The Reluctant Salesman – Creating the freedom to sell. We speak with Martin Miller about how he’s pulling apart the stereotypical, pushy salesperson image, and how life events and experiences have shaped his career path and the way he works today.
The Reluctant Salesman is based on the principle that selling is a life skill, not a business skill. They believe that selling is fundamentally simple, and they hope that with their training, businesses and employees will understand that too.
Martin puts it simply: “We deconstruct the thinking behind what it is to be a salesman, unpacking the principle that people love to buy, but hate to be sold to. If a customer is buying and I’m selling, then we both want the same thing. Once you remove some of these preconceptions and preconditioning, we start to work through it.”
The Reluctant Salesman was founded by Terry Mullins and Martin is his first franchisee, covering Plymouth and north Cornwall. It’s Martin’s background, personality and life experiences that have shaped his career and got him to where he is today.
Martin started his working life as a hairdresser. He explains, “I was sent to a services boarding school and was expected to go into the Navy, but I didn’t want to, so I did the complete opposite. I studied A-level art at sixth form and was only interested in creative endeavours.” A casual conversation with the family hairdresser offered him an opportunity and Martin started work at a salon, building up his experience and portfolio over the following years.
“I quickly realised if you want to be good at something you have to really push yourself, so I decided to go on the competition circuit. I ended up winning competitions in Cornwall, then regionally before qualifying for the British Nationals.”
Despite his success in hairdressing, a trip abroad was the catalyst for change. “So I went back to my salon that I was managing at the time and handed my notice in. I think I was disillusioned with being an employee. I don’t necessarily think it was the profession, I just knew I had to make
Following that departure Martin’s previous clients approached him, so he then started working freelance. His clientele grew rapidly and he provided a range of services including photography session and wedding work. While this was happening, Martin met Rebecca who would eventually become his wife, mother of his children & business partner.
“Then in 1998, I stumbled across an opportunity to capitalise on the deregulated utilities residential market. Early indications was that it was well received, so myself and my wife started building that up and running it alongside my freelance work.”
The business was going well for the couple, but in 2001, Martin went through his most painful life experience. His best friend committed suicide, and it was Martin who discovered him. “Now anything in my life, apart from my children passing before me, can’t be as bad what I found that day.”
It was his darkest moment, but with so much going on in his life, he used the experience to better himself as a person to create the life he wanted.
In 2002 the couple bought their first property for renovation. “I liked the idea of project managing while we were building our business. Then in 2003 we got married and a year later had our first child, Fraya.”
In 2006 Martin and his wife bought their next renovation property and had their son James, and Martin started his NLP journey, becoming qualified as a practitioner that same year. Since that time he has continued to build on that foundation for continual self-learning.
It was in 2007 that Martin experienced his first major learning curve in business. “I was approached about a business that I thought looked good – it was to do with a product that went into the licensed trade. I decided to invest but ended up discovering the guy was a con-man. I now know what the word litigation means & what it costs!”
Martin learnt from this mistake, re-grouped and a few years later in 2013 went on to start up Utileyes – a cost reductions business which included commercial and residential energy. Alongside this he started consultancy work for a renewable energy company.
Unfortunately, the work-load and the stress took its toll on the couple, and after 21 years together, they decided to go their separate ways.
Amongst this busy timeline of life events, Martin first met Terry Mullins at a local networking group, this contact has now proven itself invaluable, as some years later following the split from his wife, Terry and Martin had a timely conversation about a potential new career path in 2015.
Having watched Martin over the years, in the way he handled businesses, people and projects, Terry decided that he would be the perfect franchisee at The Reluctant Salesman. Martin took him up on the offer. After doing some support training with Terry and seeing how his experience and knowledge could help others, he found that he felt so at home in the training & coaching environment, his decision was set in stone.
“We mainly focus on in-house consultancy training & coaching work and we occasionally run workshops, but what we’re finding is working really well is working with in house sales & customer service teams. I like working with employers who want to invest in their employees and their company. I like working with business owners who have a flexible thinking approach,” Martin tells us.
A lot of people might describe a salesman as being ‘pushy’, but The Reluctant Salesman teaches that it shouldn’t be this way. “It’s all about timing, when someone is ready to buy, they buy. We talk about making selling simple and creating the freedom to sell.”
Sometimes Martin’s asked if working in business is hard, but it’s his life experiences which have helped him to put problems into perspective. He believes business is the best arena to test yourself & to realise your true potential. “It’s not for everyone, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know,” Martin states.
Over the years he has challenged himself in his free time – he’s served a four-year term as a governor at his kid’s school, he’s restored a couple of cars and a motorbike, done a season of stock car racing, been in a punk band (in his youth!) and taken part in two skydives for charity, one of those was for the Ronald McDonald Foundation, which helped put him and his wife up near Bristol Children’s Hospital when their eldest child was rushed into care with pneumonia and septicaemia back in 2004. They were told that she might not make it through the night, and it’s the moments like this that have kept Martin grounded and focused on his priorities in life.
It’s time now to look ahead and focus on what’s to come. Martin tells us, “I’ve worked for myself for over 25 years, and I’m hungrier now than I think I’ve ever been. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards, because life these days is like a conveyer belt.”
“We use Ontology, the study of being, and that’s the founding principle of what we do. It focuses on who you’re being rather than what you’re saying. In this more consciously aware world and environment that we’re in, there are a lot of people who want to know the real you, so be honest, be genuine and show up.”
Just a simple phone call can start something new and spark ideas, and for Martin, picking up the phone is a sign that someone is receptive and wants to move their business & life forward. He says, “Most moments of change in our life start with a conversation, you don’t know where that conversation’s going to go, but it has to start somewhere.”
Martin finishes by saying, “I’ve realised over my years of work that everything I’ve done to date was to challenge what I can do and how I can grow. I couldn’t possibly be doing what I’m doing now had I not faced the range of challenges that I have along the way.”
If you’d like Martin to help you or your business, or for him to speak at an event or just want to learn more:
Call Martin Miller on: 07957 855224 or 01752 874849