass along the advice.
Tara: Are there any Sales Boosters other than the 25 you wrote about that you were planning to include but ultimately did not? If so, what made you decide on only using 25, and how did you go about the process of elimination?
Thane: Yes, how did you know there are more than 25 SalesBoosters? I endeavoured to select the ones I felt were most relevant for today’s world. What are my clients talking about these days? Are there hot topics that come up frequently in our conversations? I asked a few sales people to check off the boosters they thought were most helpful. Some of my favourites were omitted by popular vote. I have a simple A B C sales approach I really like and wanted to include. But my audience said, ‘we already know how to sell – let’s instead talk about selling better. How do I deal with a few difficult customers and retain these profitable account? (Chapter 15)’. In the book I also ordered the Chapters so that newly acquired skills could be reinforced and augmented progressively. I recommend reading slowly, one Chapter every two weeks. Most importantly, begin to apply the suggestions. That is the only way to make the principles your truth.
Tara: Gratitude Sells, Turn Mind Power Into Sales Power, Stay Upbeat, Find Career Joy, Raise Your Energy, and Feel Wealthy are the chapters that seem to lean more toward the psychological side of sales. Do you think that the advice included in these chapters will be more difficult for readers to follow since they focus on working toward a healthy, beneficial and individual mentality, as opposed to simply following explicit steps and processes provided in the other chapters?
Thane: You have made a great point here, Tara. I agree that focussing on sales as mental mastery is more obtuse and more challenging than learning sales routines. I hope the provided exercises included in these psychological chapters are clear and straightforward. As mentioned in the books introduction, I am indebted to my sales colleagues for refining the mental methodologies so that they are appealing, and most importantly, are effective. We regularly receive feedback on our counsel; what’s working, what’s not, and where the blocks are. For example, the exercise on maintaining your flight plan (Chapter 22) has been fine tuned over a five year span. It didn’t have the plane analogy in it. One day in my office a client said “I am keeping my nose up just enough to stay on course”. We both though of flying an aeroplane at the same time. The client came up with the metaphor of ‘checking your altitude’ and thus managing your elevation (mood and disposition). In short, we kept adjusting all the SalesBoosters until the advice was as perfect as we could make it as this time. I really enjoy tailoring advice so that it clicks with the user.
Tara: Are there one or two sales boosters that you think are especially surprising or counter-intuitive? Which ones?
Thane: I hope all 25 SalesBoosters make complete sense and will be helpful. There are a few that may be counter-intuitive. Chapter 9, Be Positively Negative, is often surprising to people. Especially if they believe they should always put an optimistic spin on everything. ‘You mean it is okay to complain and tell people how I really feel,’ they ask. Viewed and executed in the right context, being negative can bring fresh energy to look at a problem anew. Small Gains, Chapter 23 deserves a second look, too. The big win is of course wonderful. But there is a lot to be said for bringing your novel to life, one paragraph at a time. On a macro level, most of the advice in 25 SalesBoosters is counter-intuitive, isn’t it.? Could sales improvements be so simple? Could more success be an exercise away? Yes and no. Simple is not the same as easy. The techniques are easy, but only when you master them. I have presented the key. Now the person needs to put it in the lock and turn. I am still trying to figure out how to help others do this.
Tara: What are some aspects you like most about the final product? Is there anything you would do differently?
Thane: Let’s not be too self-congratulatory! I enjoyed completing the book and having the proof in my hands. I was pleased with the flow of the Chapters. Early feedback has been complimentary. Did I mention I liked the finished product? The greatest reward for me has been a new client who said ‘ thank you for these messages’. Looking forward, I have plans for a companion ‘practical application workbook’. In five years a Revised and Updated 25 Sales Boosters, and who know what else.
What would I do differently? Now I am looking at how to liaison with social media. I should have done this first, before doing the book. I have put the cart before the horse. Luckily, I have a couple of corporate partners that have expressed interest in supporting my marketing efforts. Overall, producing the book has been a wonderful learning experience. Highly recommended! I am grateful for Harvard’s Writing and Publishing Workshop and for experts like you and Lisa Tener for setting the stage and so much more.
Tara: How are you using any of the techniques you shared in promoting or marketing the book?
Thane: I have endeavoured to follow the marketing and promotional advice provided in the book. Like all salespeople, I do catch myself from time to time doing the opposite. Yesterday I said “I should have a larger social media audience. How can I sell 25 SalesBoosters if no one knows about me?” Is this type of thinking really helpful? Given who I know, what can I do right now to sell books today? How about mentioning the book to my next client? How about showing the book during my next corporate talk? How about offering one chapter free to the salesperson I am purchasing from? There are usually lots of actions we can take that are overlooked or dismissed.
By all means build a strong media presence and leverage it. But in the meantime, get out there and sell to your immediate audience. On another level, set yourself up for unexpected success by following your favourite tip in 25 SalesBoosters. Feel grateful for what you have now. Stay upbeat. Feel confident. Check you altitude. Believe in yourself and that your work will find it’s own success. You might imagine orders gradually coming in. An influential person could sponsor you. What small actions can you take to increase your exposure? It has been my experience that once a person is crystal clear on their intent, the rest starts to line up. Then it is the ideal time to take action and follow through.
Tara: Any advice you have for aspiring authors on how to write a book or how to sell books?
Thane: I think this is where you and Lisa come in! It’s great to have resources like this available to help aspiring authors write and sell books. There is great satisfaction is getting your message to the world – so I would say, tell your story. Write at the same time each day until you have completed your book. Keep gently pressing forward. Be supportive of yourself and also hold yourself accountable. Be disciplined. Someone said this to me years ago when I was considering doing my Psychology Program and was complaining that it would take me a long time to complete it. The person said – “In 60 months, you can be sitting here as you are today, or you can be a Psychologist. The time will go by anyway. Take your choice.”
That phrase – ‘the time will go my anyway’ has stuck with me. In practice, you can be sitting here in two years with nothing to show literary wise – or you can be holding your book. Which will it be? The time will go by anyway. Regarding marketing your work, this is as important as writing the book. I would suggest building, nurturing, and connecting with your audience in a way that is right for you. Don’t necessarily follow the herd. Come up with your own promotional plan that is aligned with your beliefs, values, and style. Have fun with sales and marketing. As you try out new things to see how they feel and how they produce results, you will develop your own blueprint for success. What is unique and special about your marketing?
Thane Crossley is a psychologist in Toronto, Canada. He has been practicing for 34 years, specializing in sales leadership.