Ep13 – The Exactly What to Say Edition with Phil M Jones

Ep13 – The Exactly What to Say Edition with Phil M Jones

James chats with Phil Jones who has made it his life’s work to demystify the sales process, reframe what it means to “sell,” and help his audiences to learn new skills that empower confidence, overcome fears and instantaneously impact their results.


The author of five international best-selling books, and the youngest ever winner of the coveted “British Excellence in Sales and Marketing Award”, Phil is currently one of the most in-demand assets to companies worldwide.


He is by no means your typical sales expert.


Phil is famous for his inspiring “Magic Words”, and his highly engaging, practical approach to what is often a subject that is littered with hype and power-hungry “gurus”.


With the experience of over 2,000 presentations in over 50 countries across five continents, Phil has a busy and active travel schedule. When not on the road, you will find him at home in New York City or in his peaceful retreat in Buckinghamshire, England.


They discuss 8 week old twins, the future of sales, airlines, hotels, random gifts and taxi drivers who chat too much.


[NB: This recording was made while Phil was in the US and there is some crackling on the line at times, which I am really sorry about. The content of what Phil says makes it well worth putting up with!]


Contact Phil:



Click for the full transcript

James Nathan :Hello and welcome to The Only One Business Show with me your host, James Nathan. And in the chair today I have a fabulous guest for you who tos and fros between the States and the UK so it’s amazing to get hold of him. He’s the bestselling author of Exactly What to Say, Exactly How to Sell and Exactly Where to Start. He had his first business at just 14 years of age and is the youngest recipient of the British Excellence in Sales & Marketing Award. To date over 2 billion people across 57 different countries have benefited from his lessons, and as a result, they now know exactly what to say, exactly when to say it, and exactly how to make more of their conversations, making them count. Please welcome Phil M Jones. Phil, how are you?


Phil Jones: I’m great, thanks James. I’m great. Pleasure to be on the show. Thanks for having me.


James Nathan : Oh, it’s a pleasure. I’m so pleased you’ve been able to take the time out for me and have a quick chat, particularly as you’ve just become a father again of two gorgeous twin daughters.


Phil Jones: Yeah, I have. I have eight week old twins right now, so eight weeks as of today. They are beautiful, delightful, awesome, challenging, nightmares, glorifying…. Think about every adjective that you could possibly have. And yeah, they are fun, but a test all the same.


James Nathan : Yeah, you know I’ve got two kids and they were born a couple of years apart and having two at once. I’ve only got two arms and so have you and I guess with Charlotte as well at least you’ve got four between you. But, you know, massive congratulations Phil.


Phil Jones: Thank you.


James Nathan : Nothing nicer in the world. And how’s business with you? Every time I look at some kind of social media you’re in a different county, a different state, a different country, you’re all over the place.


Phil Jones: Yeah, businesses is great. And business has been a fantastic ride for me for the last decade or more in terms of progression and growth and change and challenge and stepping into new areas and finding out about new businesses and new cultures. And it’s been one success, in front of one challenge, in front of another success, in front of another challenge, et cetera, for quite a ride. But I’m enjoining work, I’m enjoying some of the cool projects that I’m involved in. I’m enjoying the impact that I’m having in the world. But my big challenge work-wise right now is finding the things to say no to, as opposed to chasing more things to say yes to. That’s where my space is at. So that’s a unique challenge that’s a new one to me is, how do I do less? And how do I be less useful to people? And how do I create stronger boundaries to be able to make sure I can excel in the areas that I’m best at?


James Nathan : I was speaking to someone recently about AI and holograms and that kind of thing. And I think, you know, I was just, while you were speaking there, I was wondering, how many places could you be in if you could be a hologram? You know, where’s the opportunity? But I guess that detracts from your ability to personalize what you do and I know you’re very keen to do that.


Phil Jones: Yeah. And I think there are great examples of where artificial intelligence, systematization, automation, whatever you might choose to call it, can really enhance a customer experience. And I think there are lots of reasons where people are motivated by it as a cost saving exercise, or a duplication exercise, that waters down the essence of what somebody needs to do.


Phil Jones: So I’m really interested to see how some companies take the technology that is becoming available to them and add experience to customers and add experiences to experiences, and also how some people make a car crash of it and lose any of the authenticity in what it is they’re trying to do. I think it’s going to be a fun few years.


James Nathan : Oh, I was having a fabulous time this morning. We had over 45 minutes to get absolutely nowhere on a chat bot with a very big American software business. You know, when they work well, this stuff’s great and when it doesn’t work well, my word, it’s tricky. What are you enjoying Phil? What are the things that you’re doing at the moment that are really giving you a buzz and where are you adding the most for your clients, do you think?


Phil Jones: I think what am I enjoying most is, I’m enjoying performing at the front of the room as a keynote speaker in some really demanding environments, helping people think about the world of selling differently. And I like being the guy that’s at the front of the room that everybody hates before I take the stage. And then afterwards they’re like, “Oh, I never thought of it like that one. And there can be integrity, there can be authenticity and in fact I might have been standing in my own way.” So I have a lot of fun with that.


Phil Jones: I was in Arkansas last week at the Arkansas Trucking Association and you can imagine an audience of that nature, of never really seeing themselves as sales professionals. And by the end of that, seeing them pivot 180 on the way they look at it, is a joy.


Phil Jones: I’m enjoying some of the projects that I’m working on with Audible. So some exciting stuff coming out later in the year with them. And I’m enjoying how Exactly What to Say is continuing to perform and prosper and the doors that opens for me. And the new Audible original that I released earlier this year, I’m enjoying what that’s been received about.


Phil Jones: And there’s nothing finer in this world that you and I are in of self-improvement and helping people face to face, when you produce items that leverage and you make a difference to people’s lives that you’ve never met and then that bounces back at you. I mean that for me makes my day of getting two, three emails, LinkedIn requests, Instagram, DM’s, et cetera, where people are like, “Hey, I read your stuff and it helped and it really worked.” Or, “It’s helped me overcome something that was challenging.” So that, that’s the stuff I’m enjoying.



James Nathan : It’s great to hear you say that because I was in a meeting, I was actually in my mastermind group last week and I got an email saying that a book had been sold and I got all excited. “Oh wow, a book’s been sold.” And one of them looked at me, “What one book?” Yeah, of course, because every time someone buys one, it’s a buzz, you know. It’s fantastic and you sell a lot more books that I do Phil, but it’s a great thing.


Phil Jones: I got interviewed about books sales the other day and Exactly What to Say is now approaching 375 000 copies. So it’s done huge and people are like how do you sell 375 000 copies of a book? And my answer to the question was, one at a time. And that’s an important mindset that we should never get… You know, you can’t read more than one book at a time. So what you’re looking for is readers of things as opposed to consumers of things. And I think that’s another area that gets massively lost is, the finish line for many a business is in the wrong place.


James Nathan : Right.


Phil Jones: You know the finish line isn’t how many books did you sell, it’s how many books have been read and then what difference has been made in the world from the results of people reading those books. And too many businesses, even from a service point of view, are putting the finish line in the wrong place. They’re celebrating the success of their efforts and their promises at the point of transaction, as opposed to when that promise has been received or experienced by the end user.


James Nathan : It’s a fabulous way to look at it. No matter how you cut it, 375 000 books is a lot of books and you know, even if a third of those people were to do something with it, that’d be a huge, huge effort wouldn’t it?


Phil Jones: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.


James Nathan : And I was really delighted to pick up your audio because I’m one of these people that I travel a lot, just like you travel too and you know, I can get through a lot of books on Audible and I particularly love listening to authors read their own work and I think it’s really great when that… I’m often disappointed when I pick up an audio book and it’s not the author. I know they take a lot of time, but it’s always good to hear the language as well.


James Nathan : What’s changing in the sales world, Phil? You’re amongst lots of different businesses talking to huge amounts of people every year. Is sales the same or is sales getting different?


Phil Jones: I guess my short answer to that is, nothing’s changed but everything is different. You know, the core principles that we have as human beings have never moved. However, the biggest difference that we’re seeing today is that the majority of consumers, are armed with more information than they ever have been in the past, and they are more nervous and more cautious than they ever have been in the past.


Phil Jones: So what it means is we’re starting to go full circle. So we all know that people do business with those that they know, like, and trust, right? That is something that I don’t believe will ever go out fashion. But those know, like, trust segments, they’re not a third, a third, a third. Like historically, we were probably in a situation where trust carried more weight than anything else, but not really. Know carried more weight than anything else because a thousand years ago, a hundred years ago, even 50 years ago, if you needed a butcher, you went to your butcher because that was the only one that you knew. It didn’t matter whether you liked or trusted them, you had a choice of one. So know carried the bigger weight in that whole piece.

Phil Jones: As we’ve evolved over a period of time and choice has started to become more apparent, people I would say over the last decade have probably put more weight on the like segment of know, like and trust. It’s who do I like? Who gives me that warm feeling? Who gives me that fuzzy feeling. Whereas today, the pivot I think is moving more towards this trust area of the decision making processes, that we are naturally more skeptical. We’re armed with more information. Everybody is saying that they do the same thing.


Phil Jones: The ability to be able to distinguish why you, as opposed to somebody like you, is harder and harder and harder. And in such a short term society, anybody who’s selling anything with a long term promise or outcome, probably needs to do more work to be able to get the other person to trust them, more than they ever have done in the past. And that means it’s not so much what you do, it’s how you do it, how many times you’ve done it in the past, who you’ve done it for, and how you can get the other person to see that you’re the right person. Not just through rapport building, buying them drinks, you know, being a nice guy, but actually giving them the confidence that you can follow through on your promise.


James Nathan : You mentioned people being more skeptical these days. I think there’s so much… Cutting through the noise is tricky anyway. Even trying to get to the gist of a news feed and find out what actually happened, rather than what just people’s opinion of what actually happened, is tricky enough. And when we are trying to buy professional services, or we’re trying to buy whatever it might be from a very noisy marketplace, finding the one that fits us best is hard. How do you, as a business, when you’re looking out into the ether and thinking, how do I make sure people notice me? What should they be doing?


Phil Jones: What should they be doing? I think the first thing they should be doing is having a very, very, very clear understanding of who their people are. The mistake that I see all the time from anybody who’s looking to grow a business, or grow a client bank, is they’re trying to serve too many people, which means they serve nobody. You know, they’re too broad, they’re too wide. You know, they’re useful for everybody, they are essential for nobody. And I think that is something that, particularly as crowded as the marketplaces are everywhere, taking the ability to be able to really sharpen the point of your arrow, to the people in which you serve, is something that is imperative.


Phil Jones: What else would I be looking to be able to do, is understand that every consumer is looking really to be able to answer the question show me that you know me. Show me that you understand the world through my eyes. Show me you understand my problems. Show me that you get what my issues are. And I’m sick and tired of people pitching me something that they have no understanding whether I need or not. I see it a hundred times a week in my LinkedIn.


Phil Jones: It’s these blind pitches towards the fact that we can help you get more leads. I’m like, “I don’t need any more leads.” In fact, a lead is a problem to me right now. I need an infrastructure to be able to overcome leads. I need to decide whether I want to scale or whether I want to be able to take back. I need to have conversations about what I do with pricing to be able to minimize different people. Like I don’t need more leads. Yet, every single day people show up pitching me something I have no need for. I wonder how many people are doing that exact same thing, is that they are guessing at what their consumers require from them or could benefit from them and assuming everybody’s the same, when we’re all demonstrably different.


Phil Jones: So picking your people, getting clear on the problems that are really important in their life, and then talking towards the problems that are maybe just an inch or two ahead of your perfect consumer. Not three years ahead, like an inch or two ahead. And just being one step ahead of knowing where they’re at at this moment in time, you’ll win more business.


James Nathan : That LinkedIn thing is, everybody’s talking about it at the moment, getting these blind pitches and you know, LinkedIn requests, and when you send a message back, which I quite often do saying look, it’s very kind of you to want to connect but was there something in particular that caught your eye? You know, you get hit with this thing and it’s no different to when you used to open the post and it was full of fliers or… But moving forward, I’m a lot older than you Phil, when the fax machine used to run all morning with junk, just to try and flog you some stuff that you didn’t really need, on the hope that if you throw enough about some might stick. The personalization of that stuff is a little bit better because you can automate it, get names and things, but it’s still the same process. Throw a load of stuff about, hope someone buys it. Well, it didn’t work before. I can’t understand how it could possibly work now, but people still do it.


Phil Jones: Right, and all that anybody wants is knowledge and understanding that they matter and that they’re somebody. We have so much information at our fingertips nowadays that the need to blast a campaign, a mass full of people without giving consideration towards who those people are, I think is ignorant. And like sticking on that LinkedIn theme, or even if I have to think about my inbox right now is, you know, it’s crowded with these assumed messages that were quite clearly sent to hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people in the same way. I mean, I even got an email this morning from a major airline based out of Europe that I’ve never flown with, where the subject line was, how about a trip to the United States?


James Nathan : For a guy sat in the States that’s… 


Phil Jones: I fricking live here. You know, a trip anywhere else in the world, but like… And this show me that you know me piece, it is the future and we’re seeing it with… You know, the world’s biggest brands are reverse personalizing things. They understand how important it is. You know the hotel industry has been doing this forever. But I think even as smaller independent businesses, we are responsible now for saying, you know, our customers are people to us and we should understand what’s important to our customers and we should be able to bring that towards our business messages.


James Nathan : There’s no nicer feeling, as a purchaser, or as a customer, or as a client, when you feel understood. It’s the absolute essence of everything. And you mentioned hotels there. You know, I love to learn from the best, as you know Phil, and I think there’s some remarkable stories to be learned from the hospitality industry. There’s some car crash stories as well of course, but you know, some of the processes, some of the styles, some of the thinking about client base.


Phil Jones: Well, talking hotels…. Well you know I’d be interested in your take on this thing here James as well. It’s like, we’ve seen the hotel industry do great things. Like when you arrive to a hotel, there’s a little note, there’s you know, some fruit and some cheeses and a drink, et cetera, and I arrived at a hotel seven days ago or so in… Where was I again? I was in Arkansas and I step into my room. What I’ve got is, I do have exactly that. I have a tray of cheese and fruit. I have a beautiful little card that has my name, Phil, on the front of it, and there’s a little half bottle of red wine. I thought, you now, nice touch.


Phil Jones: I open the card and read the card and it’s signed off from a member of staff at Marriott and I’m confused, more so than overwhelmed, because I’m wondering where’s the catch? What was the reason behind this gift? Is this gift because of the fact that I have status? Is this gift because I’m here with the event that’s booked 300 rooms and spent a chunk of change with you? Is this a gift from my hosts that I should be saying thank you for? Is this because the girl at the front desk thought I was cute?


Phil Jones: Like I don’t know what the reason behind that gesture was, therefore it doesn’t sit right with me. It doesn’t feel understood. Like the notes said, “I hope you have a great stay,” but I’d like to think that they hope everybody had a great stay. If the notes said “Thank you for your loyalty with the Marriott chain, here’s a little something from us as a thank you towards your loyalty,” oh, got it. I can feel good about that gift and I think it’s this lack of purpose, lack of being understood, that can mean that sometimes a really good thing doesn’t quite deliver on what it was hoping for.


James Nathan : Oh, I’m sure they’d be disappointed to hear that but your reasoning behind it is great. You know, a lot of people would’ve just thought “Oh, isn’t that nice.” But when you’re going to personalize things, personalize them. You know, if you’re going to make a point of giving someone a gift, let them be aware of what you’re thankful for. You know, it makes… I hark back to a story years and years ago. For our 10th anniversary, Mandy and I went to Le Manoir in Oxfordshire, which is one of the most-


Phil Jones: A beautiful place.


James Nathan : Oh, fabulous place. And in the room was a little card on the desk, there was a half bottle of… Well it was a full bottle of champagne actually. And a little card, which said, “Have a wonderful 10th anniversary,” signed Raymond Blanc. Now Raymond owns the place and, you know, we both got a bit giddy about that. But it was very specific and you know, they knew it was our anniversary. They’d taken the time to… Well someone had taken the time to ask him to sign a card. And there it was. And I’ve still got that stuck up on the wall of my office because it was so lovely.


James Nathan : But I mean I’m a big believer in thanking people. I think it’s almost gone out of fashion to say thank you. But if your kids were given a sweet by somebody, you know, and they didn’t respond, the first thing you’d say to them was “Say thank you.” Well, you know, when you go into a Marriott and there’s a nice display of stuff for you, well at least you should understand what you’re being thanked for. Maybe you stay in Marriotts too often Phil. You ought to stop doing it.

Phil Jones: Well, yeah, and that’s what it makes you want to do sometimes. Right? It’s just telling me, go see what happens elsewhere. And, you know, loyalty programs that are designed to be able to keep you loyal to a brand, are potentially going to change over the coming years, where we’re actually, what we want is, we don’t want to be treated like a platinum elite member, I want to be treated like Phil Jones.


James Nathan : Yeah. There’s that old story of the queen always smells paint was… I can’t remember who said it. You know, because wherever she goes, it’s like that. And naturally, you know, good service should be just good service regardless of who you are. I’d like to think that I was treated as well as you if I’d stayed there once and you stayed there 300 times. The service I receive should be the same, but if you stay there 300 times, it doesn’t hurt to get a little, you know, someone to say, “Hey Phil, thanks for stopping with us. We appreciate your business.”


Phil Jones: Or even just to notice that you’ve been there 300 times. Even just to be, you know, welcomed back again. Even just to be the… You know, when I get to the bar, they ask me, “Is it an Old Fashioned again?” Which is the same drink I would have ordered there every single time that I’ve been there for the last… You know, I’d rather that, I’d rather they remember something about me than try…..


James Nathan : There’s some big problems coming with all of that, particularly in Europe with the GDPR stuff and the ability to record information about, or specifics about people, which I think is a great shame actually because a lot of that personalization, you know, knowing what Phil drinks when he goes to the bar, is a very nice thing.


Phil Jones: Well, but also it doesn’t have to be systemized and documented. It could just be because you have great loyal staff that hang around for a period of time and take a genuine interest in people.


James Nathan : Yes, absolutely. But then there’s an issue of scale. You know, if I go into the coffee shop in our village, the first thing, we stop and Viv and I have a chat and after about five minutes she says, “Oh, did you want something? Shall I get you your coffee?” That’s lovely, but when you scale businesses to a great extent, when you do it to the size of some of these, particularly the hotel chains, I mean these are monstrous businesses, but some do it better than others. I’m a big fan of Shangri-La Hotels. I think they’re absolutely remarkable, but they have a delight program. They don’t have a satisfaction program. They’re not interested in loyalty. They want to delight you. And if they’re not delighting you, they don’t care. That’s not good enough. And I think that’s an interesting way to look at things.


Phil Jones: And I like to see that the Ritz Carlton group and how they empower their staff with… I think, you know, whether it’s a $1 500 amount or a $500 amount, the amount is kind of irrelevant. That every member of staff, regardless of where they sit within the organization, has this agreed level of spending. They are allowed to get it utilized to be able to delight a guest at the time of need. So they don’t have to ask for approval. They don’t need to go through, you know, management leadership to be able to get there. They just have this built in empowerment that says we can do something without it being systemized. So they’ve systemized the desystemization of surprise and delight of the consumer.


James Nathan : There’s a few businesses who do that. Not quite to the extent that Ritz Carlton do, but then it allows them to be there. The ability… Nordstrom are another business who do a similar thing, don’t they?


Phil Jones: Yeah.


James Nathan : And in Europe, Nordstrom isn’t such a name, but… And they’re, like Disney, like… Yeah, they’re becoming cliche for what they do. But actually I think it’s quite flattering to be cliched for great service and going out of the way to help people.


James Nathan : There’s a wonderful, wonderful story I read in… I think it was in one of the many books about Nordstrom, of a woman coming into the shop to buy a shoe. Now she’d lost one of her legs and I don’t know how, but she was walking with an artificial limb and wanted to buy one shoe. And no shop she’d been into allowed her to buy one shoe. They said, no shoes come in pairs. And the Nordstrom person looked at it and went “Well, of course.” It wasn’t a thought. You know, you want this, we can do it. Of course you can. And I think that’s just that level of empowerment, it makes sense, but it’s also makes for a much better level of service and happier staff.


Phil Jones: Well it just means that people feel empowered to make decisions. And I think to everybody listening to our chat right now is, is when we think about ourselves as consumers, everywhere you go, we’re being presented with examples of mediocre, with fine, with average, with awesome. We bump into role models and stereotypes everywhere, dozens of periods of times a day. And I think if we have a goal of improving the experience that we create for our consumers, using our own lives as reference points for the things that happened to us and how those things make us feel, is where all the answers lie. Like you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or an expert in these things. You just have to be an aware consumer and you could start to make some other decisions just by copying or taking influence from people who’ve done great things before you.


James Nathan : And we take influence from lots of places. I was listening to a good mate of yours Shep Hyken talking about this recently and so you know, we don’t compare like with like. We’re not comparing an accounting firm with another accounting firm. We’re not comparing a supermarket with another supermarket. We’re comparing it with the last service we had, regardless of where that came from. And that isn’t necessarily a change, but it’s something that’s very true. And businesses need to be aware that consumers will compare you with everything that they touch. It doesn’t matter what that is. It doesn’t matter if it’s the corner shop. It doesn’t matter if it’s Waitrose, Nordstrom, if it’s online, whatever it is. That last great thing will be your comparison.


Phil Jones: Exactly. Exactly that


James Nathan : Phil, what’s the future of all of this? Where does service go to? Where does sales change to? How does it improve and how does it change?


Phil Jones: In my opinion, the changes are going to come by everybody slowing down a little. And I know that sounds pretty stupid in an information age, at the technological age that we are in right now. But it’s this chance to be able to catch our breath and live in the moments a little bit more and truly understand what’s important to other people.


Phil Jones: So you’re going to see polarizing opinions by brands more than ever, that create very bold choices in the way they go about providing customer service or experiences. They’re going to be loved or hated. These, you know, chains, that deliver a consistent level of, “Yeah, they’re all right,” are going to find it harder and harder to survive. We’ve seen that within the retail space, which I think is one of the first places to be able to provide us with clues, that we now want something that’s a “Hell yes,” or a “Hell no.” We don’t want, “Yeah, they’re all right.”


Phil Jones: And I think as choice continues to be able to present itself more freely, which is only going to be the truth, the desire to be able to double down, double down, double down, double down. These are our people, this is what I know about my people. I understand these people implicitly and I make bold choices to deliver an experience to these people that’s important to them and hated by others, is great.


Phil Jones: And you know, I was having this conversation at an event the other day that I was on a panel with, and people gave an example of great service on picking up their motorcar. And this great service in picking up their motorcar, or as a new vehicle, is they’d already pre-programmed the radio stations. They knew that they had a dog and they had dog treats in the back of the car, and that they’d made the assumption of being able to include the mud flaps and things like… and created this level of persona based on assumptions about this individual. And she was saying about how this was a brilliant experience and she loved it. And there’s me thinking, “I’d hate that.” I’d flat out hate that.


Phil Jones: And the same thing happens to me, like I take a lot of car services. So whether that’s like an Uber, a Lyft, a private chauffer, et cetera. Some of my friends are like, “I met this driver, they were so good. I had the most amazing conversation. I really enjoyed it. And you know, they had so much great intelligence and insight about the city,” and they’re like, “This was amazing.” And I’m like, if I’m in a car I want to talk to nobody. Like good service to me is drive safely, be clean, provide a bottle of water in the back. If there’s a charger for my phone, now we’re rocking, but don’t speak to me. I have enough conversations in a day time and that’s just my personal preferences. And I think these personal preferences are going to start to become more defined by brands. So that you can step into an experience that is your version of awesome service, as opposed to this pre-designed version of awesome service.


James Nathan : It’s very, very interesting what you’re talking about and I spend a lot of time talking about it too. I noticed recently there’s a new option with Uber to have the driver not speak and it’s something you pay for in advance. Now I’m really mixed in my opinion about this as to whether it should be something that you’re actually charged for, for a guy not to chat to you. But I’m the same. You know, if I get into public transport, I get the tube, a lot and stuff, I’d just put headphones on. I do not want to be spoken to. I want to get on with it. Call me antisocial, call me what you like, but that’s what I choose and that’s what I want.


James Nathan : I also heard of a store recently who have two types of baskets, a red basket and a green basket. And if you hold the red basket as you shop, no one will touch you, no one will talk to you. If you hold a green basket as you shop, people will come and give you a hand. In essence, I like it. In reality, I think the much nicer and better service would be to say, “Hi, welcome to my shop. Can I help you today? If you’d like my help, I’ll be just here. If you wouldn’t, you know, please enjoy your browse.”


Phil Jones: But I think what we’re going to see in the future is not the red basket, green basket choice. It’s that one brand is a red basket and a completely different brand is a green basket. And you’re making that choice before you enter through the door. And if you enter through the door of, you know, a brand that strongly owns the fact that we are a red basket brand, then you know that you’re entering into territory that is outside of your preferences and then therefore you become accepting of that.


Phil Jones: Like if I fly Southwest in the US, which I do very, very rarely, they are a brand that own the fact that they are friendly, they’re conversational, they’re full of humour, they’ll make jokes and jibes with you in your seat. They’ll have a good time on the flight. That’s what their brand is all about. That’s not how I like to fly. I’m a business traveler primarily. I want to be able to have my laptop up. I don’t want to be interrupted with silly jokes and quips. I’m not interested in the pun of the day. And I might sound miserable, but if I’m traveling for work, it’s my office.


Phil Jones: But if I choose to fly Southwest, then what I need to be able to do is to accept the fact that that’s the environment I stepped into, so here I play by their rules. I can’t be mad about it because they’ve owned their service proposition from the get go and they’ve made me very aware of this is what they stand for. I’m now in somebody else’s house. This isn’t my preferences. I just made a choice based on other priorities to be able to pick this.


Phil Jones: And this is all I’m seeing is, is brands owning their identity more, so not trying to please all of the people all of the time. Not saying that the customer is always right, saying that a certain group of customers are people that we will look to be able to serve with the highest levels of integrity and those people are our people. But if you’re not our people, then that’s fine too.


James Nathan : So right back to the very point of choosing your target audience, understanding that audience and serving them.


Phil Jones: Yes.


James Nathan : Do you know, it’s interesting, you’ve given me so much to think about Phil. The number of times I’ve been into stores and I’ve felt, particularly in retail, where I felt just ignored. You know, like I’m not important, like they don’t care if I’m there or not. Whether it’s the corner shop and the guy behind the counter is talking on his phone while he’s serving me, or whether it’s being completely ignored in a department store, that ignore annoys me. I want to be recognized for the fact that I’m there. I want to be encouraged. Well, I want to be welcome, or feel that at least my custom is important.


James Nathan : You know, recently we were in Orlando for a couple of weeks over the school holidays. You know, Orlando is a bit of a Disney World for everybody, but Disney itself is quite a remarkable place. But walking into a Superdry store there to get some board shorts for my boy, was one of the nicest experiences I’ve ever had. You know, a lady came, she went away, she came back. She made me a coffee while he went and tried it on umpteen different pairs of the same thing as far as I could see, and then, and off we went. It was lovely.


James Nathan : But that was tailored to the style of person, I guess. You know, any shop who offers me a coffee, lets my kid shop without me having to be too involved, is a great place for me.


James Nathan : Phil, I’m so delighted you’ve spent so much time chatting and I really… You know, the things you… the thoughts that you’ve talked about are wonderful. What’s the one thing you’d like to leave the listeners with? The one golden nugget that they could take away and do something to make their business better today, but better in the years to come.


Phil Jones: This is an easy one for me and it’s to understand that the worst time to think about the thing you’re going to say is in the moment when you’re saying it. And there are dozens and dozens and dozens of conversations that are vital within every business’s day to day operation. They don’t get anywhere near the level of attention that they deserve.


Phil Jones: So whether that’s the initial greeting of somebody stepping into your retail premises. Whether that’s the opening of a phone call out towards a core prospect. Whether that’s the conversation you’re having with a long term account that you are looking to go and develop for more business. Whether it’s the fact of how you answer your phones and the key questions that you respond with when somebody asks you a question you know you’re going to be asked. Whether it’s your answer to the “So what do you do?” question when you’re at a networking event. Is taking the time to think about what are the vital conversations that exist within your business and how certain are you that you’re choosing the right words at the right time. And my guess is that everybody has work to do there.


James Nathan : Phil, thank you so, so much. And if you wanted to learn more about Phil, well, he’s very easy to find. philmjones.com and his books are all available, well everywhere, aren’t they? But I’ll put the links below. Phil, thanks so much for your time.


Phil Jones: You bet. Yeah. Anybody can come and find us. And I think the audible piece is something I’d encourage people to go jump into. And you mentioned earlier is, listening is a great way to accompany another activity. And I wanted to change the way that the world thinks about sales training and that’s what I believe that I’ve done with How to Persuade and Get Paid. I would be keen for any of your listeners to let me know what their experience is of that after listening and what it goes on to allow them to be able to go and do.


James Nathan : Brilliant. Thanks Phil.


Phil Jones: My pleasure.



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