In the topic of sales, there isn’t any area of life where passion is more essential. As George Lucas said, “You have to find something you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles, and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you.” Eric Lofholm is very familiar with taking risks, jumping over hurdles and breaking through brick walls. He is a master sales trainer who has trained tens of thousands of sales professionals nationwide.



Eric is president and CEO of Eric Lofholm International, an organization he founded to serve the needs of sales professionals. He began his career as a top-producing sales rep for three different sales organizations. His consistent track record of regularly out-performing his fellow sales representatives earned a reputation of success that follows him to this day.



Eric has been trained by many of the top trainers of his time, including Anthony Robbins and Dr. Donald Moine. He has an insatiable quest for knowledge that he feeds by reading, listening to audio tapes and attending seminars regularly. Many of America’s top companies hire Eric to train, motivate and inspire their sales teams. His clients have added millions of dollars in sales to their records after attending Eric’s energetic and groundbreaking seminars.



He’s delivered more than 1,500 public and private presentations to companies like Microsoft, Century 21, RE/MAX, Chrysler, GTE, Lexus, Time Warner, Merrill Lynch, and the list goes on and on. Skill in sales is not just for salespeople. Every one of us is in a position of selling our ideas, our desires and our visions virtually every day.




CHRIS ATTWOOD: We’re so happy to have you with us tonight, Eric. Thank you so much for joining us.



ERIC LOFHOLM: Chris, it’s great to be here. Thanks for the opportunity.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Shall we get started?



ERIC LOFHOLM: That sounds great.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: As you know, the title of this series is Passions of Real Life Legends, so would you begin by sharing with us the role your passions, the things you really care most about, have played in leading you to the work you do today?



ERIC LOFHOLM: What I’m really passionate about is teaching. I’m now a sales trainer; I help people all over the world increase their sales results. However, honestly, if I hadn’t found this opportunity, I would be very happy as a high school math teacher. Back when I was in junior high school, I remember tutoring other students. There was a time, Chris, when I was a cook at McDonald’s.



When I was there, I had a training role. I would teach other people the different work stations. I loved it! I loved it because I was training, and this was what I was born to do. That’s what led me to sales training.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s so cool. I have a feeling that sales training is a lot more fun, interesting and exciting than teaching math.



ERIC LOFHOLM: What’s neat about it is that I get to travel all over the world, and I’ve earned the respect of my clients. I truly get to help people by having them increase their income. I can help virtually anybody become more successful in sales and make more money, so it’s really rewarding. A typical day for me is to have five to 10 people tell me how much I’ve changed their lives. With math, as rewarding as that career would be, you wouldn’t have that same type of impact on masses of people.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Absolutely. Will you tell us the story of how you got started and where it’s led you, the journey you’ve been on?



ERIC LOFHOLM: Yes. Probably like most of your guests, it’s been quite a journey. When I left high school, I went to community college; I did that for five years. You’re supposed to go for two, but I never got the two year AA degree you’re supposed to get. I’m still a few units shy. That’s when I was a cook at McDonald’s, and I was just wandering aimlessly through life with no goals and no direction.



I went to a seminar and I met my first mentor; his name is Dante Perano. Dante is a multi-millionaire and successful real estate investor. I’m sure you and all the listeners have heard of the show “The Apprentice.” I lived that. I became Dante’s assistant. That was a part-time job for me so I had to do something else for Dante. He said, “Eric, what I want you to do is sales.” Now, if he said, “I want you to work in the mailroom,” I would have said okay.



It didn’t matter to me, whatever my mentor told me to do. I started in sales for Dante and, Chris, I was terrible at it. I was the bottom producer for the entire first year I worked there. I missed quota two months in a row at the end of my first year, and my manager, Richard Hogan, pulled me in the office and said, “Eric, if you don’t hit your quota this next month, we’re going to fire you.”



My back was against the wall and I had to learn selling. I wasn’t a born salesperson. This is when I met my second mentor. You mentioned his name in the introduction; his name is Dr. Donald Moine. In my opinion, Dr. Moine is the top sales mind on the planet today. He’s authored many books, and he’s spent his whole lifetime helping people with sales. He took me under his wing, and he began to mentor and coach me.



With Dr. Moine’s help, I hit the quota. Then the next month I became the top producer in the company. My passion, which we talked about, is teaching others, so once I learned from Dr. Moine, the world’s greatest sales mind, now I had this profound content about selling that very few people in the world had. I’m very good at breaking things down in an easy-to-understand way for other people to get it, so I started teaching, in my early 20s, my coworkers.



I said, “Why don’t you try this? Why don’t you try that?” I realized I was gifted in re-teaching Dr. Moine’s skills. I then went and worked for Tony Robbins for three years, and then 10 years ago I branched off and started Eric Lofholm International. Now our mission is to help people make more sales, and my vision is to positively impact 100 million people globally with the information I have about selling.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s fabulous. We’re going to get into this in a few minutes, but one of the reasons I know that’s so important, since I know a little bit about selling, is that it’s not just for salespeople, as I mentioned in the introduction. It seems like every one of us is in the position of having to sell things. I’m going to ask you about that in a minute, but before we go on, you went quickly over your time with Tony Robbins.



I think when this interview comes out, Tony will have just been featured the previous month on our cover. I wonder if you would talk a little bit about what it was like working in the Tony Robbins organization and working for him. Did you learn new things that were valuable and useful in that experience, as well?



ERIC LOFHOLM: Yes, it was incredible. Tony is one of the premier speakers in the history of the world and has done just amazing things. To be in his culture, you’re able to learn things differently than from the seminar. I started off as an entry-level telemarketer making $7.50 an hour for Tony, and I rose up in the organization to become one of his trainers. I traveled all over the United States promoting his seminars. One of the things I learned from Tony is this:



He’s had his Fire Walk Seminar for the last 20-plus years and, from a business standpoint, most people come to purchase from him from his infomercial. The next step is the Fire Walk Seminar, and then the next step is the Mastery University. Tony really stayed with that product line. Something, Chris, that’s interesting and that I’m still learning to this day is the importance of finding something simple and then doing it over and over again.



That’s one of the things that Tony mastered: infomercial, Fire Walk Seminar, Mastery University. He stayed true to that product line all these years, and he made millions doing it. He mastered it, which is a big part of his concept of mastery. There are so many things I learned from Tony. I wouldn’t be the seminar leader I am today if it wasn’t for his influence.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: I can understand that, having talked to Tony. It’s quite a remarkable experience, spending time with him. There are many people who have a kind of negative view of sales. Before we get deeply into sales, I’d like you to address that. Since you’re a sales trainer, what was it that drew you to sales, and how do you go about addressing that view? Do you know what I’m talking about when I say that people have a negative view of sales, selling, and salespeople?



ERIC LOFHOLM: Yes, absolutely.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Talk to us a little bit about that, and help our listeners to get past whatever kinds of feelings they might have toward this subject, would you?



ERIC LOFHOLM: I drifted into sales, as I mentioned, in my meeting with Dante Perano. So many people just drift into sales. In other words, when we were in high school we didn’t dream, “Someday I’ll be on commissioned sales, and I’ll have to stress out about paying my mortgage.” We ended up here. You’re really right on with people’s views about selling. The reason so many people have a negative view about sales is actually due to a cultural hypnosis.



Hypnosis is simply the noncritical acceptance of an idea, and there’s an idea in our culture that people have that selling is arm-twisting, high-pressure manipulation, selfish, like the used-car salesman. Yes, people have that view, and then they end up in sales, whether they own their own business, are in the dry-cleaning business, are a real estate agent, or are in network marketing.



All of a sudden, they need these influence skills. The truth is, everybody needs the influence skills. If you’re looking for your soul mate, that’s influence. If you’re trying to get your kids to clean their rooms, these are principles of influence. That’s really, to me, what selling is; it’s teaching these principles of how you influence someone else to get what they what by giving you what you want.



There’s a science to it, and that’s what Dr. Moine taught me. Dr. Moine looked at sales through the neurolinguistic programming lens; he came up with the NLP movement out of UC-Santa Cruz with Grinder and Bandler, who were the co-founders of NLP. Dr. Moine has spent his entire lifetime studying sales from a scientific standpoint. He transferred that over to me.



One thing I do for people, using an NLP term, is I re-frame what selling is. To me, selling isn’t an arm-twisting, high-pressure manipulation. Selling equals service. When you sell, sell from honesty, integrity and compassion. Selling is about leading. Selling is about moving people to action. Because I teach sales from that standpoint, Chris, there are so many people who will come through my programs who would never have gone to a sales training before.



That’s because no one had ever taught them that you could sell from a heart space, so that’s the way I connect with people and I help people. It’s the way I sell, and it’s something anybody can embrace. That’s true even if you’re listening right now and you have a resistance to selling. I want you to know that the way I share these ideas-and I’ll talk about it more on this interview here-is something anybody can embrace and feel great about.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Say again why that is. Why do all of us need to be able to sell? Selling has such a connotation around it. The way you expressed it, I really enjoyed that. Sales is about serving. How is it that even if you have no interest in selling, per se, that the knowledge you’re going to share with us tonight and that you share in your programs and your seminars is going to be useful for me even if I’m not a salesperson?



ERIC LOFHOLM: Let’s say you have a family reunion, and you’re going to have all your brothers and sisters there, and there’s this one brother who chooses not to come. The reunion hasn’t happened yet, and they take the stance, “I’m not coming.” This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get everybody back together again, and the only way to get the brother to change his mind is to influence him to come.



These types of scenarios happen all the time. If you’re managing other people, you’re influencing them to do a great job. If you work for somebody, you’re influencing that company. Let’s say you’re an hourly employee. There are a lot of layoffs happening right now, and you want to influence the organization that you are the person they should keep. It’s everything.



Your food is brought over to your table and it’s not served properly; it’s not the way you want it, so you’re going to influence them to make it right. It is an amazing skill that can positively impact every aspect of your life, not just your business.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: The way you describe it, it occurs to me that there’s a way of doing it that gets the kind of results you want, and there’s a way of doing it that, maybe, doesn’t get you the kind of results you’d like to have. Would you talk to us for a minute about that? Can you identify a single biggest mistake that most people make when it comes to influencing-I’m going to use that term-others?



ERIC LOFHOLM: I’ll tell you that one of the key things I teach people is the importance of preparation. Most people resist preparing for their presentation. The term I use is ‘sales scripting’, and scripting is simply preparing your presentation in advance. One of the things I teach-and I’m going to go a little advanced for one second, but everyone will be able to get this-is to take your presentation and reverse-engineer your presentation.



You’re going to think to the very end with them saying yes. They may have some concerns you have to address, and then they finally say yes. Then you think, “What’s the step right before that? What’s the step before that? What’s the step before that?” all the way back to the beginning of your presentation, so you know the presentation forward and backward, inside and out.



Most people, Chris, are giving the same presentation over and over again. Take somebody like Tony Robbins, who we talked about earlier. When he teaches his Fire Walk Seminar, it’s the same seminar and he’s mastered it. He knows three days’ worth of content backwards and forwards. I’m not talking about each of you learning three days of content.



I’m talking about if your presentation is 30 minutes, to learn that 30-minute presentation backwards and forwards, and possibly work toward mastery. This will transform your ability to influence.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Excellent. That’s great. Talk to us about the key components. What goes into the sales process? What are the key elements of influencing others?



ERIC LOFHOLM: I have a process I teach, and it takes about three or four minutes to explain it. It’s pretty simple. I call it the Sales Mountain Process. Imagine a mountain. You’re at the bottom of the mountain when you first meet this prospect. You want to lead them up the mountain with you, and when you’re leading them up the mountain, you’re leading them to a point where they’re ready to purchase from you. When they get to that point, I call that the ‘sweet spot’.



The sweet spot is this. As you’re climbing up the mountain together, when you get 75% up the mountain and you’ve got 25% left to go to reach the summit, in that last 25%, that’s when the prospect is in the sweet spot and they’re ready to make a buying decision. It’s important to understand that the prospect in most cases does not start with you in the sweet spot.



We have to take them there, take them through this process. The process starts with lead generation, and then you’re going to set an appointment with the person, assuming that’s the model you’re following. Now you’re on the live presentation with them, and let’s say it’s a face-to-face presentation, but it works the same over the phone. We’re going to lead with trust and rapport.



We must lead with that, and here’s the reason why. We talked earlier about what you think of when you think of a salesperson. It’s all these negative thoughts. Your prospect has those same thoughts. If you’re a real estate agent and you’re meeting with this prospect about listing their home, the prospect in many cases, Chris, starts off the presentation with resistance.



They think, “This person is just trying to get my listing.” If you’re trying to influence somebody who has their guard up, it’s very challenging. Instead of trying to influence them with their guard up, let’s simply get them to lower their resistance. We’re going to build trust and rapport, and it’s actually a state of harmony that you enter into with the prospects. That’s the first thing we do when we’re live with them or over the phone.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Eric, can I interrupt you for just a second? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s run into the situation where a salesperson has tried to establish rapport, but I’m not interested in their rapport right at that moment. They call up on the phone and they say, “Hi! I’m so-and-so. How are you doing today? Are you having a good day?” The last thing I want to do is talk to them about what kind of day I’m having.



It occurs to me-and I’m saying this partly because I’ve watched some master salespeople at work-that it’s more than just the words you say. Somehow, building that trust and rapport must be related to having a sensitivity to where that person is at that moment. What’s going to be appropriate or inappropriate to build that trust and rapport? Am I right in that?



ERIC LOFHOLM: You are absolutely right, and what you’re talking about is a different kind of trust and rapport in the scenario you described. In the scenario you described, that sounded like a cold call, like somebody calling you in what’s not an expected call. A lot of us make those calls. I still, to this day, will pick up the phone and make cold calls. We have to understand that when we’re making those kinds of calls, in many cases we’re interrupting the other person.



When I’m making a call like that, I’m going to attempt to build trust and rapport, and I may not be able to for a variety of reasons. What I’m going to do is a sorting process. My metaphor for making calls like that is a deck of cards. Each lead is a card, and I’m looking for the Ace of Spades. That’s the person who wants to talk to me. I flip over the first card and I might ask them, “How are you today?”



They might give a non-rapport response, and I may end up getting off that call and not making any progress. That was the Jack of Diamonds; it wasn’t the Ace of Spades. Then I just keep flipping the cards, and my job is not to try to convince anyone of anything. I’m looking for the people who are already interested.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Can I stop you again? My business partner and co-author of The Passion Test, Janet Bray Attwood, used to be in sales and used to do cold calls all the time. I have to admit, I was awed watching her. I’d like to share with you a scenario and ask you to comment on it. Would that be okay?



ERIC LOFHOLM: Yes, that’s great.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: What she was doing was making cold calls to corporations and inviting them to have a book fair put on at their location where employees could come and buy books at a discounted rate. I remember listening to her one time, and it so surprised me. She got on the phone. She called up-I couldn’t hear the other person on the line-and introduced herself and then talked for about five seconds.



She said about one sentence, and then she sat and listened for about 30 seconds. Then she said, “Gosh, I so understand how you’re feeling. It sounds like you’re having a day from hell, and if I were you I wouldn’t want to talk to me either. How about if I give you a call back tomorrow? Is there a time that would work for you?” What so impressed me in that moment is that she just seemed to be so tuned in to where that person was in that moment.



The outcome, just so you know it, was that the guy said, “Yes, tomorrow’s fine. Give a call at 2:00.” She made the call and ended up setting up the whole thing. What impressed me was her ability to immediately tune in to what that person was feeling, to be able to empathize with where he was coming from, but not just getting off the phone, not just saying, “This isn’t the person for me.” Could you talk a little bit about that, and what we can learn from that sort of situation?



ERIC LOFHOLM: Yes. What she was doing was building rapport with that person. Building rapport is meeting people where they are. If you call someone up and say, “Chris, it’s Eric Lofholm! Are you having a great day today?” and you’re having a terrible day, we’re not connecting. I’m chipper and excited, but I’m not meeting you where you are. What we do to build rapport is to pace, pace and pace, and then we lead.



If you’re talking to somebody, absolutely listen for what’s going on inside of them. I had a situation where I met a client of mine the other day. Actually, he’s more than a client; he’s a friend as well as my spiritual mentor. We were having a meeting; we met at this restaurant. I had coffee. He said, “Aren’t you going to eat anything?” I said, “No, I’m just going to have coffee.”



We’ve met before, and he knew something was going on because I wasn’t eating breakfast. I wasn’t eating breakfast because I was feeling really badly, and I didn’t feel like eating anything. He stopped where he was going to go with the meeting and said, “Is there anything you want to talk about?” He mirror-matched me; he met me where I was. All of a sudden, the meeting went in a whole different place because he was tuned it.



His brain said, “This is weird. Eric is not eating breakfast.” Paying attention to where people are is so important. I want to share a really important distinction, and maybe this will be helpful for the listeners. When you make your calls, it’s not about you; it’s all about them. A favorite thing to talk about is ourselves. However, in selling it’s not about me; it’s all about adding value.



This call right now is not about me; it’s about, maybe, something I’ll share in my experience that will help somebody who’s listening. A lot of people go to these cold calls, Chris, and make their phone calls. They’re in a place of anxiety, fear of rejection, call reluctance. If you’re in that space and you’re making the call, you’re not going to be clued in to where the other person is.



If Tom came to the meeting and was in his head about his agenda, he wouldn’t even have noticed I wasn’t eating breakfast, and he would have gone right into what he was going to go into. It’s so important when we sell that it’s all about the prospect and adding value to the prospect, and not focusing on ourselves. We’ll get compensated not by focusing on the compensation; we’ll get compensated by focusing on adding value and then the compensation, the commission, the sale will come as a byproduct of adding value.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: Isn’t it interesting that it seems like such a paradox? Most people who are in sales, and most people who are selling anything, which includes all of us, are looking to get results that will make us happier. That’s true whether it’s to be compensated monetarily, to have someone show up at the annual reunion, as you said, or whatever it may be. Yet, when we focus on what we want, it seems like that’s when the point happens that, as you said, we disconnect.



That’s when we’re not meeting people where they are. The point you made is, I think, such a critical one and may be the reason so many people have a bad taste relative to some salespeople. To build rapport requires meeting people where they are, and I wonder if you feel this is true, that perhaps that’s the biggest mistake we can make, if you will, is not being alert and sensitive to where the other person is and focusing on our agenda.



ERIC LOFHOLM: If you focus on yourself, you’re going to miss it. You’re going to miss the opportunity. In the example you gave about Janet making that call, she was tuned in to where this gentleman was, and she built rapport by saying, “It sounds like you’re having a horrible day,” and he said yes. They found common ground there. Because of that, a new opportunity presented itself.



It’s interesting; I had a situation with a vendor recently where the vendor and I had a disagreement over something. The vendor was looking at it so much from their viewpoint that there was this tremendous opportunity, Chris, that was just missed. They were so in their heads about them, they weren’t thinking. What happened was that we had a new employee, and the new employee and I had a miscommunication, which affected the vendor.



It was an honest mistake, but the vendor got all bent about it. “It was an honest mistake. Why are you getting all bent?” Now it’s to the point where we may not be able to work together moving forward because of who they were being and how they chose to handle the situation. It’s incredible the opportunities we all have if we’re just in tune with coming from a place of adding value with this other person.



CHRIS ATTWOOD: I really appreciate what you said, that our compensation comes not by focusing on the compensation, but by focusing on what value we can contribute or provide to the other person. I think that’s just brilliant. I interrupted you. You had gotten through that we begin by generating leads, and then we set an appointment and lead with trust and rapport. Then I interrupted you. Please continue on. What are the other things?



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For more information about Eric Lofholm and his work, please go to http://www.ericlofholm.com/.