Aside from being a fantastic friend and mentor, Kevin Hall is a world-renowned consultant, speaker, coach, and the author of Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words. And that's just the present; in his past life, so to speak, Kevin was one of the leading salesmen of his day.
This was one of my favorite and most thought-provoking "8 Questions" so far. I'm sure you'll agree!
1. Where does "Ollin" come from?
Ollin is a word on the Aztec calendar. When a great storm or earthquake was about to shake the earth, the Aztecs would shout "Ollin!" which means "You gotta move and act right now, with all your heart!" When opportunities present themselves - like the chance to service a client, for instance - you gotta move and act ollin. It's the mentality of being action-oriented. When a client needs something, ollin is about getting it done right now. When you approach things like that, you develop a momentum that goes forward and up, not backwards and down. Ollin is for people who act. I have several friends who are multi-millionaires, and the one thing they have in common besides being humble and curious is that they act. Right now. They pick up the phone immediately and take advantage of an opportunity immediately.
2. Before you got to this level, you were selling yellow pages. What are your keys to selling?
It's all about words and vocabulary. We've studied the language that sells and we've studied the language that propels. Salespeople that use "we" versus "me" do well. "Here's what we're going to do." Another word to avoid is "cost." A poor salesperson might say, "Here's what this is going to cost." Instead, say, "Here's the value this brings you." Another key is to be unique - to be authentically yourself. If you believe you're enough, you will be enough. And you have to operate from a place of love, not fear. Another key is to have a low entry, high exit barrier. In other words, make it so easy for people to do business with you. Meet them at their office. Don't turn them over to another rep. Don't put up any barriers. "I'm going to make it so easy for you, you're barely going to have to lift your foot above a dime." Other salespeople make their clients perform a high jump. That's bound to fail. You need to show empathy. Get into their world, show you understand them. Start a relationship, not a transaction. I don't want to close. I want to open.
3. What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen salesmen make?
One is not practicing genshai. (Genshai is an ancient Hindi word that means “Never treat others, or yourself, in a way that makes them feel small.”) Don't treat somebody small. Understand your client. Do the homework. Don't go in assuming anything. Respect begets respect. And don't treat yourself small. Oh - another key thing for salespeople to do is to write thank you cards. Write one or two a day to clients or prospects. It changes everything.
4. Your book is called Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words and your website is located at www.powerofwords.com. Why did you write Aspire? Why are words so important?
Words are important because every thought you think and every word you speak literally creates a certain future. So there has to be power in words. Understanding what words mean is very important. There’s insight in every word. They’re not one-dimensional things. I was inspired by the saying “You can’t think higher than your vocabulary.” It’s not so much the breadth of your vocabulary. It’s the depth. Those concepts keep me really busy – speaking, writing, coaching.
5. When did you first discover the power of words?
It was a test I took at the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, the time management company. I was doing mostly marketing and sales training at the time. But I didn’t feel that I was totally tapping into my greatest gifts. So I went to Los Angeles and took the test at Jonson O’Connor. They gave me a piece of paper with a word at the top. The test was for “ideaphoria”; it tested for idea generation. Most people only fill out part of the page. I filled out several pages over 2 to 3 minutes. They told me I had a gift for creating ideas around words. There were other tests that I did poorly on, by the way; but that one went very well. The people at the foundation said I should market. And speak, and sell. They said I should write, too. They said I wouldn’t be happy until I wrote. Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” I still hid from writing for several years, but I finally answered the calling and my life changed. And it is a calling. It doesn’t shout. It whispers and you answer it or let it keep calling until the day you die.
6. Since words are so powerful – are thoughts themselves – does that mean multi-lingual people are more powerful?
I think there’s a good case for that. You don’t have to speak additional languages to get power from words, but it sure helps. There are origins of words that you discover in other languages that add to your overall understanding. Take cour, which means "heart" in the Romance languages. Then you read about “courage” and “encourage” and “discourage” and you understand that to encourage means to add to somebody’s heart. Discourage means to rip apart someone’s heart. It makes you think. So there’s an advantage in understanding different cultures and languages.
7. Who is your biggest influence and why?
I rarely speak without speaking about my mother and my wife. My wife of 34 years, Sherry – people would look at her and say that I out-punted my coverage. I over-married. My mother told me I could achieve anything as long as I left other people better for having met me. And she never said a cross word in her life.
8. You and your wife have six children. How did you have time for anything?
Someone I used to work with taught me something valuable to say to my children: “We can talk about anything and we can always be friends.” So if I've been a jerk, or if you've been a jerk, know that we can always be friends, and we can always talk about anything. Sherry and I tried to create an atmosphere of friendship with our children. And I used to travel a lot, but to make sure I was there for my children at important times, I tried to be home the first Sunday of every month. And I always tried to be home for my children’s first day of school, too. It’s so important because if you want to move from success to significance, it’s on the legacy of your family – what they do.