Episode 05: Bob Burg – Secrets to Selling

Getting the Big Idea

Back in the mid-’90s, Bob wrote a book called Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales. He later got the idea to turn Endless Referrals into a parable. Bob wanted to expound on how to get people to know, like, and trust you (the entrepreneur) enough to generate sales and referrals. He found you can do that by giving value to everyone you meet. Hence, Go-Giver was born.

Bob asked John David Mann to be the lead writer and storyteller for this concept. John was the editor-in-chief of a magazine Bob wrote for every month. Despite being so busy, John’s close relationship with Bob coerced him to look into the idea, and he eventually agreed to co-author the book.

Even though they had a fantastic agent, it took about one and a half years to find the right publisher. By then, the book had been turned down by 27 publishing houses.

Bob finally settled for Portfolio, an imprint under a division of Penguin Random House, and now considers them part of Team Go-Giver. After its launch, The Go-Giver sold well, and the franchise took off.

Sell Your Book

Getting your book written and published is just the beginning of your journey. Do away with the myth that the publisher will sell it for you. Whether you’re self-published, independently published, hybrid published, or traditionally published—it’s your job is to sell the book, not the publisher’s.

Despite his praise for Portfolio’s support, Bob emphasizes that selling the book was his job. Your book can be the greatest book in the world, but unless you’re willing to go out there and do the work, you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Learn from Bob Burg’s Mistakes

Even with The Go-Giver franchise, there were things that didn’t go right. The biggest setback was experienced when rollng out the third book in The Go-Giver series. For the title, Bob and his team finally settled on It’s Not About You. It was inspired by law number three of The Go-Giver—the law of influence. It dictates that your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first without becoming self-sacrificial. The sales were disappointingly low.

After vigorous surveys, Bob realized that the title was driving people away from the book. People had the mindset, “If it’s not about me, why would I be interested?” Plus, The Go-Giver is a gift book. When you give someone a book titled The Go-Giver, it’s a compliment. When you give someone a book titled It’s Not About You, on the other hand, it’s an insult. Therefore, Bob updated the title to The Go-Giver Leader, and the book has been selling beautifully since.

The Big Lesson: The Law of Value

You are not your customer. Therefore, you need to put yourself in the mind and heart of the customer. Don’t just come up with something and assume it will work because it’s clever. You have to discover the other person’s wants, needs, and desires and then help them achieve those things.


Bob Burg looked for mediums that would get his message out there. In the old days, the only options were radio and television. Today, there are many other mediums—or media—to choose from. The trick is to dial for dollars and just go after it. Remember that you’re going to get a lot of noes, especially if it’s your first book and you don’t have a track record yet. Don’t worry about it. Keep going.

Remember, you’re not pitching your book; you’re pitching things that are relevant to the show. The producers and hosts are not interested in your book. They are interested in bringing value to their audience. You’ll still get to promote your book, but there are dos and don’ts. For example, shun comments like, “I can’t really say all that here but if you get my book…” Aim to make the host look and feel good, and they’ll promote your book for you.

Incorporating Podcasts into Your Marketing Strategy

As an author, you want to make it easy for producers to book you on their show. They’re going to appreciate that because they’re busy and want to do as little work as possible. Here is Bob Burg’s advice for an author trying to get themselves on shows:

• Don’t try to get on the huge podcast. Play small at first. 

• Remember that even smaller shows can get you great testimonial endorsement blurbs. Bob has never turned down a podcast, no matter how small, as long as it was congruent with his message.

• Know what you want to say. It helps you get adept at pivoting when you’re asked something that you really don’t want to be asked.

• Give them bullet points outlining the benefits that their listeners will receive from the interview. Suggested questions and talking points will also make it easy for them to be the star of the show.

• Do a search on the podcasters and read their bios. Bob’s secret was to listen to a several back episodes to really get to know the host and their podcast.

• Let the host or the producer know that you’d love it if they’d be willing to refer you to others that might be interested.

• If you know other guests that might add value to the show, ask the host if they would like a referral or an introduction.

• After a show, send a thank you note to the host and producer. Bob handwrites a note thanking them for having him on their show and complementing them for the terrific experience. He often gets replies from thrilled hosts who have never received personalized thank you notes before. You can also use SendOutCards.com. You design the card, and you can even send it with a gift card or a pound of brownies. The bottom line is to interact with the host and producer after your appearance.

Organize Your Work

Bob Burg runs the most organized campaigns. Everything is on a spreadsheet and properly correlated. This kind of organization is a plus because, when book two and three come, you already have a pre-made list of people who are ready to help you promote.

Bob admits that the organization is all thanks to his business partner, Kathy Tagenel. She knows how to work technology in order to keep the whole franchise organized. When a host or a producer is interested in booking Bob for their show, Kirsty, the team’s scheduler, sends an email that includes:

• A confirmation of the date and time

• Bob’s bio, intro, and generic photo

• A link to the basic premise of the interview and a suggested title for it

• Suggested questions, talking points, graphics of the book, and so on

This communication is purely for the producer’s benefit to utilize however they want. Anything that they may want to do for the show with Bob’s information is now easy and accessible for them. After the show, the interview is then put into a spreadsheet detailing:

• The host’s name

• The producer’s name

• Their contact information

• Their basic audience

• What book was Bob interviewed on

When Bob launches a new book and starts putting interviews together, the spreadsheet helps to single out valuable contacts and their information.

The Go-Giver Sales Academy

The Go-Giver Sales Academy is something that every author should consider. It’s an ongoing, recorded course which is designed to make selling more fun, less stressful, and more profitable. Over multiple weeks, you’ll be taken through the five laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity. Bob will then help you tie your goals into those five laws, making your selling a much nicer, more pleasant, and more profitable process.

The biggest takeaway from The Go-Giver Academy is how to frame your book or your product/service in such a way that your customer understands, by making the decision to buy what you are selling, their life is going to be better.


If you’ve got a book, it means you’ve got a message. The best thing you can do not only for yourself but in order to add value to the world is to get that message out. To be successful, Bob believes in relying on a proven system. He defines a system as the process of predictably achieving a goal based on a logical and specific set of how-to principles. 

By consistently implementing the advice given by the Bestseller Confessions guests, you are well on your way to become a bestselling author as well. Keep working at it, and stay tuned for our next episode

One comment on “Bob Burg – Secrets to Selling

  1. This was one of the Best Podcasts I’ve heard. Fantastic! Ken and Bob share tons of valuable information. I look forward to more interviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *