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Shortcuts, Secrets, Tricks, Magic Bullets, and Shiny Objects

Shortcuts: There isn’t any way to produce the results you need without doing the work that producing those results requires of you. If someone is selling that there is a shortcut that is made up of you not having to do the work, then it isn’t a shortcut; it’s a recipe for failure. The only real shortcut to producing results is to learn and execute proven strategies, i.e. training, coaching, modeling successful people, etc.

Secrets: Anything that is commonly called a secret is nothing more than common knowledge and the collective wisdom of the ages. Most common knowledge can safely be called secrets because most salespeople don’t execute on the fundamentals. There are no secrets; it’s just that most people aren’t willing to do what is required to produce the result they want, so it might as well be a secret.

Tricks: Tricks are usually the same thing as secrets. But when they’re not, they’re usually bad ideas. They’re ideas that step just over the line when it comes to honesty, integrity, professionalism, and craftsmanship. Like when someone says, “Here is a trick to get someone to call you back.” Tricks are never a good idea.

Magic Bullets: Magic bullets are the single answer to all of your problems, issues, and challenges. The idea is that if you buy the magic bullet, your sales will skyrocket. You know these because they come with the warning that if you don’t buy the magic bullet, your doomed to fail. You know in your heart that is no magic bullet. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and nothing good is free.

Shiny Objects: It’s brand new and exciting. Everybody says it’s hot. It produces breakthrough results like nothing you’ve ever seen. And then the next “next” big thing comes along. But if the last shiny object was the answer to all of your prayers, why do you continually need a new shiny object? The truth is that shiny objects are fads. They are a reframing of an old truth. Chasing shiny objects only wastes your time, time that would be invested elsewhere.

The Fundamentals: There isn’t anything sexy about the fundamentals. In fact, they’re kind of boring. You know a great deal about what you need to know and what you need to do, but you don’t do what is necessary because it’s difficult to execute the fundamentals well. So you look for easy answers, like shortcuts, secrets, tricks, magic bullets, and shiny objects. But fast is slow, and slow is fast.

But the path to long term success and high performance runs straight through the fundamentals. There isn’t a straighter or faster method to get where you want to go. You just have to do the work.


Why are easy answers so seductive?

What hooks you? Secrets? Tricks? Magic bullets?

What is the latest shiny object that’s caught your attention? Is it really the answer or is it another fad in a long line of fads that have hooked you?

Why do we avoid the fundamentals when we know, intellectually anyway, that they’re what works?

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  • Susan Giurleo

    Great post, Anthony. I’d say we are attracted to “easy” because who wants to work hard? Remember the kid in HS who got A;s and said, “I never study.”? It’s not cool to work hard and sweat it out to get results. Who wants to buy, “I worked my ass off and so can you?” I even see in your side bar you are reading “Zero Time Selling,” we all buy ‘easy.’ People who really want and drive toward success do the work. Whether they are in business, an athlete, teacher, engineer, etc. Some people have the drive and grit, most want the easy way and excuses to say it didn’t work.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I love the word grit! Says so much with so few letters.

  • Mattias Gronborg

    A lot of insights here my friend. You write well, and it’s a good read for a Swede like me who looks for increasing my English skills each day. Your last question caught me today. It really hit me. Why? Because, I felt guilty when I read it. I need to get rid of some distractions, and pencil down my fundamentals in my calendar. Thanks!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Get in on it, my Swedish friend!

  • Miles Austin

    You seem to be stuck, my friend, in the mode that “shiny objects” – which I refer to as innovation, are nothing more than distractions or passing fads.

    We do agree that a solid foundation in sales and relationship fundamentals is always required.

    Where our thinking diverges is when you assume that a “shiny object” will not/cannot improve results. I receive many emails from you every month (always welcome) so you must have embraced that shiny object (email). Twitter is a shiny object, along with newsletters, Facebook and many other tools I see you using with skill. The blog that I am responding on is a shiny object for many.

    Don’t be so fast to condemn the tools. They can be an important component in the success of every sales endeavor.

    Now I feel much better!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Haha! I am always happy to have you show up here, challenge what I think, and, yes, even give me the business if you need to, Miles.

      In this case, I wasn’t thinking of technological shiny objects, but you know that I believe we sometimes think they are the answer to problems that aren’t easily solved by technology . . . or easily solved at all.

      In the shiny objects section, I was thinking of the latest and greatest sales process or methodology, the new version of the old thing.

      But I do agree with you more and more. The new toolkit is darn helpful in opening relationships. Salespeople and sales organizations ignore them to their peril.

      Do you feel better?


      • Miles Austin

        Much better thank you. I remember when Spin Selling came out in 1988 and many accused it of being a shiny object that would result in disaster if implemented. Sales is a passionate sport for many of us, and always enjoy the conversation with those I respect. What I would give to sit down with you and a beer and 100 of our closest friends to explore this topic.

        Hmmm, sounds like an opportunity for a Google+ hangout to me!

  • Carol Lynn Rivera

    All pet peeves of mine, especially “secrets”. Beyond the fact that calling something a secret is a trick to catch attention, it’s pretty silly considering that if you’re planning to divulge it to a worldwide audience, it’s not particularly secret anymore, is it?

    And yet we gravitate to those “answers”. I don’t think it’s because we’re lazy or don’t want to do the work (mostly… there are exceptions!) – I think that we are often not confident in our plans or perhaps not getting the results as fast/big as we want so we assume that someone out there must know something we don’t. If only we could figure out what “they” know, we’d be ok.

    As soon as we stop thinking there is someone else smarter than us and start having the courage to make our own mistakes, then the secrets, tricks and magic will pretty much disappear.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      It’s true, Carol. We want to work smarter, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s the trying to take shortcuts and avoid the work that causes the real problems.

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  • Kaptain Waleed Mirza

    Love the way its been put here – motto is – WORK..!!