In this engaging podcast episode, host Jason ( Jason S Bradshaw) welcomes Alison Mullins, an accomplished author, sales expert, and a connoisseur of stone surfaces. Alison’s extraordinary journey, from studying textiles to becoming a prominent figure in the world of stone surfaces, is unveiled. She reflects on her unexpected career transition, emphasizing the role of outside sales.
The conversation shifts to Alison’s recently published book, “The Art of Selling: We Make Order Makers, Not Order Takers.” Inspired by a former manager’s wisdom, this title underscores the need to shift from passive order-taking to proactive order-making in the world of sales.
Alison and Jason dive into the prevalent fear associated with sales, particularly among business owners. They explore the underlying factors, including a lack of confidence and understanding of customer needs. Alison underscores the pivotal role of product confidence in successful selling.
A key chapter in Alison’s book, “Perfecting Your Pitch,” is explored. The discussion highlights the importance of crafting a compelling pitch by understanding the audience, focusing on problem-solving, and delivering tailored solutions efficiently.
Alison shares invaluable insights on conquering the fear of rejection in sales. She provides strategies to redirect the energy in a conversation and gracefully handle rejection, emphasizing adaptability and inquisitiveness.
The episode concludes with a focus on Alison’s philanthropic efforts, particularly her involvement with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). She’s committed to inspiring young girls to explore rewarding career opportunities in the construction industry, especially in underserved regions.
Jason commends Alison for her charitable contributions and dedication to enhancing the sales landscape. He encourages the audience to explore Alison’s book and online courses, emphasizing that small steps can lead to substantial sales success.
You can get a copy of Alison’s Book -The Art Of Selling here https://amzn.to/47hLEkQ
You can connect with Alison on LinkedIN – https://www.linkedin.com/in/alisonmullins/
You can connect with Alison on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/repmethods/?hl=en
Alison’s company and courses can be found at https://www.repmethods.com/
JASON: Hey everyone, welcome to the show. You are in for a treat today. Our guest is not only an author and a sales expert, but she's also a stone surfaces guru. We'll learn more about that and all of her great work. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show, Alison Mullins. Alison, great to have you here today.
ALISON: Thank you. Thank you. I'm looking forward to this very much.
JASON: Now, it would be remiss of me not to start by asking, what is a stone surfaces guru?
ALISON: Sure, sure. So, oddly enough, I'll just give you a brief background. You know, I started out actually in college studying textiles and went to New York City. Had a little background in fashion and Lo and behold, after the 2008 crash, I ended up in a little town in Virginia and took a job as an outside sales rep for a surfaces company.
So what does that mean? That's like countertops. That was the primary focus, especially in my 1st role. But that career has just flown for me for the last 13 years. And surfaces is pretty much anything, walls, floors, countertops, any application that you have to apply a surface to and over the years, I just kept working and working and studying and became sort of a natural stone expert, if you will, thanks to some previous contracts that I've had.
So, thank you for asking.
JASON: Well, it just goes to show that everyone has a very background and, I'm sure, you know, quite often people are I'm surprised when I tell them that I used to work in procurement in a government organization and that I can tell them how the price of oil impacts the price of carpets.
So we all have our different backgrounds and our stories. So thank you for being so generous and sharing yours.
JASON: Congratulations on the new book, The Art of Selling, We make order makers, not order takers.
ALISON: It's a little cheeky, isn't it, the title?
JASON: It's a great title. It's a great title.
So, what led you to write this book?
ALISON: Sure. It started with an old manager that I actually was an underling, you know, as a sales associate, I was doing outside sales. And he, you know, of course, would push me to train others with some of my skill set. And he used to tell me that, and gosh, you know, these people, you know, blah, blah, blah.
They are such just the order takers. They don't actually ever make any orders happen. And so I can't take full credit. My buddy and friend and former manager and partner in crime, if you will, Robert helped me design this title, because my methods that he would push me to teach others, make order makers and give up the taking of the orders and start making them happen.
JASON: Yeah.Well, it makes more sense to create the order that it does just to sit there and take it. Right. Because that can be outsourced. That can be automated.
JASON: So definitely, really great title and a great book you cover off brand management, lead management, sales process and what to do post the sale, really some stuff there as well, but what I think's on the top of my mind when I was getting ready for this interview was the fact that so many people, so many business owners, absolutely hate selling.
ALISON: Yeah. Yeah, it's an interesting skill set.
JASON: Why do you think people are so afraid of?
ASLIN: You know, people sometimes just lack in a little bit of confidence and that limbic resonance that I talk about which is not my own term either. I like to give credit where credit's due and there's a fabulous, fabulous book for anybody who wants to explore the dynamic conversation that you have with your target audience, your person that is titled limbic resonance, and that comes from the book called primal leadership.
I always give a little extra plug there because, you know, when my own studies, I had to figure out like what is it that makes me so good at talking to others and just creating that conversation. And I think that's where a lot of the fear begins, especially with entrepreneurs, you know, people who are business minded, people who have a dream and they've got this gumption to be able to go out and start your own business, you know, they're pretty dynamic group of people with a lot of varying skill sets. So some of us, and I'm one of those people too, because I'm an entrepreneur at heart. We can be a jack of all trades and a master of none. And so the art of selling is something that sort of sits in the background because a lot of times you'll just want to hope for the best and think that all the other things that you're doing for the business are going to be what actually leads you to sales.
But if you don't actually get out there and start making orders happen and creating that limbic resonance with your customers. Then you may or may not be so successful on the sales field. \
JASON: Yeah, I was reading a book just recently. I can't recall the name of it, but there was a line in it that was very much along what you were just saying, you know, some business owners potentially get busy in the other stuff as a way to avoid doing the necessary stuff, which is always sales.
If you're not selling any, if you're not prepared to hire someone to do the selling, well, then you're going to have a problem.
JASON: And I like your link back to confidence because I think there's something really fundamentally true about how we operate. When we get really confident about something, we gravitate to it.
We do it as our preference. And we should take that lesson and go, okay, well, we weren't a stone guru the first time that we talked about stones, but, certainly five years later, 10 years later, you are, and you've got to start somewhere. So I think the great message there is read books like yours, do the practice, and as you practice, you'll get better.
ALISON: Yeah. Exactly.
JASON: Go on.
ALISON: Yeah. I was just going to say, I spoke to a young lady today, I do a lot of volunteer work and I'm working on a mentorship program for a United States industry group called Women in Flowing and volunteering to assist in that matchmaking process has been a journey for me this year.
I've participated in many mentor and mentee programs over the years, and I spoke with her today and she's got 12 years experience in commercial flooring, and she's applied to be a mentee and I spoke to her and I said, you know, we really actually need you to be a mentor. You've got all this experience.
And the truth was, it's exactly what you were just saying. What came out of that conversation was she was afraid. I mean, she generally has like people in general don't even know if they're good enough. They don't know if they're good enough to teach somebody else. They don't know if they're good enough to get in front of somebody and be able to provide education or support or background.
And finding that confidence within yourself is difficult. So, I mean, I hope that the conversation I got to have with her today will lead her to believe that she does have the skills and the power to be able to lead somebody else. And that's honestly, that is the root of like everything that I want to accomplish with this book and my programs in general.
JASON: Well, it's so true that the saying that you just need to be one step ahead. No, don't try and teach people to be where you are at today, but help them take the steps to how you got to where you are today.
JASON: And that's exactly what mentoring is. Now in the book, there's actually a section called practice your pitch.
JASON: ‘Cause given that we've been talking about confidence, I think this is a great chapter. Can you give our audience some, you know, it's more than just sitting in front of a mirror or sitting in front of a camera, right? What’s your idea of practicing for a pitch or practicing the pitch, I should say?
ALISON: Well, absolutely. I mean, first and foremost, you have to identify the key points. of what it is that you're, you're trying to sell and identify the audience that's sitting in front of you, because if we don't think about the product or the service that we're trying to sell and how it relates to solving a problem.
So that's the P in pitch, right? We want to solve a problem. And if you only have 30 seconds, a minute, five minutes, whatever that length of time is, the number one thing you have to do is get that problem from your customer out in the open and let them know that you have a solution for that problem. And that I think should be game plan number one is how does your service or product apply to the audience at hand? And then another point that I make in the book is about being concise. Some people can ramble on for years and years and years and over my career years, I have learned to trim down the words. I think I inherited a little bit of that from my father and I'm very thankful for that, but be concise.
Don't waste people's time. Just get to the point, show them that you have the solution and then exude that confidence that you believe that you will solve the problem. And if you can kind of like mash all of these things together, then you're on the road to having a great sales pitch.
JASON: There's so many things that you said there that I don't want the audience to forget.
First is, I'm paraphrasing, but the first thing was know your audience.
JASON: If you're selling, I'm going to use a benchtop example, if you're selling benchtops to someone building a $5 million house, the conversation is going to be different than someone that's building a $400,000 house.
The problem is similar perhaps for both parties, but different in a sense as well, because one, they both want to solve the problem of not, of having bench tops, right? But, one might need a functional bench top. One might want a bench top that also becomes a show piece or other things. So know your audience, and then the other area which you touched on made me think about this, you talked about confidence again, confidence in the product, and I was thinking, hang on, there's something here, if you're not a confident seller, if you're not really great at this selling, you're just practicing, you're just getting started.
Well, become really confident in the product that you're selling. If you know more about your product and how it solves the problem for your audience, then, of course, you're going to be able to lean into that confidence to help you sell and help you deliver a solution for your customers. So, that's great.
And, you know, from my world, knowing your customer is the number one challenge. So many of us have, we, I have a client that, every single time I talk with her, I say, so what does your customer say? How did they talk? What language and problems do they have? And she gets quite frustrated with me, but it's true, right?
You've got to know your customer. So that's the pitch
ALISON: Yeah. And we can go on and talk about it further, but I'd love people to pick up the book and talk about something called chameleoning. So you just hit on that a little bit. I didn't originate that term, but it's not a term that you hear very often.
And it is something that I came up with to describe what happens, what you need to do. You need to become a chameleon and don't misinterpret that either audience. I love you to death, but I've had some people actually give me some criticism about that and saying, Oh, well, you're just faking it.
You know, you're just acting like your customer. And it's no, no, I'm still me. I can become a chameleon in the sense that I have to identify with the situation that a client is in. So in order for me to twist myself around visually and mentally, to be able to understand their problems and becoming a chameleon and identifying that like minded thinking and actions are actually what's going to build not only your confidence, but your customers confidence in believing that you have the solution for them. If you're speaking the same language, if you are holding the same tone of voice, you know, I talk about don't be an elephant in the room when it's full of mice, you know, that's a very silly little paraphrase.
But in my online courses, I laugh about that a lot because typically I am a very loud and somewhat can be obnoxious person. So I've had to temper that depending on who the audience is, and I can talk. You know, a little junk about myself. I don't mind to say that, you know, and I have to know when I walk into a room full of librarians that I might wanna tone it down a little bit.
And so that is also an art form.
JASON: And I think that's the saying of the week, if I can steal it, elephant, don't be the elephant in the, in a room full of mice. So that is great.
ALISON: Thank you.
JASON: I think that, we change ourselves in the situations every single moment of the day without even thinking about it.
If how you eat your meal at home is different to how you eat at the restaurant, and it's different to how you eat at the five star Michelin restaurant. And the clothes you wear in each of those situations is probably different as well. I definitely don't go out to a Michelin star restaurant in my pajamas, that's for sure.
So, I think we get in our head a little bit too much, and I love that thought of meeting your customer where they are, being more likable towards them. Because the key is to be known, liked, and trusted, right? Now, I can remember in my early, early years, going back 20 years now, so I'm definitely aging myself, but going back 20 years, one of my early jobs was as an outbound telemarketer.
ALISON: Me too.
JASON: Gosh. I often say that it's, that is one of the hardest jobs out there because you have to be prepared to keep on dialing after people hang up on you, there was, I don't know about in your case, but in my case, we had this sheet of objections. So, you know, how to handle the objections.
And I wonder if that's why people actually fear sales is because they don't want to, as humans, we don't want to be rejected. And in sales, a lot of us get a lot of rejections before we get to the yeses. So it's great that you have, you talk about rebuttals and refusal within the book, but I'm just wondering if you could share with us what's one thing or, you know, a couple of things that people can do to work through the rejection and by that, I mean, not only how do I respond when you say, Oh no, I've got to go and speak to the partner, but the mental state of being rejected so often.
ALISON: Yeah, absolutely. And trust me, you know, I've definitely faced my fair shares of rejections over the years. So there's something that happens in the body, right? When you start to face rejection. And everybody's different. I know for me, I can say, I start to get a sinking feeling.
I start to get a little bit of a turn in the stomach. I start to recognize that, oh, this isn't going well. So in, this happens within seconds during a sales pitch or a conversation. And it's that practice that's going to help you. You want to flip that around, right? We have to change the energy. So I talk about that in the book a little bit about how you've got to throw a little wrench in the conversation.
You've got to swing things around because, as you are starting to sink, because you're feeling rejection, trust me, the client is going to feel that too. They actually have the opportunity to sort of raise up, feel empowered. And especially for those who doesn't know, like sometimes I have to be in a very hard pressed selling conversation with men who are far more domineering than I am.
And so this became an art form for me because as a woman, sometimes we can tend to turn into a shrinking violet, right? That's that shrinking feeling. And one of the best ways that I have found, and I've got some worse ways too. One of the best ways I've found to switch the conversation is by starting to ask questions.
Number one, take away of the day, if you can change the conversation by instead of taking the beating that's happening, you flip it and you start asking questions and give the person that you're trying to sell to an opportunity to give you more information. And it also allows you to kind of scramble and use that product knowledge skill and that situation skill or any of the experience that you have, maybe even in another position somewhere, it's going to allow you those moments for your brain to click in and find an opportunity to go, nope, I've got you. You can't get me on this one. And it's going to allow that shrinking violet moment to disappear completely. Now on that note, I'll tell you, in some of my precarious situations, and when I have been losing a battle, one thing that has gone very wrong for me is to become louder and more obnoxious and trying to overbear and overpower the other person on the other end of the phone or in person. It happens in both situations and sometimes it's worked and it's not necessarily a pretty situation, but it's not. But I recommend, I do recommend that you actually just try to reframe the conversation.
In fact, even backing away and giving some space to your audience at heart and allowing them to take over the conversation for a few minutes while you allow your brain some time to recoup. Will give you an opportunity to find that rebuttal.
JASON: Some great hints for us there and just reminded for those listening, the art of selling, we make order makers, not order takers and everywhere I've looked in preparation for this show around reviews for the book, they're all shining five star reviews.
And of course, in the show notes, we're going to put a link to how customers can get a copy of the book. And, you don't have to wait. You can get it today and read it on your Kindle. You've got it in every available format. You've taken away the objection of not having it in the format that I read books in.
So, you've made it super easy for everyone, which is fantastic. And it's such an easy read. And not only easy read, but actionable. It's not one of these books where you're recommending going and investing, you know, 2 million on a new IT system. It's a practical book that will help you be better at the art of selling.
And if you're not selling, or if you don't think you're selling, I should say, well, I'm not sure what, what you're doing because even when I've been in the back office of an organization, I've still got to sell my ideas. So you've got to sell people on what you're trying to get them to buy into. So it's such an important work and book.
ALISON: Thank you. I'm so glad to hear your positive feedback. It's, you know, writing a book is kind of like getting naked. I don't know if anybody has …
JASON: I have not heard that phrase before.
ALISON: Yep. So here I am changing that dialogue for us. I don't want people to think this is a little bit too boring of a conversation, but trust me.
Yeah. Writing a book is kind of like showing your naked body to the world and you're kind of waiting to decide. Hey, who's gonna like me? Am I pretty enough? Is this satisfactory? You know, and there's always gonna be some negative feedback, but I am really happy with the audience thus far. It is still fairly new, but such positive response is so fulfilling.
JASON: I feel like I need to share that, I was actually in the bath when I came up with the title for my book. And I have to give my credit to my husband. I was traveling and I was in the bath and we were going, I was texting him. What about this name for the book? What about that name for the book? And then he came back with, what ended up being the name of the title of the book.
So it's funny that you say it's a bit like being naked.
ALISON: It is a bit like being naked. I mean, you're raw and uncovered and for everybody to see all your little tidbits.
JASON: Yeah, I'm not going to subject anybody to that. So Alison, we definitely took a turn there. But, I love the analogy, nonetheless. So you mentioned with us earlier, and we could spend hours talking about your book, but before we wrap up today, I think that it would be really important, especially for our audience members that are based in the U.S., for you to share a little bit more about the charity work and the mentoring that you do to, so that we can put details about that in the show notes and anyone that it might be appropriate to can reach out as well.
ALISON: Oh, thank you. Yes. Thank you for those moments because it is, so I, you know, I really wanted to use my voice as a platform.
I grew up and anybody who reads a little bit of history about me, I grew up in Southwest Virginia, which is a very small and rural part of the United States. There are many of those across America, but we are known for coal mining and labor intensive jobs and not a lot of necessarily good jobs and going to high school they push everybody into college. And as I've developed in my career, I have decided to really align myself with groups who choose to give back and educate towards the trade. I personally do have a four year degree. I do not believe that it is required for someone to have a four year collegiate degree in order to be successful, especially not in a career in selling.
I'll tell you that anybody, if you've got the knack for it, you don't need a degree to get out there and actually do some sales. But more importantly, the trades, right? Construction, we have a just deficit in the United States for people who are willing to actually do laborious jobs and be craftsmen and turn back to craftsmanship.
So, 1 of the groups that I volunteer with now is the National Association of Women in Construction, and by far, they are leading the pack, absolutely leading the pack in trying to bring back education, especially for women and young girls in school systems and letting them know that there are careers available for them in the construction community. And it doesn't necessarily have to be the lady driving the truck either.
I mean, we've got jobs that are in project management, sales, of course account management. It's not being somebody's secretary I mean, there are very very lucrative careers in the construction industry and NAWIC as we call it by short National Association of Women in Construction is just absolutely taking the leap. Participated in a camp over the summer for girls ages, uh, 7th to 9th grade in the United States.
So that's about 10 to 12 years old. We did have, I think a 14 year old also in the group and we are trying our best to teach them about the opportunities that are available. And it brings me so much joy, it is absolutely just one of those involvements that not only has to do with my love for natural stone and surfaces in the industry, but also that will to want to bring education and opportunity back to places like Southwest Virginia that don't have a lot of opportunity for the youth.
JASON: Such important work, and we'll be sure to put details of that in the show.
ALISON: Thank you.
JASON: So I love and appreciate that you're giving back to the community as well. So thank you for that. Alison, before we wrap up, what's one thing that our audience members can do as soon as they finish watching or listening to this show that will help them be better at the art of becoming a order maker instead of an order taker?
ALISON: Yeah. I mean, not only do I encourage people to, of course, read the book and there's a free workbook opportunity that comes with it, but I've got some really short and concise online classes that are available very strategic and it's not a lot. You've got an account manager segment, I've got a direct selling segment, and then I even have a commercial specification segment.
And I believe that that's all you need to kick your butt and gear, reset some settings and get out there and start selling better for your business or for your product.
JASON: Fantastic. And we'll make it really easy for people to connect with those courses and get those resources. Alison, it's been my absolute pleasure to host you today on the show.
Thank you so much for giving up your time.
ALISON: Thank you. Thank you all for listening. And I really appreciate your time.
JASON: And to the audience, thank you for taking the time to listen or watch this show. Remember to give us a five star review, and to share it with your friends because it really does help the show, but most importantly, remember that it can be just one step between you and your next success.
Thanks for listening.