Erik Luhrs | Sales With a Martial Arts Mindset

Adam LeanPodcast

Using neuro-linguistic program and other strategies, Erik Luhrs targets marketing efforts to your prospects’ subconscious mind to generate more qualified leads. He says most marketing is too “logical,” which makes little sense because people take action based on emotion.

But before he gets to that point, he recommends that companies start with a very fundamental element. Something that is required to build a solid foundation. Their brand and positioning. 

That’s not about logos or slogans… you have to truly and very distinctly set yourself apart from the competition. But figuring out what makes you, your business, and your offering unique – and valuable – isn’t as easy as you might think.

We get into the heart of that, as well as…

  • The easiest way to sabotage your sales (and how to avoid it)
  • The biggest myths about addressing your prospects’ pain points in your marketing
  • Why you shouldn’t “close deals” in sales
  • How to set up valuable post-sale relationships
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Osbert Duran: In this episode, we’re going to talk with a revenue expert on how you can tap into many techniques that will help you increase your sales. We’re going to specifically dive into how to grow your revenue and scale so that your business can reach its full revenue potential in the shortest possible time. This is P is for Profit.

Osbert: Welcome to P is for Profit. My name is Osbert Duran and I am one of the CFOs at The CFO Project. We along with the rest of the team are very passionate about helping businesses improve the profitability of their business. My special guest today is known as the Master of Revenue Kung Fu. He is an entrepreneur and the founder of the Bruce Lee of Revenue Generation. Erik, welcome to the show. 

Erik Luhrs: Thanks for having me. 

Osbert: Yeah, we’re really excited to have you, Erik. We know you help business owners win more sales by using a Revenue Kung Fu technique as you like to call it. So we’re really excited to jump in and kind of know about how you do that. But before we do, can you tell us a little bit about you and how you started this?

Revenue Kung Fu Secrets

Erik: Sure, sure. So this was an evolution, as with all things in life. It’s a kind of a culmination of your different skill sets. Martial Arts wise, I started studying martial arts back when I was in college, and then I studied 11 different systems. I’ve gotten several black belts. I used to be a teacher and everything. So my, like, it hurt a lot. So I’ve always kind of looked at things for the last several decades, sort of through martial arts mindset. 

And I became, I really fell in love with what Bruce Lee was all about in terms of martial arts, but his philosophies and martial arts have a lot of applications outside of martial arts. I have it in business in life and whatever. So along with that, I was, you know, doing that, you know, through college, and then my 20s and 30s or whatever. And then, about 15 years, and then I did 10 years coming out of college. I did 10 years in the corporate world, and then I did several years as a consultant. 

And then about 15 years ago, I started as a business coach. And I started studying neuro-linguistic programming, I became very fascinated by the subconscious mind and wanted to bring that into the business world. And so my first business, my first foray of really bringing that into the business world was developing the Guru Selling System and writing the book Be Do Sale. 

And so that was like an evolution. It was like the first step in the evolution. Actually, from business coach to gurus was the first step in the evolution. And Bruce was always evolving through his martial arts as well. He started out with Wang Chung and then eventually created, started studying different things and eventually created his own system. So you’ll see the parallel in a second. So there I was, I was doing guru selling and then I came across the quote from Peter Drucker that said the aim of marketing is to make sales superfluous. 

So I said Hmm, that sounds interesting. So, you know, I said let’s see if that actually works. So I started studying marketing. Got hyper-focused on lead gen because that to me was the most important part of marketing. The asses in seats as they say. And what I found was that most lead generation was being aimed at the conscious mind, illogical reasons for why you should go here, do this, buy that. 

And that made no sense because from what I knew from studying neuro-linguistic programming, Silva and other cognitive systems was humans function 99% subconsciously. So I then started to develop my own system called Subconscious Lead Generation. So that was like, you know, now I was advancing right? I was evolving in my thing. And then at that point, after having that for a while, I said, Okay, what if we tried to make lead gen superfluous? What would I have to focus on? And that to me was positioning. So I went out, studied as much as I could about positioning. 

There wasn’t and still wasn’t that much about, you know, really good stuff about positioning out there. Ended up creating my own method called Peerless Positioning, which is broken down into 10 different elements of positioning. And so now I had evolved into that, right? You know, so I’m at that level. And then I said, Okay, what about making positioning the superfluous? And so I started looking at brand and really what makes a brand. Not colors, and palettes and fonts and stuff like that, logos, but what’s truly the core of a brand, you know? 

And to me, that’s the core beingness of a person. The person who founds it and then the business is imbued with a beingness. And then that draws the, if it’s done well and brings the right people, it scales rapidly, etc, etc. So that’s my evolution. And when I look at it, I say, you know, I evolved through business the way Bruce evolves through martial arts. And so that’s kind of how the name came up. Well, the name came from a client but that’s how the name came about and the, you know, the metaphor and how I got into doing what I’m doing now.

Osbert: Yeah, I mean, it’s a very interesting, and I’m glad you showcased it, how you’re describing the evolution because I feel a lot of, you know, and I’m actually curious before I even say anything. And maybe this is how you answer the question, but what do you think is the biggest struggle that most businesses that you’ve worked with, deal with? And maybe I wanted to tap a little bit more about has sales changed from what they were doing it from beginning to how they’re doing it now?

The Evolution of Sales

Erik: Well, sales is always evolving. And it’s had the biggest evolution obviously, over the past 10, 15 years because of social media, right? Because now you can, now in the old days, you know, when you talk to like a sales guy, when get a cold call from a sales guy, you know, like back in the 60s or something, you know, you get the cold call, the only person you were talking to about pens was probably the guy on the phone, right? So now, well, I need pens and here’s Charlie calling me about pens and he says he’s going to give me a discount. 

So okay, I’ll order some pens. And that was very simple. Today, Charlie can’t even get to you, you know, on the phone. Charlie can maybe send you an email or try to connect with you through LinkedIn. But now I can go on, if Charlie offers me, you know, 10 cents a pen, I can go online and find it for four cents. You know, I might have to wait an extra week to get them in from China but, you know. 

So sales has changed immensely over the years. But I’d say, you know, the biggest issue that I see in sales these days and in marketing in general, sales, marketing, the creation of revenue in general, is looking at the wrong spots in what I’ll call the revenue river. So to me, like, if you go back to Peter, Drucker said the aim of marketing is to make sales superfluous. So to me, sales is where the river meets the sea. 

All rivers flow to the sea, right? But, you know, so if you’ve got it going right, that river is just flowing really fast and there’s tons of water, nothing stopping it. Just flowing flowing flowing, and that’s your optimized sales, your perfect sales. Up the hillside or up the mountainside before that, you’ve got your marketing. Before that, you’ve got your positioning. Before that, you’ve got your choosing your target market. Before that you’ve got brand, you know, you’re at the head of the river there. 

And what I see is that I see people dam themselves, right? They put dams in the river, you know, and that slows the flow down. So when people, so today I think the biggest mistake that when people are looking and they’re saying I’m not getting enough sales, is that they’re looking at that part of the river, right? They’re standing there on the beach, watching a trickle come down the mountain and into the sea. They say I need to really focus here. I need to put a lot of, you know, I need to get my hard-charging sales guys and I need to get them on the phone more and I need more sales collateral for them and I need more sales right there, you know? 

And it’s kind of like buying a pump, an electric pump and putting it there, right? And letting the trickle come into the electric pump. And hopefully, it’ll spray a little faster into the ocean, like, okay, but you’re still dealing with a trickle. Maybe you have to go up the mountain a bit. So they aren’t looking where the real problems are. And really, it’s, you know, the issue always, to me is it starts all the way at the top, is brand. A lot of businesses today are what I call me too businesses. 

They go out in the marketplace and they say this is a $60 billion market, right? So and then they hear that old spiel about follow a proven track, or a proven system or proven track method, blah, blah, blah. So they try to sell the same things to the same people on the same platforms using the same sequences at the same cost and then they go, why do I have so much competition? Why is it so tough? Because you didn’t create a brand, you just looked at a market and said, I want to shave off some of other people’s pie. 

And that’s why you have a trickle because there is no river behind you. There is no flood for you to, you know, guide down the mountain and into the sea. And even, but if you do have a decent brand, then you’ve either positioned yourself wrong maybe, that’s maybe where you’re damed or you’ve chosen the wrong target market, maybe that’s where you’re damed or your lead gen isn’t speaking to the subconscious mind, maybe that’s where your damed. So, you know, just in sales, the biggest issue like I said, is that they’re not looking at the right part of the revenue river as it were. They’re looking only at where the evidence of the problem is, not where the cause is.

Osbert: Right. And so how do you think someone would differentiate themselves? So I know you mentioned the list of things that we all like, as a business owner, we say Oh, we saw the same price, we have the same item. So where do you think that they can have the biggest opportunity to differentiate yourself?

Never be a Me Too Business

Erik: Yeah, well, again, it all starts all the way back up at the top right? It all starts back at the brand. So the biggest way to differentiate yourself is why you’re, you know, why are you doing this? Why are you in this business? Why did you choose this company? Why did you start this? And I can usually disqualify, qualify or disqualify people pretty quickly when I’m doing it, you know, an initial call with them. 

And I’ll say, you know, somewhere within the first five minutes, I’ll say, you know, how did you get involved in this? Why did you choose this business and not an ice cream store or something? And if the first thing out of their mouth is, well, I had a job in this industry, and it’s a big industry, I could do it better, or it’s a big industry or there’s a lot of money, I automatically know you’re a me too business. 

There is no saving you. You’re not trying to build a company. You’re just trying to grab some cash. So you can’t differentiate because there’s literally nothing to differentiate. It’s like I can take a picture of somebody, but that’s not the person, right? It’s just an image. You know, you have to be something first. So the way you start differentiating is why did I choose this? And what aspects of myself do I want to bring to this? And, you know, what is this business really about? 

The mission, the vision, and does the world need this? Because the other thing is that you sometimes you have a vision and a mission, but I’ve had to tell people, even if they had have the right intentions, I’ve had to say to them at some point, you know, there’s really nothing new or unique or valuable about, you know, what you’re doing. You’re better off going and getting a job, you know, with somebody who does this, if you really love this industry or whatever, because you’re not bringing anything new to the table except you have some passion, but other than that, you’re literally carbon copying everybody. 

But if you have a unique, obviously, if you have a unique product or a unique service, that’s always great. But do you have a unique perspective on the industry? On how the product should be built or the service should be delivered? Do you have a unique perspective on the problem? Are you, you know, that’s being solved? Do you see it a way differently than other people see it? You know, what’s truly valuable and unique about you? And if you cannot find something unique, and my job is to go, is to help people, you know, one of my parts of my job is helping them figure out what’s unique about them. 

If you can’t find that, at the end of the day, if you can’t find what’s unique about you, there is no, then by default, there is no differentiation. And so you have a hard decision to make at that time. You know, you can then say I’m just gonna have to spend on marketing. You know, I’m, you know, I’ve got to try and make up in marketing what I can’t do in differentiation. Or go find something you can be passionate about in different in and, you know, go make the difference there. 

Osbert: Right. Yeah, and I think, you know, going and I’ve kind of skimmed through, you know, your book, the Be Do Sell, but there’s kind of a general theme of, it’s not just enough to close on a sale and then call it quits, done but is to determine how you can bring value and like, quote on the value piece to the customer. Which I think that’s the kind of thing that you’re hitting on is the importance of this is a product or service you’re offering. But what’s the value in that? Because I think well, maybe you can elaborate to me, you know, after you’ve kind of given the value, what’s the intent of delivering more value than just getting a sale?

Make Sure Your Business is Value-Able

Erik: Well, there’s a couple of different factors there. So value comes before the sale obviously. You know, people don’t say I’ll pay you today and then prove value to you tomorrow. I wish they did. That’d be great. Like, I probably, I’ll happily pay you a Tuesday for a hamburger today. But, you know, value, I always say that, you know, you don’t determine value. 

The prospect determines value. The client determines the value and then they will hire you or not hire you, buy or not buy based on that. So, you have to be value-able. You have to be able to, you know, you have to be able to look at their situation and say, you know, I feel for them, and I empathize with them. I can see the world through their eyes. And in my opinion, you know, I think that this is what’s going to help them. 

And so the other value or part of the value is like, no bullshit in terms of, because if you go to them and say, if you’re trying to sell something to them and that’s your initial intent, that’s the overarching intent, that’s the only thing, then your ability to be honest and to say, honestly, here’s what you need, or here’s what’s going to help you, and instead everything is I have to try to angle everything to sell this widget, then you aren’t, you can’t provide value because you’re being biased. You’re gilding the lily. You’re, you know, you’re sidestepping the truth that points in time. 

So you’re not actually providing value to them. And because if your product or service is the solution, then they will resonate with that. They’ll get it, they’ll buy it. If you have to try to BS them to quote-unquote, you know, show value or something like that, if you can’t connect the dots for them easily, then there is no value. So that’s how, you know, not BSing and truly trying to be value-able to them, not valuable, but value-able able to bring value. And the first and foremost value you bring is honesty and truth. If you can’t bring that, then there is no value beyond that. 

Secondly, with securing the not closing the deal, but securing the pact as I call it, people then, if they see that you are value-able and they have that connection to you, they’ve built that relationship with you. So there’s this whole thing where salespeople like to get, you know, get the signed agreement, get the check or whatever, and then I’m going to hand you off to my customer service people now. And there’s a certain amount of that, obviously, there has to be, if you’re not the technical guy, then obviously technical people have to take a look in software sales and whatever. 

They have the relationship with you and, you know, if your expectation is I’ll show back up in nine months and take them out to lunch so that I can reestablish before the 12 month renewal period, you know, then that, you know, then you’re again, you’re not, are you really providing value? Did you really care? Is this really you know, or are you just like, I’m a numbers guy. I gotta hit, you know. So by default, again, are usually being a value-able person to them or a value-able resource to them. So those kind of all go together.

Osbert: Right now, that’s a really interesting point of view. But I want to segue, so segue into more of the lead generation, part of the process because let’s say now we have a good brand, we have value, we’re differentiated from all other products. Can you go into a little bit of lead generation? And I’d actually be curious, how do you using, like you said, the martial arts theme, how did you apply that to the lead generation phase of the process?

Applying Martial Arts Mentality to Business

Erik: Well, martial arts is all about leverage. Especially, well, the lower level martial arts, or the more what we call physical, there’s physical art, there’s the external arts and there’s internal arts. External arts are punching and kicking and, you know, whatever. So they’re more about like, force, right? You’re, you know, I’m gonna punch you in the face, I’m gonna kick you in the shin. There’s a lot more, you know, external, you know, effort and whatever. 

The internal arts, things like Tai Chi and stuff, that’s more about leverage, about using the momentum of your opponent against them and whatever. But ultimately, you know, even like in an external martial art, like if I kick you in the knee, I’m using the leverage of my, of the force of my foot to break, you know, your knees sideways or something. In Tai Chi, you know, you come running at me and I turn gently sideways and allow you to, you know, I help to throw you across the room, but I’m really just using the momentum you built, you know, to do it. 

So it’s all about leverage. So lead generation, you know, is also all about leverage. That’s why a lot, you know, you see today with spend, people are leveraging money, right? And so it’s like, if I, like in martial arts, it would be like if I have a very weak punch, I have to punch you 100 times to actually blacken your eye. Okay, but are you really gonna let me stand there and punch you 100 times in the eye before I blacken it? 

I mean maybe but you’d be insane. You know, so it’s how do I better leverage the opportunity I have right now in front of you. So the old expression is about, you know, needing several, you know, is it like seven, you need to hit somebody seven times before they respond or whatever. But that’s why I developed subconscious lead generation. I really looked at the subconscious mind, studying neuro-linguistic programming and everything was how do you get an immediate response from somebody? 

And it’s really all about, the reason it takes seven attempts is because seven attempts is usually like if you’re hitting, if you’re using a generic message. It takes that many times for somebody to say, Oh, I recognize that tagline or I recognize that name or I recognize that company name or, you know, it’s worming its way down into the subconscious. Whereas, if the first time that somebody, the first touch or the first experience somebody has with your message, if your message linguistically is talking to the language in their head, like that, automatically you’re in. 

There is no wall, there is no, you know, because there’s subconscious goes, it’s like a, you know, it’s like a dog, you know? Like, you know, dogs are just like squirrel, you know? Like you’re like that’s it. It’s just like it’s the same thing. But the key thing is, are you getting to that level, right? Because most times, messaging is very transactional. It’s very shallow level because you’re already thinking I’m gonna have to hit this guy seven times at least before he pays attention to me. 

So, you know, I look at lead gen and say who is the target market? How do we niche it down? What is their presenting pain that they, you know, not the pain that you want them to have because, you know, people only care about, you can only really have three two to three things that they care about openly in their mind, you know, prominently in their mind. I have a hole in my sock, but that’s not one of my big problems. So if you came today and said, Hey, would you like me to fix that hole in your sock? No, because it’s not, it’s number 418 on my list of problems 

Osbert: Oh, yeah. No, I have more than that.

Erik: I got it, I got more important things to deal with than the hole in my sock. I’ll put on a different pair tomorrow. So we have to first find their pain, the presenting pain that they know that they have that they want to solve right now. Then, and a lot of people will stop, you know, so first, a lot of people don’t even get to that level. 

They just, they market to the pain they hope you have because they want to sell you socks, you know? But then you say okay, you know, what is the pain that they care about? And can I solve that pain with my solution? Because if I can’t solve one of your top two or three pains with my solution, you are the wrong target market. But if I can solve their pain with my solution, then I can connect the dots for them. 

But I have to now go, and if I can’t make that connection, now I have to go deeper and say, Okay, what does it on a deeper level, on that more subconscious level that they’re really thinking about that they really want? You know, and how do I language to that to get their attention and then connect the dots for them? So I mean, you know, I would say, like, one of the best examples we had is I took one of my clients from a solar company in Australia, took them from a pipeline of about 100, 200,000 and about eight weeks later, we were at 10 million. 

I can’t promise that for everybody. So everybody do not start calling me right now saying Erik, you know, I want to get, can I maybe redo it? I hope so. But I’ve done some amazing things, but again, nothing’s guaranteed. But what did we do? Long story short, we went after the self-storage industry. And then we researched the self-storage industry. And we found out that their big three pains were getting clients, you know, filling up the whole capacity of their building, getting a client to stay, and getting clients to pay on time. 

And so we simply put together a message that said, how would you like to have a client who takes up an entire floor of your building, never leaves, always pays on time? So, you know, but that’s the kind of thing. Now, if we could have gone out there and said, you know, how would you like to, you know, to save $1,000 a month on your electric bill or something like that? Well, yeah. And you probably would have gotten a few hand raises or something. But that wasn’t the presenting pain. 

They were walking around saying, How do I save $1000 on my electric bill? They were saying, How do I fill these empty rooms? How do I get people to stay? And how do I get them to pay on time? So, right, we solved the problems that they really cared about. Now, it was nice that we lined up a trifecta but, you know, it’s, that’s the kind of thing, getting to that deeper level where most solar companies would have gone at them talking about solar power or energy. We didn’t say anything about that junk to start with. We connected the dots for them, but, you know, we lead with what they cared about and what they were thinking about at a subconscious level.

Osbert: Right. And I’m glad you’re tying in the specifics of the lead generation process because, you know, from our side of the business, that’s one of the things that we try to focus on, but it’s not as simple as just like a numbers game. You know, like you said earlier, it’s not just like in the 60s or earlier or later where you just do a lot of cold calls. There’s a process and you need to refine your customer base or your niche. You got to find the solution and figure out how you’re going to fix their problem. 

I think it’s more of an art than rather than just a numbers game, but I think that’s a very good thing you’ve touched on. We are running out of time so I think that’s a perfect spot to kind of close it. I know you have probably a lot more to talk about and I wish we could have more time but the only last question, you know, before we close it out is I want to make sure that people can find you so what’s the best way for somebody get into contact with you?

Erik: Well, the two best ways. Obviously, you can go to the website, it’s, You can, but I will admit it’s basically like a glorified business card online because I do a lot of information and most of my work through LinkedIn. So, you know, if you want to find me on LinkedIn, I am the only Bruce Lee of Revenue Generation on LinkedIn, especially with the last name Luhrs. So yeah, just go ahead and check me out on LinkedIn, connect with me there and, you know, happy to talk.

Osbert: Perfect, okay, and we’ll add those as well in the meeting, or the show notes. Again, for the audience, so I want to thank Erik for being here. If you would like to see how Erik can help you, please reach out. I will put those notes in the podcast. And again, thank you so much for listening. Remember, the goal of your business is how you can make more profit than last year and turn that into cash so that you can keep it. Everyone, enjoy the rest of your day.