This episode of the Sales Transformation Podcast with Collin Mitchell features Andy Paul. Andy is an experienced sales professional, entrepreneur, and author of bestselling sales books such as Selling without Selling Out: A Guide to Success On Your Own Terms and Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales.
Andy talks about finding his own brand of salesmanship, and how it focuses on a buyer-centric approach, instead of a purely transactional perspective. He argues that buyers already know what they need, and that using traditional tactics such as hard selling and persuasion often doesn’t work and instead turns off potential customers.
Instead, Andy recommends that sellers focus on creating a positive buyer experience, as rapport and positive relationships will rake in more revenue in the long run.
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Andy: “I ask sales managers all the time. I see your job posting and I'm dealing with the client or something and I say, okay, here's this job posting that you got listed for a salesperson. So these attributes that you have listed, how do they help the buyer?”
Andy: “It's kind of a lunacy that we continue to have sales leadership that puts together job postings that emphasize these qualities, because in many respects, what they emphasize are behaviors that buyers resist and reject.”
Andy: “We spend billions of dollars a year in the US alone, training salespeople in behaviors that the buyers universally resist. That sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?”
Andy: “This is the problem, right, is we've had this sort of revolution in the last 10 to 15 years with incredible technology coming to the sales space, the marketing space, and people think that the usage of that technology constitutes modern selling. And it doesn't because when you're automating antiquated, obsolete behaviors, it's not modern. It's still the same old crap. You're just doing more of it, you're amplifying it.”
Andy: “Sales is not something you do to somebody. It's something you do with somebody.”
Collin: “It's so common, you know because of this end of month, end of quarter, end of year, the vast majority of people in sales are stressed out, working long hours, trying to do exactly what you did. You know, going back and forth, forcing these orders to hit numbers so sales bosses can get their bonuses.”
Andy: “There's no shortage of studies that have been done about how people are more productive, more creative when they have more control of the choices they make.”
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[00:00:00] In the world of sales, you either sink or swim or breakthrough to the next level. My name's Colin Mitchell, and this is sales transformation, a new kind of sales show designed to bring you through the epic life-changing moments of elite sellers. So you can experience your own sales transformation.
[00:00:24] All right. Welcome to another episode of sales transformation. I'm very excited to have Andy Paul on today. If you don't know who Andy Paul is, then in you're in sales, you should probably get out from underneath the rock that you've been living in and he's, uh, hit accelerate. Your sales podcast was acquired by ring DNA in 2020, since renamed to sales enablement with Andy Paul, the show continued to inspire thousands of sales professionals and he's written award winning sales books.
[00:00:51] Zero time selling amp up your sales and has a. New book coming out that I'm very excited about and you're going to have to tune in to find out what it's all about. Andy, welcome to the show. Colin. Thank you very much. Yeah, I wasn't going to give him too much early on. We gotta, we gotta get them to stick around.
[00:01:06] People stick around. It's just this. Yeah, we got a program to show correctively correctively. Yeah. Yeah. Well, you are clearly a pro at this and a saw, but I'm very excited to talk about the book I've I've gotten to, um, learn a little bit about early, early, look at the book. Yes, you did. Don't tell too many people make it.
[00:01:26] We don't want to make them jealous. Okay, but you know what? It's, it's, it's almost out, so they don't have to wait too long. So maybe, maybe we can make them a little jealous, but let's, let's kick it off here. Just give us, take us back a little bit. Like where, where did Andy Paul's sales journey start? And then give us a little context and then let's jump into what we're going to talk about today.
[00:01:48] Well, gosh, my sales journey started selling women's shoes at JC Penny's, as you've heard before, um, tobacco in high school. So that was my first sales job doing a holiday filling, right. The Christmas season. Accommodate the rush. So yeah, Madison, Wisconsin, JC penny selling women's shoes. And, but then professionally start off in the computer industry, um, eons ago where you're selling big roomfuls of computer equipment to the companies.
[00:02:19] And then right at that time start seeing more and more of these personal computer shops. So I went to work for apple in the early days of apple and a couple of other. Uh, PC startups after that, including one that made the first battery powered notebook computer. So those are always at the leading edge there.
[00:02:37] And then somehow I managed to transition into the wireless and communication space and, and, um, I spent a long time with number of startups, growing teams on the satellite communications industry. So selling large complex satellite communication systems to. Major enterprises around the world and then started start my own company.
[00:02:58] So with the goal to want the raw specialties I had as. How can you as a small, no name, no track record, no brand name company, go take on the big guys and win big deals, big deals, no product, right? Like that's something that no products. Yeah. But so yeah, these are 7, 8, 9 figure deals. Um, and so yeah, said, okay.
[00:03:22] Work with other small companies to teach them how to go out and compete. And you know, you don't always have to do this thing. Like, you know, let's start with small selling small business first and we'll work our way up to commercial. Then we'll do enterprise it's like, do you want to sell to big companies, go sell to big companies?
[00:03:40] And that's what we did. Yeah. A lot of people take that other approach of starting small and working their way up. There's some logic to it. I mean, you serve, find out whether your product works or so on, but I, I always just took the approach for you as the cop. If the target was big companies and let's go sell big companies, let's teach ourselves.
[00:04:01] Let's learn how to sell to big companies. And the sooner you do that, the better, and it works. You don't have to earn your stripes, smelling, selling to small company. Tell tell me a little bit about what you covered early on in the book of your, your experience of your, of your first sales training. Yeah.
[00:04:23] Well, cause this that'll help kind of set the stage of like, you know, th it's not that far off from what still happens. Sure. Yeah. So I was working for a big company at the time called boroughs, the snow Unisys, or even a successor Unisys, but was at the time of second largest computer company in the world after IBM and every year they hired.
[00:04:42] Hundreds, if not thousands of college, new grads to put them in these training programs serve the express intent of weeding. Most of them out and hoping what was left was the Pearl. So to speak, seeing what would stick, I seeing what sticks. So you have to be on the job. Two weeks. I was sent to one of our major regional training centers to, with new college grads from all over the country, new sellers.
[00:05:06] And run through this front, sir, teach basic, you know, selling one-on-one type thing. And yeah, I mean, I was I talking about the book cause I started felt a little bit out of place because everybody was so sales-y right. Server car salesman type type personas. And, and that was just not me. I was introverted.
[00:05:27] I still am to some degree and, and. It just didn't seem didn't seem right. But anyway, it gets sent home after two weeks of completing the course, and everybody is sent home with an envelope from the instructor that sometimes it was the end of a career because instructors evaluation counted a lot. And I dutifully returned my branch office.
[00:05:51] I was working out of Oakland, California at the time hand the envelope to my boss. And a few months later calls me into his office and said, so. How did training go? Yeah. And I was thinking, well, that's a trap question. Have I ever heard one? Uh, and he's looking at the evaluation. He says, well, you know, gym instructor, he thinks we should fire you.
[00:06:14] Wow. And, um, suddenly it was like, oh my God, it was a young person. First thought was, what am I gonna tell my parents, my parents, right. Two weeks in the lodge, first job, I'm going to get fired. He said, yeah, Jim thinks we should fire you because you're two animals. And you'll never make a good salesperson if you're too analytical.
[00:06:35] And that was sales started, the emo then is, is they were looking for hunters. They're looking for extroverts. They're looking for, as you said, as you see instilled in so many job postings today, which has absolutely no value for the buyer at all, and actually has fairly little value for the seller to, uh, lessons.
[00:06:55] That's, you know, we seem to be unable to learn as a profession. So my, my boss, Brian, just crumple up the paper and basically threw it away and said, go out and sell something. Um, why do you think he decided to not fire you? Well, I think he had felt that it had taken a risk hiring me in the first place.
[00:07:15] Cause he was. Somebody that only hired people that had, uh, gone to an undergraduate business program. So like, uh, our case, it was, you know, UC Berkeley and the bay area, UC Berkeley and San Jose state and Hayward state and, uh, you know, state colleges and universities that have. Undergraduate business privacy want an undergraduate business majors.
[00:07:37] And I was a history major. I'm from Stanford and to hold that against me, but he, his impression was that, Hey, if you went to Stanford as an undergrad, then you're just here. You're biting time. You're going to get your MBA. You're gonna go get a law degree. You're gonna do something else. And I started to convince me, I was like, maybe, but I don't know.
[00:07:58] I'm 21 years old. I don't know what I want to do. Uh, So he really felt that se reinforced to me time and time again, that he was taking a chance on me. So I think he felt like he hadn't seen that, that bet play out yet. That's always willing to give me enough rope to go hang myself on them, even though you didn't have the quality.
[00:08:19] That are supposed to make up the perfect salesman, right. Extrovert gift to the gab, you know, kind of people still higher for today. Yeah. I ask sales managers all the time. As you know, when I see a job posting and I'm dealing with a client or something, I'll say so, okay, here's this job posting you've got listed for a salesperson.
[00:08:40] So these attributes you have listed, how do they help them? Have you asked your buyers, have you asked your buyers what they need from your salespeople to help them throw up if they saw that job? Just the dads who I'm going to have to deal with? Well, yeah, and, but heaven forbid you go ask the intended target of, of your sales efforts, what they need from you in order to help them make decisions.
[00:09:07] And it's such an easy question to ask. Why not, why as a sale, why do you it's all sales centric, right? We think we know best. What's going to get the job done. Ask the customer. I mean, we do that about product features. We do it about, you know, services that we offer. Why wouldn't we do that? How we help them make the decision to acquire and invest in these products and services that we, we sell seems like such a simple concept yet.
[00:09:37] I don't think there's very many people doing that, but I think it would be kind of the equivalent of. Getting caught with your pants down. Like, you'd just be like, oh, you know, I mean, I think what's the worst that could happen if you find out. I mean, it's the same thing as, so if you go into an organization, you talk to a sales management, sales leadership, and they said, look, we need to train our sellers.
[00:10:00] We need to upskill them. We're going to train them on ABC. And my questions on managers is always. Well, why ABC? Well, you know, we've got all these tools for listening to what sill conversations. This always seems to be a weakness. Well, sure. That's good, but great. Love the technology. But have you asked the buyer, where are the sellers are falling down?
[00:10:28] It's so simple. Just ask. These are the people that are interacting with. You're judging it based on what you hear. Yeah. If you're listening to recording, why don't you take it from the buyer's perspective, what they're hearing and what they're receiving, what they think, and content might have a huge impact on you in terms of what you think you need to train or educate your sellers about.
[00:10:49] Wow. And it's so simple. Go ask, and it's just, you know, this. Part of the frustration that comes out in the book a bit is that I draw the distinction between leaders and sales leaders and sales bosses. Yeah. And it's just the bosses that just plow straight ahead doing the same crap time. After time after time, this is not a new problem.
[00:11:09] This has been going on for as long as we've had modern professional selling for a hundred plus years. Look at it from the buyer's perspective, what do the buyers need? You're trying to train your people. What did they need from you? They're not getting, imagine how you'd stand out from your competition.
[00:11:27] If you're actually asking the buyer and then, you know, targeting your training and your education for your sellers in order to help the buyers. Might surprise you what happens? Yeah, I think I'm just thinking through asking the buyer about, I'm still thinking through, I'm still very hung up on that point of the job description.
[00:11:49] Like you probably get two totally different things, you know? Uh, it would be. It would be night and day versus what, and into your point of the call, like the calls, right? Like people are making, you know, these sales bosses are training their sales reps based on this one-sided point of view, leaving out the perspective of the person that matters most.
[00:12:13] Yeah. Shocking. Isn't it? Yeah. This is, this is what we do. I mean, does a buyer Nita hunter. No, no. How's that benefit the buyer, not at all. Does the hunter need, does the buyer need a closer whatever that is? I don't really have an idea what a closer is, but, uh, cause I think it's, you know, pure mythmaking, but.
[00:12:37] No, they don't need a closer, I mean, you still see me. We need, you know, hiring openers, hiring closers, I think need of course all the time. What they need is they need somebody who's curious is open-minded who's analytical problem solver. Somebody that can help them understand the sort of depth and breadth of the problems and the challenges they have and understand what the best options might be to solve.
[00:13:03] Um, hunter and closer has nothing to do with it. It's just, I said, it's, it's, it's kind of lunacy that we continue to have sales leadership that, that puts together job postings that emphasize these qualities because in many respects, you know, what they emphasize are behaviors that buyers. Resist and reject.
[00:13:30] I mean, there's a, I've referenced the book, uh, in my book, uh, a book written by a gentleman named Jonah Berger, who a professor at Wharton school and his book called the catalyst. And he's writing about persuasion and helping people change minds, excuse me. But he says he cites research in there that says that people are universally to a person, everybody in the world resist.
[00:13:56] Being persuaded. Oh yeah. Well, but how many sales books have been written with persuasion in the title? Manny. So, and you think about the training we do is so gosh, we spend billions of dollars a year in the U S alone training salespeople in behaviors that the buyers universally resist. That sounds like a good idea.
[00:14:21] Doesn't it? Fantastic, fantastic idea. If you're in the business of,
[00:14:29] and this is, this is, yeah, this is, this is the problem, right? Is you've had this sort of revolution in the last 10, 15 years with, with incredible technologies coming into the sales space in the marketing space. And people think that the usage of that technology constitutes modern selling and it doesn't because when your automated.
[00:14:50] Antiquated obsolete behaviors. It's not modern. It's still the same old crap. You're just doing more of it. You're amplifying it. So it will be modern. We have to change our perspective about what our job as a sellers and how our working with our buyers. That's modern design modernizing selling. We'll talk about.
[00:15:08] Yeah, the problem is, is hard to automate and scale a real modern. Buyer-centric sales process. It's a little harder to scale and automate that, right? Um, well, I'm not convinced that's the case. I think it starts with, you know, the fact that we send sellers out into the world with the wrong perspective on what their job is, and it starts from leadership and it's not, this is not a new problem.
[00:15:32] This is one again, one that's existed for decades is that sellers think their job is to go out and persuade somebody to buy their product. Yeah. And when you think that's your job, Then, you know, if you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right? Yeah. And that's a problem. And so these behaviors that emanate from this idea that you have to persuade someone, you know, as the series of bad behaviors I talk about in the book that's salesy or selling out and told, all right, we're selling out.
[00:16:04] Yeah. They have no benefit to the buyer sellers for the most part. Don't like doing them, but they're trained to do this. Yeah. The alternative is. It's not just your job isn't to persuade somebody to buy your product. Your job is to, first of all, understand, what's the most important thing to them, both in terms of the problem they're trying to solve and the outcomes they want to achieve, and then help them get that that's your job is to help them get those things that are most important to them.
[00:16:29] So if you look at it from that perspective, it's a completely different set of actions that you take to try to help the buyer. And. As long as we're sending people, sellers in the world think of the job. Oh, I got to persuade that person. Every person is a target. Yeah. As I wrote in my first book, as you know, sales is not something you do to somebody it's something you do with somebody.
[00:16:55] So I'm curious to get your perspective, right? Because you talk about influencing people. Right. And I think that there's probably a lot of people that don't know the difference between influencing and persuading. So maybe you could help, you know, to a seller that's like pay. My boss keeps telling me, I got to, you know, I'm a hammer and I need to hit these nails, or I need to close these prospects and keep treating people like a transaction.
[00:17:23] So how do I wrap my head around? I need to actually influence people rather than persuade them. Sure. Well, it starts with the perspective that it gave you, right? Your job. Isn't about persuasion. Your job is about. Understanding and helping. And so start there and your persuasion, if you can look up the definition of direct and dictionary, it's about prevailing upon someone, right?
[00:17:48] It's about it's fundamentally decision. It's coursing somebody to do something at heart, right. Prevailing through force by the prevailing through force of argument or whatever. It's almost like if you, if you win the deal I won and you lost, right. It's a zero sum game. Absolutely. When you look at persuasion from that perspective, it is a zero.
[00:18:08] And because if I have somehow persuaded you to change your mind, yeah. I win you lose you are wrong, horrible way to start connection and relationship with the buyer where even if, again, you look at the definition of, of influence is it's about having a, an impact or an effect upon the thoughts and actions of others.
[00:18:30] And so. You just visualize that right. One is I'm prevailing. One of them having an effect on the way people are thinking and acting. I want to have that effect on people. And so, yeah, it's just, again, it starts with the perspective, because if you're trying to help people, then you're there to serve. You're trying to influence the choices and trade-offs they make about how they achieve the things that are most important.
[00:19:00] And if you're in persuasion, you're basically saying, look, there's one, there's one answer to this problem. Well, first of all, there's one problem and there's one answer to it and that's, that's my product I'm selling. And whether it's the right fit or not, I'm going to persuade you that that's the ring attraction.
[00:19:15] Yeah. Because that's my job. Yeah. And a perfect example is this week I posted something on LinkedIn about advice I've gotten from my first boss in sales. And I. I had asked him one time, well, what are you doing? People say, they're not interested. And he said, go find someone who is,
[00:19:38] which is the absolute right answer. We live in a big world. There's lots of people out there that are interested in product or service. You're selling. Go find someone who is instead, what we do is with the persuasion mindset. We train sellers. If someone says I'm not interested to say, well, that's an objection.
[00:19:55] Objection. They're not objecting. It's not like a courtroom. Somebody says, I am checked. You know, they're not objecting. They're just not interested at that point in time. It doesn't mean they won't ever be interested. But at that point in time, they're not interested. So what we do though, is I train sellers, go invest some of your time and emotional capital, relational capital that you might possibly have with this person and get them to change their mind.
[00:20:19] Yeah. Which, you know, most times is just fruitless. And what have you done at that point? You changed their mind and you've pissed them off. And the odds of sort of saying, well, gosh, this is an account I probably should be in nurture mode that maybe in three, six months could be ready. It could be a prospect.
[00:20:39] Now we burned that bridge. Yeah. And this happens with increasing frequency and let's just, let's, let's take another look at it. Like, let's just say you do convince them like, or persuade them. Right. Good. That deal's not going to stick around for any significant amount of time. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's examples like given the book is, and this is a classic, like I salesy behavior, which is, you know, self-destructive is, and this has happened to me, you know, as a seller, I go out and I'm building a.
[00:21:16] Good relationship, good connection with a buyer, um, you know, develop some credibility development trust. They think I'm really, truly there to help them. And then come the last week of the month, my boss says, well, you don't really need to close that deal. And I was like, well, no, they're good. They're ready to close next week.
[00:21:33] No, no, no. This week, end of the end of the month, end of the quarter, bring it in. And it's like, Well, suddenly you've exposed to the buyer very clearly that yeah, you really aren't there to help. It is purely transactional. Yeah. And I've challenged sales leaders time and time again. So tell me, do you ever run an ROI on that decision to hold the deal in two days you can make it happen this quarter versus next?
[00:21:59] Yeah, never, ever, right. It's just, well, this is what we do. Or how often sales bosses are thrown out discounts left and right in a straw. That's always something that amuses me is that so much of what's written is that salespeople are the one giving money away discounts. No really study the problem. The discounting starts most of the time with the manager.
[00:22:25] Because they want to hit their number. And I've, I had experienced that, right? The button, the book, you know, I had this one instance where is sort of the, one of the last times I did this. It's still pretty early in my career had this big account that was worth well over a million dollars a year to me.
[00:22:43] And had developed from scratch when the first big deals I'd ever, you know, big accounts I developed in my career like that. And we're getting to the end of the year and the customer said, well, I've got another big order coming. Um, and they were going to shut down between Christmas and new year's and the deal didn't come in and he was going to fax the order.
[00:23:00] And in fact, the order before they shut down on Christmas Eve, I was in good shape. I had more than made my number for the year, but CEO of the company. Yeah, not so much. And he was pretty freaking out. So he forced me basically a gunpoint to call the customer at home on Christmas Eve, the middle of opening presents with his kids to basically demand that he go to his home office, fax me an order, and the relationship was never the same.
[00:23:36] And they. No, it wasn't the first year, but the first real opportunity, the head, they start swapping us out there. We completely trashed that relationship is completely unnecessary and it was just, you know, for, for not a very good reason. And it's like, it's not that you want to hit your numbers. You want to hit your numbers.
[00:24:01] You don't have to resort to that behavior. And if you're dealing with customers the right way from the beginning, You're not going to have this hockey stick impact at the end of the month, you can under the quarter, you can manage it. And, um, but if you give it to it and if you refuse to modernize the way you look at selling, then you're always going to be stuck with that.
[00:24:21] And that story. I'm sure. Very common. There's many sellers that have been in a similar situation. I'm sure. Oh yeah. I mean, I mean, I had one, even in my first job that was even worse to SIM the guy who refused to fire me. Yeah. We came up against it. So my first full year on the job I had, again, another big account, I'd worked hard.
[00:24:43] I'd closed one of the bigger ones we had sold in that branch office. And the branch managers bonus was based in large part for the year was based on this contest that ran in may and June every year. So, yeah, it was primarily a hardware business at that point. So pretty much anything that wasn't nailed to the floor got shipped and he wanted a, he had, uh, an accessory an add on in the back office that he wanted to sell sold list price about 60,000.
[00:25:16] He wanted to get off his books. He didn't want his inventory at the end of his bonus spirit expires bonuses. Contest was based on lack of inventory, um, at the end of the accounting period. So yeah, he forced me to go to the customer and basically give this piece of equipment away pretty much, but the way it happened was the customer.
[00:25:38] Wasn't really happy with us at that moment. Yeah. The boss sends me and says, don't come back unless you get the order. I mean, it was serious. Don't come back. I came back after like the, the customer's office that a half a mile from mine come back after an hour or so it was like, not that I basically threw me out of his office because they're just not happy.
[00:25:59] It's not gonna spend $60,000 now. And this $60,000, then it was like quarter million dollars now. Um, and I said, yeah, he's not gonna do it. So I did this like three or four or five times during this day, I spent this whole day trying to get this order for, for the boss. Yeah. Just so he could get his bonus.
[00:26:18] In the meantime, we're just completely trashing the relationship with this customer that works so hard. Very buyer-centric approach. Yeah. Completely. But this is, this is not that far fetched. I mean, this is, this is still going on today. Oh, yeah. We'll just look at almost any company when they get 60% of their orders in a month, come in the last five days.
[00:26:45] I mean, they're counting on it. They're planning for it to be this way. And it does not have to be this way. And part of it starts in a way it really starts as how are you dealing with your buyers? Because if it's purely transactional, then they're not stupid. They know, Hey, I'll wait for the last day of the last day of the month.
[00:27:04] I'll get. Buyers almost expected. Well, they know it, so they'll wait, we've trained them. We've trained them. But if you do anything differently from the beginning, then you're not so focused on the periods, right. Where you need to close it. They're gonna get a good, good deal. Good business with this customer is gonna be a good order.
[00:27:23] And if it hits you up two days after the end of the month, so be it, you get it the next month. At a non-discounted rate. And the thing is you just have to have enough good opportunities like that in the pipeline, so that you hit the numbers you need to hit. I mean, that's, that's the whole thing is that it's not binary.
[00:27:42] You know, this is not like only way to hit our numbers is to act salesy and that's just not the case. And. It's it's, it's so common, you know, because of this end of month, end of quarter, end of year, the vast majority of people in sales are stressed out, working long hours, trying to just do exactly what you did, you know, going back and forth, forcing these orders, that to hit numbers.
[00:28:13] So sales bosses can get their bonus. Well, yeah, but I mean, in some cases though, seller serve lean on the idea that I'm just going to let the serve come to fruition in the last week, because I'm going to get that discount to help me close the deal. Uh, as opposed to saying, look, I can close this deal on the merits, right?
[00:28:33] We're going to create a great buying experience for this buyer. And we're going to differentiate our company and ourselves individually, my, how we deal with them and how we help them go through their buying. Because we know from research, whether it's, you know, Gartner CEB and the challenger sale that yeah.
[00:28:51] Uh, the majority of the criteria that buyers use to make their decision based on their buying experience. So I want to focus on creating that positive buying experience. And if I have enough of those going at one time, You know, serve idea, then it's going to suddenly turn that into a transactional, uh, piece of business in order to close in a certain week or day or whatever.
[00:29:17] So it goes out the window and you can build, you can build your business to that again. Doesn't mean things are always going to come at a time. It doesn't mean they're going to be times like everything. It's not a hundred percent, but this is the way you want to act because. There will be times when you need to bring things in.
[00:29:33] But if you have that relationship with the buyer where they know that you're there to help them, and then maybe you need a favor, then perhaps they might be in a position to do that for you.
[00:29:47] The thing is, is if you've put in all the hard work, like you mentioned in these couple of examples, right? Building the relationship, building the connection, building the rapport, building the trust, all these things that are important. And you show up as a different person the last week of the month, the last day of the month, last day of the quarter, all that work that you've done up until that goes out the window.
[00:30:08] Well, yeah. So let me just give you a perfect example of this is the importance of. The buying experience and how that can overcome difficulties. Right? So I was selling a deal to one of the major media companies in the United States. And this was for the, the first real time onboard entertainment system on airplanes and delivered via.
[00:30:37] Hmm. And so we were down, I was meeting with the senior VP of this media company with guy that worked for me. And we're not comfortable in negotiating the deal
[00:30:53] after the end of the I camera's the end of the first day or the second day I get a call from. The CEO of the company I was working for. And one of the co-founders who was also a senior executive, and this is a big deal. I mean, this was a seven figure deal today's terms, an eight figure deal. And, and they said, ah, how's it gone?
[00:31:18] I said, well, it's going nothing. We're getting there. We're making progress. It was okay. Well we, sorry. I got a problem. I saw what's that. So we were just rerunning our cost buildup for this. Cause it was a program where they were going to pay us a better for a million dollars to develop the system for them.
[00:31:38] They'd never been designed before. And then they're gonna pay us millions more to build. Put on airplanes. Hmm. And um, they say, yeah, we're just going through the cost numbers. Got we spotted in there. I said, oh really? Yeah. Uh, you start CRS coming and yeah. Where's this going to go? Well, we need to raise our prices.
[00:32:00] I said, oh, well, we serve, have done. That are just part of the negotiation already. They said, ah, yeah, well, Uh, we're going to change that because yeah, this era was so big that we're going to lose money. I said like how big said like 50%.
[00:32:21] So I had to go back into the room. Wow. Does senior VP of this large publicly traded company and say you have appears to have been a mistake made. We were doing the math and, uh, if we're gonna have to raise our price, Now he went completely non-linear as you might expect, because he had been promising the board and the CEO, this deal is going to get done and they were, they were already on the verge of also starting to advertise.
[00:32:53] They're going to have this offer this service. Yeah. I mean, Thank God. He was the only thing sharp, cause I'd probably be dead. I mean, I here to tell us the story and rightfully saw him and he just, just went off, just went off, um, and called me every name in the books and yeah, it was baiting and switching them, Bob, blah, blah, you know, all perfect from his perspective, perfectly valid.
[00:33:24] So we got basically escorted out the door little thing. Wow. But then do this later. Close the deal. But it would only have been possible to come back in and reengage based on the connections I built, the credibility I'd built, the trust I'd built. They knew it wasn't me. They knew that when trying to pull a fast on them, they knew that this was a problem that's problematic.
[00:33:52] And we came up with a joint solution that worked for both parties. Wow. But if you had made a credible story, if you had made it purely transactional, it was just dead, right? It would have been dead. But the experience it had with me and with the other people from my company up to that point had been so positive.
[00:34:11] We'd beat out several companies that were, you know, a hundred, literally a hundred times larger than us to win the deal.
[00:34:20] People want to underestimate the importance of these connections you make with other people. Yeah, these people, weren't my friends and they certainly aren't gonna be my friends after that, but there was that level of connection and rapport. And yeah, that's one of the cell in pillars we talk about, I talk about in the book, connection, curiosity, understanding generosity, I understood where they were coming from.
[00:34:44] Understood what they're trying to accomplish. It helped us come up with a solution because we really did understand each other. Um, so yeah, so bad things happen sometimes. Not because, you know, something's being forced down your throat by, by a hierarchy. But just happens cause yeah, shit happens occasionally in the peoples of this connection, in the absence of this positive crane, this positive buying experience, I suppose, just purely sort of salesy transactional way of selling that.
[00:35:14] Unfortunately, most sellers subscribed to. Yeah, the development dead. And for anybody who doesn't think that the buying experience matters, that story can maybe help convince them. Um, let's, let's take let's, let's dig into the pillars a little bit, right? Because there's a lot of, you know, I, I, myself was taught a lot of these salesy tactics that I had done learned, and I think that's pretty common for a lot of people in sales, they get whatever sales job they can.
[00:35:43] They typically. Fall into sales or it's their plan B fall back. You've heard them all, all the stories. Right, right. And they just don't know what they don't know. And they have sales bosses telling them this is how we do things. And at some point they realized this doesn't feel so good. And, and what happens when they feel that oftentimes they leave, right?
[00:36:04] They leave sales. Oftentimes they think sales is not for me. That's sales for me. And as I write about in the book, I took a different approach, which was. Instead of me working for sales, I was going to make sales work for me. And so I was bound and determined for right from the first job. Cause you know, when my reactions to my first sales training that was going on and watching the videos that were showing of the supposed role models was what human acts.
[00:36:30] This. And I wasn't going to act that way. I, I couldn't act that way. That wasn't who I was. And so if I was going to have a career in sales, I was going to find a way to sell that aligned with my, my character, my values, my strengths, as an individual and a seller's you owe it to yourself to find that path.
[00:36:52] Right. And then work somewhere that allows. Yeah. And where you work, doesn't allow you to do that, then go find another place that will cause. There are sales leaders out there that will give you the freedom to, and the autonomy to develop into the best version of yourself. And now more than ever, because employees have more leverage in the wake of the great resignation, if you will, right.
[00:37:17] Is find those, but even still demand it in the way you act. Yeah. I, I, I always serve, took. Guidance for managers as serve suggestions. Right. And I would look at it in the context of what I was trying to accomplish look at in the context of my own experiences that I developed and in the way I thought and what I thought my strengths were.
[00:37:45] And I'd say, yeah, that's something worth trying, or I don't think that part of it's going to work and you have to have. Some amount of, of courage. I got courage with a small C due to push back when it's not right. That's tough for a lot of people. It's tough for a lot of people, but no one cares about your success as much as you do.
[00:38:10] Right? I mean, sad fact of life is, you know, there are exceptional leaders out there that do care, but if you're working for a sales manager who doesn't know. One of the things that are most important for you in your life, what are you trying to accomplish? You know, what are the things that are driving you?
[00:38:28] They're motivating you. If they don't understand that about you, then it's just money. It's just money. You gotta be money motivated, which is the last thing you want to be is. So if they don't know that about you, then yeah. They don't care about your success. They're not invested in your success the way that you are.
[00:38:47] You don't always need a manager who's invested in your success, but that's the case. You need to be invested in your success and you need to take the steps you think are right. And that's, that's the path I took. And I'm not the only one there's I think all the top sellers take that path and say, yeah, I'm going to be open-minded.
[00:39:04] I'm going to take, be influenced by lots of. Yeah. Books, podcasts, speakers, yeah. Videos, all these things. I'm going to take on a filter these through. I'm going to say, yeah, that that's something I want to try. I'm going to go experiment with that. See how that works. Yeah. And then instead of having one methodology that there's never just one process as you have your own sales process that you develop within the framework of what your company is trying to do, you optimize it for you.
[00:39:32] And when you take that approach to it, Your odds of success, go up quite a bit. I mean, there's no shortage of studies have been done about how people are more productive and more creative when they have more control over the choices they make. Right? So you have to demand that, that autonomy, that agency in the choices you make about how you're going to sell.
[00:40:01] I love that because you really got to have your own experience and find what works for you. Instead of just listening to all the talking heads that are shouting off, this is the way you got to do things. Yeah. I mean, I love this book. I've just written, but a hundred percent of it's not going to be for a hundred percent of the people and that's, that's fine.
[00:40:21] Find the stuff that works for you and everything that you're consuming online or from management or wherever, filter it through. What's gonna work for you. You have to take some chances. You gotta push yourself outside your comfort zone to try new things. But it's the trying new things that get you to where you want to be.
[00:40:41] And this quote in the book, which I love, which is people listen to my podcast and I'm a huge soccer fan and talk about soccer Fairmount. But there was a quote from Bruce arena who had been the coach of the U S men's team for a number of years, and now coach of the new England revolution. But talking about Clint Dempsey, who was passionate, the greatest American soccer players, if not the greatest.
[00:41:05] And who had successful in the us and Europe. And so like a reporter asked arenas is what makes them so different from a rails and arenas answer was you try shit. And that's what you have to do as a seller. You have to try shit. Yeah. It's some will work. Some just don't accept, you know, oh, we're training you in this method.
[00:41:31] It's like, I don't care what method you are using. You've been trained in, if you're not focused on the four pillars that I talk about, that's just not going to be as effective as it could be for you. If you're not leaning into the human side of yourself and you know, these human behaviors of connecting and curiosity and understanding generosity, doesn't matter what method you're trained on.
[00:41:53] You're never going to optimized for you unless you're bringing out the human side of you. I love that perspective. And the book is definitely going to probably teach you some things that, uh, go against some things that you've maybe been hearing for for awhile now, possibly. I mean, I think for, yeah, but I think there's also, I said a lot of people, this is, this is how they've done it, right.
[00:42:18] Is you carve your own path and. As much as I think there's a emphasis overemphasis in sales. And so we're trying to make a cookie cutter easily replicable experience from seller to seller is it tends to gravitate towards the lowest common denominator. And again, that's not going to be the best buying experience.
[00:42:43] Yeah, the PE you're dealing with humans and they're just too dynamic to say, this is the silver bullet way that we're going to get things done. Yeah. Well, and I like to say is I'm one of what? Seven and a half billion people in the world. You're one of seven, a half billion people in the world when you and I have a conversation, if you're a buyer and I'm a seller that conversation's just by definition, it's not going to be like any other conversation that's ever taken place.
[00:43:07] Right. And as a seller, you have to be mindful of that. That it's it's. Oh, this, this sounds just like somebody else I talked to when you're talking to a buyer it's Hmm. What's different about this conversation and being alive to that and bringing, I said your, your curiosity to that, your desire to truly understand the buyer.
[00:43:29] And what's important to them bringing that to the conversation. That's going, gonna be a unit conversation, but you're gonna be in a unique position at that point, because one of the biggest sources of value that you as a seller can bring to a buyer. Is to make them feel understood. This is what the biggest complaint, all the studies about complaints that B2B buyers at all levels in a company have with sellers is they don't understand what we're trying to do.
[00:43:59] And thing is you don't need to Nestle know. Go ahead of time. It's good to have product knowledge. It's good to have industry knowledge, but again, the customer situation is going to be unique. They're not gonna be like all the others. So it's gonna require that you go to a deeper level to really understand what it is that's most important to them.
[00:44:17] And if you come away with that understanding, you will stand out. You will be differentiated because the customer is gonna look at that as a huge source of value. It's like, yeah, we want to work with Colin because Colin really gets it. He really understands what we're trying. And sometimes what's most important to them may have nothing to do with what you do sometimes.
[00:44:38] Sometimes. I mean, and I think that's why a lot of sellers are kind of a little scared to go down that path. Like this road may not lead back to me. Well, that's possible. Sure. Then other times. More often. I think it leads just a different perspective on what you do. That's valuable. And sometimes sellers are afraid to go there because again, as sellers, you think you need to have an answer.
[00:45:04] You don't need to have the answers. You need to have the questions, right. You need to be prepared to have. Questions, if you go, and I don't show up and not knowing the answers to questions that you should already know, but, you know, show up prepared, do your research, but asking questions is going to get you the answers that most sellers aren't going to have.
[00:45:24] And it depends how you ask them, right? I mean, if you, if you. Coming with sort of a pitch approach. And then you do some follow up question on the pitch. You've already gone down the wrong path. My personal favorite is the interrogation style, the interrogations, but you can see even the interrogation style is, is this a point of making the book is again we're training sellers.
[00:45:50] I think about it as you've you've got a playbook. Uh, you may have a scripted list of questions or you've got a list of questions that maybe your peers asking. Yeah. You also aggregated one list of questions. You typically ask buyers at any point in time, and then you don't go any deeper. So you're just collecting information.
[00:46:12] So, you know, a lot perhaps about the buyer, but what do you really understand about the buyer since this is the critical issues, you can know a lot of information about a buyer, but if you don't really understand the context of that information, if you don't understand what's driving. In every opportunity, there was one thing that's more important than all the others.
[00:46:34] And it's your job to find out what that is. What's the most important thing to the buyer. And then how do you help them get that? And I'll just give a, if you have time, you know, quick anecdote about that as sir reasonably quick anecdote is, is the no star posts with we're selling the first. Onboard.
[00:46:52] High-speed a system to the first onboard on cruise ships. High-speed internet browsing for state rooms and voiceover IP. And this, it was early days of internet. And so it was pretty revolutionary and we were competing startup. We're competing. It's, it's a big name, system integrators. Um, we got down to the final two.
[00:47:17] They narrowed down to two vendors, us and another, and then they sent out our. Final RFP. And I'm looking at all the requirements and there's hundreds of them in this compliance matrix that we had to answer. Yes or no. Do we comply or not? I turn to the saw. I said, well, we're never going to win based on this.
[00:47:35] I said, you have to go back and find out what's most important to them. What's really driving this. Right. Cause all of these requirements can't be equally important. And so he had developed a decent relationship with the CEO of the company. So he goes back, actually got on a plane, went to them, qual important.
[00:47:53] I talked to them and, um, he comes back and says, yeah, what I found out from CEO is he doesn't really care about the state room browsing on the internet and doesn't really care about voiceover over IP. What he cares about is that the satellite link connecting the onboard casinos to headquarters never goes down because he wants to know to the minute how much money he's raking in on the onboard casinos.
[00:48:16] That was his most important thing. And so we completely reshaped how we're going to respond to the proposal, to focus almost exclusively on that, how that satellite link was never going to go down there as hot backup. You know, the redundancy built in up to the wazoo. It just was never going to go down.
[00:48:33] He was always going to know we won the deal based on that, because we understood what was most important to them in that. And it wasn't, it wasn't highlighted in the RFP. In fact it was barely present. Yeah. And it's, it's, it's such a great point, right? Because knowing. Knowing things about your prospect, but not understanding them, shapes everything that you do after, right?
[00:49:00] How you respond to an RFP, how you structure a demo, how you structured the deal, all the decisions that you make after knowing certain things is going to reinforce that you truly don't understand what's most important to them. I give a little simple framework in the book about, you know, what you're gonna do, and in a discovery mode, Again, cause I, I don't think discovery happens on one occasion during deal happens.
[00:49:25] Every time you interact with a buyer should asking questions, but when you're digging down on something is oftentimes buyers or sellers will get up too soon, right? Is I'll get an answer and they'll serve accepted, which you want to do. So you want to ask some good follow-up questions in the book, but two really simple followup questions that every seller can ask, which is.
[00:49:47] Oh, that's interesting. So what else can you tell me about that? What else can you tell me about that? So powerful. What else can you tell me about that? Uh, alternatively, what's interesting. Tell me more. So you get the buyer to open up a little bit further because you're sincerely interested. You want to do you want to learn more?
[00:50:06] You want more answers, so you ask questions and which, which could lead to more questions depending on your answer. That was a quote I have in the book, which is my favorite quotes from Clayton. Uh, author of innovator's dilemma and other really fabulous books who said that, you know, answers are good.
[00:50:26] Susan questions are places in your brain where answers go. If you don't ask the questions, the answers have no place to go. I think that's a great visual circuit mind is that I'm making room for answers by asking questions. Um, but anyway, we ask your, your two follow-up questions. Three, you can ask us, oh, what else can you tell him about that?
[00:50:44] You can ask that two or three times in a row just to keep digging down, to keep sort of expanding what it is that you're hearing about and when you're learning about, and then you reach a point where it's sort of logical conclusion, you think you've got everything, you know, we train sellers all the time, reflect back to the buyer.
[00:50:58] What did you just hear? Right. Get confirmation. This is what I heard. I get that right. Then at this point, if you're still interested still in there, sellers have gone on, but there's another question you want to ask that question is when you think, you know, they've confirmed, that's exactly. You've heard that correctly.
[00:51:15] Then you ask, so what are we missing? What are we missing? It's like, boom. Right. I had explode moment for the buyer because it's like how they wrote. I think again, it's was like, oh yeah, well, yeah, let's, let's, let's get into this. You learn even more at that point. So just, yeah, one of the key lessons, just when you think you're done asking the questions, there's it also shows wow.
[00:51:46] He or she really cares like care and it's your own sort of. Perceptive, right. Oh, they know that there's more there. Right, right. And it's just, it's another conversation trigger and that's what you want. Well, this has been a lot of fun. Uh, Andy, thanks so much for coming on. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:52:10] Absolutely tell people where, how can they get. Into the cell without selling out universe, the universe make it sound like the Marvel universe. Um, yeah, we don't know action figures yet, but then we might do that. So, yeah, start to start a cert two or three ways. One is you can come to Andy paul.com and when you're there, you can download the free first chapter of the book.
[00:52:36] Uh, so to give you a little bit of a teaser of what's to come, uh, certain, like if people pre-order the book that seems to and do that Amazon and the other place that you like to order your books book coming on February 22nd, you can follow me on LinkedIn. Uh, cause I am present there fair to a fair degree.
[00:52:56] Um, and, um, listen to my podcast sales enablement with Andy Paul, we have just over a thousand episodes. So get a few under your belt. Yeah, we got you. We've done this a little a couple of times, so we will drop the links there in the show notes for everybody. If you enjoyed today's episode, please write us a review.
[00:53:17] Share the show with your friends really does help us out, and we're always listening for your feedback. You can drop me a voice firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get back to you. Hey you stuff. That tells me you're serious about your own sales transformation. If you're tired of doing things the old way and want to get started in your journey with other people on the same path, head over to sales, cast.community, and crush your numbers on your leaderboard.
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