EPISODE 571: Why Sales Professionals Must Write a Book with Honorée Corder

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This podcast, sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales featured an interview with Honorée Corder of Honoree Enterprises. She is the founder of the Empire Builder’s Masterclass.]

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Honorée’s TIP: “Writing a book is really the thing that distinguishes you in the mind of the person that you are talking to. They go from prospect to probable purchaser because you elevate yourself, your brand, your business, and name and face recognition. All of those things are the result of writing and publishing a book.”


Fred Diamond: We have Honorée Corder today. Why should sales professionals write a book?

Honorée Corder: Aren’t we all professional salespeople? I know that is what some people call themselves. They are in institutional sales, or direct sales, or car sales, but we are all as professionals selling something. As sales professionals, writing a book is the one thing that distinguishes us from every other person who says, “I am a salesperson. I am a professional salesperson.” If you want to pull yourself out of the line of the people who are just saying, “I do. Me too,” it’s really the thing that distinguishes you in the mind of the person that you are talking to. They go from prospect to probable purchaser because you elevate yourself, your brand, your business, and name and face recognition. All of those things are the result of writing and publishing a book.

Fred Diamond: A couple of quick things. One is, we like to say everybody’s in sales. If you have a spouse, if you have a child, if you have a parent, you are definitely in sales. We’re going to talk about some of the logistics, because I know a lot of people who are listening are saying, “I can’t write a book. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. I’m not a good writer,” whatever it might be. But I want to talk about something you just said. One of the key things we talk a lot about on the Sales Game Changers Podcast is the need to differentiate yourself, is the need to sell different. One of our guests is a guy named Lee Salz, who wrote a book called Sell Different. The whole purpose is how do you distinguish yourself. Talk about that nuance, if you will, and maybe it’s broader than a nuance, how people view authors versus non-authors.

Honorée Corder: First, let me just preface what I’m about to say and address what you said that most people are thinking, that with the right guidance, and plan, and process, anyone, I believe, can become an author. Let’s not get stuck on how that might come to be. As far as distinguishing yourself and what that looks like in the hands of the person you’re talking to, a prospect, a potential customer, someone at a party. The minute you say, “I am X,” insert profession, and then you add, “I’m also the author of the book,” whatever. You have experienced this now with your two books. You’re at a party, you’re one of 20 people, 50 people, 100 people, and you are the author in the room, guess what? Now you’re the most popular person at the party.

Guest of honor or not, everyone wants to talk to you about your book. They say they want to write a book. It’s a conversation opener. Rapport is huge in sales, and rapport is immediately built with someone who finds that common ground. Usually in sales, and I actually have written two books on sales, and I have a previous career in sales, so I’m speaking from experience, is that rapport is the thing that you have to gain with someone before they will feel like they know you, like you, and trust you and buy from you. When you are able to find that common ground through sharing your book, shining the light on the fact that you’ve become an author, all of a sudden there are barriers that are broken down and time that is collapsed, because the person you’re talking to is really excited to know more. They want to know more about your book, they want to know more about what your area of expertise is, and they want to know more about you and what you’re selling. It’s just a natural fast path to success, in my opinion.

Fred Diamond: We have close to 600 episodes of the Sales Game Changers Podcast. I’ve done hundreds of blogs, I’ve spoken hundreds of times. When I wrote these two books, people started, I’m not going to say they treated me differently, but all of a sudden it’s like, “He’s a two-time author.” I noticed that distinction after having a presence on LinkedIn and the podcast. We’ve had close to two million interactions. What is it about a book? Is it just historically there’s more credibility? You’ve worked with so many authors. What is that little nuance piece?

Honorée Corder: I think the nuance is that author comes from the word authority, and we are trained, educated, the expectation is set that the person who is an author is the person that is the one who knows the most about that topic, or knows a lot about that topic. It’s an elevator for multiple reasons. I think, one, it’s that you have done something that people feel is very hard to do. Not everybody can become an author. Now, I just spoke to that a few minutes ago, but we’ll ignore that. The perception is reality, as we know. The perception is that becoming an author is hard. It’s like running a marathon or selling your business for $100 million, most people don’t feel like they can do that. They might want to, but they don’t feel like they can. If you’re an author, all of a sudden you have done something that they feel is perhaps not something that they can achieve. It’s unachievable for them. That elevation I think comes from the fact that you’ve taken the time to put your thoughts in concrete and people can read about them. That is distinguishing as well.

Fred Diamond: The other thing too is it’s out there forever. I’m thinking about it right now. My books came out in August, so right now, of course, I’m in the space of marketing these books. It’s interesting, my sales book, a lot of people knew me from running the Institute for Excellence in Sales. Nobody knew me two months ago as an author of disease management books. I’ve been building my reputation with the Lyme book, and people are beginning to discover it, and we’re getting reviews on Amazon, and people are reaching out to me just thanking me for writing a book that has never been written before. Let’s talk about the physicalness of getting a book done. Because some people equate it to giving birth, I guess, I’ve never. I always like to joke that it’s harder on the male than it is on the female. I’m just kidding.

Honorée Corder: Those are fighting words, Fred.

Fred Diamond: I don’t even remember writing these two books, now that they’re both done, but now it’s the interesting and fun part of marketing them. But what are some of the cornerstones of a professionally published book? Because we’re talking about getting something that if you’re in sales, if you work for yourself, you’re the brand. But let’s say you’re a sales professional with Amazon, or Salesforce, or Oracle, you’re representing that brand. Talk about what goes into a professionally published book.

Honorée Corder: A professionally published book has four cornerstones, and the first one is the editorial process. I, again, want to preface what I’m about to say with, I suggest highly, emphatically, and energetically that you take the time and money that it takes to professionally produce your books. What I’m about to say is very important, because as you are representing brands that are big and they put a lot of money into their branding, you are your own brand. The chances that you are going to need to have your book to go with you to your next position is going to be the thing that represents you even before you’re met. Sometimes it’s a recruiting tool for the company that’s like, “He’s an author. She’s an author. We should recruit them to sell for us.” Everything I’m about to say, I really want to encourage people to take the time and money that it takes to put into their book, to not rush it, to not cut corners.

The four cornerstones are, again, the editorial process. That is having perhaps one or two passes by an editor. If it’s your first book, you probably need a developmental editor, then you need a line editor, and those are separate passes and separate expenses. That’s where you’re going to spend the lion’s share of your money. Then when that’s done, you’ll have a proofread. You’re also going to want to have excellent design when it comes to your book. You’re cover done by a book cover designer, not by someone who’s a graphic designer. Those are different. Just like you wouldn’t hire a divorce lawyer to help you sell your company, you wouldn’t hire a general practitioner graphic designer to design your book cover. Also, then there’s the interior design piece. Editorial, cover, interior, and then you’re going to want to have your cover copy, your back cover copy, also known as sales copy or retail sales copy, written by a book copy writer. Editorial, design, interior design, and your book copy are all very important when it comes to professionally publishing your book.

If I may, I just want to stop there for just a second and say, it’s not about you and how much money you spend. It is about you and how much money you invest in your book. There’s not enough, just the right amount and too much. We can stop there, come back to that if you’d like. It’s not a huge amount of money in general when you think about it from the perspective of how much money will you make when you professionally publish your book and then you sell more.

I do think it’s important for me to say, I have known a number of people to write and publish books while employed for companies, and they have a little thing in their contract that says, “Anything that you write and publish while you’re employed by us is owned by us.” Be very careful about trying to do this if you are employed, because I’ve had people have had their books taken away from them. They didn’t believe me, and then when they published the book, the company said, “This is fantastic. You did this on your own dime, on your own computer, on your own time. However, you signed this document, so we own it. We’ll take it. Thank you very much.” It’s happened more than five times. Just be very aware if you’re going to write and publish a book that you have to do some due diligence before you publish it, if you have that in your contract.

Fred Diamond: By the way, for a lot of great resources, sign up for Honoree’s email, it’s actually where I first met her. Every day you send out a really cool book marketing email on something you can do. It’s always great advice. We’ll put in the show notes the link to your website. It’s honoreecorder.com. I just want to talk about one aspect about publishing, which is self-publishing. A lot of times people are thrown off, “I’m never going to get a publisher like the Penguins or the Wileys of the world.” That’s a process. My first job after college was with McGraw Hill Publishing. This was way back in the ‘80s, but I knew what the process was. Publishers want to sell tens if not hundreds of thousands of books.

But for the people that are listening today, the purpose of the book is a lot different. For example, the sales book, Insights for Sales Game Changers, that I wrote, I’m sending them to prospects. I’m doing a book signing tomorrow at one of our members. He purchased 100 copies of the book. I’m going to talk about it for 10, 15 minutes and then sign books for everybody there. There’s so much value you could do with the book. Talk about the concept of self-publishing, and obviously it’s sprung up a lot because of Amazon. Just give a little bit of a taste on what it looks like and what it means to self-publish a book.

Honorée Corder: What it means to self-publish is that you get to retain the rights of the book. You own lock, stock, and barrel, the intellectual property. You also control the quality, the content, and the cash. You get to make all of the money from publishing your book. There is no longer the stigma of self-publishing that there once was. I started when there was a stigma, for sure. In 2004, I published my first book and people would go, “Bless your heart. You self-published.” Then it wasn’t very long, within a few years, that people were coming back to me and saying, “You’re so smart. You self-published. Tell me how I can do it.” Not only is it as good as but can also be better than hybrid or traditional publishing, because you do have all of that control. When you know what to do, you can optimize your book, which means you create the author/reader relationship. You can monetize your book, which means you can use it in the way you’re using it to do book sales and to create that brand building and elevation of what it is that you do, the products and services that you sell. You can also monetize it in different ways by turning it into different kinds of products or services.

Fred Diamond: That’s a great point there, is it’s your voice. The other thing too is you’re producing content. I want to talk about that for a little bit. We talk a lot in the Sales Game Changers Podcast about how sales professionals have the opportunity now, with LinkedIn, and Medium, and so many other places, to produce content to get their voice out there. When people say to me, “Fred, what is your number one bit of advice on how I can become great as a business to business professional salesperson?” I always say, get to intimately know a marketplace. The sales professionals who are so successful, it’s the guy who’s been selling Dell to the Department of Defense for 30 years. It’s someone who’s been selling a CRM software to hospitals for 30 years. You get to understand the nuance. Would that be a good idea to write a book about customer relationships with hospitals if you’re trying to sell more of whatever it is you’re selling right now to those markets? Talk about some other ways that the salespeople could use the book.

Honorée Corder: There are two main things that come to mind when you’re talking about how someone can use a book and what they would use it for. That’s actually my very second question when I’m talking to someone about their book. The second question I ask is, “Where does it fit into your business and what are you going to do with it?” That actually informs and influences the marketing strategy, because if you are wanting to sell to hospital systems, there’s a finite amount of those, and your publishing and marketing strategy would be different than if you’re going to write a book on sales that you’re selling to salespeople. The main difference is how are you going to publish it, where are you going to publish it, and how are you going to use it? Those are some of the main differences.

I can use a quick example, which is, I did a book with a guy, we didn’t publish it on Amazon. He wrote and published his book solely to make $300,000 per sale in a geographic area. He is geographically limited. The service he offers is $5,000 a month. It’s a three-year contract or something. Anyway, it was $300,000 per engagement. He wasn’t worried about doing an Amazon launch or getting it in the hands of everyone. His client base was very limited and he didn’t need to worry about any of the things a lot of authors think about, which is publishing it on Amazon, doing the pre-launch, doing the launch, what’s the marketing strategy? His marketing strategy was finite and baked into an area.

If you are a salesperson who’s selling to a specific entity, what that book can do for you and your strategy for writing the book would be very intentional and purposeful to help the person who is reading your book understand that you are the person representing the product, service, or company, or all of the above, that they need to engage with. That marketing strategy -which I love, book marketing-, is very intentional and very different than someone who is writing a book for real estate agents.

Fred Diamond: I mentioned, I wrote too, I have no illusions that Insights for Sales Game Changers is going to be the next Tom Sawyer or whatever, that it’s intended for me to help my sales process. For everybody who’s listening today, the reason we’re talking about this topic is because it can help you with your sales prospecting. Now, on the other hand, on the Lyme book that I wrote about, I’m not using that to market anything. I’m not looking to become the Dr. Phil of Lyme. It’s to help a community that is really struggling understand things.

I want to ask you some questions about the logistics, because we have a lot of successful people here whose time is very short and they’re probably thinking, “Ain’t no way I can write a book because I just don’t have the time and it’s too hard.” Physically writing a book. I remember before I published mine, I would ask all the authors I knew, “How did you physically write this book? Did you sit in your basement in your pajamas every night from 10:00 until 3:00 in the morning? Did you go to Starbucks? Where did you physically write the book?”

I actually wrote my book in my dining room/den, if you will. But talk about that. It is a thing you need to do. You need to take words out of your brain, put them onto paper or onto the computer, and eventually it gets printed either electronically or in print. But talk about the process a little bit of physically writing the book. For people who are saying, “Fred, this is a great show. She’s obviously real smart. Ain’t no way I’m going to physically have the time, energy, or even brain power.” I remember I was talking to one of our customers who’s a sales professional. He said, “I have nothing to say.” He said, “I couldn’t even write a one-page book, let alone 150-page book to put on Amazon.”

Honorée Corder: My process, and I will use my process as a template, because I don’t think that there’s one way for someone to write a book. It’s something a lot of people are very curious about. I hope you’ll ask me about what someone should do before they sit and just start pounding out their book, because that’s a mistake that I think people make. But if you have the desire to write a book and you want to write a book, let’s say in a year’s time, give yourself a year’s runway. Maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution for the upcoming year, then take the average size of a nonfiction book, which is 50,000 words, divide it by five days a week, the 50 weeks in the year, and you’re going to come up with somewhere between 250 and 500 words, which is two or three emails, everyone. You’re going to eat this whale one bite at a time. Just schedule time every day.

My time is 6:00 AM to 7:00 AM, and I sit down. This morning, I wrote 1,011 words in one hour, in two 25-minute chunks. That’s the Pomodoro method, using a 25-minute timer. I wrote a book called The Nifty 15: Write Your Book in 15 Minutes a Day!, because no one can really tell me they don’t have 15 minutes to write their book. But when you have your book outlined, and you know what you’re going to write about, and if you’re writing a nonfiction book, you already know, it’s already in your head. It’s just getting it out of your head and on paper. It’s scheduling that time consistently every day, or two or three days a week, or one day a week, or you have a larger chunk of time. No one ever has that, but it’s a nice idea. It sounds like a great idea, you’re going to have three uninterrupted hours to write. It just doesn’t generally happen.

That’s how you write your book, is you decide that you’re going to do it, you make the decision. The decision zero is, “I’m going to write this book.” The second decision is, “I’m going to write it in X amount of time.” Then the third decision is, “I’m going to write it in these many minutes, these many days a week.” That’s really how it gets done.

Fred Diamond: You started to touch on this. You asked me to ask you, what should someone do before they sit down to write the book? It’s interesting, but I spent 10 years in retrospect, and people would say to me all the time. I remember one of our members of the Institute for Excellence in Sales said, “Fred, when are you going to start publishing your books?” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “Well, you run an institute and institutes publish books.” I even had a friend, we had this challenge, we would challenge each other, who would publish the book first? You know what? Right before the pandemic, I met someone who helps people think through the books, if you will, and we came up with some ideas. Pandemic came in, all that got put on the table. About nine months into the pandemic, I said, “I got to write this book.” Then some personal things happened, which led me to writing the Lyme book, but talk about specifically what are some things should people be thinking about before they physically sit down to start pounding on the keys.

Honorée Corder: I talked about one of them, which is the second question, which is, where does the book fit into your business? The first thing is, what’s in it for you? What do you want from it? Fame, fortune, freedom, and in what order? Fame, or fortune, or freedom, or all of the above, or two of the three, and in what order? That will help you to decide then where the book fits into your business, what is the job or the role of the book? There are some people who say, “You can’t make any money from a book.” I will die on that hill and say that you can.

Then you ask yourself, “What do you want the reader to do as a result of reading your book? What do you want the reader to not do as a result of reading your book? What do you want the right reader to do?” This is very important for these types of folks that are listening because You Must Write a Book is my book, upon which I have a course, Publishing PhD, which takes people from blank page to published book. There’s a whole lot more to consider in this process, but I want someone to get value from listening to these three questions. I’m going to use You Must Write a Book as an example. I believe you must write a book and you will benefit greatly from writing a book. I want people to read my book and go, “I must write a book,” and then feel confident that they can do it.

The second question is, what do I want readers to not do? I don’t want them to write a crappy book that doesn’t fulfill the vision they have for their book. The book won’t do the job if the book isn’t awesome. Making sure that you write an excellent book, a professionally published book, is really going to go a long way toward making sure that you get more business, develop more clients, make more money, have better vacations, wear better shoes, whatever you decide the role of the book is and what’s in it for you.

Then finally, what do you want the right reader to do? I say that there’s no wrong reader, because some people, that’s all they can do, is get a book, and they’re going to get all the advice they can because they can’t afford to engage someone in a higher way. But if you’re a salesperson and you’re giving your book to your prospective client, there’s the assumption in there or the expectation in there that the person you’re giving the book to can afford to hire you or buy what you’re selling. What you want the right reader to do is hire you or buy what you’re selling. In the case of salespeople who write books, you are really going to be giving your book to someone so that they can really recognize that you’re the person they need to engage.

Fred Diamond: I’m reminded of a real quick joke. When I went to work as a marketing consultant on my own about 20 some odd years ago, I went to a prospect. It was one of my very, very first prospects, and he wanted to put together a go-to-market plan and all these kinds of things. It was a division of a large company. We met a couple of times and then I gave him my proposal, which was in the tens of thousands. He said, “Well, I was expecting something like about $1,000.” I said, “Well, for $1,000, I’ll give you a list of 10 books. You can go to Borders.” There was Borders at the time. I said, “Here’s a list of 10 books you can go to Borders and buy this weekend, and it’ll give you the information that you need.” He said, “Give me a minute,” and he walked outside, came back in 10 minutes later and said, “All right. Can you start on Monday?”

But at the same time, you’re absolutely right. Not everybody’s going to have 30,000 bucks to spend on a consultant to come in, and you know what? You provide the value. It’s interesting, we talk about this a lot, Honoree, the purpose of sales is to provide service, valuable service. It’s a way for you to get your marketing out there. It’s a way for you to make the world a better place. That’s one of the amazing things. I’ve been thinking, I told you I wrote two books, one on Lyme disease, and one on sales. I’ve been spending a lot more attention on the Lyme book, but people are reading the sales book as well because we’ve been sending it out to prospects. Every couple of days I’ll get somebody sending me an email, “Hey, I just read your sales book. It was awesome. I read it on the flight from here to California. I was like, ‘Okay, great.’ Hopefully you’re a prospect and we’ll talk at some point, and there’s so much more we can do with that.”

It’s really interesting. We could talk about this being two parts. We could talk about the writing of the book, which we just did. It’s kind of like, “Great, good. The book is done.” Well, if you build it, they will not come. You do need to market the book. Someone said to me, “Unless you’re a cabinet member of Trump’s cabinet, don’t expect the book to just go flying off the shelves.” You need to be out there, you need to be hustling. Like I said, tomorrow I’m doing a book signing for the sales book. I’m talking to people on Facebook every day from the Lyme community, looking for influencers. I’m starting a podcast on Lyme disease, on this particular book, on the spouse angle. We could talk another time once we give our listeners, Honoree, the opportunity to have written their books, we could then spend some time on some of the things you could do.

But here’s the great thing about marketing a book, for the people who are listening, you’re going to be talking to your customers. You’re going to be in the room with your customers saying, “Hey, can I come to your company and sign 50 books for your salespeople?” You’re in the room. If they want to buy the book from you, give them the Amazon price, whatever, or just do it for free, because you’re going to be in front of your customer. It’s the cost of dealing goods.

I want to acknowledge you. We first found out about you through your email. You’ve worked with some amazing people as well, and you’ve written over 50 books. It’s just remarkable the work that you do for so many people. You’ve helped so many people express themselves. At a time when people are struggling to have their voice heard and have their voice communicated to the right people, what you do has changed so many lives. I just want to acknowledge you for that. I want to thank you again. We like to end every show, Honoree, with final action step. You’ve given us so many great ideas. Give us one more specific action step people should do right now to take their sales career to the next level.

Honorée Corder: Well, obviously we’ve talked about writing and publishing a book. Your action step is to write down the questions. If you’re curious about what you would write your book about, think about the questions that you get every single day from your prospects. There are three different types of questions. You want to write down the questions you are asked. You want to write down the questions you wish you were asked. Then you want to write the questions that people just don’t know to ask because they’re not in your head. Those are the questions you will answer in your book.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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