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Jonny Cooper of Jonny Hates Marketing: “Handling objections is largely a waste of time”

Handling objections is largely a waste of time. By the time a prospect objects, it’s already too late and it’s a sign you failed somewhere down the line. Anticipating objections is the smart, ethical way to sell, and you do that by asking questions to discover what your prospects want (and don’t want), so you can […]

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Handling objections is largely a waste of time. By the time a prospect objects, it’s already too late and it’s a sign you failed somewhere down the line.

Anticipating objections is the smart, ethical way to sell, and you do that by asking questions to discover what your prospects want (and don’t want), so you can tailor your solution to suit that exactly.


As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonny Cooper.

Jonny Cooper is a UK-based entrepreneur, business coach, former professional musician and international racing driver, but one thing you should know about Jonny is that he REALLY HATES marketing, so much so, it inspired him to launch his business, Jonny Hates Marketing. Jonny Hates Marketing is a business coaching service for coaches, trainers and therapists who aren’t keen on traditional marketing strategies. As well as running training sessions for his members, Jonny is also the voice behind the Jonny Hates Marketing Facebook group which has almost 5,000 members.


Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?

I have a few “backstories” but this one feels like a true foundation story.

I was a struggling musician in my 20s, and still in touch with some of my school and college chums who had “proper” jobs and were buying houses, flash cars and getting married. I couldn’t support myself, let alone other people, and I definitely couldn’t afford expensive possessions or machines.

When my antique Austin finally conked out, I decided to scour the Evening Standard job ads, and one jumped out at me. It said “Closers Wanted — £1000 a week.”

I had no clue what a closer was, but I sure wanted £1000 a week.

So I called up, and went for an interview.

It was a sales job for Moben Kitchens, and it changed my life.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

It’s a continuation of my story above, because I showed up to the interview dressed like I was on stage, in a canary yellow jumper, bright red chinos and white patent leather loafers.

The sales manager gave me the job, and told me six months later how he’d taken one look at me and decided that I would “either be the best sales guy they’d ever hired, or a complete idiot.”

By then, I was top of the branch, and went on to be the leading seller in the UK for the next couple of years.

The lesson: be yourself, and take a gamble on standing out from the crowd. What’s the worst could happen?

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Right now, I’m putting together a programme of live events throughout 2021 called Client Attraction Summits.

They’re aimed at coaches, consultants, therapists and trainers who are often good at what they do, but hate sales and marketing. And they’re rubbish at it.

I’m gathering keynote speakers who are at the top of their profession, so they can share some of their magic sauce with our community.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There have been many, but in recent times two stand out.

One’s a Canadian marketer called Stu McLaren, who opened my eyes to the importance of personal branding in digital business. He’s awesome at positioning a simple online offer, and I continue to be inspired by his work.

Secondly, my mentor Jamie Smart came into my life in 2016, when I had just decided to stop flailing about in the dark and get my head back together after a long, slow meltdown.

Jamie — who’s since become a friend — showed me the reality of human existence, and how the power of our own thought in the moment creates our mental and physical reality.

If that sounds a bit esoteric, he simply taught me to stop attributing how I feel to other situations, people and things, and take personal responsibility for everything that I experience.

For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?

I have been selling all my life. In fact, we’re all born with an innate ability to get our own way by selling the idea that we’re hungry, tired or in pain. Most people get domesticated and mask those natural instincts with a veneer of politeness and fear of offending others.

But I rediscovered my ability to sell when I was hustling for gigs in my twenties, and further developed it through my direct sales career.

Later, studying what makes people buy became a lifelong passion, and my Jonny Hates Marketing business has seen me create a huge portfolio of resources to help coaches and therapists get comfortable with the concept of ethical sales.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Anxiety is an illusion. It tells us nothing about reality, and everything about our own thought in the moment. We are unable to control external situations, but we can control how we react to them.

And right now, many people are suffering from the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end, and when life can get back to some kind of normality.

One of my favourite mindset stories concerns an American General called Stockdale. He and his men were captured during the Vietnam War, and were subjected to brutal torture, appalling conditions, and were given no hope of when or even if they’d ever be released.

He survived, and years later he was asked about which of his fellows didn’t make it out alive. “The optimists,” he replied.

“They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving would come and go, too, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

The lesson here is that COVID-19 will pass. We just don’t know when. Meanwhile, focus instead on keeping safe, looking after loved ones, and driving your own personal success, whatever that means to you.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versatile topics, is totally ignored?

As I mentioned above, we are conditioned by domestication and societal norms to believe that it’s somehow rude to persuade anyone to do anything. We’re taught that leaving people to make their mind up is somehow the kindest, most ethical way to behave in business.

That’s a simple misunderstanding, sadly.

This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?

Clearly that’s the wrong way to view sales. Most things that anybody ever did, ever bought or ever took part in was a result of someone selling them the idea of doing it. There are very few improvements to our lives that aren’t created by others for our benefit.

So, nothing happens without sales, and that’s a fundamental principle we should embrace right here.

Of course, that’s a world away from applauding the exploitation, fraud and harassment that can come from loud, aggressive pitches. And they most often happen when the product or service is unwanted, useless or of dramatically poor value.

The true art of ethical sales is simply the generous act of solving someone’s problem, as Seth Godin wrote.

The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?

In online coaching and therapy professions in the 21st century, there is one secret sales sauce that will set you apart from your competition. And that’s best framed as: “Starting a conversation with someone who looks like your next ideal client.”

The good news is that it’s that simple.

The bad news is that it’s not so easy for everyone.

Remember the idea that our natural propensity for selling is beaten out of us from childhood? Well, that’s why the concept of actually talking to someone can feel so scary.

“What if they say no? What if they get angry? What if they don’t like me?” But getting past these fake-reality scenarios is a key part of letting people taste your secret sauce!

Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

There are three pillars of client attraction in our industry:

1: The ability to describe WHAT you actually do, clearly and unambiguously. 
2: Knowing WHO that would be most useful for — your “ideal client avatar,” in other words. 
3: Making offers that describe HOW you’re going to help — your programmes or services.

With those fundamentals in place, you will be able to build a community of your ideal clients and engage, entertain and enthral them.

In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?

Handling objections is largely a waste of time. By the time a prospect objects, it’s already too late and it’s a sign you failed somewhere down the line.

Anticipating objections is the smart, ethical way to sell, and you do that by asking questions to discover what your prospects want (and don’t want), so you can tailor your solution to suit that exactly.

Boom! No more objections.

‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.

When you’ve listened carefully to exactly what the prospect wants, positioned your offer as the only solution to their challenges, and they see you as the only way they’re going to move towards their hopes and dreams, then closing is unnecessary.

Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?

Any organization needs to have a robust sales process in place which everyone buys into and follows. So the only reason a lead wouldn’t get followed up is that no-one’s accountable for doing that.

If you’re a solopreneur, then know this: if ALL you do in a working day is answer incoming enquiries, then you have a viable business.

Anything else is just detail.

As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?

Sales are made by actually talking with people who look like your next ideal clients. Chasing people around with “proposals” via email, texts and DMs is futile and cowardly.

Put your big-boy/girl pants on and start real conversations, face-to-face or on video calls.

Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊

I am committed to improving the wealth (and thereby health) of the coaching and therapy community across the globe.

There are way too many expert, committed practitioners who could be changing the world with their work, if only people knew about them

It’s not enough to be the best at what you do. You have to be the best marketed, too.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can join the Jonny Hates Marketing Facebook Group right here: 
 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/JonnyHatesMarketing

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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