21 May May 24, 2019 – Art of Selling Lydia Fenet and Medical Marketing Dr. Barbara Hales
Lydia Fenet – Managing Director, Global Head of Strategic Partnerships at Christie’s and Author of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You: Command an Audience and Sell Your Way to Success – Read interview highlights here
The point of this book is really about a woman finding her voice from within and feeling less worried about what everybody else is thinking about her.
Lydia Fenet, Managing Director of Christie’s and seasoned auctioneer, shares the secrets of success and the strategies behind her revolutionary sales approach to show you how to embrace and channel your own power in any room. In her capacity as lead benefit auctioneer for the firm, she has led auctions for over six hundred organizations and trains Christie’s charity auctioneers. Lydia travels around the country lecturing on “The Art of Selling” and speaking to groups about empowering women in the workplace. She was named one of New York’s most influential women by Gotham magazine and has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Crain’s, Elle, and has appeared in Vanity Fair, Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, and Town & Country.
Dr. Barbara Hales – Medical Professional, Medical Speaker and Health Information Author
Marketing is really just telling patients where you’re located and what services you provide.
Barbara Hales, MD is a Nationally recognized Speaker on Health and Marketing, Best Selling Author, Web content specialist, copywriter, and content marketer. Healthcare is like a 2-headed coin. No matter how many times you flip it, both doctor and patient win, as long as there is interaction and engagement between the two. Same coin, same goals. After 12 years of education and training, she chose a place to treat patients, furnished it, and was ready to open her office. Mounds of debt and bills kept coming in, but no patients were appearing. 6 months later, she had 10,000 active patients, and was in the black and when she left her practice. Now she’s pulling back the curtain to share the secrets of her unique marketing methods to grow your business or practice, increase visibility, and get your message out. She teaches ways to optimize your website to speak specifically to your target audience. Constantly getting fresh and compelling content captivates your viewers and helps get more leads and prospective clients. Barbara Hales is the 2010 Professional of the Year Representing the Medical Copywriting Industry.
Highlights from Lydia’s Interview
I’m an auctioneer. I’m not selling livestock, which is great, which means that I can slow it down to a discernible pace. But I do speak quickly, just in my own life. It’s a good thing on stage, because it certainly keeps things moving along.
There’s a true cadence that auctioneers who are selling livestock use. It’s something that they go to school to learn. It’s just different. I think every industry has its nuances, and the auction world is no different. Art auction airing, I think, because people are paying so much to buy priceless items, needs to be a little bit slower in order to give people time to think through those major purchases. But because I’m a charity auctioneer, and I don’t take art auction, and I don’t take cattle auctions, I’m somewhere between the two. So I need to be able to move things along quickly. But I can also pause and let someone reflect on whether or not they really need to buy something at the last minute.
In New York, specifically, when I’m taking charity auctions, it tends to be that I’m auctioning off priceless items. And so when people ask me what that means, we say, think of something like a singing lesson with Madonna, or, you know, this evening, I’m selling an auction lot for the Food Bank of New York. That’s a number of top chefs from one of the cooking networks, top chefs that will come to your house and cook an incredible meal for you. So those types of priceless items, which sell very well for people who have plenty of money to spend, but don’t necessarily have access to something that they would die to have access to. And then all of that money goes back to charity. So it’s always a great evening in any way, shape, or form.
I have been on stage, I’ve had the pleasure of being there a couple of times with Bruce Springsteen in Madison Square Garden to raise money for the Bob Woodruff Foundation. And at the end of the evening, he always auctions off his guitar, which is very cool. But then he starts throwing in all of these extra things. It could be his mom’s lasagna, or it could be a ride on the back of his motorcycle. Or you could go backstage and hang out with Bruce Springsteen and the band after a show. And so I think that’s probably the one where I’m standing next to him actually taking the auction, and also thinking, “Wow, I really wish I had the money to bid on it.”
Also, the dance lesson with Madonna would be pretty cool. I can’t lie.
I grew up in Louisiana in a small town called Lake Charles, and I’ve lived in New York for 20 years. I actually discovered Bruce Springsteen from a boss who I used to work for who absolutely loved him. And Bruce Springsteen, my boss was the person who listened to the music in her office.
One of my favorite auctions that I take in New York is for an organization called Cookies for Kids Cancer that was founded by a woman named Gretchen Holt, who lost her six year old son, Liam, to pediatric cancer, and she really just took it on as a cause. And you just can’t believe what she’s done. I mean, she’s donated, I think over at this point, $13 or $14 million to pediatric cancer research. And she’s done it with her own vision and drive. And so getting on stage every year and auctioning off the lots that she’s put together is just an incredibly moving auction. Especially because I have three children, when my oldest is six. So especially this year, when I got up on stage to take that option there, there’s just so much of it that rang true to me as a mom, wanting to raise money for people who are going through this horrible, horrible time in their lives.
I give the art of selling talk, because I like to say that I have two jobs at Christie’s, I run a department that I started for the company about 10 years ago, called Strategic Partnerships, where I’m in charge of creating partnerships with outside companies. And then in addition, I’m on stage, you know, 70 to 100 nights a year, as an auctioneer selling items that don’t necessarily have a perceived value to large audiences, and trying to convince them that they have to have it.
Over time, I’ve realized that there are a lot of parallels between being on stage and selling, but also being in the boardroom and selling, and any of those things can apply throughout life.
One of the first tips I always give people whenever they’re trying to sell is to remember that when you’re selling things, you should be listening first. I’ve seen so many people over the years make this same mistake, they come in to make a sale. And they immediately tell me every single thing that they can about whatever they’re selling, whether or not it applies to what I’m actually looking for.
What I say, and I do this on stage as well, is open the question to the audience. I’ll say, “Who wants to start off my bidding this evening?” Because then I can actually look around and see who my bidders are going to be.
It’s the same thing as being in a boardroom. Instead of me talking for 25 minutes, I say to someone, “Why don’t you start off by telling me a little bit about what you’re thinking about this relationship, and what it looks like going forward.” That way, from the first minute I walk into a sale, I understand what their objectives are. And while they are talking, in my mind, I’m trying to figure out what are the things that I have to sell that can help them accomplish those objectives. And it’s incredible, because, again, I’ve seen this same mistake made so many times, where someone comes in, and they blast away at what they have. Whereas if they just sat back and asked me what I was looking to attend, and then woven that into the conversation, I would have not just shut off from the minute the sale started. And so I always say to people, just make sure that it’s a two way conversation. Sales isn’t supposed to be one-sided, it’s really supposed to be a back and forth conversation about how your objectives can be met with whatever someone else is bringing to the table. That’s always my first thing that I say about selling.
I always also say to people, because selling often takes place in front of more than one person, people always get incredibly nervous whenever they go in. The first chapter of my book is called The Strike Method. And it’s when I’m on stage, it’s the moment where I walk on stage, and I slam my gavel down three times as hard as I can to get attention from everyone in the room, but also in a way to calm my nerves and get me centered for what I’m about to start selling. Once I hit that down, I call it the strike or the strike method. I always have my first line completely embedded in my brain. So if I’m making a sale, I’ve rehearsed it 15 times, so that even if I’m nervous, or I’m feeling unsure about how this meeting is going to go, I’m ready to go from the minute I walk into a boardroom or the minute that I walk on stage. So those are really my two tips about selling that I started the art of selling with. And then from there, we go into a variety of others. Anybody can take both of those tips and apply them anytime to any kind of selling.
It also forces you to articulate your thoughts before you walk into a meeting, which I really think is half the battle. I know when I first started taking auctions, I would go out on stage and just fumble through the first lines. “And you know, ladies and gentlemen, my name is the bubble.” But now it is every single time I get on stage, it doesn’t matter where I am, where in the world I am, what time of night it is, the gavel goes down. And it’s “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Lydia Jeanette. I’m here from Christie’s auction house, and so delighted to be here this week.” And then I’ll throw in a joke, because that’s just the nature of my personality. So it’s something that I’ve observed at that point. But the beginning of that never changes. And that for me, it’s so easy, because as I’m saying it, I’m looking around the crowd to sort of get a sense of what they look like.
There are very few people who are going to ever have a gavel there. If they do, I’m sure they’ll be escorted out the building shortly after they bang on a table. But I think everybody needs to find their own strike method. So even if that’s a long pause, a class thing, have your hands under the table, putting your hand side by side, or just taking a moment, right before you walk in a room to just take a deep breath, and say that line out loud. Everybody is going to have something different, that feels right to them.
For me, it’s every time I go in, I think in my head right before I start, I’ll start with a lot of questions about someone’s life, some personal stories or something like that. And then I’ll have a moment where I thought of my first line, I take a pause, I say my first line, and then I move straight into the sale.
So instead of a transition from pleasantries to, I’d love to learn a little bit more about your business, and so thrilled that you’re here today, etc, etc. Whatever it is, I’ve given myself a pause, and a moment to just think through that first line and go into it. So I hit the gavel because I think it’s very helpful for people to think about having that point of transition from this is the person I am, to this is the person who’s about to make and close the sale.
I always say that the one thing that people always worry about, again, whether it’s a room of one person or in front of a crowd of 100, people always fear the audience. And so what I like to say to anyone that I’m coaching is remember that the audience wants you to succeed. And I say this because I’ve seen so many times where people get up in front of people and their arms are shaking, their hands are shaking, and their lips are shaking. And the people who get over that most effectively are the people who message to the audience immediately. “I’m sorry, I’m a very nervous, very nervous public speaker.” Have you ever seen an audience sort of throw things at the person who says that? Of course, they start applauding, they start rooting for that person. Just remember, if you are a nervous speaker, it’s okay to say that out loud. If you’re somebody who’s going to tremble through something, frontload that by talking about it before it starts, because again, the audience is on your side, they don’t want to sit through a nasty, sort of all over the place presentation because someone’s scared, they’d rather be seamless and smooth so that they can enjoy it as well.
There’s never been a more critical time for women to have a voice with confidence and conviction. And I spent over 20 years of my life working at Christie’s both in the in the charity auction earring realm, but also in the department that I’ve been running here for 10 years, and then running the events department for 10 years before that. And I would find that night after night, I would get on stage in these massive rooms with hundreds and hundreds of people. And I would feel completely in control of everything that was coming out of my mouth, and I felt I was fearless.
And then I would go back into the office. Then I would find that I was still adapting a lot of the behaviors that I attribute to just being a woman, you know, it’s never really going after what I wanted, never negotiating with people and never, never really feeling powerful in my own voice. And in the past five years, I feel like I’ve really come into my own. And I’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years of my career that I wanted to pass along to other women who were looking to find their voice as well.
It’s funny, the first radio interview that I did, right after the book came out, a gentleman asked me he said, “A man in the working world is powerful. And he’s considered powerful. There’s an ugly word that comes out when a woman is powerful.” And I said to him, “The point of this book is not either of those things. The point of this book is about a woman finding her voice from within, and feeling less worried about what everybody else is thinking about her.” Because I think that’s fundamentally the issue that we have as women, whether or not people are actually even thinking about us. I think that we are our own worst enemies in many ways. And if we stop being so concerned with what other people think about the words that are coming out of our mouths, or what other people think about us and just started doing the things that we believed in, and the things that we thought were right, then a lot of this would really go away.
Again, I was raised with a very strong father and two brothers. And I attribute a lot of my success in business to the fact that I was with strong men my whole life, because I don’t have a problem sitting down and having a conversation with them. But then I sometimes found that I did in the working world in a very different way. And I just felt like, those things didn’t shore up.
Why did I feel one way when I was at home with my brothers? And then why did I feel differently in the boardroom? And I realized a lot of it was just the way that I was making myself feel because I was worried about what other people thought. And so again, I just go back to the message of the book like this is really about just finding it with from within, so that thinking about other people and worrying about what other people are saying is not going to be an issue because, frankly, it takes the wind out of the sails of that conversation.
I grew up in a family with such strong male figures in my life. I feel like this is also a lot of the conversation that needs to be had on both sides, men and women, because we can’t have this conversation in a vacuum as women, I can’t just tell people to find their power if there aren’t men who are also willing to be in this conversation with us.
And I feel like this book has been amazing, because I’ve had a lot of guys reach out to me who’ve read the book and said, “First of all, I like your selling tips. But I also really liked this message, because I feel like my wife has this power within her. And for some reason, she’s looking for permission to actually say these things or feel these things that she doesn’t even need permission to do, and why am I the person who even needs to bring that to the table?” And that’s why I go back to just saying like, at the at the end of the day, we have to find our voice within and we have to be true and authentic to what that is. And ultimately we will reap the rewards from being that way.
During the 70s when ERA was trying to make its way through the states to become a constitutional amendment, my mother said she was opposed to the ERA, because under no circumstances will she willingly to come down to the men’s level.
Pick up The Most Powerful Women in the Room is You. Male or female, everybody will enjoy it. My website is LydiaFenet.com and you can follow me on Instagram at LydiaFenet.