As you know by now, I had the privilege of interviewing Tom Hopkins last week for the Success Is Voluntary Podcast. (Listen to the interview here.) It was a great thrill for me and I have received incredible feedback from many listeners. Even though we spent almost an hour together on the call, I didn’t even come close to asking Tom all the things I wanted to. After we stopped “taping” Tom and I talked for another 15 minutes and he offered to come back on in six months to follow-up with some of the questions we couldn’t get to.
As I mentioned on the podcast, I have studied Tom’s books, techniques and audio programs for 17+ years now and thought I was about as close to an “expert” on Tom Hopkins as there was. Having said that I was taken aback by how much I still learned in less than an hour. Because I was the interviewer, I got to pick the questions that I wanted answers to and was able to ask follow-up questions. Instead of slogging through 300 pages of a book or watching 12 hours worth of a video course and then still getting a generic solution to my situation, I was able to ask THE EXPERT specific, targeted, case-specific, questions. Do you know what that sounds like to me? COACHING!!! (Shameless Plug Warning— I offer a 30 minute free coaching session and a paid coaching solution too.)
My Top 5 Take-aways From My Interview with Tom Hopkins:
- If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. – I know that is cliche, but I don’t care. It’s true! It was clear from Tom’s passion and zeal that he absolutely loves what he does (teaching sales) despite having done it for 40+ years now. Just listen to how animated he becomes and how the speed of his speech picks up during the interview. He was holding court for the listeners and he was bringing it!!!
- Sales will always be about the basics. – In Tom’s seminal work How to Master the Art of Selling he outlines the 7 fundamental skills that make up a sale. Even though he first wrote the book in 1980, those 7 things haven’t changed one bit. They were true when Adam and Eve bought their first home and they will still be true well beyond your retirement from sales. To learn Tom’s 7 skills read the book already! (Just click on it to go to Amazon.com)
- The alternate of choice close is still as effective as ever. – The skills won’t ever change but techniques do come and go. Alternate of Choice is a technique that has been around a long time, but if done correctly it is as deadly as ever! By offering your prospect two choices (both of which move the sale forward) you are infinitely increasing your odds of closing versus the choice between moving forward and saying no. In the podcast interview Tom asks the hypothetical insurance prospect the following question: “Donna, let’s pretend that in my left hand was freedom from debt and in my right hand was financial independence and security, which one would you choose.” Regardless of which ‘hand’ Donna picks, the agent/advisor has moved the sale forward.
- It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. – Tom has been teaching sales for 40 years yet he is still learning his craft. We talked extensively about his new book When Buyers Say No (which I highly recommend you read.)
I was surprised at how transparent Tom was with us about how he had to rethink some of his ideas about sales while writing the book. Author and Comedian Ken Davis says it this way: “The day I think I have arrived is the day I put one foot in the grave.”
- My dad was right. – I mentioned on this website leading up to the interview that I was a little intimidated/nervous to interview Tom. He is one of the most influential sales trainers on the planet for goodness sakes! My dad wrote me the following email:
Well I did relax and have fun! A big part of that was due directly to Tom himself. Tom was incredibly gracious, giving, easy to talk to, helpful, and an absolute joy to work with. Even though he is somewhat of a celebrity he never came across that way. He called me exactly on time, was prepared, had done his homework and knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish. More impressively he knew what I wanted to accomplish and was more than willing to help me make it happen. As much as I have always admired Tom, I admire him more now. He may put on his pants one leg at a time, but he does have something a lot of salespeople unfortunately lack: professionalism!