Marx Acosta Rubio is the CEO of Onestop. He started off making $10 million and losing it then having to remake it back all through cold calling. In this episode, Marx, shares how he goes about the process of cold calling.
Marx Acosta Rubio Real Estate Background:
- CEO of Onestop
- Onestop generates $30+Million in revenue a year
- Lost his entire fortune and had to rebuild it for a second time
- Based in Southlake, TX
- Say hi to him at: www.callmarx.com
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Best Ever Tweet:
“99% of people who say they are modeling success are actually modeling the wrong things” – Marx Acosta Rubio
Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks and today we’ll be speaking with Marx Acosta Rubio. Marx, how are you doing today?
Marx Acosta Rubio: I’m doing great, Theo. How are you, my friend?
Theo Hicks: I’m doing great as well, thanks for asking. Marx is a repeat guest, so we’ll be doing a Skillset Sunday today, and we’re gonna talk about — well, a lot of things. We’re first gonna talk about how he was able to make 20 million dollars using cold calling… And then hopefully dive into some other topics as well, but that’s where we’re gonna start. But before we get into that, we’re gonna talk about Marx’s background. Again, he’s the CEO of Onestop, which generates 30+ million dollars in revenue each year. He lost his entire fortune and had to rebuild it for a second time. He’s based in Salt Lake, Texas, and you can say hi to him at his podcast, Steps To Success. Alright, Marx, do you mind telling us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on today, and then we’ll move into the Skillset Sunday?
Marx Acosta Rubio: Fantastic. The background is born in Caracas, Venezuela, I came here in 1977. I’m 50, happily married to my beautiful wife for 32 years, three kids (22, 20, 18) and to show that our stuff works, my 22-year-old has a company that’s worth ten million dollars right now with [unintelligible [00:04:23].01] Our 20-year-old is going back to serving in a mission, and our 18-year-old, who was on America’s Got Talent, is headed off to college. We’ll be empty-nesters… And life is grand. Not without challenges, obviously, but it’s fun.
Theo Hicks: Thanks for sharing that. So we’ve got how you made ten million dollars twice, so a total of 20 million dollars, by cold-calling, using your Marx Success Selling System. Do you mind first maybe giving us the steps of the Marx Success Selling System, and then you can tell us the story about these two ten-million-dollar deals?
Marx Acosta Rubio: So I don’t know that we call it the Marx Success Selling System; I think that’s what Ashley sent your way. It’s really the success system that never fails, which I stole from a book written by W. Clement Stone. The title of it is “The Success System That Never Fails.” It was ten million the first time that I lost, and then 20 million the second time… And it’s all based on cold-calling. It was cold-calling the most exciting, incredible product in the world, which is toner cartridge. If you don’t know what a toner cartridge is, it’s just like toilet paper – nobody really cares, unless either a) you need it and don’t have any, or it breaks in your hand when you’re using it.
So we had to figure out how do we go to market, how do we beat Staples, how do we beat all these other companies. At the time – this was back in 1994 – we had no marketing experience, no ability to go out to market with lots of dollars, so we started cold-calling. Now, I didn’t invent it; I did improve it… And then along the way I was working for a company, got fired, started Onestop, and read every book, attended every seminar, and through trial and error I figured out what worked for me. Then when I hired the first employee, who at the time was also (I didn’t know) a drug addict… This was not the guy who was addicted to crack; that’s a different guy. And I thought “Hey man, we can do this together.” He had no idea what to do, so I kind of showed him what I was doing. Then I realized that what I had uncovered wasn’t necessarily common knowldge; it was very uncommon, the way I did it… So I put together a little training manual over the years. We — I wouldn’t say perfected it, Theo, but we’ve made it better…
And then you know a system works when you can duplicate it with somebody else, meaning if you do it and you’re amazing at it because you’re just this gargantuan, this super-talented individual, and then you show me and I can’t produce the same results, then it’s just you being fantastic. But if my dummy self can do at least somewhat as good as you – maybe 70%-80% as good as you – you know the system works.
So we kept giving it to individuals who weren’t necessarily — you know, when you’re selling toner cartridges via the phone, you’re not attracting (I don’t mean this to be disparaging) the top of the top MBAs, super-smart people. You’re getting those who wanna be actors and musicians, and they don’t have much ambition in life, and they’re just kind of in the job… And if you rely on them, on their base talent and skill, you won’t go very far as a company. But if you can bring them in and show them a system and plug them in and have it work and produce somewhat the same result, then you’re on target. So we did that, and then we made Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Companies list, and Inc. 3000 etc. And then I made some terrible business decision. Just horrendous. And I learned that you’re only 1, 2 or 3 moves away from greatness or disaster.
I lost it all, and then I had to rebuild it, but this time we did it a little bit different. We built it virtual, but using the same selling system, with a few modifications that we had before. And I also made some changes in how I manage individuals, because I hated managing people, so we cut that out.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. So would you mind telling us what the system is, that you gave to these musicians and actors so that they’re the top-tier cartridge sellers?
Marx Acosta Rubio: To give you an idea before, the top producer at my company was making about a half million dollars a year. His name [unintelligible [00:08:08].18] and he was a crack addict. He broke all records. Most people were making 300k-400k a year, but he was at 500k, and he did it in an interesting way. But the system is not that complicated; like most sayings, simplicity is elegance and beauty. It consists of intricate pieces that are presentations, overrides, stalling questions, closes, and flow charts… And then also certain six-steps, which are not difficult to explain, but it’ll take 30 minutes to explain each step, because if I just give you the rundown, that won’t be helpful.
So what happens is most people wing it when they do sales. And if you look back at NCR, and IBM, and W. Clement Stone, all these companies and all these guys, they have presentations… And we’ve gotten away from that. People are like “Oh, consultative selling”, and that stuff doesn’t work. In fact, the guy who had the most sold houses I think still holds the record – Tom Hopkins, who learned from Jay Edwards [unintelligible [00:09:01].26] had everything memorized and pre-scripted. Because like an actor or an actress, when you’re confronted with a situation, you don’t wanna have to think about what you say next. You wanna be able to have the lines pre-written and then how the delivery shows up.
So we had that, but then we had language patterns inside of it using phonetic ambiguities, and a bunch of other cool language patterns to get the individual involved in the presentation, so that they decide to make the purchase, versus feeling like we’re pressuring them. Because you’ve got these two schools of thought – one is the used car salesman, push-push-push-push, and then you’ve got the other one, just kind of “Well, I’m gonna consult you and you’re gonna make your own mind.” And neither of them actually work. We define selling as getting someone to take action, no matter what it is. So if you don’ get them to actually do something, then you’re not persuading them.
And then we boil it down even further, saying “Look, people make decisions based on the five Fs: fear, fight, flight, fornicate and feed.” So when you hit the reptilian brain, the amygdala, then there’s an impetus to take action… But you can’t do it externally, you have to build it internally. And this is where people confuse persuading with consultative sales.
So this system really revolves around — first, we’ve gotta make sure it’s the right thing for them, because you can never really get from someone to do something that isn’t good for them; or at least you shouldn’t, because it’s unethical. But so long as your product is good and [unintelligible [00:10:23].27] for them, then it’s your duty like a doctor and a patient to give them the medicine or do what’s best for them, so they can then make an informed decision.
So the system is pretty simple. It’s the presentation… An override we define as someone has an objection (we call it a knee-jerk reaction), and then you basically answer it, and you have three of those memorized. We use what’s called the Cha-Cha-Cha (one-two-three) system, which — I was so terrified of sales. It was all phone sales when I first started. I was so terrified of sales that I literally had to invent the one-two-three system. And this is gonna sound super-stupid, but I’m gonna share it with you anyway.
They would give an objection, [unintelligible [00:11:01].26] and then I would override, “Well, that’s no problem, Bob, blah-blah-blah”, and I would touch my thumb to my ring finger. And then I would touch my thumb to my middle finger, and that implied that I had to close. One-two-three.” Because I had read a while ago – this was many decades ago – most human beings don’t make a decision until you’ve asked them at least five times… Which is why people try to say “You’ve gotta visit them five times, you’ve gotta have five interactions” etc. Well, my impatient self – I can’t wait to have five phone calls. I need to eat, and I’ve gotta make the sale.
So what if I ask them eight times [unintelligible [00:11:34].03] for the order. There’s two things – one, it got them to give me the real objection, which is never what they tell you, and two, it gave me the impetus to understand that human beings usually don’t make a decision right off the bat, and it’s our job to get them there. Now, not by persuading in terms of pushing them, “Come on, Bob. Buy, buy, buy!” but by asking questions and leading them gently, yet with a directive focus, as to where they wanna go.
I know I’m babbling, so give me a minute. When I started this, I had given my first employees all the stuff that I had written out for myself, and they were doing okay. But one thing I noticed was when they were on the phone, the prospect would say something and they would just sort of go on this rabbit trail, and this random path, and I was like “Where are you going?” And it took me a minute – and I say a minute, [but rather] a couple years – to realize that I had a certain flow chart. “If this, then this. If not this, then this” in my mind. So I wrote that down on a piece of paper, three flow charts. One for the accounts, one for reorders. And I said “Look, guys, this is what you need to do.” Box one is “Make receptions feel good. If you don’t do that, you can’t go to box two.” And so on and so forth.
These are the four questions we must ask in order to go and make the presentation. If you don’t get the answer to those four questions, you can’t make the presentation. And what it forced them to do was when the prospect wanted to go off on a different tangent, they would say “Okay, that’s no problem”, and they would bring them back into that box, because they couldn’t go to the next box until they had that box checked. And this revolutionized my business, and it made them significantly more effective.
Think about it – if you’re producing X, and a simple thing like a flow chart gets you to 2X, it’s a huge impact. Then we realized, as this was going along, that some people were giving up. Because remember, it’s cold-calling to get the new accounts, and you have to basically maintain that account and grow it. But the cold-calling is the most difficult part. So we realized these guys were maybe closing, but not closing a ton. So they were getting lazy. So I invented the numbers sheet, which is a sheet that says “200 phone calls a day, 20 presentations, each one you’ve gotta ask for the order eight times.” And then we started seeing ratios, and then that increased our sales and our profitability even more.
Eventually, we sort of put all this thing together, which is more elaborate than I describing, because there are a lot of moving pieces, particularly language patterns. Theo, when you use the word “now”, if you use what’s called a phonetic ambiguity, meaning you tie it to the end of a sentence and to the beginning of a new sentence, it sends a sort of subconscious command or suggestion to the subconscious mind to do something.
Anyway, long story short, you’ve gotta create the language patterns that also help people make better decisions, if that makes any sense. That was a lot, huh?
Theo Hicks: That was a lot. So let me ask one follow-up question really quick, because I missed — so we’ve got presentation, overrides, stalling questions, and then I’ve got closing, but I know I missed one. What was the one that I missed?
Marx Acosta Rubio: The overrides?
Theo Hicks: I think there’s five steps: presentation, overrides, stalling questions, and then something that I missed, and then closing. What was that things that I missed?
Marx Acosta Rubio: No, there are six steps to the selling process.
Theo Hicks: Six steps, okay. I missed two of them.
Marx Acosta Rubio: Right. The six-step selling process is different than the system itself.
Theo Hicks: Okay. So was it just those four – presentation, overrides, stalling questions and closing?
Marx Acosta Rubio: And flow charts.
Theo Hicks: Flow charts, okay. There you go. Flow charts.
Marx Acosta Rubio: And the numbers sheet. You have the numbers sheet, you have the flow charts, you’ve got presentation, stalling questions, overrides and closes.
Theo Hicks: Okay, and then you said this is different than the actual selling process itself, which is another six steps.
Marx Acosta Rubio: Correct.
Theo Hicks: Alright, let’s go to that then.
Marx Acosta Rubio: [laughs]
Theo Hicks: Go. [laughs]
Marx Acosta Rubio: Well, I think the six steps are gonna vary depending on who you ask, so I don’t think they’re gonna be too valuable for your audience. Things like getting them engaged in the offer, getting them to say no… This is honestly more than 50 minutes over what we have. But I’ll give you one piece, and this was popularized by a book by Chris Voss called Never Split the Difference… But it really goes back to neuro linguistic programming, back from the 1970s, and that Harvard talks about. So you don’t want people to say yes to your offer, because you’ll get fake yeses. So we knew 20+ years ago that we wanted the no, for two reasons. One, psychologically, you teach your salesperson that you want them to say no and not yes, which alleviates the fear of getting them to say no. Because it’s all about “Get the yes, get the yes, get the yes.” No, you don’t want the yes, you always want the no’s. And the second thing is it makes the prospect feel more in control, which we’ve talked about, and Chris expands on it in his book.
So we focus on getting them to say no, because we believe – and we’ve taught this to a bunch of other companies – the sales process doesn’t start until they say no. And if you read all the older negotiation books by the greats of the greats of the greats, they’ll tell you “Always ask for more than you expect to get”, and all this other stuff, which basically leads to getting people to say no.
Here’s what’s the big takeaway on having a system – you cannot wing your way to success when it comes to sales… And what we’ve experienced, what we’ve seen and done and helped other companies – you have to create a system. Because when you have a system, you can modify, you can tweak it, you can track it, you can improve it, and it also gets you to feel like you succeed every day. Because if you have a goal to make a certain income every day, and you don’t achieve it, you’re like “Boy, I’m a failure.” And maybe you are, by definition. But if you have a system and you apply this system and you get better, even if you don’t make any money that day, but you know you’ve applied the system, you feel like a success.
So we realized – and this is a whole different conversation – in managing salespeople, which is very unique and very different to do, we needed symbols, rituals, magic, all kinds of stuff, just like anthropologists will tell you. [unintelligible [00:17:13].19] or religions. In order to do that, we had to give them a feeling of empowerment. And in order to do that, you have to make them feel like they succeed, so they don’t go back to work because it feels fantastic, they go back to work because they have an environment where they feel empowered, and they feel in control, and they see progress. And all of this sort of evolved over decades, but the idea is to create a system that works for you, that has a template, so that you can apply it.
If you look — Jim Rohn, who’s one of my mentors and favorite people of all time, said “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.” And if you look at W. Clement Stone, if you look at all the greats of the greats who started this personal growth development system, along with Napoleon Hill, of course, who was the genesis of it, really it’s about systems. They call them habits now, and all this marketing [unintelligible [00:18:00].23] that’s really stupid, but it really is creating systems, if that makes any sense.
Theo Hicks: It totally does. So last question – you tell people “I need to create a system”, you’ve got your system of presentation, overrides, stalling questions, flow charts, numbers sheet, closing… Is this like a Word document, is this a PDF, is this like a custom software that you use? And then based on how you answer that, if I myself want to go out there or a listener wants to go out there and take the system that I have in my mind, that I have to follow every single day, how should I actually create that in the real world? Is it me making a PowerPoint presentation, do I have a bunch of Post-it notes, do I print off a piece of paper? How does that actually look in reality?
Marx Acosta Rubio: Got it. Great question, and I hope I can answer it in the time we have left. Number one – for us it’s both PDF, and it’s in the software system, or CRM… But if I was to print it, it’s probably 150 pages, all said and done. Because you’re talking about — for example, just on the overrides, if somebody says to you “The price is too high”, you need three prewritten, pre-memorized responses, and then at least a dozen closes that you can move forward.
Some people say “Well, just say “Compared to what?” Okay, you can use that, but what about two more? So when you have a presentation, your presentation might be long, it might be short, you have a flow chart, each one is about one sheet, and you end up having two or three different flow charts. So for us it’s about a 150-page document. We have it all over the place. How do you create your own success selling system? Well, I think if you want us to help you with it, just email email@example.com. And I’m dyslexic, so I hope I got that right… And we’ll give you some tools and tricks and tips, so we don’t take up time here.
But how do you do it in the real world – okay, so this is what’s really interesting. I’m 50, and I’ve been pretty healthy most of my life, and I almost died April 13th. I went into what’s called diabetic ketoacidosis. I had no idea what that was, but I was peeing every couple hours, I was lethargic, I looked like a walking zombie… It just was not good. I tested my blood sugar and ended up being on the ICU, in the hospital for three days. Basically, I’m what’s called a type one diabetic, which is when your pancreas is attacked by your white blood cells, so it doesn’t make insulin. So I’ll be on insulin for the rest of my life.
So of course, that freaked me out, but I read every book in the last 30 days on diabetes, I found the world’s two best doctors, and created a spreadsheet. So now I monitor my blood sugar every hour, and I see how diet and insulin and how exercise affects me, so I can try to get to that 83 and have a flat 83 consistently. So when you create a system, you have to look at what metrics are important, and what moves those metrics. For us in selling, we realized that connections was a metric, how many times you closed was a metric, then the phone calls you made was a metric, and then also language and the attitude by which the salesperson spoke was a metric.
So once we understood that those are metrics we wanted to change, we thought “Well, what changes those things, and how do we change that?” So if you’re gonna create a system for real estate, what are the metrics that matter for you? Is it knocking on doors, is it sending Facebook posts? I don’t know. You find out those 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 things. Hopefully six, give or take a few, that matter, and then go “What factors make those numbers change?” And then you iterate. Or if you’re really smart, you find somebody who’s already succeeded at it, in your industry or in another industry, and then you copy them while you get your metrics together. Does that make sense?
Theo Hicks: Yeah, I like that. The copying things is huge in real estate, and I’m sure it’s really big in selling, too. People are already doing what you want to be and are performing at a level you wanna be at… So I really appreciate you sharing that system with us and how to do it ourselves.
Marx Acosta Rubio: But there’s a caveat real quick, Theo, with modeling. Modeling became popular with John Grinder Richard Bandler with neuro linguistic programming, and then Tony Robbins made it super-popular. If you haven’t heard of Tony Robbins in real estate, then you’ve been living under a rock, because he’s sort of a grand daddy of all this seminar type stuff.
But here’s the problem… 99.9% of people that we’ve encountered in the last 20+ years of doing this, who say they’re modeling success, are not modeling the right things. In fact, most people who are successful at doing something, if you ask them what it is that they’re doing, they’ll you something that isn’t true. Not that they wanna lie to you, it’s that they themselves don’t know.
Case in point, Elon Musk says that if you wanna be very successful, you’ve gotta work 80 hours a week. Well, that’s not true, because if hard work alone made you successful, then the ditch digger who works 80 hours a week would be a billionaire. So we thank you, Elon, for letting us know what you believe, but you’re not necessarily eliciting the proper strategies that you may have that make you successful. So the challenge for me early on was I was really good at this on the phone, but mind you, I’m dyslexic, English is my second language, I speak way too fast, and I’m an introvert. I don’t like people; stick me with a book, I’m good. So I had to sort of elicit, what am I really doing, and it took a minute (when I say a minute, it took a long time) to figure out.
So be very careful, because if we apply the 80/20 principle — and there’s a great book coming out there by a good friend of mine, Richard Koch… Richard Koch wrote The 80/20 Principle and a bunch of other books. He’s got a book coming out called The Reasonable Success (in August). It’s a great book. Richard himself is worth a half a billion dollars, by the way, and he works one hour a day. I think he’s 67 now. He has three houses.
Anyway, if you look at the 80/20 principle, you realize the majority of things are trivial, and we have not disassociated effort from reward in society. We think we work really hard, therefore we make a lot of money, and that’s not entirely true, because in that hard work, if we apply the 80/20 principle, a few factors [unintelligible [00:23:39].21] “the vital few”, 20% or less, will account for most. So you’re busy doing all this stuff, but you haven’t yet extrapolated what really moves the needle, where is really the leverage.
This is the biggest caveat I’ll give you, because when you model success or you look at your own success, what you’ve done in the past, you really do need to think, and you have to say “Well, is that really true?” and you have to then test it. So for us, we knew, because we had been at this for years and years, and we’ve got into a bunch of different companies and individuals, and it’s not hard for us to do, because we’ve been doing it forever… But that is the caveat… Because I don’t want people out there modeling or mimicking somebody and then taking all of what they are doing and they’re not getting the same results, because they’re missing out what it is.
Bruce Lee said “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add specifically your own.” Jim Rohn said “Whatever you do, make sure it’s a product of your own conclusion. Be a student, not a follower.” So be very careful and be very selective as to what it is you think does it for them.
For me, in all of this, it was applying this system, but it really was the language patterns that I used, and everything else revolved around those language patterns… Because I would, as an example, say something to a client, and they would laugh and think it was really cute and funny… And my very first employee, a guy named Chuck Fletcher – he would say it, and they would call me to complain about what he said. Same words, but how they were put together was this big a-ha. So I had to teach them how to say it.
Anyway, I’m trying to give you a lot in a short period of time, and I’m sorry for rambling, but I wanna have that caveat as a disclaimer.
Theo Hicks: No, I think what you’re calling a rambling is very powerful. You’re saying a lot of things that I never thought of before, and this is definitely gonna be worth a relisten on my part, and I’m sure the Best Ever listeners feel the exact same way, Marx.
Again, I really appreciate you coming on the show. You can tell we could probably talk about this for multiple days on end, the amount of information you have from your background…
Marx Acosta Rubio: It really is a great, interesting, fun topic. And you know what, Theo – most people unfortunately who are in the business of selling books and motivational programs and stuff, especially when it comes to sales of real estate, are doing a disservice to the community. That’s what prompted me to start this podcast is I wanna interview guys who I know who are really wealthy and successful and happy, and share things that really work. They may not be famous authors, or they may be (I don’t know), but it’s challenging… If you look in the real estate field, I guarantee you the top of the top of the top in real estate, whether it’s investment, whether it’s construction, whether it’s development, whether it’s sales, they do something very different. But the majority of you who try to emulate them lose sight of what it is that they do that’s different. And it may be as simple as an internal dialogue; it may be as simple as how they talk to themselves.
Napoleon Hill in his book “This and Grow Rich” gives 13 steps, and later 17 steps, and he said the brain was like a receiving station and a sending station. He’s really talking about vibration. It’s now scientifically proven to be true – with sympathetic resonance, and mirror neurons and all this stuff… But Napoleon Hill knew – in fact, Emerson knew it before Napoleon; the Bible knew it before… How the brain functions. So it may be that this person has a different thought that consumes them, and then they use their reticular activating system to find opportunities. So it’s a nuance that is challenging, but once you get it, it’s very easy to discern those who are successful for you to emulate them.
Theo Hicks: Absolutely. So guys, make sure you check out his podcast, Steps to Success Podcast, to learn more about what he was just talking about. Alright, Marx, I appreciate you coming on the show today.
Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening, have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Marx Acosta Rubio: Thanks, Theo.
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