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The Day I Interviewed Elvis

#accelerator Sep 17, 2018

My sister Claudette, a huge Elvis fan, almost died with envy the day I told her about interviewing Elvis. She is his biggest fan and couldn't believe her ears when I told about the day I interviewed The King. Well, I sort of interviewed him. Okay, okay it was only a dream. But I interviewed him in the dream.

As you might know my next book will be entitled, "The Elvis Syndrome: How To Turn Prospects Into Loyal Fans" I have been thinking a lot about the infamous King of Rock and Roll. I think Elvis is someone we can all learn from, especially if we are in sales and marketing. This guy knew how to sell. Let's face it, we should all be so good at what we do to have people talking (and writing articles) about us 40 years after we have died. No, the King does live on!

In my dream the other night, I dreamt that I interviewed the big guy from Memphis. Here's what the King of Rock & Roll had to say about selling.

What is your basic sales philosophy?

Be different! Man, be different.

What do you think is the key to sales success?

Well, it's like this Gerry. You gotta make being around you a really cool experience. I mean, you must make them talk about you and what you sell. If you think about it, I got so many referrals because I knew how to make the customer ecstatic. You must give the customer something so special she'll tell 324 friends. Do you want me to sing yet? (No, Elvis, let's finish the interview first!)

What advice do you have for the newcomer to sales?

Well, I'd have to suggest that a newcomer in sales stay out of Heartbreak Hotel. Heartbreak Hotel comes from doing this thing called cold calls. Cold calls are stupid. You'd never see the King doing something as foolish as that. No, treat your presentation like an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Get really good at what's important.

What's really important?

For a sales person or a rock and roll star? (Come on Elvis, this is a serious interview, for a prestigious newspaper. Do you want me to get in trouble?) Okay, okay. What's really important as a salesperson, is to do what I did in music. Even though I sold to millions, most people felt as if they knew me intimately. Most never met me but I'm sure if you asked they trusted me. So, I'd have to say that as far as selling goes, build trust.

How do you build trust?

Be consistent. Be visible. Be true to who you are. Care more about them than about you. Be real.

What prevents people from winning in the sales game?

They don't wear Blue Suede Shoes. Just kidding!

How do you keep going when times are tough?

Well, I might not be the best person to ask about this but let me tell you that people should focus on the problem and not the symptom of the problem. Don't deal with the frustration of poor sales, instead look at your whole sales philosophy. Deal with the problem. Fix it. You know what, whatever you don't fix, your kids will inherit. I wonder if that has anything to do with my daughter ending up with Michael Jackson?

What is the key to your success?

I think there were 3 essential elements that anyone reading this article might relate to:

First, I got good at my craft. I studied, I practiced and I learned everything I could about the business. I investigated the winners and the losers. I was a perfectionist when it came to my delivery, my image, my performance. Others knew I was committed and professional.

Second, I got the message out in an exciting manner. People like dealing with people who are alive and enthusiastic. I'm not suggesting people bring a guitar to their next sales call but I am suggesting being positive and alert and even adding some humour. Make dealing with you exciting.

Third, I strove to make the customer ecstatic. I didn't want to simply satisfy the customers, I wanted them to flip out when dealing with me. I wanted people to say more than they did for say a Bob Dylan. For him they would say, "Yeah, Bob's Okay. Not bad." That's what a satisfied customer says. An ecstatic customer says, "She was fantastic. She was out of this world." We want to have people go nuts because of how we treat them.

Is there any advice from your music that would be helpful to salespeople?

Heartbreak Hotel: Is where you'll end up if you are not working on developing solid relationships with your client base.

Love Me Tender: That's the way you should treat your prospects.

Blue Suede Shoes: Be sure to be dressed right.

Blue Hawaii: That's where next years' sales conference will be held.

In The Ghetto: Is where you'll end up if you don't act on these articles.

You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog: Is what your customers will say about you if you only call them once a year or only when you want something.

I Did It My Way: Is what every skinny, broke and sad salesperson says. Do it Gerry's way.

Jailhouse Rock: The warden (your sales manager) won't throw a party in the local jail (branch office) unless you bring in more business. So get to work.

Describe the importance of the following topics and relate them to those of us in sales and marketing:


Your customers should be your fans. You should get them to sell for you. Why do so many people buy records? Because people start telling their friends about it and then their friends tell their friends. Do whatever you must do to turn your prospects into loyal fans. Let me tell you that it's not easy in today's marketplace but it is possible if you treat people right.

Customer Retention

You don't want a fan to buy just one record. No, you want them to buy every record you produce and to have them help you sell them to their friends. Do more than the next guy and you will retain them. In selling, it's keeping in touch. Plain and simple. Keep in touch in interesting manners and they will be yours for life.


Hey, are you being smart with me? (No, Elvis, your highness) Well, for anyone in sales and marketing they must know the power of image. Even if someone thinks they don't have an image, they do. I think that the bigger the image, the better. If I were selling in Malaysia, I would make a decision to become a public figure. I would put my name in print as often as I could. Just like you, you're everywhere. (Elvis, please, keep me out of this!)

How can salespeople stay motivated?

Sing, have fun and relax. Remember what's really important. It has little to do with money and commission checks. Oh, sure they are nice. I'm still getting royalty checks from those stupid movies I made after I got out of the army. But, family, religion, memories that's what life's all about.

How do you differentiate yourself in the marketplace?

Show up for your next sales call with greasy hair and a wild, rhinestone encrusted cape. (Yeah, right!) Differentiation is a good question. I think that if you want to succeed you better be different. I had this problem when I began. There were so many singers and musicians. I needed to stand out. I think salespeople need to stand out. Why should someone deal with you instead of the competition? You better give a pretty good answer to that question. I was reading these suggestions from our book: (What do you mean, "our" book? It's my book!)

  1. Practice consistency with your communication. Let them hear from you more regularly.
  2. Write something. Write an article or booklet. This will give you credibility.
  3. Offer a Free Audio tape. Produce a helpful audio cassette for your clients and give it away free.
  4. Offer better Guarantees.
  5. Give them something after every referral. Follow your industry guidelines but remember, incentives work for referrals even if it's only to help build the relationship.
  6. Use humour. Most people are so serious in business. If your personality and industry and client base are suited for it, send them a cartoon. You will brighten up their day and they will have a laugh and you will get the credit.

What if you're too busy to follow-up with people on a regular basis?

Then you're too busy. You need to see the absolute value of regular follow up. If you're too busy you need to get some help. There is nothing that will boost your income and your referrals more than building relationships with customer.

Have you ever experienced fear?

Yes, I experienced fear by being interviewed by you. (Get real, Elvis.) Sure, do you have any idea what Las Vegas is like with 20,000 screaming women in the audience, each one wanting to have a date with you, each one absolutely crazy, each one just wanting to touch you? (Oh, sure Elvis, I'm very familiar with that. It happens every time I do a seminar! NOT.) Well, I used to feel fear but I would do it anyway. I think I read that somewhere in one of your books. Many people feel fear but they need to train themselves to feel the fear and continue to move forward. You don't deserve the reward if you won't pay the price.

How do you keep your customers loyal?

Give them what they want, be more concerned about them than yourself and make dealing with you an AWESOME experience. Oh, and stay in touch.

How do you deal with negative people around the office?

Shoot them! No, seriously, I avoid negative people like the plague. What I find is that most people will sink to the lowest common denominator. If one person is really negative, rather than everyone raising him or her to being positive the opposite usually happens. One bad apple spoils the whole bushel. You would think that with so many good apples in the bushel they would make the one bad apple better. Nope! So get away from people who are negative. I know that might be a little tough if they are the manager or if they are your spouse but you get the idea.

What is your favourite quote?

John Kanary, the great Canadian Sales Coach said,

"Doubt and Action are incompatible."

What is your favourite success book?

Well, I have several but one of the best books is The Greatest Formula Of Success In The World by Lew Ah Yoon. Lew came from a wealthy family that later lost its entire fortune. He began a search for success and causes of failure which he put down in book form. His book is practical, funny and easy to read.

What is "success" in your opinion?

Success means bringing joy to others by doing what you enjoy in a healthy, balanced way. Unfortunately, I don't think I was so balanced. I died with a lot of the music still in me. I didn't live a healthy, balanced way. I was deceived in thinking that the really important things in life revolved around money, fame and power. That's why I agreed to this interview. To let others know that "success" has much more to do with God, family and love. It has little to do with the car you drive, the money you make, the power you have.

With that I woke up as I heard someone say… "Elvis has left the building!"


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