Using Forensic Investigation and Integration Tactics In B2B Sales

Michael Reddington, CFI, is an expert at moving people from resistance to commitment.

In today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast, Michael shares how salespeople can use disciplined listening, forensic investigation, and even some integration tactics to communicate better in our sales meetings.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Michael Reddington
Certified Forensic Interviewer and President of InQuasive, Inc

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

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

 

Michael Reddington:

The moral, legal, and ethical approach to all the conversations is critical. The legalities are more specific and more binding in the world of interview and interrogation than there are in sales. I mean, certainly there’s anti-trust laws and things you can and can’t do in sales, but it’s much more finite and critical more often than not in interrogation. So oftentimes to your point, when people hear the investigative background, they typically jump to reading behaviour and asking questions, like that must be where the synergies really are. It goes so much deeper than that. The first thing that we talked about is be patient and let the conversation come to you. Anytime we focus or prioritise time over quality, quality suffers. So the ticking clock is the enemy of empathy.

 

What is Forensic Investigation? · [01:24] 

 

Will Barron:

Hello sales nation. My name is Will Baron, and I’m the host of The Salesman Podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, we have an absolute legend. We have Michael Reddington. You can find out more about him over at inquasive.com. On today’s episode, we’re getting into forensic investigation. What that means for you when you’re doing deals, how you get more out of your sales meetings, and a whole lot more. So let’s jump right into it. So today were getting into forensic investigation is going to help salespeople close more deals. So I feel there’s a in-depth conversation coming up here, Michael, but what is forensic investigation? Let’s start off from the very top of the pyramid here.

 

Michael Reddington:

Well, I appreciate you asking. And often when we get the question, what is forensic investigation, that stems back to the designation, which is certified forensic interviewer. And a certified forensic interviewer designation is a designation that we achieve much like an accountant would achieve their CPA or any other designation that’s out there that’s industry specific. So to the best of my current knowledge, the certified forensic interviewer designation is the highest available designation of expertise in the field of interview and interrogation. And one of the things that I’m most proud about is the diverse scope it applies to. So, it encompasses eight different texts or approaches to interview and interrogation. And really the goal is that anybody who passes the exam is to be considered as an elite expert in interview and interrogation. And as I jokingly like to say it, should be able to be dropped out of a helicopter into the middle of any conversation and conducting morally, legally and ethically successful interview or interrogation.

 

How Do Morals, Ethics, and Illegality Compare Between B2B Sales and a Typical Forensic Interview? · [02:40] 

 

Will Barron:

So, multiple questions already. But how does in B2B sales versus a typical forensic interview, I guess, for the police, CIA, whoever you’re working for, how does morals, ethics, illegality compare between the two? Because I guess on one side you have to do it, but there’s the stereotype of salespeople being, whether it’s right or wrong, you can give us your thoughts, but there’s a stereotype of salespeople being less than truthful and less than moral within the conversations.

 

“The moral, legal and ethical approach to all the conversations is critical. The legalities are more specific and more binding in the world of interview and interrogation than there are in sales. I mean, certainly there’s antitrust laws and things you can and can’t do in sales, but it’s much more finite and critical more often than not in interrogation.” – Michael Reddington · [03:15] 

 

Michael Reddington:

There certainly is. And those stereotypes really straddle both sides of that line, depending on who you talk to and what their experience has been. The moral, legal and ethical approach to all the conversations is critical. The legalities are more specific and more binding in the world of interview and interrogation than there are in sales. I mean, certainly there’s antitrust laws and things you can and can’t do in sales, but it’s much more finite and critical more often than not in interrogation.

 

“Quite honestly, all of our moral and ethical codes are going to be different a little bit, based on our value systems and all our life experiences. So if it’s as simple as do the right thing, treat people how you would want to be treated, it’s how do we have conversations in a way where even from a business standpoint, even if somebody chooses not to do business with me, there is no harm done to the potential relationship.” – Michael Reddington · [03:34] 

 

Michael Reddington:

When we get to the moral and ethical aspects of it, quite honestly, all of our moral and ethical codes are going to be different a little bit, based on our value systems and all our life experiences. So if it’s as simple as do the right thing, treat people how you would want to be treated, it’s how do we have conversations in a way where even from a business standpoint, even if somebody chooses not to do business with me, there is no harm done to the potential relationship. There may be future opportunities with this person and this organisation. And if somebody else bumps into them and says, “Hey, have you ever spoken with Will or with Michael?” “Yeah, he was a straight up guy. We decided not to do business, but he was a straight up guy.”

 

“Walking that moral and ethical line really, really is important because, especially in business, we don’t have one-off conversations. We don’t exist in a vacuum. And so many people in their own industries, they’re small worlds within small world. So every interaction is potentially iterative. Every interaction sets up the next and the next.” – Michael Reddington · [04:15] 

 

Michael Reddington:

So walking that moral and ethical line really, really is important because especially in business, we don’t have one-off conversations. We don’t exist in a vacuum. And so many people in their own industries, they’re small worlds within small world. So every interaction has potentially iterative. Every interaction sets up the next and the next, and we might not know where it is. So it really becomes a critical consideration.

 

The Benefits of Understanding Forensic Investigations in B2B Sales · [04:58] 

 

Will Barron:

So I want to get into the protocol elements of all this in a second, how we can implement it, how someone listening to the show today can implement it in the conversations, in the however we’re going to frame this interviews later on in their workday. But first, it seems like a forensic investigator or someone who’s trained in forensic investigation would be, the big standout to me would be able to tell that a buyer or potential buyer is perhaps telling a white lie or fibbing to them or not giving them all of the information that they have access to. Other than that, which seems like an obvious benefit of understanding this, what other benefits are there to understanding forensic investigation in the context of B2B sales?

 

“The very best interrogators and the very best salespeople, business development professionals, capitalise on the same two core skills, vision and influence. And on the flip side of that coin, the cognitive process that interrogation suspects experience as they truthfully commit to saying, “I did it,” is essentially identical to the cognitive processes that employees experience when they commit to saying, “I’ll do it,” and customers experience when they commit to saying, “I’ll buy it.” – Michael Reddington · [05:58] 

 

Michael Reddington:

Another great question. And I’ll see that and raise. So oftentimes to your point, when people hear the investigative background, they typically jump to reading behaviour and asking questions, like that must be where the synergies really are. It goes so much deeper than that. For me being a nerd, the deeper and deeper I got into interview and interrogation, the more I had to rip it apart and see how it works. And the more, thankfully I had the opportunity to work with senior executives and CEOs at the organisations that brought me in to train their investigative teams. And I came to two key realisations. The first is that the very best interrogators and the very best sales people, business development professionals, capitalise on the same two core skills, vision and influence. And on the flip side of that coin, the cognitive process that interrogation suspects experience as they truthfully commit to saying, “I did it,” is essentially identical to the cognitive processes that employees experience when they commit to saying, “I’ll do it,” and customers experience when they commit to saying, “I’ll buy it.”

 

Michael Reddington:

So now, if we look at it from a strategic preparation set up, if we look at it from how we engage in the conversation, and yes, part of that will include evaluating their verbal and nonverbal communication and asking great questions and effective persuasion in those pieces of it. But now as we go all the way through the process, in so many ways it really is one and the same. And I was very fortunate that in the run-up to my career, there was a large period of time where the vast majority of the investigative work I did was in the private sector. So businesses, not law enforcement. I’ve trained in plenty of law enforcement and federal agents personally. A lot of what I did was in the private sector.

 

Michael Reddington:

So there, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and talk to people in non-custodial conversations. I had zero leverage over them. I often had no evidence whatsoever. They were free to get up and leave anytime they wanted, and to be safe, we had about 60 minutes to get their first admission of wrongdoing. So taking that context, working within the employer relations and human resources policies that govern most businesses, however they culturally might be separate around the world, really causes us to take an approach to talking to people where we build our communication strategies off of our perceived weaknesses in order to be successful. And that thought process fits a true home in sales and business development.

 

Frameworks For Effective Persuasion and Interrogation When a Qualified Buyer Isn’t Revealing Why They Don’t Want to Make The Purchase · [08:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there a, this is seemingly can go, and you’re a self admitted nerd into this, and I love all this conversation as well. So I’m sure at a deeper level, this is more complex than I’m going to try and ask you to explain it in. But is there a high-level framework to not necessarily implement this, but to understand it from? As in, is there a starting point that we’re starting from and an end point that we’ll go into? And is there a pathway, a defined pathway to go from A to B?

 

Michael Reddington:

Are you referring to the start of a sales conversation or a sales process? Are you referring to the interview? I just want to make sure I answer the question the right way.

 

Will Barron:

So, which is good, because I’m sure active listening and stuff is going to come into the conversation at some point, right? So yeah, let me clarify that. Let’s pick a scenario of Sam is a sales person and he is on a 60 minute meeting and he knows that the buyer is the perfect buyer, totally qualified, has budget, but the buyer is holding back. We know that there’s some else going on in the account. And Sam’s been sent in there to uncover what it is and suss it out. And he’s there from a position of doing good, adding value to the account. But as I said, the buyer just isn’t letting up on why they don’t want to make the purchase.

 

“Anytime we focus or prioritise time over quality, quality suffers. So the ticking clock is the enemy of empathy. The more we’re focusing on, I’ve got 60 minutes, 59 minutes, 58 minutes, the less we are capitalising on the opportunity to really connect with somebody else. ” – Michael Reddington · [09:27] 

 

Michael Reddington:

So the first thing, thank you for the clarification. The first thing that we talked about is be patient and let the conversation come to you. Anytime we focus or prioritise time over quality, quality suffers. So the ticking clock is the enemy of empathy. The more we’re focusing, I got 60 minutes, 59 minutes, 58 minutes, the less we are capitalising on the opportunity to really connect with somebody else. So by being patient and letting the conversation come to us, now we have the opportunity to listen for intelligence as opposed to information. And too often, when sales professionals like Sam put that additional time-bound pressure on themselves, they fall into that check the box mentality. They’re listening for these key words to try to jump on. And because they’re listening for these key words to fit their pre described track, they’re losing the opportunity to listen for intelligence, to listen between the lines and really feel where the other opportunities are.

 

“Our customers and prospects have been “Mirandized” as well. Their lifetime of buying products and services as individuals and for businesses, has taught them that they do have the right to remain silent because everything they say can and will be used against them at the salesperson’s earliest opportunity. So for them to hold information back, it’s not about being dishonest necessarily. It’s about them protecting the primary interest of their organisation, and we can’t fault them for that.” – Michael Reddington · [10:40]

 

Michael Reddington:

One of the more, I like to think comedic parallels between interviewing and sales is when you think about, at least in the United States, the public sector, we have the Miranda warning. I’m sure people around the world are familiar with it if they’ve watched any American television, when people get arrested and the officer says, “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law.” Well, our customers and prospects have been Mirandized as well. Their lifetime of buying products and services as individuals and for businesses, has taught them that they do have the right to remain silent because everything they say can and will be used against them at the salesperson’s earliest opportunity. So for them to hold information back, it’s not about being dishonest necessarily. It’s about them protecting the primary interest of their organisation, and we can’t fault them for that.

 

Michael Reddington:

So if we can go into the conversation with the mindset that we understand the strategic goals and opportunities, we let the conversation come to us. We help our customers protect their self image. We illustrate our understanding in order to resonate with them over 60 minutes, there’s plenty of time to draw out the information that we need to truly connect and move an opportunity forward.

 

The Difference Between Intelligence and Information In a Sales Perspective · [11:36] 

 

Will Barron:

What’s the difference, Michael, between you use these terms intelligence and information? I think I see where we’re going with this of it’s perhaps, let me have a guess for it maybe. You can tell me if I’m right or wrong. Let’s see if I’m paying attention here. It seems like information is just nuggets of things that we could probably research elsewhere. Whereas, intelligence is, are they nuggets of information with context? Is that what we’re looking for?

 

“Oftentimes, sales professionals go in and it’s like they’re trying to build a preformatted puzzle. If I can just get these three or four pieces of information, then I can show them the puzzle that I’ve showed 25 other people and explain to them how it’s great for them.” – Michael Reddington · [12:25] 

 

Michael Reddington:

Context is king. I’m so happy you said that. Context is king. Amen. So yes, information oftentimes is either information that we can research and find elsewhere, if we just did our due diligence, or top level facts. How many end users, how many locations, how many years, simple information that oftentimes sales professionals go in and it’s like they’re trying to build a preformatted puzzle. If I can just get these three or four pieces of information, then I can show them the puzzle that I’ve showed 25 other people and explain to them how it’s great for them. Intelligence is listening for words, for emotions, for feelings, for context that people share, that now create new and unexpected doors for us to walk through, whether it’s in this conversation or we play a little bit more of the long game, depending on our opportunities and application in order to set it up for future conversations.

 

How to Differentiate Between Information and Intelligence During a Sales Conversation · [13:31] 

 

Will Barron:

And I fell into this like five minutes ago by asking you, “Michael, what is the step-by-step framework for doing all of this?” So if that isn’t the right approach and the right approach is to look for intelligence that opens a door, which my opening of a door. And I guess it’s almost like a tree that we could, multiple pathways that we could walk down. How do we know when something is useful intelligence versus something is, the person’s dog died this morning so they’re just miserable in general.

 

Michael Reddington:

Well, that might actually be useful intelligence, because if they’re miserable in general, why don’t we just have this conversation at another time? We’ve all lost a dog. If it’s that kind of day, go home to your family. We’ll have this conversation another time. So I may, and I know we’re splitting hypothetical hairs here, but I would actually call that potentially intelligence. So when we think about what is intelligence was essentially the root of your question before I got on my tangent about the poor dog. When we talk about what is intelligence or how do we recognise intelligence, recognising intelligence starts long before the conversation.

 

“The process of disciplined listening starts by understanding how any interaction can move us closer to what our strategic goals are.” – Michael Reddington · [14:09] 

 

Michael Reddington:

When we talk about disciplined listening, the process of disciplined listening starts by understanding how any interaction can move us closer to what our strategic goals are. So that gets us out of that vacuum one conversation at a time mindset and into that iterative bigger picture mindset as we get into this. So if I’m having a conversation with Sam and I tell myself, “Well, my goal for this conversation is to set up a demo with Sam, is for Sam to introduce me to his CEO, is for Sam to agree to test the product,” or whatever it may be. That’s a super tactical goal. And now my mindset is so low that I’m just listening those little key words to try to set that anchor in place. However, if I walk into this conversation thinking to myself, “Well, Sam is pretty well-placed within his organisation. And right now, if they take this demo, that could be a foot in the door that could then lead to a handful of other opportunities. But Sam works for a leader in his industry. So if I do a great job with Sam and make him look great in front of his CEO, they might be confident to introduce me to other people within their network.”

 

Michael Reddington:

So now from my very first handshake, back when we were allowed to shake hands, how do I set this conversation up so Sam feels great about this whole process and I create longer or stronger opportunities down the road? So, it really starts with understanding where do I think this can take me? And how do I set that up from hello?

 

Will Barron:

So we’ve got the context of what we’re doing. We’ve got what we’re looking for within the conversation. And now we’re, hopefully the audience has drilled into their heads that they should be actively listening as opposed to box-ticking, which I think a lot of salespeople do. And I’ve fell guilty of this before as well. If you’re asking the customer leading questions that if they say yes three times to these three things, they’re are a good fit for you. If we put all that to one side for a second, maybe we need some of that to qualify the customer at some point, right? But put that to one side for a second.

 

Using Open-Ended Questions to Nudge a Potential Buyer Into Talking Themselves Into Your Strategic Goals · [16:20]

 

Will Barron:

How do we, if we open one door, is there a way to word questions? Is it open-ended questions? Is there a way to nudge a potential buyer to talk more about something? So I guess if you’re trying to get someone to admit to a crime, you’re trying to get them to trip themselves up, right? And come up, picture to story, or put such a story in front of them that it’s undeniable. How do we do that but from a positive perspective, with a buyer to allow themselves to open doors so they’re almost talking themselves into our strategic goals?

 

“In investigations and in sales, we are striving for a commitment not compliance. Compliance is essentially obeying an order. It’s very short term, it breeds resentment. Commitment is achieved when people have the opportunity to at least take some idea ownership for the process, and the linchpin behind all of this is encouraging people to protect their self-images throughout the entire process.” – Michael Reddington · [17:26] 

 

Michael Reddington:

In fact, with our favourite interrogation techniques, it’s the same, with slight tweaks to it, obviously. But it’s not so much even in the investigative world, occasionally it is. But often it’s not about getting somebody to trip them up or presenting them with this in controvertible story. So now you have no option but to tell me the truth. You’d be surprised how many times people look at a video of themselves committing a crime with their own girlfriend’s name tattooed on their neck and say, “No, that’s not me.” It happens all the time. So it is about helping people make that decision. In investigations and in sales, we are striving for a commitment, not compliance. Compliance is essentially obeying an order. It’s very short term, it breeds resentment. Commitment is achieved when people have the opportunity to at least take some idea ownership for the process. And the linchpin behind all of this is encouraging to protect their self images throughout the entire process.

 

“One of the pitfalls that sales professionals can fall into, if they’re not careful, is causing their prospects, their customers to inadvertently and probably temporarily feel stupid or embarrassed. The number one fear that will stop most people from doing most things isn’t failure, it’s embarrassment.” – Michael Reddington · [17:54] 

 

Michael Reddington:

One of the pitfalls that sales professionals can fall into, if they’re not careful, is causing their prospects, their customers to inadvertently and probably temporarily feel stupid or embarrassed. The number one fear that will stop most people from doing most things isn’t failure, it’s embarrassments. And there’s that old, people buy from who they like. Yes, that’s true. But we can all think about people in our lives who we like, but we would never use them as a business contact or business reference. And we can all think of people who we probably don’t like, but they offer so much value, we actually do business with them. 

 

“In order to get people to share more information, number one, encourage them to protect their self image. By far and away, that’s the biggest piece.” – Michael Reddington · [18:34] 

 

Michael Reddington:

So it really comes down to that presentation of value. So in order to get people to share more information, number one, encourage them to protect their self image. By far and away, that’s the biggest piece. And I can give you an example in a moment, if you’d like. 

 

“As a general rule of thumb, if the word you is the second word in your question, it is a closed question. Period. If the second word is you, it can be answered in a yes or no. Sometimes that’s good. Often it limits opportunities.” – Michael Reddington · [18:50] 

 

Michael Reddington: 

I also heard, you mentioned open questions. Yes, open questions. As a general rule of thumb, if the word you is the second word in your question, it is a closed question. Period. If the second word is you, it can be answered in a yes or no. Sometimes that’s good. Often it limits opportunities. And if we end our question by saying, “That’s right,” or something, “Isn’t that right,” something along those lines, we close it as well. So those two are there. Certainly want to be respectful of your time. If you’d like an example, I can certainly give you one.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. Well, we’ve covered questions loads of times on the show. So unless there’s something very specific, we’ll put that one side for a second. I’m sure all this revolves around questions obviously, but I’m sure the audience will understand open ended questions, close ended questions. But this self image thing I think is really valuable because if I look at the stereotype of a salesperson from the eighties and some of the eighties and nineties books that I read, and some of the reasons why I started the podcast and all the content of itself the salesman.org in the first place, was because I wanted to get better at sales. Go on YouTube, there’s some man or a woman in a weird suit with massive shoulder pads, basically telling you how to trick someone and use a yes ladder, get them to say yes, multiple times in a row. And all these weird things that if anyone tried that on me, I would just feel weird, disgust, gross. And most products are such commodities each go to somewhere else, right?

 

How to Lead Sales Conversation Without Potentially Damaging a Buyer’s Self-Image or Them Thinking That You’re Trying to Manipulate Them · [20:13]

 

Will Barron:

So, how do we ask these questions? We’re in control of the conversation, I’m assuming here. We’ve got to take the lead a little bit with some of this, even if we are asking open-ended questions. How do we lead a conversation without the potential of damaging someone self-image or without the opportunity of them thinking that we’re trying to manipulate them?

 

Michael Reddington:

Several opportunities for that. One of the things that we love to do, techniques that we love to use is offer somebody an excuse to answer the question. So imagine sitting in front of a CEO or somebody in the C suite and asking them a question about the day-to-day business, end-users of software or a programme, or whatever, a product, whatever it may be. At their level of the organisation, they really shouldn’t be worried day-to-day what people are doing. And they got bigger things to be concerned about. So if we sit down in front of our senior executive and ask them a question along the lines of, let’s say we’re talking to them about their sales. So if we ask them a question of, I’m trying to do this the wrong way, so I sit down and I say, “Hey Will,” let me do it this way. “Hey Will, do you know that in this specific industry, often the very best sales professionals are only successful 20% of the time?”

 

Michael Reddington:

As soon as I say, “Do you know,” if the answer to that question is no, I’ve now hurt their self-image. Because essentially they have to admit to not knowing something that as the king or queen of their castle they should know. But if I rephrase that and give them an excuse to answer it first, we can line up their self image with the excuse before we ever even ask the question, which makes it easier for them to answer. So instead if I asked the question that was, “As I have spoken with CEOs over the last decade, they’re pulled in so many different directions and they’re focused on so many top line decisions that it’s almost unrealistic for them to have a handle on the day-to-day minutia that goes on within their organisations. So keeping that in mind, let me ask you this, when was the last time one of your sales managers came to you because they were surprised about an opportunity that they weren’t able to bring on board?”

 

The Art of Protecting a Prospect’s Self-Image by Weakening the Impact of a Question · [22:50] 

 

Will Barron:

If it’s a question that could help hurt the self-image, are we then trying to weaken the impact of the question, but we’re still trying to find that information?

 

Michael Reddington:

Weaken the impact is likely a great way to say it. One of the ways that I think about it as rounding the corners to soften it some. So I don’t want it to be so sharp that it causes somebody to jerk back, feel pain. I don’t want to get hurt. And if we can round those edges and literally soothe them into sharing the information. It’s the same thing in the interrogation room. I don’t want to trick somebody because as soon as they realise they’ve been tricked, I’ve lost the relationship. I don’t want to force them into it because eventually they’ll push back once to force has gone. I literally want to soothe them into sharing that information.

 

Why You as a Salesperson Should Be Leading the Sales Conversation · [24:03] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So you were half shaking your head when I asked a question before, and part of the question I was asking was I was assuming that salespeople should be leading the conversation. So tell me if I’m right or wrong if I’ve picked up on that. Should salespeople be leading these conversations? And let’s frame this up, as it’s a massive enterprise account. We know it’s going to be 12 months to solve the deal. We’re not trying to close something there and then. It’s not acute to the conversation. Should salespeople be leading those conversations or should the questions be so open-ended that it’s just, it is a legitimate back and forth?

 

“Salespeople should be leading the conversation. One of our favourite ways to lead the conversation is by creating the impression that our customer is leading the conversation.” – Michael Reddington · [24:16]

 

Michael Reddington:

I definitely agree. Definitely is a strong word. I agree with you that salespeople should be leading the conversation. One of our favourite ways to lead the conversation is by creating the impression that our customer is leading the conversation. Metaphorically speaking, if I push you, your first reaction is to push me back harder. So if, especially at the enterprise level, there’s no way they’re just talking to me. They’re going through this process with any number of potential competitors. So it’s not just about differentiating my products and services. It’s also about, it could be at least according to one research study, 53% of the process is differentiating myself. So a great strategy allows us to patiently engage where we can create the interaction so they feel like they’re leading it, even though we’re in control because we can nudge it in the conversation that we’re going. So good job spotting my half head shake.

 

Michael Reddington:

It’s not a head shake on leading the conversation. The head shake was more in regards to the potential idea or concept of wrestling control out of the conversation, because that typically creates more conflict than it helps create commitments.

 

How Salespeople Can Subtly Nudge a Sales Conversation and Direct it Towards a Productive Place for Both the Salesperson and the Buyer · [25:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Got it. Okay. So how do we then, I’ll use the word subtle here or how do we nudge the company? The reason I’m asking this is, I don’t want the audience to go away and think, you’re not saying this, but I could misconstrue this being a bit simple in myself that I just need to sit down with people, have a lovely chat, open-ended questions and eventually the deal will happen. That’s not what we’re saying, is it? In which case, how do we then subtly nudge the conversation whilst having these open-ended questions? How do we, again, not necessarily control it and rip away control from the buyer, but how do we direct it towards a place which is productive for both of us?

 

Michael Reddington:

And again, that all starts prior to the conversation. So for me, especially for a meeting like the example you referenced, prior to ever engaging in that meeting, I’m going to sit down and ask myself two very painful questions. The first one is going to be, why shouldn’t they do business with us? Not why should they, why shouldn’t they? And because I’m a bit of a caveman, I’m actually going to write that down on a piece of paper. Now, after that, I’m going to ask myself a sister question; why haven’t they already committed to doing business with us? And in fairness, the umbrella answer to those, there’s two umbrella answers to that question. Number one, they literally might not know it’s an opportunity. And two, if they do know it’s an opportunity, they don’t perceive the value.

 

Michael Reddington:

So once I have, in my mind, as many of the reasons that I can document that from their perspective, they shouldn’t do business with us and they haven’t already done business with us, now I can begin to create that 12 month communication strategy. And like so many other people likely profess, I’m going to build that plan backwards. If I need them to be a yes in 12 months, where do I need them to be in 10 months, eight months, six months, four months, two months? How do I expect those meetings to be scheduled? What productive information, educational content can I send them in between meetings? So, that way my goal is to create an environment where they lead themselves to these intermediate commitments along the way. So that would be the, before I even get into the conversations.

 

“The three step process necessary to truly connect with somebody is resonate, differentiate, substantiate. And oftentimes, as business professionals, we skip that resonate piece. We jump right into differentiation or substantiation.” – Michael Reddington · [27:55] 

 

Michael Reddington:

Once I’m in the conversation, I’ve fully subscribed to some of the research that comes from the [Wayne 00:27:51] Group, where they say from their research, the three step process necessary to truly connect with somebody is resonate, differentiate, substantiate. And oftentimes as business professionals, we skip that resonate piece. We jump right into differentiation or substantiation. So really one of our philosophies is illustrate before you investigate. So we’ll take some time to illustrate our understanding of the world in which this conversation is happening in. And then begin to ask some of these open-ended questions, which should allow us to capture the intelligence and then begin leading us down the road we need to travel.

 

Controlling the Sales Conversation by Setting an Agenda and Having an Outline For What You Want to Achieve · [28:46] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So it seems like, and I might be using the wrong words here, so correct me if I’m saying the wrong words. But I think you’ll get the context that we set this plan out and we’re almost pre-framing each conversation. And We could even do this by writing up the agenda. So even if we’re not wrestling control of the conversation itself, we’re taking control by setting the agenda. And when people agree to meet with us, they’re then wired in such a way to talk about what has been set in the agenda because of all kinds of social pressures and I guess social norms and constraints. So is that how we remain in control of the sale? Which then freezes up and I feel like it be quite liberating to have this all planned out, to get somewhat of an agreement on it. And then just have an open conversation with the buyer and see what we can do to add value in the conversation itself.

 

Michael Reddington:

When we say the agenda, for me personally, I might have an outline for where I want to go and how I want to get there. And it’s likely not something I’m going to share, like for an agenda for the meeting. For me, the liberating piece is knowing where I want to end up and letting you essentially choose where we start. There’s a big difference between in American nomenclature, adapting it and winging it. If I just wing it, I go in without a strategy and I assume where this goes, good luck. But if I know where I want to end up by the end of this conversation, and I’m clear on it, now that really helps me listen for intelligence. Because if I’m patient and I let the conversation come to me, how many people have talked about how much talking the salesperson should do versus the customer and these things. If I can let the conversation come to me, now I can listen for opportunities to subtly nudge it where I want to go. And 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, that’s a long, long time to nudge a conversation where it needs to be once we take our mind off the clock and start listening for those opportunities. So for me, the freedom comes in knowing where I want to go and then listening for the opportunities you give me to create new roads to get there.

 

How to Train Yourself to Become a Better Listener · [30:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. And the final thing on this, we’ll wrap up with this, Michael, are there any ways that we can train ourselves to be a better listener? I realise that sounds like a ridiculous question, right? But I don’t think we’re trained to be good listeners from childhood. Most childhoods, kids are at school, they don’t care about what’s being thrown at them. It’s not two way, they can’t ask questions. There’s no influence that they can have on the conversation. So I feel like a lot of us from birth are trained to just sit there, stare at something and then regurgitate it as opposed to what we’re describing here, which is find the context, find the linking points, find the interesting things that need to be uncovered and delve into deeper. So how do we learn to become better listeners?

 

“We’re literally not wired to be good listeners. Generally speaking, we all react the strongest to what we hear first. So we take expectations into all of our conversations and those expectations could be positive, neutral, negative, and as soon as we believe we hear and or see something that confirms that expectation, we tend to jump on it.” – Michael Reddington · [31:35] 

 

Michael Reddington:

We’re not wired to be good listeners. Forget even being taught to be good listeners. We’re literally not wired to be good listeners. Generally speaking, we all react the strongest to what we hear first. So we take expectations into all of our conversations and those expectations could be positive, neutral, negative. And as soon as we believe we hear and or see something that confirms that expectation, we tend to jump on it. And when you look at our roughly 160 cognitive biases, they are all in place to make sure we feel comfortable and consistent, whether we’re right or wrong, that part really has nothing to do with it. So when it comes to being good listeners, again, it starts with understanding where may I be able to find value in this relationship or this conversation, starts there.

 

“The most important part of listening is talking. If I’m talking to you, I can’t listen. But more importantly, if I have my inner monologue running, I’m also not listening to you.” – Michael Reddington · [32:21] 

 

Michael Reddington:

The second piece is to remember that the most important part of listening is talking. If I’m talking to you, I can’t listen. But more importantly, if I have my inner monologue running, I’m also not listening to you. Because a cruel reality is I can’t possibly have anything important to say to you than you have to say to yourself. So we understand what we want to get out front, we limit our internal monologue. We work hard to quell our initial, excuse me, emotional reactions. And then we really focus on listening for value.

 

Free Will and Awareness When Dealing with Expert Negotiators · [33:24] 

 

Will Barron:

Final question on this. And then this is a curve ball, right? I don’t want to give anyone an existential crisis as they listen to the show here Michael. But, if you dealing with someone like yourself, who’s trained in all of this, how much free will do you actually have in a business conversation? Considering all of the cognitive biases that we have, considering all of the social pressure and cultural pressure that is wrapped around in business, how much freewill does someone have to not be nudged in the right direction, by someone who’s insanely qualified like yourself?

 

Michael Reddington:

There’s several factors in that. So one is going to be our level of awareness. But even that level of awareness can be a double-edged sword, because I can be hyper aware of a lot of these persuasive forces and things that might cause me to make a certain decision. But if I’m too far down the line and committed to what I want to do, I may ignore the red flags. Or, on the opposite side, you may be talking to me in a way that I feel like you’re trying to manipulate me, but you’re not. You’re not at all. So now I’m too suspicious. So, there’s a lot of delicate lines in there. We do have a fair amount of freewill, as long as we have a reasonable level of awareness, and we continue to try to find as much what us interviewing nerds would call ground truth. What are the independent facts, pieces of information, checkpoints that we can reference to either due diligence… Due diligence prior to the conversation would help. In fact, checking after the conversation would help with that as well.

 

How to Defend Yourself Against a Toxic Boss Who’s an Interrogation Expert · [34:36] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So if the tables are turned and say, we’ve got, I was picking my words carefully, but a not very nice sales manager, who’s trying to get us on the line, hook us for something that we’ve not done and accusing us of something, whatever it is. And they’re using these tactics on us. Is that then the strategy to keep going back to the provable facts and just being assertive on those over and over?

 

Michael Reddington:

So again, just want to make sure that I understand. We’re talking to a manager at one of our customers, they’re accusing us of doing something else?

 

Will Barron:

It could be that scenario, but the scenario I was picturing was our sales manager, our boss is accusing. They don’t like us for whatever reason. There can be multiple reasons, but we won’t get into them, right? They’re accusing us of something. And they’re trying to use some of these tactics on us, to get us to admit to something or back ourselves into a corner. How do we defend against everything that we’ve talked about today?

 

Michael Reddington:

Well, the great news, and that’s an area is the truth is your best weapon. So when you have truth behind you, it’s a much easier conversation to have. There’s a lot less you have to remember. There’s fewer things to be concerned about. As long as we have the truth on our side, that consistency, the factuality, the ability to reinforce the old have an alibi for our conversation. All those things will work in our favour. So all of those should be helpful for us. Anytime we have the truth, the ability to lean on the truth is a wonderful position to be in. Oftentimes if we’re in that situation and our sales manager is accusing us of something that we didn’t do or that they misunderstand, to really move the conversation forward it’s not so much about defending ourselves. It’s about understanding why he’s upset to begin with, because something likely affected his self image. Somebody thinks differently of him. He now is forced to think differently of himself.

 

“The reason why we all handle lies so terribly is because of how it makes us feel when we get lied to. If we just stop to think about that most of the time when people lie, they’re trying to protect themselves, not hurt us. And it’s likely their last available good decision, then we’d handle it better.” – Michael Reddington · [36:30] 

 

Michael Reddington:

The reason why we all handle lies so terribly is because of how it makes us feel when we get lied to. If we just stop to think about that most of the time when people lie, they’re trying to protect themselves, not hurt us. And it’s likely their last available good decision, then we’d handle it better. So in that situation, if we’re being accused, if we can stop and think about why are they really upset, then we don’t just focus on defending ourselves, but we focus on solving that key perception problem they’re likely dealing with, which will create the commitment moving forward.

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:14] 

 

Will Barron:

I love it. That is so smart. Okay, we’ll wrap up the show with that, Michael. For everyone who wants to learn more, who’s probably had their brain slightly melted, because we’ve covered a lot of content very fast there, how can we find out more about you and everything that you offer to salespeople, with your sales training and the other things you do as well?

 

Michael Reddington:

I appreciate you asking, thank you. The easiest place would be the website inquasive.com. I-N-Q-U-A-S-I-V-E. They can also find me on LinkedIn as well, Michael Reddington CFI. Occasionally it might pop up on Twitter. But the two places to really find me would be the website and LinkedIn to learn more about our programmes, how we customise them and what we do across industries.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Well, I’ll link to all of that in the show notes to this episode over at salesman.org. Well, Michael, I genuinely, I really enjoyed that conversation, mate. I want to thank you for your time and your expertise in all of this, because clearly I think we’ve only scratched the surface of a lot of this stuff. And with that, I want to thank you for again, for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Michael Reddington:

Well, thank you again for having me and thank you for all the listeners to take the time and join us.

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