Why Your Customers SUCK At BUYING… (It’s NOT Your Fault)

Jeffrey Lipsius is the president of Selling To The Point and developed the Selling To The Point methodology during his 30-years of sales training experience.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Jeffrey shares why it’s not always your selling skill that holds deals back, it’s also your customer’s buying skillset too. This episode is perfect if you’re putting together a sales plan and you want to increase your selling effectiveness.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Jeffrey Lipsius
Sales Training Expert

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Salespeople can say all the right things, and still lose the sale, because the customer’s buying performance is more important than the salesperson’s selling performance. And it’s going to be a lot of situations when you’re a salesperson that you’re going to be talking to a customer, and you’re doing everything you planned to do, but it doesn’t seem to be falling right because of some flaw in the customer’s decision process.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation. I’m Will Barron, host of the Salesman Podcast, the world’s most listened to B2B sales show. If you haven’t already, make sure to click subscribe. And with that, let’s meet today’s guest.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Hello, my name’s Jeffrey Lipsius, and I’m a sales trainer here in Los Angeles, California. What I do is unique in that I teach salespeople how to help their customer’s buying performance, rather than working on the salesperson’s selling performance. So, my philosophy is that the goal of selling is buying, so salespeople really should be able to make a difference in the quality of their customer’s decision process.

 

Will Barron:

On this episode of the show, with Jeffrey, we’re diving into how we can become a decision coach, what the heck that actually means, how we need to essentially prioritise our buyer’s performance over our own selling performance, and a whole lot more. So, with that, let’s jump right in.

 

Is Our Goal as Salespeople to Coach the Prospect Into Making the Decision or Do We Just Need to Provide the Right Information and Let Them Make the Decision on Their Own? · [01:25] 

 

Will Barron:

Is our goal to help to coach the prospect to making a decision, or is our goal to give them a tonne of information, a tonne of marketing material, dump it on their lap, and then walk out of the room and go and have a coffee?

 

“Salespeople can say all the right things and still lose the sale because the customer’s buying performance is more important than the salesperson selling performance. And it’s going to be a lot of situations when you’re a salesperson that you’re going to be talking to a customer, and you’re doing everything you planned to do, but it doesn’t seem to be falling right because of some flaw in the customer’s decision process.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [02:12] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Well, the issue you’re raising is selling performance versus buying performance. Which is more important? Because if you’re going to dump a lot of information onto a customer, it could be all the right information, but if it isn’t received well because the customer has a bad buying performance, maybe they’re distracted, maybe they’re confused, maybe they’re unsure of goals, it’s going to fall flat, and you’ll lose the sale. And this is what I really want to get across today, Will, is that salespeople can say all the right things and still lose the sale, because… And it’s happened all the time. The customer’s buying performance is more important than the salesperson selling performance. And it’s going to be a lot of situations when you’re a salesperson that you’re going to be talking to a customer, and you’re doing everything you planned to do, but it doesn’t seem to be falling right because of some flaw in the customer’s decision process. You’re going to need to transition from focusing on your selling performance, that’s going fine, things still aren’t working, and transition over to focusing on the customer’s buying performance. That’s where I come in. That’s what Selling to the Point is all about. The point of selling is buying.

 

What Percentage of Buyers Have a Buying Decision-making Process and What Percentage Needs to be Coached Into Making a Decision? · [03:14] 

 

Will Barron:

I don’t know if there’s data on this, so I won’t put you on the spot by asking specifically about it, but you may have anecdotally data on this, of what percentage of buyers do have a process to making their decisions, and what percentage of them needs to be step by step coached? Or, I guess, what percentage of buyers are buying products and services for the first time versus what percent of people are we engaging with who are perhaps professional buyers or procurement individuals?

 

“Decision-making is a performance activity like sports or acting. And a customer will have a good decision performance sometimes, and sometimes their decision performance will be lacklustre. And performance, for whatever reason, is negatively impacted by three main things. It’s either lack of confidence, lack of a clear goal, or self-limiting beliefs.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [03:46] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Well, let’s get it down to the basics, okay? Decision-making, which is what we’re talking about here, is a performance activity like sports or acting. And a customer will have a good decision performance sometimes, and sometimes their decision for performance will be just lacklustre. And performance, for whatever reason, is negatively impacted by three main things. It’s either lack of confidence, lack of a clear goal, or self-limiting beliefs. And I’m taking this from the school of coaching known as Inner Game, which was founded by Timothy Gallwey, who is my mentor who helped me develop Selling to the Point. And he’s also known as the father of modern coaching. And what he showed me to do was how to coach customers to make better decisions by eliminating one of these three obstacles, okay?

 

“If the customer lacks confidence in their ability as a decision-maker, they’re going to have a compromise to their decision-making quality. And the salesperson could be as trustworthy as possible but if the customer doesn’t trust themselves to decide if they could trust the salesperson, you’re not going to get the sale.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [05:29] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Now, here’s the counterintuitive way to apply these principles. When I say confidence, any salesperson is going to say, “Oh, yeah, I need to earn the customer’s confidence. I need the customer to be confident that what I’m saying is true, they can trust me.” That’s external confidence. What I’m talking about is internal confidence. It’s the customer’s self-confidence in their ability to make a good decision. If the customer lacks confidence in their ability as a decision-maker, they’re going to have a compromise to their decision-making quality. And the salesperson could be as trustworthy as possible. If the customer doesn’t trust themselves to decide if they could trust the salesperson, you’re not going to get the sale.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Decision making is inner, it’s internal. It’s going on between the customers ears. You have two conversations with every sale, the conversation going on between the salesperson and customer, and that’s external. Unfortunately, that’s what traditional sales training focuses on, that external conversation between salesperson and customer. But there’s a second conversation. Conversation B is going on between the customers ears. It’s called decision making. And lack of confidence, lack of goals, self-limiting beliefs could all interfere.

 

“Instead of worrying about yourself and your performance, notice the level of the customer’s self-confidence. They’re humans. They’re not infallible. They need to trust themselves to make a good decision. They have self-limiting beliefs, and they need clear goals. And that’s why I say salespeople are really a customer’s decision coach to help elevate the quality of the decision the customers make.” – Jeffrey Lisius · [07:03] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

So, getting back to your question specifically, what a salesperson would do is, first thing, you have to empathise that the customer has the same self doubts that you do. And the customer has the same distractions and challenges that you, the salesperson, do. So, instead of worrying about yourself and your performance, notice the level of the customer’s self-confidence. They’re humans. They’re not infallible. They need to trust themselves to make a good decision. They need… They have self-limiting beliefs. And they need clear goals. And that’s why I say salespeople are really a customer’s decision coach to help elevate the quality of the decision the customers make. Kind of a long answer, but…

 

How to Uncover if the Buyer Has Self-limiting Beliefs? · [08:16] 

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. And this is seemingly far… This is interesting, far more fundamental than the question I thought I was going to be asking going down the route of buyers’ processes, because obviously that’s external. That’s probably dumped onto them by whoever did the job before them. It could be paperwork, especially for a procurement officer. And people that I’ve dealt with in the past, it was always, well, we have seven steps of the buying process. But we’re going a level deeper than all of that here. So, with that said, and this is interesting, I don’t think we ever talked about this on the show, the limiting… We’ve talked about our own limiting beliefs many times, but how do we know if a buyer has a limiting belief on the scope of the project, or the fact that we’re going to help them with their career, and they might be trying to self sabotage themselves because of numerous reasons? How do we uncover all of this, perhaps through phone conversations, or sit down meetings with the potential buyer?

 

“Salespeople are in the choice business. We’re in the business of increasing the range of options that a customer can solve their problems with.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [09:07]

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Well, it’s a matter of being observant. Really listening to what the customer has to say. And during the course of your interaction with the customer, you can get a sense of self-limiting, does the customer have a self-limiting belief? And this is really basic and critical for a salesperson. Because when you think about it, well, salespeople are in the choice business. We’re in the business of increasing the range of options that a customer can solve their problems with. So, if a customer has a self-limiting belief, I’m really not happy with my process. But this is the way we’ve been doing it, and so this is how I’m going to keep doing it.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

There’s an expression, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to get what you got. That’s talking about a self-limiting belief that a customer could have. Oh, it would be such a hassle to switch over, so even though I’m not getting what I need, I’m not willing to drop what I’m doing and start a whole new project, definitely improving my capacity. That’s a self-limiting belief. And as salespeople, what we’re doing is providing a greater range of options that the customer could solve their problems. That’s almost the definition of what a salesperson is. We’re a deliverer of options. We provide new possibilities. And so, self-limiting beliefs that customers have are such an opportunity for us as salespeople to really come to their aid and provide true value.

 

How to Set up a Coaching Environment Where the Customer Knows You’re On Their Side in Terms of the Quality of a Decision · [11:08] 

 

Will Barron:

So, we’ll use this context and this framework then, of someone has a self-limiting belief that it’s going to be a lot of work to implement the project. And perhaps there will be some upside to the far end of it, but they’re thinking, maybe I will be in this buying role or middle management role for the next five years, so I’m not really going to see the upside of this, or there’s ways they’re rationalising this belief deeper down in their subconscious, conscious, whatever it is. How do we then start to unravel this belief that they have other than just given them over options? Because if someone’s entrenched in a belief, they’re going to have cognitive dissonance that they are correct, and then perhaps not even going to take anything else seriously. How do we get them to see the other options, and then perhaps even can await them appropriately?

 

“The biggest source of the negative stigma assigned to salespeople is the fact that a lot of salespeople are not working with their customers as a team. The salesperson just wants to get the sale. The customer knows that. The customer wants to make the best decision. Two different goals. If you have two different goals, you’re not going to be working together.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [12:19] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Well, great question. And the first thing, Will, is that you, as the salesperson, set up a coaching environment, where you want the customer to understand that your goal is to help them make the best decision, whatever that’s going to be, okay? That’s very important. And if you, as a salesperson, are dedicated to the quality of the customer’s decision, you’re working with your customer as a team. Because that’s also the customer’s goal, is to make the best decision, whatever that decision is. So, if the salesperson and customer are aligned that way, you have teamwork. And I believe, this is an aside, but the biggest source of the negative stigma assigned to salespeople is the fact that a lot of salespeople are not working with their customers as a team. The salesperson just wants to get the sale. The customer knows that. The customer wants to make the best decision. Two different goals. If two different goals, you’re not going to be working together. So, that’s the first thing, is set up a coaching environment where the customer knows you’re on their side in terms of the quality of decision making.

 

Jeffrey Explains How Salespeople Can Work with the Buyer to Make the Right Buying Decision · [12:50] 

 

Will Barron:

And how do we do that, Jeffrey? And I’m sorry to interrupt there, but I think this is a really important point of, perhaps we go into a conversation genuinely believing that we want to set things up and become… Have a partnership with that individual. But they have, for right or wrong, they have a stigma, there’s a stereotype. They’ve got misconceptions. They’ve dealt with a previous salesperson, perhaps who are new to the territory or the customer, and they were a complete idiot. So, we’ve got to break through those characteristics. How do we… And this might be a conversation in itself, so we don’t need to get too deep into it. But how do we set ourselves up, as figuratively sitting on the same side of the table as the prospect as opposed to sitting opposite and battling with them in negotiation?

 

“In reality, the customer doesn’t care about the salesperson. The customer cares about their decision and themselves. So, unless you, as a salesperson, give them a reason to be suspicious by over-trying to earn their trust, then the person thinks there must be a reason why you’re trying so hard.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [13:46] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Yeah, actually, Will, it’s not a conversation by itself, because it’s very simple. The salesperson just gets out of the way. In reality, the customer doesn’t care about the salesperson. The customer cares about their decision and themselves. So, unless you, as a salesperson, give them a reason to be suspicious by over-trying to earn their trust, kind of paradoxical there, but if you’re trying to earn someone’s trust, then there might be a reason… Then the person thinks there must be a reason why you’re trying so hard. The customer is just going to focus on the decision at hand, and focus on the problem they’re facing, and focus on personal solution. So, unless you give the customer a reason to doubt you, they’re going to be focused on their own thing. And I find that time and time again, it’s not even the subject you need to bring up.  

 

Will Barron:

Cool, so I interrupted you then. I don’t know if you can remember the train of thought that you were on, Jeffrey.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Yeah. So, once you’ve set up the coaching environment, then you can bring the customer to a higher level of awareness. Because a self-limiting belief is simply a lack of seeing other options for whatever reason, okay? Usually the reason is fear. Usually the reason is self doubt. I’m not able to put all my projects aside to get this thing done. And you begin asking coaching questions. A really basic one, and I teach this in my online course, and I teach this in my workshops, how to ask these coaching questions in a way that help improve the customer’s decision making, how do you know that you don’t have enough time to set your projects aside? Or another one is, how much time is it going to take if you don’t do it? Let’s look at if you decide to put this aside, what’s that going to look like if you don’t make this choice?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

And those are just a couple examples of things you could do as a decision coach to help customers along with the process of seeing that your product does provide a viable option for them to find solutions. And by the way, Will, I just want to say one thing that I get a lot of feedback from people I train, that this doesn’t just help them professionally in their selling situation, but as human beings, we all care about the quality of the decisions that people around us are making. Whether we have kids, whether we’re teaching people, we want people around us that we care about to make better decisions. And so, a lot of these coaching questions and these skills that I’m proposing, the people I train say it helps them in other areas of their life besides just selling.

 

All Sales Conversations Should Be Aimed at Increasing a Buyer’s Options · [17:09]  

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. And just so I’m clear on this, it seems like salespeople spend a lot of time building one pathway. If there’s a world of parallel universes, and different decisions takes off in different directions, we spend a lot of time doing the pathway of, here is the ROI that you’re going to receive. Here’s the amount of time it’s going to take. Makes total sense, right? In a cheesy, leading question like that at the end of it. So, is the goal here to go, well, that’s one option you’ve got, do the same for not taking action, do the same for, I guess, maybe the worst case scenario of not taking action and shit hits the fan halfway down the timeline, and this is the end, end result. Is that what we’re doing here to open people’s eyes to potentially different options of just giving them the different pathways and making it visual for them?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

In the example we’re using, yes. It would be helping evolve the customer’s awareness, so they could see a greater range of possibilities why each course of action is a decision. When somebody doesn’t do something, they’re making a decision not to do something, and what are the consequences of that? So, customers can see, with the salespersons help, just what are going to be the different consequences of the various decisions that are at the customer’s disposal.

 

How to Improve a Buyer’s Confidence in Their Decision-making Abilities and Essentially Nudge Them Towards Making the Right Decision · [18:42]

 

Will Barron:

So, how does a lack of confidence fall into this, in that perhaps there’s multiple stages to this clearly, but in our example, perhaps stage one is they have a limiting belief. So, we have showed them one way, another way, a worst case scenario, and they’re leaning towards, yes, what you’re saying, well, Jeffrey, makes total sense. We should invest now and reap the rewards later. But then there’s something holding them back. It’s their confidence of perhaps being an innovator when they’ve not been known as an innovator of any organisation, or there’s other things pulling other tails here. How do we factor in a lack of confidence when they know the scenario that we’re outlaying to them is probably the correct scenario? How do we kind of… I was going to use the word push them over the hump, but that might be too direct. How do, I guess, up their levels of confidence so they can make the correct decision?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Yeah. Well, self doubt, the customer’s self doubt, in your case, you’re saying that the customer doesn’t feel that they’re willing to take on a new higher role, that they’re not capable of doing that. And so, you would just actually want to explore as a salesperson what the customer’s rationale is for their self-limiting… For their lack of confidence. Actually, what you’re describing might be another self-limiting belief, because they don’t believe that they could be an expert in the field like we’re suggesting that they could be. But there’s different ways of having the customer feel more confident about their decision making ability, which is what I’m talking about here, which usually is to ask the customer if they have ways of being able to see whether the decision was the right one or not. What was the history of making decisions like this in the past? Did they learn from a mistake? Do they think they would repeat a mistake? Or do they have a better sense of observation now that they can see if something isn’t going well, or in the end, they could make a learning pattern out of it by tracking the results and seeing that, okay, this is going in the right direction. As time goes on, I can continue to improve the quality of the decisions we make.

 

How Does Coaching a Customer Into Making the Right Decision Play Out When Dealing with a Cold Sale? · [21:25] 

 

Will Barron:

How does that look? Because that makes total sense, right? And I feel like if we could get a lot of our customers to lie down on a chair, and we could chat with them for 20 minutes, we’d get to the bottom of this very quickly. But how does this look in a… And maybe all this works superly well, in an account based… If you’re trying to grow an account, if you’ve got the relationships already, people are open to sharing information with you so you can analyse information and see if things are a good fit. How does this work from more of a cold sale, where there’s no relationship, or there’s only what’s been built in the past two, three months of conversations. And there is less trust, perhaps, because I feel like the barrier to entry here is getting people to open up to you so you can try and coach them, as opposed to the coaching process, we can discuss it and narrow that down, but we’re not in control of how open people are to us.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Yeah, the beauty, though, is when you’re asking questions, when you’re asking good questions that are appropriate to the stage of the relationship that you’re in, that they’re innocuous questions that aren’t going to challenge the customer, but at the same time, show the customer that you’re really concerned about the quality of decision they’re making, customers stop. The questions get customers to stop and think. And that’s what you want. Because that’s where the relationship really develops between you and your customer, that you’re able to have the customer self-reflect. And asking questions about them, something that’s important to the customer that’s in response to what you just heard them say is going to get the customer to introspect, which is what you as a salesperson want. Because like I said, the decision process is internal for the customer. So, their answers, their agreement to buy is also going to be internal.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

And by the way, any interference to buying is also going to be internal. It’s not that the salesperson said something bad or wrong so much as something interfered with the customer’s ability to make a good decision that probably had a lot more to do with the customer than the salesperson. Now, I can tell you that I’ve had experiences where I didn’t trust the salesperson I talked to, or I didn’t like them, or I didn’t think they were particularly informed, but I bought the product from them anyway, because I thought it was a better product. This happened just a week ago, because I’m a vitamin expert, I used to have a vitamin company. And I walked into a store, and I was talking to somebody at the vitamin section of the store, who I could tell right away didn’t know a thing. But being a vitamin expert, I could just walk over to the shelf and pick out the product I wanted. And I ended up buying it in spite of my feelings about the salesperson. Because although I didn’t trust the salesperson’s selling performance, I trusted my own buying performance. And I had my internal confidence as a vitamin buyer was very high. And so, the salesperson got the sale anyway.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

It’s not about the salesperson. It’s not about us. I’m sorry. It’s about the customer. And this, by the way, Will, is why I wrote my book in the form of a fiction novel, as a story with a plot, it’s got romance. I didn’t want to teach the principles. I wanted them to emerge from dialogues between the customer so salespeople could learn from conversation and see how you do that by reading the book.

 

Why We Need to be Thinking About the Customer’s Needs First as Opposed to Thinking About Ourselves During a Sales Conversation · [25:20]

 

Will Barron:

So we’ll come on to the goal side of this triangle in a second, Jeffrey. And I feel like I might be part of the problem with this next question. But are we bigging ourselves up as salespeople to be more than what we need to be to get the job done? What I mean by that is, I’m constantly, you’re banging on about, we should be doing this, and we need to have these elements, we need to be confident, we need to work on this, we need to improve ourselves. But if it isn’t really about us, and there’s one skillset here in coaching that seems to be more important than perhaps all the rest of the other stuff, this foundational stuff, as you will be well aware of, of eating good foods. You’ve got the energy to be able to put up with someone if they’re being a terrible coaching client of yours. So, clearly, there’s fundamental elements of all this, which we touch on regularly on the show. But am I part of the problem perhaps then of getting everyone amped up and excited and ready to hit the phones and go meet people, when what we need to do is perhaps be more calm and collected, and just put the customer first as opposed to be thinking all about us?

 

“It’s the customer’s performance that ultimately determines the salesperson’s success. And as a sales manager, when you’re talking to an under-producing salesperson, instead of asking them what they’re going to do differently, ask them why their customers aren’t making the best decisions.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [26:39] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

The answer’s yes, it’s not about you. It’s about the customer. If the customer buys, regardless of what you say, when you deposit that commission check in the bank, the teller is not going to ask you, “Well, who’s responsible for the sale? You or your customer?” Okay? It’s the customer’s performance that ultimately determines the salesperson’s success. And as a sales manager, and I would invite other sales managers to do this too, when you’re talking to an under-producing salesperson, instead of asking them what they’re going to do differently, ask them why their customers aren’t making the best decisions. I want you to go back out in the field, and this time, report back to me your customers’ decision process and rationale for not buying my product. And I want you to have a better understanding of that. Why are your customers chronically not performing so well as decision makers?

 

Jeffrey Reveals How the Buyer’s Decision-making Process Impacts the Eventual Outcome of the Sale · [27:28]

 

Will Barron:

Is this a question that we should be asking ourselves after every decision, not every call or meeting perhaps, but after a decision has been made, when we input it into the CRM of lost or won business? Should we be taking a moment just to reflect on not necessarily even what went right and what went wrong, because we know what went right or wrong, because they did or didn’t buy. But should we be reflecting on what the customer’s rationale was, of what they thought their perceptions of what went good and bad within the conversation in the sales process?

 

“When I’m training salespeople, I tell the salesperson, “Okay, don’t worry about selling the customer. What I want you to do is just be able to take notes after the call that’s going to be of most benefit to a closer who’s going to come in later.” And what happens is it relaxes the salesperson. They no longer feel responsible, increases their ability to observe, and in the process, they usually get the sale because they’re more relaxed, they’re not over-trying, and they’re able to observe enough buying cues.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [28:49] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

To the best that you can, but that’s going to be difficult, because that internal decision making conversation is silent. We don’t know, ultimately, why the customer decided to buy or not buy. It’s happened all the time, where I’ve talked to salespeople, I end up buying something, and I know they don’t know the real reason why I bought. It doesn’t matter. They bought. So, I think a good exercise is to think and observe in terms of. what’s going to help a new salesperson who would take over this account for me? So, if I was talking to a customer, and I actually do this in exercises when I’m training salespeople, who the salesperson happens to be nervous because I’m listening, and I tell the salesperson, “Okay, don’t worry about selling the customer. What I want you to do is just be able to take notes after the call that’s going to be of most benefit to a closer, who’s going to come in later.”

 

“To be a good sales person, to have a good selling performance, we need to learn. And we learn from observation. We observe from the interaction with our customer.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [30:03] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

And what happens is it relaxes the salesperson. They no longer feel responsible, increases their ability to observe, and in the process, they usually get the sale. Because they’re more relaxed, they’re not over-trying, and they’re able to observe enough buying cues that the salesperson can follow through with the response that ends up getting the customer to buy after all. So, it’s really about the salesperson’s ability to observe. We observe by learning, and we learn, and we perform by learning. So, to be a good sales person, to have a good selling performance, we need to learn. And we learn from observation. We observe from the interaction with our customer. Is the customer confident? Is the customer have a clear goal? Is the customer have self-limiting beliefs? Do they feel empowered to make different options? If a customer says I can’t buy without my husband here, then that’s self-limiting belief, and it has to be coached. Perhaps this kind of decision, your husband would appreciate you making without him.

 

“Salespeople really need to be observant as far as what the customer’s needs are, both in terms of product knowledge, but also in terms of personal ability to make a good decision.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [30:53] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

So, it just depends on the situation. But salespeople really need to be observant as far as what the customer’s needs are, both in terms of product knowledge, but also in terms of personal ability to make a good decision.

 

Does Coaching a Buyer into Making the Right Decisions Revolve Around Helping Them Set Clear Goals? · [31:08]  

 

Will Barron:

With regards to the goal element of this, Jeffrey, how much of the battle is helping the customer or potential customer come to a very clear goal, versus you’re getting the best goal that is possibly right for them, if that makes sense? How much of it is then just being crystal clear in what they want to achieve, which is part of the coaching process, versus giving them a bunch of options and then ramping up, this option’s better than that one, and making the goal bigger and brighter and better as a big ball of sun, versus just being very clear in what we’re trying to achieve?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Yeah, it really depends. You really find that out during the interaction with the customer by asking the questions in terms of how much the goal really means for them. Yeah, I could have made lots and lots of money in the vitamin company. But this sales training business was much more important to me personally. So, I made a choice. If a salesperson is making assumptions about what my goal should be, or what my goal is going to be, which is to make the most money, I’d be getting in an argument with them about what I really want, and what I’m really trying to achieve. So, you really have to go with the customer’s feelings, the customer’s conviction. Because ultimately, you want what I call a sustainable sale.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

When I talk about a high quality decision, coaching customers to make high quality decisions, one of the aspects of a high quality decision is that it’s sustainable. And what I mean is that the decision lasts beyond the salesperson’s visit. And this gets back to an original question you asked me, Will, where you were saying, oh, what about a salesperson who’s projecting all this enthusiasm and an excitement and dynamic? Well, that’s great when the salesperson’s in front of the customer. But then that dynamic salesperson leaves, and a lot of times, the enthusiasm leaves with the salesperson, because the customer didn’t internalise. It didn’t really… They bought, but they didn’t buy in. And if the customer doesn’t buy in, you can’t rely on the customer taking independent initiative if the salesperson’s no longer there.

 

“As salespeople, we really don’t look so much at the importance of our customers taking independent initiative after we leave. For the customer to reorder the product, refer that product to others, to recommend the product, to talk about it on social media, to give it a good review, that’s something that has to happen without the salesperson being in front of the customer. So, there’s a lot of things that salespeople have to rely on customers to do without the salesperson present. And they’re more likely to happen if you get the customer to not just buy, but also get them to buy in. And you do this by listening very carefully, and weaving your selling points in response to their convictions, and their beliefs, and the customer’s goals, and the customer’s values.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [34:00] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

As salespeople, we really don’t look so much at the importance of our customers taking independent initiative after we leave. It’s ignored. For the customer to reorder the product, that has to be done when the salesperson’s not present. For the customer to refer that product to others, to recommend the product, to talk about it on social media, to give it a good review, that’s something that has to happen without the salesperson being in front of the customer. For the customer to tell competitors, “I’m not interested, because I have this other product that I like better,” this is something that has to happen without the salesperson being present. So, there’s a lot of things that salespeople have to rely on customers to do without the salesperson present. And they’re more likely to happen if you get the customer to not just buy, but also get them to buy in. And you do this by listening very carefully, and weaving your selling points in response to their convictions, and their beliefs, and the customer’s goals, and the customer’s values.

 

Will Barron:

This makes total sense.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

[inaudible 00:35:28].

 

Will Barron:

This makes total sense.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Okay.

 

Buying Decisions are Based on Feelings and Not Logic or Thoughts · [35:32] 

 

Will Barron:

And there’s a thread here that I want to wrap up the show with, Jeffrey, as we go, because I love all the psychology behind the background of things. And I think there’s something really important here, because I can imagine the scenario that you’re talking about, where this super flashy dude or girl rocks up in the nice car, and they walk in the office, and this weird visualisation I’m having as I go through this, they’re really good looking, and everyone’s going, “Oh, who’s that dude or woman?” And they come in, and they crush it, amazes me in, everyone’s so excited. They’re pumped up, they’re happy. They leave, and then there’s some kind of crisis within the organisation an hour later, everyone forgets about all that. And if there’s not a clear message that’s been left, they’re then looking back at the marketing materials that were just dumped on the desk at the beginning of the conversation and go, “Do we really need this? Who is that that person?”

 

Will Barron:

I know myself. I forget stuff. I make a decision, I’m going to commit to X, Y, Z, and then two days later, I’ve totally forgotten about what I was going to do, and I have to use my journal is a real good tool for me from this as a side note of, Friday, I committed to eating X, Y, Z next week, and training jujitsu four times a week, rather than three times a week. Monday morning comes around, and if I didn’t have my journal word, committed it to myself, even just sleeping once, it all disappears. So, I appreciate all this. It makes total sense. So, if we need to see what someone’s goals are, we need to understand what the meaning is behind them. Essentially, I feel like we need to understand what the motivators are. So, I’m going to ask you in a second of, are there any underlying motivators? Is there a framework of them that we can look at, because that will then tie into everything else?

 

Will Barron:

And I know for me, I’ll totally butcher this now, but I had someone on the show recently who said there was, the general motivators are money, meeting, so partners, you can make of that what you will, essentially fame, and then legacy. So, I’m butchering what the guest called them, the… Is that a good framework for what we should be looking at when we are looking for the underlying motivators of an individual, or are there other things there, or would you take anything away from it?

 

“Any decision is ultimately based upon a feeling. And so, the more you can get customers in touch with their feelings and have decisions be less cerebral, the better off as a salesperson you are, because you’ll get down to the root of what’s going to be their motivation.” – Jeffrey Lipsius · [38:32] 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Well, I agree that decisions are really based upon feelings rather than thoughts, in terms of any decision somebody makes, and you can eventually get it down to a decision that’s feeling based. So, if I say to somebody, “Why are you buying this widget?” And the person would say, “Well, because it’s less expensive than the other ones.” And what would that do for you? What would that do for you? It’ll get the boss off my back. Well, what would do that do for you? Well, it would give me peace. I’d be able to relax. What would that do for you? Maybe I’ll get a promotion and get my father to pat me on the back. Whatever. Any decision is ultimately based upon a feeling.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

And so, the more you can get customers in touch with their feelings and have decisions be less cerebral, the better off as a salesperson you are, because you’ll get down to the root of what’s going to be their motivation. And I don’t think you could break it down that simply into just a couple basic feelings, or it might not be appropriate when you’re selling a better screwdriver to be talking to them about their love life. How’s this screwdriver going to help with that? But you do want to talk about the underlying meaning, the underlying value that this product that you’re offering is going to provide for them in the long term in terms of maybe a greater goal than just making this decision today. I agree with that.

 

Will Barron:

Got it. Makes total sense. And if anyone is ever tried to sell me anything, I think probably my highest or the most important thing to me on a deep down level of all of this is probably freedom. So, obviously, money ties into that, but I’m less bothered about having $20 million in the bank account than I am of having $5 million in the bank out and not being tied to a corporate sales role or whatever it is. Clearly, that’s why I’ve started the show, and I try to build the audience and do that side of things. You can add other things on to that as well and level it up. But I feel like deep underneath it, it’s freedom. And if someone knew that, and they’re trying to coach me towards making a good decision, they would go… The final question would be essentially, does investing in this help you achieve that that goal?

 

Jeffrey Explains why Decision-making is Never Influenced by One Particular Trigger · [40:20]

 

Will Barron:

Then it becomes, what I’ve got now here is, do we need to get to the point where it becomes a binary decision of, yes, that helps me hit this super baseline trigger, or do we not need it to be so binary? Do need to give people a little bit of space to make the decision themselves, even if it’s happening in their subconscious, and it’s bubbling up to their conscious? Are we trying to get to the point of, why, why, why, why, why? Oh, this is the right answer. Or are we trying to get to three levels deep, and then allowing them to make their own decision, if that makes sense?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Yeah, it depends on the person. Decision making’s hardly a binary choice. For example, there’s a lot of times when I know purchasing something would make my life easier, but it’s too expensive, so I’m going to have to put it off. Just because I like a product, just because I’m convinced it’s a good product doesn’t mean necessarily I’m going to buy it. I could have a self-limiting belief for whatever reason that I need to get this purchase agreed by somebody else, or whatever the self-limiting belief might be, that makes me decide not to buy in spite of how much I like the product. So, it’s never really binary.

 

The Difference Between a Buyer’s Self-limiting Beliefs and a Buyer Who’s Just Following Organisational Protocols · [41:43]

 

Will Barron:

Final thing on this, because I’m conscious of time, Jeffrey, and you’ve said something really interesting then that I hadn’t picked up before. What’s the difference between, or when is one or the other the difference between a self-limiting belief and just a hard fact of, we’re on the phone, and someone goes, “Oh, Barry, my boss’s boss needs to sign off on anything over 20 grand.” That could potentially be a self-limiting belief of, if you’ve never tried to get the deal done without asking Barry, you might find everyone else in the organisation is doing it, and you’re the only one sticking to the rules. Or it might mean they’re going to get sacked if they don’t ask Barry to sign it off before they get on with it. So, how do we know the difference… Without asking an obvious question of, is that a fact, is that really true, how do we coach someone to know the difference between a self-limiting belief and then a hardline fact that may derail the whole thing?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Well, ask them how they know. Just ask them to question the assumption. It could be an assumption, or it could be based on hardline fact, well, that’s how I got this job, is that Joan didn’t ask Barry, and she got fired, and I got this job because… So, it all depends on the specifics of the conversation. The main thing is, if you’re a good observer, if you’re listening, if you’re caring, you can’t go wrong.

 

How to Take Over a Competitor’s Account by Helping Buyers Make Better Decisions · [43:10] 

 

Will Barron:

I love it. And we’ll wrap up with this. This is a conversation on its own, for sure. This seems like the perfect approach to take, or at least attempt to take someone else’s account from them, in that we cover a lot, and it’s a focus to me moving forward to do a mix of both of these. But I always talk about on the show, is cold calling, cold emailing, cold outreach, web to referral, whatever it is, but an account which isn’t using a product or service from us or our competitors, this seems like… It’s happened from right here, Jeffrey, a real good, gentle approach, which you’re not going to piss anyone off, you’re adding value during the conversation to go into a competitor’s account and say, “Hey, I’m just here to help. You’ve agreed to give us 20 minutes to have this conversation. Let’s see if perhaps I can…” And maybe you don’t say this, but you’re saying it to yourself, “I can question some of your assumptions and see if there’s a greener grass on the other side of switching services.” This seems like a good framework to go about that. Is that something that this can be used for?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Oh, sure, because that customer had a decision process to decide to go with your competitor too. So, learn a little bit more about that process. How did that go? Looking back on it from the lens that you’ve given your customers now in terms of better decision making, was that such a good decision? And maybe the customer has an option to make a switch if it’s in their best interest. That’s the important thing, is what’s going to work for the customer. That’s what we have to be always focused on as salespeople.

 

Jeffrey’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [44:50]

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, I’ve asked you this question before, Jeffrey, I’m going to ask you again, and that is, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you’d give him to help him become better at selling?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

The answers that you’re looking for are going to come from a direction that you’re not aware of now, okay? Just stay aware and open to greater possibilities, because when they present themselves, you want to just be able to seize the moment. And if you’re distracted, or have your own self-limiting belief, you’re going to miss the opportunities that are going to really make the kind of life that you set out for yourself. So, be aware.

 

Will Barron:

How much do we get in our own way, not just with sales, with business, with life, with our careers over the… Not the months, but perhaps the decades, how much do we just get in our own way, and not see when someone is trying to give us a helping hand, or there’s something clear as day in front of us, and we don’t take that opportunity?

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Constantly. At any moment, we have opportunities that are in front of us that we get in our way and don’t always take. And some, we could look back and have regrets or whatever. But there’s always more that are in front of us and ahead of us. And they’re not going to come necessarily from where we’re expecting them to come from. So, we just have to be aware, we just have to be present in this moment, because any moment has unmatched potential.

 

Parting Thoughts · [47:11] 

 

Will Barron:

Good. The reason I asked that was that as we’re going for this conversation, I’m thinking more and more, I make some stupid decisions. I could probably do a lot of this on myself again in the moment as opposed to regretting things or looking into the future, things I can’t control. A lot of what we talked about, it seems that we could do this in the moment to make bad decisions and create better lives for ourselves on the bigger picture. So, I appreciate the multi-levelness of this, Jeffrey. And with that, mate, tell us a little bit about the book, and then tell us about the online training as well. Perfect. 

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Well, yes, as I mentioned, my book is actually, I believe, the only sales book that’s written in the form of a fiction novel. It’s a story. And that makes it very interesting for people to see how you could really learn principles of selling by just having the characters talking amongst themselves and having principles emerge. Because as salespeople, this is how we should be learning, from conversation, from dialogue. So, it’s a fascinating book. It’s endorsed by Timothy Gallwey. He wrote the foreword. Timothy Gallwey is known as the father of modern coaching. So, I get great reviews. Look on Amazon. It’s called Selling to the Point.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

And I have a new online course, where a salesperson could take this course and actually come up with coaching questions that are specific to their selling circumstance. So, you’re interacting with me during this course. So, I’m asking you to come up with different situations that you’ve encountered with customers, and then we problem solve to see what are going to be the best ways to coach these customers to help them make the best decisions. If a whole sales team takes this course, then you could have a whole collection of coaching questions which are called buying points that a company could use when training new salespeople. So, I’m very excited about the online course too. As well as I do workshops in person. And I also do keynotes. So, I’d be glad to talk to anybody about talking to them about decision coaching and helping customers’ quality of their decision performance.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Well, I’ll link to all of that in the show notes of this episode over at salesman.org. Jeffery, I want to thank you for your time, your insights on this, because they are different, they are unique, and so I appreciate that. The audience too as well, and I want to thank you for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Jeffrey Lipsius:

Yes, Will. Thank you very much. It was fun.

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