Make Marketing Suck Less

Get Product Confidence with Erika Lyremark

It's time to talk about sales because one of the core principles of the what I do is sufficiency. I want you to make money so that you can focus on doing good work in the world. To do that, you must be good at sales. More than that, you've got to be confident and freakishly excited about what you're selling.

There's no better person that I can think of to talk to you about sales and being a million percent confident in what you sell than Erika Lyremark.

Erika and I dive into what product confidence is, how it makes you more money, and how you can start cultivating product confidence today, no matter what you sell. If you don't know Erika, you should. She is the mastermind behind the where she dishes out business advice for bold women showing early entrepreneurial skills when she let her brother throw a pie in her face for $5.

Erika wheeled and dealed her way through high school, earned degrees in women's studies and apparel design. Spent nine years swinging around a stripper pole, went on to co-create, a multimillion-dollar commercial real estate investment company, and now helps lady bosses succeed in sales, marketing, and product development.

Erika had documented her experiences in her best-selling book Think Like a Stripper lauded by Dan Pink as a “smart and provocative read” while Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran says, “Erika will not only whip you into shape with her wit and humor and no-nonsense advice, but she shows you how to bounce back from failure and become the confident sales superstar you're meant to be.”

Let's get on with the show.

Prefer to listen? Here's the audio:

Michelle: Well welcome Erika to the Rebel Rising podcast.

Erika: Hello.

Michelle: I'm so happy to have you on the show and so for all of my listeners, the fun fact here is that Erika was the very first business coach that I ever hired and the reason that I hired Erika is because I read her book, Think Like A Stripper, which I found so refreshing and creative and actionable for business owners, that I just knew that I wanted to work with you. So the first question I wanna ask is:

What do strippers know that every successful business owner should know?

Erika: A lot. I think every entrepreneur should be a stripper before they become an entrepreneur, 'cause they're really gonna learn grit, they're gonna learn hustle, they're going to learn creativity like they never have before. A strip club is the most cutthroat industry that I can imagine, because you're working right there right along next to your competition and you can see who's making money, you can see who's not making money, you can see who's having a great day at work, you can see who's having a really shitty day at work and it really forces you to consistently live in the present moment and approach each customer as if you've never talked a customer before in your life.

You have to approach with enthusiasm and excitement and joy. These guys and gals are not going into strip clubs to hear how depressing your day is. They wanna be entertained. They want to have fun. They're really there for you to show them a good time, so it's not just about like, we want to look at naked bodies. They really are there to have a good time and if you show them a good time, and if you are having a good time, you will make money.

I was a stripper for nine years from 1991 to 2001. I know that sounds like ten years, but it was really just nine years. And I did a calculation a couple of years ago and I was in college most of the time that I was stripping and so I was only working part-time, you know, working two to three days a week on average I would say throughout that period of nine years and I did a rough calculation that I had asked customers if they wanted a lap dance 316,000 times. That is a lot of asks. 316,000 asks and when I did that calculation, I thought, “Holy cow, am I really strong woman.”

Michelle: What I love is that had to make you really comfortable with making the ask like you built that muscle so you were incredibly strong.

Erika: I was incredibly strong and most of those 316,000 asks were mostly no's. I mean, if I got a yes for every ask, I would be on my own island off the coast of Bermuda or something like that. You really get that sales is a numbers game and the more you ask, the more present you are with people, the more fun that you are having, that's how I open up my book, Think Like A Stripper, is I talk about this one night, I was like, “Oh my god, it's so slow out. I'm probably not gonna make any money. I'm so tired of worrying about what my hair looks like or what my makeup looks like or am I wearing the right bikini,” and I decided that I was just gonna have a great time and just see what happened and it was one of those nights where it was really slow in the club and I made a ton of money even though it was really slow, because no one else was bringing the energy and I was just this fireball of fun.

Just asking for ridiculous amounts of money just to see if I could get it and I really got that it wasn't about what I was wearing or what I wasn't wearing, it was really about my energy and the attitude that I brought to the environment and that is a lesson that has stuck with me since I quit stripping and it's a lesson, now when I work with entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs who are more confident, their business is gonna succeed, because when you are intentional, you cannot fail, like you just can't because you're gonna figure it out and you just keep going.

Most women who enter, and I don't have any official statistics, but just from my personal experience, most women that begin stripping, they only last a month or two and if they make it past that, it's gonna be a year or two and then they're done. So when you have a lifer like me, there was a couple of other friends I had. One friend, she had been dancing for 13 years and she quit like a year after I quit. You see these women and they're just like total professionals. They show up, they do the work, and they are so committed and that's the same attitude that one has to have in being an entrepreneur, however, when you're stripping, you know exactly what your job is to do and at that time, I don't know what it's like these days, I'm really not up in the stripper industry news these days, but I imagine it is different in some aspects, but we were not responsible for bringing in the customers into the club or we're not responsible for the sales funnel, so to speak.

You know what your job is to do, like get a lap dance, and nowadays with entrepreneurship and the internet, like there are so many choices and so many options and ways that you can do selling and marketing, and if you are not super confident in your product or service that you're selling, you are going to struggle and I have seen women, my clients, circle round and round and round until they got that product confidence and now that's what I really specialize now is helping women get product confidence, whether they have a physical product or whether they have a service-based product, I help them gain that confidence so that when they go to go do selling and marketing, it's literally just picking a plan, making that plan your own, having a ton of fun with it and implementing it, which is totally different than how most people approach sales and marketing.

Michelle: Yeah. So there were some big takeaways that I want to highlight for the audience from what you just said. So one of the things that really stood out to me is that when you're a stripper, you knew exactly what you were selling. You were selling a good time, and so you showed up with that energy and enthusiasm. So I feel like business owners, speakers, entrepreneurs need to know what it is they're really selling and show up with that energy and attitude because that's the key to making it work.

Erika: Yes. Totally.

I mean it was easy in the strip club. It's like, “Oh, I have my marching orders and now I just have to show up and do the work.”

Michelle: Yeah.

So I would say your three word rebellion is product confidence and I worked with you in your triple expert program to fine tune my own three word rebellion, messaging intensive, so I just wanted to ask you a few of the three word rebellion questions.

So the first question I wanna ask is:

What are you rebelling against, Erika?

Erika: So there's a couple of things, if I can do a couple.

Michelle: Yes.

Erika: So what I'm rebelling against, I feel like this is a Miss Universe question and I need to get it right. I really want the crown. All the faux diamonds on it.

Okay. The first thing that I'm rebelling against is that most people have confidence in one area or another. Like most people are fairly confident, right? Especially if you choose to be an entrepreneur, you already have a level of confidence built within. But what ends up happening is that most entrepreneurs, they really don't understand the product or service that they're selling even though they've created it, like if QVC came calling, they wouldn't know how to put together a presentation on QVC.

So they don't really understand what it is exactly that they're selling, so what ends up happening is that rather than delving in and really pulling this product or service apart and really understanding how to market and how to sell it, they start to blame themselves and they start to think, “Oh, it's me that's not confident. If I had more confidence, I would succeed at sales and marketing,” and they start to blame themselves and they start to do a lot of work on themselves and I'm just not a fan of overly working on yourself, 'cause anytime you get overly analyzing things, you know paralysis analysis and so that's basically a lot of what it turns into and I've been in this industry and the business coaching world for 13 years and so I've seen this pattern over and over and over and over again and I realized like, “What is going on?”

My clients are such confident women in so many areas and we really attract smart, motivated, and ambitious women and I was like, “What is going on?” and I realized that is is what was happening and so then I knew I needed to develop a course and workshop around developing a product or service so that they can have confidence in the product, because again, when you're confident in your product, you know what to sell, you know how to market it, like the ideas just become very abundant.

So I'm definitely rebelling against that and I'm also rebelling against doing sales and marketing before you've developed your product.

Michelle: Oh, yeah, when I exclusively worked with speakers, I saw that all the time. It's like, “Yeah, I'm gonna pitch myself for a speaking gig, but I don't know exactly what I'm selling, like I don't know what I'm pitching.”

Erika: That's exactly it, and again, then they fail at sales and marketing and the reason is because they don't understand their product or service like they really don't get it.

Michelle: Yeah, and it's interesting because I feel like in some ways, you're rebelling against personal development because all of a sudden when our products and services don't sell, instead of thinking, “Oh, maybe there's an issue with the product or service,” we initially go to like, “Oh, there's something wrong with me. I'm the problem.”

Erika: I'm not in the high vibe enough or I haven't done enough affirmations today or I need to meditate more or I had an incorrect thought and I'm a huge fan of personal development. I'm a huge fan of coaching. Coaching has saved my life in so many instances. You know, like when I quit stripping, I had collected a lot of baggage over the years as you can imagine working in that kind of toxic environment and coaching, it seriously saved my life, 'cause it was all about helping me move forward and that's why I became interested in coaching, 'cause I was like, I know that I have that ability to see greatness and brilliance in other people and I've always been gifted spotting unseen opportunities, so I don't want anyone to think that I'm downplaying self-development. I'm not.

But again with anything, if you are in analysis paralysis and you're not making any momentum 'cause you're so busy in your head, you will suffer.

Michelle: It feels like in some ways it's a parallel track, right? It's not about just sitting there being like, “I'm gonna work on myself.” It's like, “I'm gonna work on myself while doing the work and making this the best product or service I can possibly put out into the world.”

Erika: Yes.

Michelle: Awesome.

So if every female entrepreneur had product confidence, what would the world look like?

Erika: Oh my god. Where do we begin?

One of the things that I, and I'm not rebelling against this, but I'm just thinking about how this helps me answer this question and you and I've talked about this before, is that with Times Up and the #MeToo Movement and I'm a fan and an advocate of both of those movements, but I'm always like, “Well, what's missing? How can I add my voice to this conversation,” and again, even just thinking of actresses of like really getting that they are a product in themselves and learning how to productize themselves.

They're not just an actress, but productize themselves and really understanding the value that they bring to the table and then also figuring out how to bring even more value to that table and that begins with product confidence and so I thought, “Wow, wouldn't it be great if every women, whether she's an entrepreneur or wasn't an entrepreneur, if she could figure out, learn how to really develop herself as a product and it would give her more confidence in selling herself and give her more confidence in marketing herself,” and that is what I feel like is missing, is learning how to sell, it's so powerful and you know what a sales geek I am and I would say that selling, teaching selling to people, when I've done this before, this was before I had triple expert again, was because people didn't have the product confidence and I didn't know this. This was missing from my own journey and I had to go through this myself is that they didn't have that product confidence and I was teaching them all these great sales, doing all this fabulous sales training and not everybody was getting it, because they didn't have that product bit.

It's the same with empowering women. I have a women studies degree, like this was back in the '90s and I've been so pro-woman my entire life and this is a conversation that I feel is missing or could be added onto, is like I would love to see more programs. A lot of people talk about empowering women and that's fantastic, but let's get even more specific, like what does that look like specifically and when women know how to sell themselves, they make more money. Selling is never gonna go out of style no matter how much the internet changes. We're always gonna have human relations and you know how to sell yourself when you know how to sell your products when you know how to sell your ideas, you experience a financial freedom and financial independence in a way that other people won't, because they're always tied to a paycheck, so to speak.

Michelle: Yeah. I see this world that you're creating. It's like so women know how to advocate for themselves and then that also translates into a whole host of other things, right? Like from the #MeToo to Times Up to asking for higher salaries or asking for the price that they want to charge for their product and service, so there's this advocacy piece and then there's also understanding the value of your product or service and seeing that should be making you money, so that you can do more good with the money.

And it reminded me of Jennifer Lawrence. Bradley Cooper told Jennifer Lawrence like how much he was making on one movie and she was making far less.

Erika: That was American Hustler.

Michelle: Yeah. So she went back and advocated for herself and said, “Hey, my contribution is just as valuable as Bradley Cooper so I should be getting paid something similar.”

Erika: Yeah, the same thing happened with Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams.

Michelle: Yeah.

Erika: I don't remember the exact numbers, but it was crazy outrageous.

Michelle: If more women have money, if more women have resources, we can do more good. We can support causes we're passionate about. We can give back in our time and in our money, and I just think that's all so important and if we don't have that money, we can't do that good.

Erika: And it's a lot of fun to be confident. It just is. It's an amazing feeling and you can't buy it and no one can give you that feeling but you.

Michelle: Yes.

So that leads me to the next question.

Tell me about a time when your own product confidence wavered and what did you do to get it back?

Erika: Great question and I do have a story with that.

After I quit working in stripping, I started a commercial real estate company with my dad and we had zero agenda of making this multi-million dollar company. It was like, “Let's do this. You need a job and let's just see what happens,” and I thought, “This just like dumb and I'm gonna do this.”

Long story short, I'm not gonna go into all it, but I needed a job and I was fully committed to not stripping anymore. I left Seattle and I went back to Minneapolis which is where I'm from and started this commercial real estate company with my father and because part of it is I'm very ambitious. I was raised to have a strong Protestant work ethic. My dad and I really make a great business team, and so that company, we just one building after another after another and after another.

So successful company and I was dealing with mostly men. I would say 99 percent of my interactions were with men and because I had this ex-stripper confidence and I was not afraid of men at all and I knew how to talk to them and I knew what I wanted and I knew how to not take any shit from them. Part of it is that was one aspect of why it became a really successful company.

So when I decided that I was gonna do my own thing and I loved what I was doing, but it lacked the creativity and the high-glam that I love, and I didn't see myself … Yes, I'm making a lot of money. Yes, this career opportunity is insane. Like this is great future investments. All of that was amazing, but I was not fulfilled doing that.

And I thought there's this other side of me that's really creative and I really wanted to help women and I wanna try this coaching thing out, I wanna do this. And this was in 2004 and I didn't know a single person who was a coach. I didn't have a network of any friends or family members who were coaches. This was pretty much before the internet, before Facebook and all that stuff, so I was really just in the dark by myself with this big, giant red carpet dream.

I went and got my coaching certification and I called up everybody that I knew on my first day of coaching school and I was like, “Do you want free coaching,” and so I just started to like do all those intuitive things that just felt like, “This feels like something I should do next.” And what ended up happening was that I was so confident working in commercial real estate and I was so not confident, I was confident in my coaching, right? Like that was a skill that I just got better and better and better at that, but I never felt like I was confident in selling it. I would start to pay attention to what are products or services that sell really well and I realized that I needed to productize my service so that I could sell it like an actual product, so I could make it more understandable to the person on the other end.

Again, when you're a stripper, you're selling a lap dance, you're showing them a good time. In commercial real estate, I'm leasing or selling industrial warehouses. So, very obvious. It's not like a big mystery of what I'm actually selling. But in my coaching, because it's intangible service, it was a giant mystery even to me. I knew that people's lives were better once they hired me, but it was hard for me to kind of understand that.

I was going full time in my business in September of 2011. I knew that I needed to create a signature program and I needed to turn it into a product, so I could really get behind it and sell it. And so I hired a woman named Diana Valentine, who's just fantastic, so smart, and Diana helped me develop my first product which was called The Morning Whip. That was my first product, and Chad would say to me, “I don't understand. You're so confident in commercial real estate. I mean, I hear you on the phone and you just give it to these guys straight. You have no fear in talking to people. But then I see you in your own business and you have zero confidence,” and I was like, “I know. Believe me, I'm well aware of my problem.” It's a huge mystery to me because I'm so confident in so many ways and so zero confidence in this area.

So that was the first step in that was turning a program that I wanted to create and really turning that into a product and that was called The Morning Whip. I really went full-time in my business in 2011 and so because I had this product confidence, I was able to really sell the hell out of that program.

I had that program for a couple of years and then I went through another transformation in my business, so I absolutely know what it's like to not have product confidence and it sucks so bad when you love something so much and you're so passionate about it, and you feel like it's your calling. I never felt like working in commercial real estate was my life's calling. What I do now, I'm 1,000 percent clear that it's my life's calling, that I was born to do this, that every experience I've had in my life has driven me toward doing this, so I really, really get when people are in so much pain around that. I know that I'm supposed to this and I have no idea how to turn this into a product, how to turn it into a service, it feels like my gift, it feels like I should just do this for free, because it comes so easily to me.

I absolutely understand people's pain and this is why I'm so passionate that it doesn't have to be this way.

Michelle: Yeah. I think what's interesting, especially with something like coaching, like what you're actually selling can be just ambiguous. That's why we get like taglines, like, “I'll help you live your best life,” and you're like, “What does that mean? It doesn't mean anything. That's not tangible.” So yeah, I can see why all of a sudden going from like, “I'm selling coaching,” to like, “No, I'm selling this very specific Morning Whip program. I know exactly how it benefits people. I know exactly what the features are.” It just gives you that clarity and yeah, that confidence to make the offer, make the ask, invite people in.

So my last question for you is:

What's one action my listeners can take right now to grow their own product confidence?

Erika: Okay. If you have a service-based business, I want you to think about your service as a product, like write down the deliverables, the features, the benefits, the results, the objections that people would have to purchasing it and for inspiration, watch any infomercial on HSN. I can't remember if that still exists. I think they changed the name. Or QVC. Watch any infomercial on QVC and you'll see that is exactly what they do. So every infomercial on QVC has testimonials, they share results, they talk about objections right in the demonstrations, so someone will ask a question. A lot of objections, you can think of them also as frequently asked questions. You talk about the benefits and then they talk about the features and even within the features, they give benefits to those features. So watch an infomercial and you'll see that is exactly what they are doing and you can do the exact same thing with any service that you've created.

Let's say you're a coach or a consultant of some kind, don't just say like, “Oh, here's my coaching package.” Like, no, no, no, that's not gonna cut it. You have to give it a name and really turn it into a product and imagine as if this was on a store shelf, what would the box look like? What would people's experience be opening that? So that's if you have a service based business and if you have a product based business, I want you to expand your imagination and think about your product being a service.

One of my clients who'd gone through triple expert, her name's Adeline Arjad Cook and she has these super cute tennis dresses. You can find her on the internet at Super cute tennis dresses and she's like, “I have these fabulous tennis dresses,” but wasn't really sure how to sell them. So what we dove down and figured out, like they're not just a dress that you go to play tennis, like these are really like lifestyle tennis dresses, so you can go from the court to having cocktails to going to the grocery store to going home and cooking dinner and you never have to change, because your outfit is so cute, you never have to change. A lot of tennis dresses are very boxy. The fabrics aren't soft, they're not comfortable, they're not something that you wanna sit around in all day. So really thinking that, like this is for the kind of woman who is a hardcore tennis addict. She's playing tennis two to three times a week, maybe even more, and so really we want these tennis dresses to fit into the lifestyle that she already has.

So the way that Adeline has really designed these dresses, they're very fun, they're very flirty. You put them on and you immediately feel confident in them and I know, because I have one of her tennis dresses and I don't play tennis and I put it on and I'm like, “I am the best tennis player in the world.” So it's not just like, oh, they're tennis dresses. There's a whole vibe. There's a whole feeling. There's a whole lifestyle around her tennis dresses.

And in doing that, really realizing that she could build this lifestyle around these tennis dresses, it has given her just tons and tons and tons of product confidence, so for those of you who have a physical product-based business, really think about like what's the lifestyle I want this person to lead or how am I contributing to this person in a big way, in addition to having a great, solid, well-made product, what are the additional value ads on that?

Michelle: I know for me when I got super clear on the deliverables of the three word rebellion messaging intensive, it was so much easier to be on the phone with someone and be like, “Okay, so what you're going to get is you're going to get a three word rebellion and why you need your three word rebellion is because you have to be known for this message and have consistency, it has to position you in the marketplace and without that message, nothing's ever gonna work for you.” So it gave me tons of confidence because I knew exactly what they were getting and I noticed that my clients loved having that outline. They loved looking at a follow-up email or a proposal and being like, “Oh, so these are all the things we're gonna do together and this is what I'm walking away with,” because there are so many times, even when it's like marketing branding services. People aren't clear and when all of a sudden you're like, “This is exactly what you get and this is why you need it,” they get excited about it, as well.

So I love this action. I think everyone should think about your product as a service or your service as a product.

Erika: Yeah. When I talked to you, when I heard about the three word rebellion, remember I texted you and I was like, “Michelle, we need to talk,” 'cause I could just see that this was your thing. I've known you for many years and I was like, “This is her thing. I've got to get her into triple expert,” and you said, “I don't really know if I need that. I really have a good idea,” and I was like, “This is not just about having a good idea and making a better idea. This is about turning this amazing service into a product that is virtually going to sell itself because you are so clear on it,” and that is exactly what you've done and it's fantastic.

Michelle: Yeah. It feels so good to have something that I'm excited to sell. It feels like an easier sell because I know what pain it's solving. I know what people get from it. I know what they walk away with. Yeah. So shoutout to triple expert, 'cause clearly I love the program.

Erika: Well, thank you.

Michelle: You're welcome.

So where can people find you online?

Erika: I have written hundreds of blog posts about sales, marketing, product confidence. You can get Think Like A Stripper on Amazon and I would start there. You can follow me on Instagram @DailyWhip.

Michelle: And I highly recommend reading Think Like A Stripper. It's a great book. You'll get a lot of actionable advice out of it.

Thank you so much, Erika, for being on the podcast.

Erika: Thank you so much, Michelle, and congratulations on the new name. It is amazing. I love it. It just feels actionable. It feels fun. It makes me wanna like put my fist in the air and shake it, in a good way.

Michelle: Yeah. It's like you wanna rise up and get your message out and be known and be that rebel riser, so thank you.

Erika: Thank you.

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