Standard sales scripts can make some people sound shady or pushy, but techniques of influence and persuasion are supposed to produce different results. How can you tell the difference between something shady or legitimate?
Today’s guest is Paul Ross. Paul is an author, speaker, trainer, master hypnotist, and master practitioner of neuro linguistic programming. For over 30 years, Paul has been featured in leading media outlets including BBC, CNN, NBC, Rolling Stone, and more. His speeches and trainings have motivated tens of thousands of people to discover their power to design their own results through the power of persuasion and language.“I believe in listening to your gut. The idea that the gut is a second brain and ought to be listened to is a good one.” - Paul Ross Click To Tweet
- [1:00] – Paul introduces himself and a little about his book, Subtle Words That Sell.
- [2:21] – When asked about the worst sales techniques out there, Paul explains that the worst ones are the ones that can be identified.
- [3:07] – Sales tactics have had to change due to constant distractions.
- [4:31] – Paul explains what he teaches clients and students and although it sounds “crazy,” creating a state of trust and focus is crucial.
- [6:20] – Selling isn’t all about service. Paul emphasizes the power of suggestion.
- [7:50] – Paul shares how different media outlets use a variety of manipulated imagery to support their platform.
- [9:12] – Following your gut is advised when on the consumer end of things and the selling side.
- [10:11] – Even in the world of dating, there are so many suggestions on social media, movies, and music that suggest how people should behave.
- [12:43] – Paul encourages everyone to invest in themselves and explains the value of having coaches and mentors.
- [14:18] – Paul poses a question that illustrates the power of persuasion in sales.
- [15:13] – There is a missing element in self-improvement that Paul explains with examples.
- [18:47] – People tend to view new experiences through an old lens especially if possible rejection is involved.
- [19:43] – The brain can’t tell the difference between what you dwell on and what you rehearse.
- [21:30] – Sometimes what we think is a discipline problem, it's actually a bad learning strategy.
- [24:10] – Paul emphasizes that his model is his creation and is constantly evolving.
- [25:41] – Paul teaches certain questions on what you could have done differently. We are trained by our culture to look for our errors, but the key is to look for the things you’ve done right first.
- [26:34] – The three C’s are Compassion, Courage, and Clarity.
- [27:54] – “Persistence is a myth.” – Paul Ross
- [29:00] – What if you persist with your mistakes?
- [31:23] – Paul offers two free courses with the purchase of his book if purchased through this link.
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Paul, thank you so much for coming on the Easy Prey Podcast. Can you give the audience a little bit about your background, who you are, and how you've come to be where you're at?
I’ve been a multi-millionaire who's shaken up the entire world of seduction, persuasion, and sales. Not much to say about myself other than I’m a master hypnotist with 30 years of experience. A master practitioner of NLP, neuro-linguistic programming. We can get into that if you want to. I assume some familiarity with those disciplines on the part of your listenership or viewership. I don't know if they're viewed, listened to, and/or both based on the name of your podcast.
I’m the author of this wonderful book. Look how sexy I look on the cover, of course. Subtle Words That Sell: How to Get Your Prospects to Convince Themselves to Buy and Add Top Dollars to Your Bottom Line! Look how handsome I look there.
Good looking guy.
Oh, the girlfriend is hypnotized into thinking I’m an absolute hottie.
Well, let's start out with a little bit of the sales side. I think that's going to lead us down a path that's interesting. I know for me—I’m in IT—I get lots of people calling me and trying to sell me stuff. I see bad sales techniques over and over and over and over. Let's talk a little bit about bad sales techniques that are easy to spot. What are some of the worst things that salespeople can be doing, that if you're a potential customer, you should just run away because they're just trying to get money out of you?
Well, there are so many different bad techniques. The worst techniques are the ones that can be identified. Those are the really bad ones. If you can identify them, then they suck. A tactic identified is a tactic disarmed.
Here's the challenge for modern salespeople—I call it a paradox. It's the dumbed down and yet highly sophisticated potential client, A.K.A. prospect. Your prospect is dumbed down, numbed out, and distracted. There's terrible marketing ADD out there. We're bombarded with marketing messages. I remember when YouTube first came about, the ads were at least a minute long, sometimes two minutes. Now you have five seconds to click them up. We have Facebook Instant Messenger, texting, TikTok, Tinder—not that I would know anything about Tinder, do you understand? So people don't have the attention span.
One of the problems is also on the other side of the cover. They're sophisticated, they've heard your pitches before. They know about the yes ladders. Isn't that right, Mr. Smith? Yes. Don't you think that's a good idea? Yes. They know about the matching and mirroring to get rapport, they've seen it. They've seen it a million times. They know about the assumed close. Well, would you like it in red or in blue?
It requires a batshit lunatic like me who's coming from outside the field and saying, “No, no. We have to rip the entire paradigm of traditional selling apart and make it about something else,” because here are some top lessons. I’ll give this to your audience. You're never selling your product or service. You're always selling decisions and good feelings about decisions, and decisions are state-dependent, meaning whatever state of consciousness your client or prospect is in is the place from which that decision will spring.You're never selling your product or service. You're always selling decisions and good feelings about decisions. -Paul Ross Click To Tweet
The idea of selling being about creating states of consciousness for yourself and other people is batshit crazy. It's a completely different paradigm, but I teach my students, “Look, before you do your marketing presentation, how are you going to create a state of trust? How are you going to create a state of focus such that they're looking at your presentation through those states?” I’ll give you a metaphor, because as a master teacher, I like to teach through metaphor. And this is not a trick question; this is a for-real question.
We want to conduct electricity. We have two possible conductive mediums—a sheet of cardboard and a sheet of gold foil. Which one's going to conduct the electricity? It's not a trick question.
The gold foil.
Exactly, we instinctively know that. Same good current but the cardboard's not going to do anything. Consider the states of consciousness of your prospects like being focused in, wanting to believe you, feeling like you're their leader, listening intently, dropping all the skepticism, and growing progressively more curious. Think of those as being the conductive medium, the gold foil.
Now, most sales training, as far as they go, they'll teach you maybe to get rapport. The problem is the way they do it is detectable, is clunky and a lot of work, and the final thing is it has to continue throughout the sales process. You have to continually be matching and mirroring their posture. For those who are familiar with NLP, they're sensory predicates—a lot of hard work. I say do it quickly using the power of subconscious languaging.
If your sales process is working for you, great. I’m not here to take it away. But if you would like to up that by at least 30% in 90 days, add and layer in the power of suggestion. Everyone says selling is about service. You sell to serve, great. To me, selling is about service multiplied by suggestion because I no longer assume my prospect knows what's best for them. They don't. My job is to alter their consciousness in a way where they expand their mind to include new possibilities. A new possibility about what they deserve, what's possible for them, what they can do. Does that make sense?
Yes, it makes sense to me so far.
It's a completely different paradigm, would you not agree?
Yeah, it is. It's not the typical, you used to walk into a store. “Hey, this is on sale today, but if you don't buy it today, the price is going to go up tomorrow.” Just try not to do those things and engage with the person. I’m not going to say build a rapport, but help lead them somewhere as opposed to beat them over the head with the offer.
There's a variety of ways that we can look at this. If you're selling products, there are techniques that can be applied to that. Does the news do this to us as well, or is it more blatant?
I think the news manipulates imagery. This is why if you look at the difference between Fox and CNN, Fox presents images of buildings burning to the ground and violent looters dragging people out of their homes and beating them. Where CNN is producing talking heads on Zoom talking about policy, warning against dangers, and attacking Trump's character. Whether you like Trump or not, whether he deserves that, that's not my point. But images of violence, threats, and fear of lawlessness have tremendous optics to it that the other side doesn't. Do you understand?
It has more of an ability to influence on an emotional level.
It's a raw limbic system threat.
So is that one of those things that we should always be watching out for, is when we're watching someone or talking with someone and there's this very visceral response that we should, “OK, why am I responding this way?”
Yeah, I believe in listening to the gut. There's actually overwhelming evidence that there are more neurotransmitters produced in the gut than there are in the brain when it comes to things like serotonin. Actually, the communication between the gut and the brain goes down the vagus nerve and most of the communication—90% of it—is going up from the gut to the brain. So this idea that the gut is actually a second brain and ought to be trusted or at least listened to, I think, is a really good one.
So if you've got news to influence us, we've got sales. Do we also see this like you've done some dating? There's the influence there as well, right?
One of the things I would say to them is, “Where did you get the idea that you either have to be a nice guy or a bully? Where'd you get the idea that you have to buy flowers, take a woman out to a fancy dinner?” That's not a law of nature. It's not something that happens in other cultures necessarily. It's not a law of physics. Well, you've seen it in movies. You've been to those romantic comedies or you hear it in songs. Baby, baby, I’m nothing without you. Baby come back.
What does our popular media teach men to be? It teaches them either to be bullies, being the jerk, or the beggar. I say there are five B's—bullying, begging, buying, BS, and booze. That's how you're showing men behaving on TV shows and in movies. No one challenges it. I’ll give you an even better story. Here's even a better story that demonstrates the principle.
Many, many years ago, I was invited to watch a stage hypnosis show. We went to a fraternity party. It was put on for a bunch of fraternities. My friend at the time was a master hypnotist, but he did stage shows to pick up some extra bucks. One of the things that happened, he did some fun stuff and he said, “All right, gentlemen, we're listening to the sound of my voice. In a moment, I’m going to show you a little rag doll. It's just a rag doll, but when I say the word watermelon, it is the love of your life, your soulmate. You'll do anything to get her to marry you, but you can't leave your chair. When I say the word watermelon, that's going to happen. One, two, three.”
He was showing it to them. What do you think of this doll? It's stupid. I don't play with dolls. And watermelon. These guys were crying, “Baby, please, baby. I’ve got a house. Oh baby, come here. I love you. I’ll give you my world, baby. Some of them were crying and pleading, trying to get down on their knees while they’re stuck in their chairs.”
At the end of the show, I said to the hypnotist, “Mike, do you know what's interesting to me? Not one of those guys said, ‘Hey, come here. Get over here.’” He said, “Correct, you got the right lesson. You learned the lesson because they've been hypnotized by the media to have only one set of ideas.”
Now if you're a lady and listening to this and getting pissed off, good. I like pissing people off. Being offended is only a sign that your traditional beliefs are being stretched to the breaking point. Breaking points lead to breakthroughs. So offended, breaking point, breakthrough. Thank you. You can send me a PayPal of $500. I am the expensive coach and mentor you'll ever be glad you hired.
That's a good sales pitch.
I know. My coach taught them to me.
Are you your own coach, or do you have coaches?
I absolutely understand the value of investing in myself. In the last 10 years, I’ve easily spent between $300 to $1000 to $500,000 on mentors and coaches. I’ve been extremely lucky to have great teachers.
I know some people in the same position that they have spent over six figures on coaches and whatnot and were like, “It is the best investment I’ve ever made in my life because he's had mostly good experiences.”
I’ve been around 32 years. I’ve seen a lot of stuff.
The one that I really wanted to talk about after having watched other interviews with you that this kind of thread ran through my head. We talked about the influence of news, salespeople, and dating. But how much influence do we have over ourself in self-limiting beliefs or setting up roadblocks?
In theory, we ought to have a lot of it, but in reality, we don't. I had to discover some ways around these self-sabotaging patterns because I was dealing with some of the most screwed-up people in the world. Imagine being 30, 40, 50 years old and never having had a date in your life or being touched in an intimate way by a woman without whipping out a credit card. These are pretty screwed-up people with a lot of self-esteeming issues, a lot of shaming issues, et cetera.
It taught me to look at how people are deeply stuck, but let me introduce this series of ideas to you by asking you a question, Chris. And again, these are not trick questions.
In the areas of losing weight, getting rich, and finding your ideal partner, how many millions of copies of books—not individual titles, but actual millions of copies of books, we’ll include books on audio—have been sold in the last five years?
A hundred million.
OK. We'll grant you that number. I think you're a little conservative. I’ll grant you that number. Then why don't we see 100 million skinny rich people madly in love with their ideal partner?
Because it doesn't work.
Something is wrong. Now, all of these books and courses teach things like vision boarding, writing down exactly what you want. Those things are great. However, in between the information/inspiration and the implementation, something is wrong. Something is not working. I’m here to say that in all the fields of self-actualization, self-improvement, there's a missing element, and that is a really good learning strategy. How do you move up the learning curve in taking on a new skillset without looking at your possibilities to the pain of your past, and without accidentally reinforcing all your mistakes the way you look at them?
Another example, because again, I love telling stories. When I was an executive coach for some of these guys, oh man. One of these guys took a couple of my courses, did some private coaching with me. What happened is he went to a bar. Was it a bar or a club? I don't rightly recall, but it was a bar or a club. He saw this unbelievably hot woman. The kind of woman who's so hot, guys walk up to her and then they make that U-turn like she's got that invisible shield.
He went right over to her. I don't remember what he said. Let's hallucinate or imagine he said something along the lines of, “I don't know what you're doing with these other guys, but it's not working with me. My name is so-and-so.” He paused for a second and every person was like, “What the F is going on? How could this skinny, ugly, short guy get this beautiful girl?”
He decides he's going to play it cool, gets her phone number on a card, and then he decides he's going to really play it cool, the idiot. He didn't get my memo because I always used to call right away, which I still believe. He figures I’m going to play it cool. He takes the card, he puts it on his desk in his home office. “I’m going to wait three days.”
Three days go by, he looks for the card, it's not there. Tosses his office, tosses his townhome. You know that panic you feel when you can't find your keys and you're in a hurry to get to an appointment, you're already running late? That's flooding his body—the fight, flight, freeze hormones are running through his body. Then he figures, “Shite, it's dumpster night.”
He goes and starts diving through dumpsters behind his townhome complex. Finally, he comes up after about two, three hours, no phone number. He said to me the following thing. He said, “Ross, my old self has come back. I’ve been depressed for six weeks. I can't even talk to a woman. Why do I always screw it up?”
Now as a hypnotist, this fascinated me. First of all, I thought, “Where was his old self when his new self was being so successful with that woman? And where did his new self go now that he's depressed?” That whole concept fascinated me. But on another level, here's what fascinated me, Chris.
I thought, in order for him to feel like a failure, he had to hallucinate away everything he did right. He got 90% of the way there. He was looking at his progress through the pain of his past. He had so many painful experiences, all he saw was what didn't work, and this is far more common than you would think, particularly in areas like sales where we're going to face rejection.
It was that last question: why do I always screw it up? Oftentimes, when we go to learn, we will dwell on mistakes. You go to make a sale, it doesn't go. Why do I screw it up? Why can't I call on the big money clients? Why am I such a bad closer? Now when you do that, is your mind focused on possibility, power, and on the present or in the future, or is it focused on the past?
It's focused on the past.
It's super focused on the past, and you're actually dwelling on all the mistakes you've made over and over and over again. Now here's a universal law of the mind that I made up out of whole cloth. The mind runs on repetition, familiarity, and momentum, and the mind can't tell the difference—or brain, if you like—I use them interchangeably. The brain can't tell the difference between what you rehearse, what you dwell on over and over and over in an effort to learn from it, and what you're programming it to do. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it's the concept of you've got two dogs—one’s scrawny, one's fat. Whichever dog you ultimately feed is the one that's going to grow and be healthy.
I would think of it in terms of momentum. I like to think in terms of cognitive momentum and emotional inertia, and that which has the most repetition has the most inertia. It has the most mass to it. So therein lies the problem. If you're doing 100 positive visualizations a day and looking at your vision board every day but you've got 10,000 repetitions dwelling on mistakes, which one of those is going to have more raw cognitive and emotional power?
The dwelling on the mistakes.
That's right, and this is the number one thing that's missing in every sales course and every self-improvement thing, which is how to effectively learn from your mistakes. How many times have you heard this piece of advice: just learn from every experience? How many times?
Tons of times, but no one tells me how to do it.
Does anyone give you an f’n method to do it?
Tell me how to do that; that’s the magic.
Exactly. I have perfected and mined a way to do that and tweaked it over years and years, decades of teaching the most impacted emotionally screwed-up people in the world. If I can teach them, I can take a reasonably competent salesperson and teach them how to go up a learning curve, and to take what they're already doing and supercharge it.
Here's a thing to consider. It's not that you have a confidence problem, and maybe it's not that you have a competence problem, you just have a shitty learning strategy. A lot of what you think is a discipline problem, that's a bad learning strategy. You repeat dwelling on your mistakes with all that painful emotion, why would your brain want to move towards doing the behavior? A final, final, final metaphor because I love stories.
I’m Jewish. When I was eight years old, in 1966, my beloved sister, Anita, bought my younger brother Stevie a toy robot. I had this habit of breaking Stevie’s toys. That's how I learned about things—by tearing them apart and breaking them—go figure. In the diagnostic and service manual, which is the standard bible for a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, I fell under the category schmuck. That was the scientific definition, schmuck.
The robot could do three things: you can make the lights in its eyes blink, you can make it go forward, and make it go backward. I thought, “I know what. I’ll press forward and backward at the same time.” The robot started to shake. Blue smoke came out of its robot ass as its wires melted—BAM—it fell over. The robot experienced that internal conflict.
If you feel at times when you move up the road to success, your old self wants to stay stuck, stay back, and the new self wants to move forward—this is the process of how that works. It's not that you are a thing; you have a personality called a self-sabotager in there that you need to exorcise like a ghost. It's not that you have a limited quantity of a fluid called self-esteem and you have to drill a hole in your head and pour in four quarts or go to a Tony Robbins seminar. Let him power that self-esteem into your body by walking on fire.
So, are there triggers? Things that remind us of our old self, there are things that are going to call us down that path and think about all the mistakes that we've made, or the things that we could do to trigger and change that and realize, “OK, that's a bad practice?”
I think the real question is: how do we cultivate the states of consciousness and the balance of those states enables us to do it? So this again is just my model. Nothing I’m teaching today is true. I take great pains when I’m doing personal mentorship or I’m doing a group training to always say the following: nothing I teach is true and it's not science. It's my map, my model. It's subject to change. It's incomplete, and it sure as hell has some error in it.
So as arrogant as I am, we are—the royal we—I still want to be precise and I want to have an intellectual openness with everyone who I’m teaching. Regardless of whether you decide to continue learning about me or this is it, I want you to get this message.
So for me, my odd model is about cultivating consciousness. For the sake of this discussion, let's say there's witness consciousness. That's that aspect of our mind that can look with clarity, compassion, and courage at our patterns. A big change happens with clients when you don't just change one thing. Let's say they come to me and they're afraid of speaking on stage, one of the things I specialize in. But that's tiny; that’s a behavioral change.
The big change comes from when you're mentoring people, when they're no longer looking through their patterns. They're looking at them. So cultivating that state of witness consciousness is crucial.
From that state, then you can do a diagnostic. I teach people to ask certain questions, like if I already have mastery of these skills, what would I have done more of, what would I have done less of, what would I have added in, what would I have left out? If I already had mastery of these skills, what would that look like and what would I have done on these levels?
I teach certain questions to look at what you could have done differently, and I also teach students to always look at what you did right first. We're trained by our culture to look at our errors first. No, no, look at what you did correctly first. That's crucial. That's key. Does that make sense to you?
So, how do we cultivate that witness consciousness? That is a meditative practice. It doesn't require that you sit on a cushion or hike to the Himalayas. It is a simple practice that I’ve distilled out that anyone can learn to do in a matter of nine minutes a day to develop that place.
I talk about the three C's. Compassion gives me the courage to look with clarity at what I’m doing. We have to have compassion for ourselves and others. We have to have courage, and that gives us the clarity to really look without judging ourselves.I talk about the three C's. Compassion gives me the courage to look with clarity at what I’m doing. -Paul Ross Click To Tweet
You can evaluate without having judgment. People say, “Don't be judgmental, don't be judgmental.” I say screw that. I want to be able to evaluate, not judge. Judge implies making a moral….Some people need to be moral, but you can evaluate what's going on in yourself and with other people without being judgmental. Does that make sense?
Yeah. You're reviewing what you did.
Yeah. Learning how to do that requires you to cultivate witness consciousness. The next state of consciousness is what I call creative consciousness. That's where you do your vision boarding, your positive visualizations, and some other stuff that gets into some odd stuff like a personal ritual. Creating personal rituals for yourself, which I’m not prepared to discuss here.
Finally, will consciousness. That's the ability to set an intention, keep going, persist. But even then, persistence is a myth.
Just persist. Edison went through 1000 different things before he found the right combination for a light bulb. First of all, Edison is an idiot because he had Nikola Tesla working for him. I would have just given the job to Tesla. He would have imagined the right answer in his head within the afternoon. He stole a lot of stuff from Tesla anyway.
I would prefer to have a much better understanding of what works instead of 1000 tests, or better people on my bus have a Tesla or a dozen Teslas working with me. I don't mean Tesla the car, I mean Nikola Tesla who invented alternating current without which the modern world would be dark. We'd all be running on batteries. It would not work well.
Persistence without precision is a waste of time or a tremendous waste of energy. What if you persist in repeating your mistakes? What if you persist in dwelling in your mistakes? Precision and persistence, and if you can add to that passion. People say passion is the most important. Passion is great, but if you don't have precision—even precision in terms of who wants what you've got. What's your market? What's your match to the market? What's your offer?
I’m thinking in a contrarian way. I think very iconoclastically. When I was a little kid, my mother was one of my greatest teachers. I used to sass her. She’d shake her finger at me and say, “Kid—I remember she said this to me one day—if you don't knock it off you're going to grow up to be an iconoclast.” I said, “What's an iconoclast, mommy?” She said, That’s someone who grows up, knocks over other people's sacred idols and ideas, and really pisses them off.” That's me.
I like that.
That's me. I’m very contrarian, iconoclastic. I’ll put it to you like this. I don't want you to junk your sales process if it's working for you. What I do want you to do is really look at—is it really working for you? If you're doing six figures at least, great, then it's time to take on my stuff and see how it turbocharges what you're doing. If you're leaving out the power of language to influence the unconscious mind, then you are cutting off one arm and you're going in like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.
You've sold yourself short.
Listen to all these stories and metaphors I keep throwing.
Is that a bad sign, when there are lots of metaphors, or is that a good sign when there are lots of metaphors?
Metaphor is a bridge from an old way of understanding into a new way of understanding. It allows the mind to stop and take in a new direction.
To me, it's like seeing things from a different perspective is important. If you're only looking at things through your own lens, you're not understanding people, you're not understanding the world, you're in a little box. You might like your box, but there are other boxes out there. There are other worlds out there to see.
That's what I tell guys when it comes to dating.
If people want to learn more about you, your training, and your speaking, how do they find you?
I have a website, speakerpaulross.com. If you want to get a copy of my book, you can go on Amazon and get it. But if you'd like to get a copy of it and get two free courses from me—dynamite courses. One is on how to use hypnotic language to smash objections. The other one is about mastering your mindset using the power of self-suggestion. You get them free and then we'll redirect you to Amazon. Go to subtlewordsthatsell.com. Can you just write that out, subtlewordsthatsell.com?
I can write it out and we'll put it in the show notes.
The other thing is you can follow me on LinkedIn. That's speakerpaulross.com/linkedin. And finally, if you're one of those iconoclastic people who’s ready to add another six figures into your already successful sales process, listen to me. You have to be doing at least somewhere around a quarter million for me to even consider working with you and you're ready to have a conversation about what I can do to double that. I’m serious about that, and that's a guarantee.
Right now, I have space for three people. You can go to speakerpaulross.com/discovery. That's a lot of different calls to action, but what the hell. Pick what you want. For no other thing, go ahead and get the book, subtlewordsthatsell.com. It'll show you how to go to Amazon to get it, but also get free courses from me.
Free stuff is always good.
As opposed to just going to Amazon on your own.
That's a perfect place to close on today.
I know, how obnoxious am I?