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“Empathy Based Objection Handling” For B2B Salespeople

In today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast, Jason Bay of BlissfulProspecting.com explains what empathy-based objection handling is and how salespeople can leverage it to close more deals.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Jason Bay
Chief Prospecting Officer at Blissful Prospecting

Resources:

Transcript 

Will Barron:

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

 

Jason Bay:

Cold calling and objection handling are usually the two biggest fears that I hear when we work with sales teams and individual reps. And with objection handling, if you think about where that fear comes from, it’s almost like what I hear a lot, and I’m sure you’ve done a lot of these interviews and work with a lot of folks, it’s like, “I don’t want to be salesy.”

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation. My name is Will Barron and I’m the host of The Salesman Podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, we have the absolute legend, he’s been on the show a couple of times now, we have Jason Bay of blissfulprospecting.com. And on today’s episode, we’re getting into what Jason calls, empathy-based objection handling. Now, this sounds a little bit airy fairy and wishy-washy, it’s truly not. It’s truly transformative. If you’re doing any type of outbound calls, emails, it’s valuable there for you.

 

What is Empathy-based Objection Handling and How Can Salespeople Leverage it to Close More Deals? · [01:09] 

 

Will Barron:

And so with that, let’s jump right into it. Okay. So, we’re going to dive into, and I’m not going to beat around the bush here, I’m going to ask you to explain this and if there’s a framework to describe it, but we’re going to talk about empathy-based objection handling. Jason, what the heck is empathy-based objection handling and how can we leverage it to get more deals done?

 

“Cold calling and objection handling are usually the two biggest fears that I hear when we work with sales teams and individual reps. And with objection handling, if you think about where that fear comes from, it’s almost like, “I don’t want to be salesy.” – Jason Bay · [01:15] 

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. So, I would think about, cold calling and objection handling are usually the two biggest fears that I hear when we work with sales teams and individual reps. And with objection handling, if you think about where that fear comes from, it’s almost like what I hear a lot, I’m sure you’ve done a lot of these interviews and worked with a lot of folks, it’s like, “I don’t want to be salesy.” Right? “I don’t want to push too hard.” And I think they look at objection handling with like, “I need to get what I want out of this interaction with a prospect, and doing that doesn’t feel very good to me.” And being on the receiving end of that as a prospect, when I feel like someone just keeps pushing and pushing and pushing without acknowledging, that doesn’t feel very good either.

 

Jason Bay:

So, the empathy-based part is, how can I give the prospect what they need out of the interaction first? And then, I can ask for what I want. A way that I could explain this with an analogy is what I call the objection-rebuttal infinity loop. And if you picture an infinity symbol, right? A sideways eight. This is based off the relationship dance, by the way. So, I learned about this in couples therapy. So, the relationship dance essentially is … Think about what the most common things are that couples argue about. Right? So, I’ll give you an example. It’s not necessarily personal. Make it a little more generic.

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

Jason Bay:

But husband, wife, they don’t maybe like each other’s in-laws, let’s say, right? Right?

 

Will Barron:

I don’t know, that seemed quite specific there, Jason.

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. [crosstalk [00:02:40].

 

Will Barron:

Don’t want to get you in trouble here, or put you on the spot, but that was quite specific.

 

Jason Bay:

So, I have my parents and let’s say my wife comes over and for some reason doesn’t get along with my parents and maybe my parents did something to make her uncomfortable and I didn’t stand up for her, let’s say. All right?

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

Jason Bay:

So afterwards, we might have a conversation that might sound something like this. My wife might be like, “Well, hey, it really irritated me, you didn’t stand up for me when your mom or dad brought up this specific thing.” And then, what do I immediately do? I get defensive, right? I’m like, “Well, they’re my parents, what was I supposed to do? Of course, I …” Et cetera. Right? So, when we look at that loop, it’s like, you have this problem, and we focus a lot about, “You did this.” And then, we go down that loop. How does that make me feel on this side? Misunderstood. Of course I’m looking out for you, but these are my parents, et cetera, et cetera. Right?

 

Jason Bay:

So, I come back with a responsible, “Of course I do.” I go super logical. Right? And then, how does that make the other person feel? Misunderstood. Well, Jason doesn’t understand that I should be the priority over his family, et cetera, et cetera. And I use that as a really silly example, because objections work kind of the same way. So, if we look at that loop again, prospect gives an objection and says, “I don’t have enough time.” And then, you feel misunderstood because you’re like, “Well, dude, I only need 60 seconds of your time. We can schedule a meeting that works better for you later.” And that’s what we say. “Well, hey great. That’s exactly why I was calling. I only need 30 seconds of your time to schedule a meeting that we can meet later.”

 

Jason Bay:

And then, the prospect feels misunderstood because they’re like, “Dude, can’t this person tell that I’m busy right now or that I’m not interested?” Or whatever. And we get caught in this loop of prospect, “I’m right.” You, “No, I’m right, actually. We don’t have the highest prices. Why would you use our competing vendor? We’re better than them. We have higher ratings.” And it goes in this never-ending loop. Empathy is what actually breaks that loop. So, it doesn’t matter what you say logically, if it makes sense, because there’s a lot of logical arguments for everything and they make a lot of sense, but why do people still not do them? People know they should be working out, why don’t they work out? It’s for emotional reasons, right?

 

“When we look at that loop, we can break that with empathy. And that’s the first part, that’s the first step that we need to do is like, ‘I need to acknowledge what I think Will is saying, or where he’s coming from, or what he might be feeling.’” – Jason Bay · [04:43] 

 

Jason Bay:

So, when we look at that loop, we can break that with the empathy. And that’s the first part, that’s the first step that we need to do is like, “I need to acknowledge what I think Will is saying, or where he’s coming from, or what he might be feeling.” And we can go on. I’ll pause there. We can go into more in-depth if you want to, in that, but I’ll just pause there.

 

Will Barron:

There’s something that I want to add to this as well. This is something that when it was explained to me, or when I uncovered this and it became visible to me, it was a real aha moment. And it reminds me of your analogy there, of a couple going back and forth. This isn’t every case, but a lot of time a prospect will be in an emotional state because they’ve got a problem. Then they’ll do some research online. Then they’ll reach out to a salesperson and they’re thinking, “Hey, I get to dump a lot of this stress, this emotion, on the salesperson, they’re going to turn around and they’re going to solve this problem for me. Everything’s going to be fine.”

 

Will Barron:

So, they’ve gone from emotional to stressed, to now being relatively logical of, we’ve done a lot of research, we want to know the price, we want to see if you can deliver it. If there’s any consulting services you can offer on top of it, that kind of thing. So, when a buyer gets on that first call, especially if it’s an inbound lead, as opposed to an outbound conversation, the buyer is in a somewhat logical state. They know what they want. They’re looking for pricing. They’re looking for the logical things. The salesperson goes, “Oh, frigging heck, I’ve got a potential buyer on the phone. I’m excited. Oh, what happens if they say this and this?” And they’re all emotional. So again, you’ve got that element of being out of sync and then it continues throughout the sales process, of now the buyer, as they move further throughout the sales process, maybe they become more emotional towards the end of the process because it’s getting more and more real. They’re going to have to hand over this cash, they’re committing, they’re going to look stupid in the office if it all goes wrong.

 

“There’s this crossover of logical thoughts and discussions versus emotional thoughts and discussions. And again, I just want to emphasise the points here that you’re making, Jason, a bit of empathy on behalf of the salesperson’s side, to regulate their emotions against that of the buyer, allows communication to happen far, far more succinctly.” – Will Barron · [06:45]

 

Will Barron:

Whereas now, the salesperson is starting to get more logical because they’re going, “Well, it’s a done deal. We just need to do these bits of paperwork.” And so again, you get this crossover of logical thoughts and discussions versus emotional thoughts and discussions. And again, I just want to emphasise the points here that you’re making, Jason, a bit of empathy on behalf of the salesperson’s side, to regulate their emotions against that of the buyer, allows communication to happen far, far more succinctly. So, I’ll let you carry on, but I just wanted to double down on the point you were making, because this is something that we’ve covered. And I find this crisscrossing of emotions and logic within the sales process, really interesting as well.

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. I mean, that’s a really great way of thinking about it. And by the way, my specialty is on the prospecting end of things. So, I’m thinking prospecting like objections and specifically around a cold call or what you might get in response to an email. But if we look at that infinity loop and we use the relationship dance again, as an example, the empathise part is, “Well, hey, I got the sense that you didn’t take my side with this sort of thing.” And the empathy there is like, “Hey, sounds like you feel really hurt that I wasn’t really standing up for you and taking your side, and I could totally understand why that might make you a little sad or make you a little frustrated, or why that might make you angry.”

 

Jason Bay:

It’s like, I’m empathising with the person and I am then validating that it’s okay for them to feel that way. And then, now it’s like, you can have a conversation about it, right? Both people are disarmed. The same thing works when you’re objection handling. And I love this criss-cross of emotion and logic that you talked about, because that definitely applies into a cold call, where I feel like the prospect is in a highly emotional state and you’re in a logical state. Because you’re calling and you’re thinking about, “Well, if I share the right ROI or numbers or cost savings, this person will really want to meet with me.” Meanwhile, the prospect is in this emotional state of like, “Why am I getting a call from you when I don’t know who you are?” Right?

 

How to Nail The Perfect Balance Between Logic and Emotions During a Sales Call · [08:33] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And just to interrupt you there. Sorry, Jason. But that could also be flipped of, immediately when the person picks up the phone, they’re in this automated mode of, “I’ve not got time. I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” They’ve not thought about anything you’ve said. So, perhaps they are in an incredibly logical mode and it’s not even logic that they’re using, they’re just on automation, versus then the seller, depending on how experienced they are, how good they are at dealing with these objections, they might be getting more and more emotional as they go through that process as well. So, there’s again, another mix-up of emotions that stops that communication being passed across effectively.

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. Dude, I love this conversation, man. And I’ll come back to this empathise-validate offer framework here in a second. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I’ve been trying to think of, what are the core foundational habits of successful prospecting? And I think one of them, that just has a domino effect on everything that you do, from objection handling, to how you put together your messaging, to how you write emails, et cetera, is this concept of you first, me second. It’s you first, the prospect, I need to acknowledge you, get you what you need, and then I can go in and ask for what I want. And it couldn’t be much truer when it comes to objection handling.

 

Jason Bay:

And when I say objection handling, I’m throwing in shallow objections too. So for example, if the person says, “Not interested.” What I’m thinking about is, “Well, what might be going on right now for that person, that would cause them to say that?” Well, one, it might just be a reflexive response to any cold call that they get. They might be in the middle of something. They might be super stressed about what’s going on that day. And they could maybe just be not even interested in what you said, it could be real. So, when we get these objections at the top where it’s like, “Hey, this is Jason with Blissful Prospecting.” And the prospect is immediately not interested, let’s just talk to that. The empathise part, “Hey, sounds like I caught you in the middle of something.” Validate. “And if that’s the case, I could totally understand why now might not be the best time to take a call.”

 

“You acknowledge that you might’ve caught them in the middle of something, and even if you didn’t catch them in the middle of something, the fact that you’re thinking about them and you’re giving them their autonomy, and allowing them to opt in to the experience, that’s really what it’s about. It’s not about saying the right thing logically, it’s about just disarming them, so that they’ll listen to you, and then asking for permission to proceed.” – Jason Jay · [10:57] 

 

Jason Bay:

And then, I can go into the offer piece, which you’ve had Chris Voss here on a couple of times, but he’s popularised those no oriented questions, right? Those going for no questions. And it’s an old psychology trick. But then you could go, “Hey, but would it be a bad idea if we took maybe just a minute here, I can tell you why I’m calling, and then you can let me know if you want to keep chatting?” So, you can do upfront contract or permission-based open, or whatever you want to call it. But oftentimes, when people do this, the effect is completely disarming for the prospect because you acknowledged that you might’ve caught them in the middle of something. And even if you didn’t catch them in the middle of something, the fact that you’re thinking about them and you’re giving them their autonomy, and allowing them to opt in to the experience, that’s really what it’s about. It’s not about saying the right thing logically, it’s about just disarming them, so that they’ll listen to you, and then asking for permission to proceed.

 

The Key to Unlocking Empathy In Sales and Not Sounding Like Every Other Salesperson · [11:19] 

 

Will Barron:

I’ve got no doubt in the effectiveness of this, Jason. How much of the effectiveness of this comes from allowing people to opt in, doing the right thing, showing empathy, the things that we should be doing, right? How much of it comes from that? And how much of it do you think comes from just not being like every other salesperson who’s pestering them, who’s trying to cheat them into getting on another phone call or extending the phone conversation for another two or three minutes? How much of the effectiveness do you think is the process versus just, I don’t want to use foul language here, but just not being a dick?

 

Jason Bay:

I think that those both are connected. The why piece of this is like, how can you actually come in and be helpful and be curious? And really lean in and say, “I haven’t talked to Will yet, but I’ve done some research on it, and I’m really curious if he’s running into this problem we see a lot of people like him running into? Because I might be able to help him make his life a little bit better.” That mindset right there is going to drive the process. So, I think it’s both. Yeah. I think it’s absolutely both.

 

“I really do not think the exact words are very important. What’s more important is that you actually empathise and validate.” – Jason Bay · [12:27] 

 

Jason Bay:

And you’ll notice that as we talk today, Will, I’m going to give you examples of what you can say, but I really do not think the exact words are very important. What’s more important is that you actually empathise and validate. There’s a lot of different ways that you can do that. I just gave you one example. So, if you focus more on that process of what you should do and how you’re addressing, how the prospect might be feeling, that’s the more important part. And like I said, I’m happy to give tonnes of examples of what that sounds like, but please don’t focus so much on the specific words. That mindset of curiosity is going to drive that process.

 

Will Barron:

Right. Well, later on I’ll, not in a devastating fashion, but I’ll put you on the spot. I’ll just throw some random objections your way, common ones.

 

Jason Bay:

Sure.

 

Will Barron:

And I’ll do it as well. But we’ll see what we come up with.

 

Jason Bay:

That’ll be fun. Yeah. That’s the best way to do it, man.

 

The EVO Objection Handling Framework · [13:11] 

 

Will Barron:

And again, I’m not trying to trip you up or anything like that. But before that, Jason, you ran us through it, but let’s go through it step-by-step, of the process of empathising then validating, then I think there was a few more steps after that. Let’s go through it like, A, B, C, D. Just so the audience is clear.

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. So, the framework is called the EVO Objection Handling Framework. The EVO is, empathise, validate, offer. So, if you were looking at the diagram, you’d see two circles in a Venn diagram, empathise and validate. So, it’s like, we’re going to focus on those two things first and when we do them, in the middle, what that’s going to help us accomplish is disarming the prospect and then depending on what objection it is, it’s going to help you gain a better understanding of where they’re coming from.

 

Jason Bay:

And then from there, once you do those two things, if you imagine a little arrow pointed to the right of that with another circle called offer, then I can go in for my ask for next steps. And depending on what the objection is, again, like I’m going to circle around after that and think about, if people are constantly telling me that they’re already using another solution, like one of my competitors, I need to build that into my cold call pitch, right? I need to prevent the objection. So, empathise. How can I call out what I think that is on their mind? What they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, et cetera. And we can dig into what empathy is versus what empathy isn’t as well. And then, I need to validate where they’re coming from, to let them know that it’s okay. And then, I can ask for what I want next.

 

The Definition of Empathy From a B2B Cold Calling Perspective · [14:37]

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. Well, what does empathy mean from even a scientific perspective of what should we be doing? Because I think we all know this, we’ve all felt empathetic, we’ve all seen someone who’s struggling and we’ve gone, “Oh, that’s rubbish.” Or we’ve seen someone do well, and go, “Oh, that’s great and I aspire to that as well.” And have that empathy on both those sides. But in the B2B space, when you’re on the phone with a stranger and it’s in real-time, and you’re trying to react to things. And perhaps you’re not having a great day and perhaps they’re not having a great day. There’s lots of variables that you don’t have much margin for error if you’re not going about this the right way. So, what does it mean to have empathy from … I don’t know if there’s a definition or a scientific way of describing it, and how does that tie into cold calling and objection specifically?

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. So, this actually comes from product design. So, when they look at empathy, they look at it on a scale. So, if you look at a scale here, from this end to this end, the further you go on the scale this way, the more you understand the other person, but the more effort that you have to put in. So, on the very left of that scale, you have pity, right? Pity is like, I notice, and I hate using this example, but this is the one that comes to mind, is homeless people, right? So, the pity is like, “Oh, that must suck, being homeless. Oh, there’s these homeless people, that’s a really shitty situation.” You’re pitying them. You’re not putting any effort into understanding what it feels like to be them, and you don’t really honestly understand much about them either.

 

Jason Bay:

The next layer over that is sympathy. Sympathy is, I care, right? So that’s, I can look at this situation, “There’s these homeless people. I care a lot about the fact that life is really hard for them. That must really suck.” Now, those two are not where you want to live in sales, where you want to live is this next place, it’s empathy, is the, I feel. Like, “What’s this person feeling, what does it feel like to be living on the street? What does it feel like to be this prospect experiencing this problem? What are some of the emotions that they might have?” Frustration, anger, whatever it might be.

 

“The thing that we have that’s a universal language is our emotions. Yeah, you haven’t done this job as a sales leader, let’s say, where you have a team that’s not hitting quota. But you know what? You have a quota and you know what it’s like to feel left behind. You’ve been left behind in your life before, or feel like you have to catch up and you know what that feels like” – Jason Bay · [16:57] 

 

Jason Bay:

And a lot of times when we’re prospecting to people, Will, we haven’t done their job before, right? So you might say, “Well, how can I empathise with them? I haven’t done their job.” Well, the thing that we have, that’s a universal language is our emotions. Yeah, you haven’t done this job as a sales leader, let’s say, where you have a team that’s not hitting quota. But you know what? You have a quota and you know what it’s like to feel left behind. Right? You’ve been left behind in your life before, or feel like you have to catch up. That’s frantic, frustration or anxiety or whatever those … You know what that feels like. So, that’s really where we want to live, is that empathy place.

 

Jason Bay:

Think about what it feels like when I get a cold call from someone and I don’t know who they are and they don’t introduce themselves. Well, I start to get a little anxious and angry, because I’m thinking about, “Who is this person? What do they want?” So, think about the feeling that the person has. Right? And then, on the very right of that spectrum, you have compassion. That’s the, I help, I want to help this person. So, you want to live in empathy and compassion. So, in the cold call, I know this is really hard if this is not a habit, but you need to think about, when I get an objection, how can I pause real quick and just think about, I can listen really closely to Will’s tone, I can listen to what he says, and what’s on Will’s mind right now? That’s what I’m going to think.

 

Will Barron:

I love this.

 

Jason Bay:

And it’s pretty obvious most of the time.

 

Will Barron:

I’ve never had it explained in this … Is this your framework or is this a framework-

 

Jason Bay:

No, no, no. I don’t even know if it’s actually someone’s framework, but I got it from how people design products, physical products and digital products. One of the first steps in design thinking is empathy. So, design thinking is, Apple uses this when they create their iPad or whatever, their new iPhone, they’re thinking about, what’s it like for the person that uses this? They put themselves in that person’s shoes, what do I want it to feel like when I use this? So, that’s the very first step. And then, I started researching that process and it was like, that’s the best explanation I’ve ever heard of it, is that process right there.

 

Will Barron:

I love it. And tell me if I’m wrong here, but I feel, just from talking about it for the three minutes that we’ve been talking about it, but most salespeople probably live in that realm of sympathy. Of when someone says, “I’m busy.” They go, “Oh yeah, I get it, you’re busy.” I guess, when you go further down the pathway and you make more effort to sympathise with the fact that they’re busy, you’re almost relieving some of the burden of them being busy and almost doing problem solving for them at this point of saying, “Well, I appreciate you’re busy. I can empathise with that. Here’s a solution to your busy-ness, so that we can…”

 

How to Genuinely Express Empathy To a Prospect During a Sales Call · [19:40] 

 

Will Barron:

I feel like I’ve cut myself off there because I feel like that would just be a bullshit way to deal with an objection and not really have empathy. So with that said, how do we do this without just giving it lip service, like I almost just did then of, “I know you’re busy, let’s jump on a call next week instead.”? That would deal with some objections, but I’m not really being empathetic there. I’m just being sympathetic to the fact that they’re busy. I’m not really having empathy, understanding them, and I’m not really feeling the same emotions that they are as well.

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. So, if someone uses the, “I’m busy,” type of thing. And, Will, let’s assume that when I’m prospecting, I’m actually doing a little bit of research, right? I’ve looked at your LinkedIn profile, I have an idea for Will and what Will does. So, let’s say that you’re a VP of sales at a SaaS company with 500 employees and you have a couple dozen reps that you’re overseeing. And I’m reaching out because I can see that you guys got a funding round or maybe you’re hiring right now, is something that I see. Let’s go with that, because that’s a common one.

 

Jason Bay:

So if you say, “Jason, I’m busy.” I’m going to be like, “Hey, sounds like you’ve got a lot going on. I actually noticed that you guys are doing a bunch of hiring right now, so I can’t imagine how focused are you on quickly making sure these reps get ramped up so that you guys can hit your aggressive quarterly targets. So, I can totally understand why you would be busy and now might not be the best time to take a call.” That’s empathise, validate, right there.

 

“I think that there’s this mentality of, let’s not assume that the prospect’s lying, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and then validate that and let them know that it’s totally okay that they said that. Because you know what else people feel really bad about, contrary to popular belief, most prospects do not like rejecting salespeople.” – Jason Bay · [21:18]

 

Jason Bay:

And then, I can go into the offer piece. In that moment, Will, I’m thinking of, “Yeah, it makes a lot of sense why he would say, ‘I’m busy.’ He’s fucking busy, dude.” You know what I mean? He’s got a lot going on. He’s hiring, he’s in charge of sales at a fast growing company that’s getting investment, like yeah, legit. So, I think that there’s this mentality of, let’s not assume that the prospect’s lying, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and then validate that and let them know that it’s totally okay that they said that. Because you know what else people feel really bad about? Contrary, I think to popular belief, most prospects do not like rejecting salespeople.

 

Jason Bay:

Unless you are a freaking sociopath, you don’t like rejecting people and you’re like, “Oh God, that felt so good to say no to Will.” Most people don’t like rejecting them, rejecting other people, excuse me. So, if you could make it okay that they’re saying that they’re busy, and say, “Hey, that’s a totally valid thing to say.” Then I can go into, “Well, I was reaching out because I did notice that you were hiring, and I was wondering, would it hurt to tell you a little bit more about how we’re helping other companies ramp up their new hires really quickly, so that they can focus on what they need to and not spend any more time than they would like doing that?” And just let the person talk. And most of the time when you do this, people are pretty open to continuing the conversation, because I’m allowing you to opt in, Will, I’m acknowledging the fact that you said that you’re busy and that you don’t want to talk right now. And I’m leaving it up to you.

 

Will Barron:

We’re almost pulling on the law of influence of reciprocation, of if you are trying to deal with all these objections in a dickish way, the person probably isn’t going to feel bad rejecting you because they want to get you off the phone and they’ll be like, “Oh, I’m glad I got off the phone with that idiot.” And so, you’re going to get what you give, versus if you do have that layer of empathy and it is refreshing for the buyer, they might go, “Oh, okay, this person understands.” They might not be thinking this consciously, but subconsciously, they might be thinking, “Hey, this person understands me. They’ve been polite. They’ve not treaded on my toes. They’ve posed a potential solution to a problem. I’ll give them the two minutes to go a little bit further.”

 

Buyers Would Be More Willing to Listen to Salespeople Who Behave Like Consultants and Offer Value Instead of Stereotypical Salespeople Who Try to Sell Every Time · [23:30]

 

Will Barron:

If you give someone a bag of cash, they’re not just going to run off. They’re going to go, “What? Hey?” And they’ll probably give you what you want in return for it because we’re wired that way, we have that cognitive bias to do so. So, I feel like some of this is pulling on the fact of well, just don’t be an idiot and people will respect you. Or let me put it another way, perhaps a more intelligent way to frame it up, if you don’t act like a stereotypical salesperson, if you act like a consultant, someone who is useful, someone who has value, as opposed to just take, take, take, immediately, you’re framed up in the buyer’s mind, again subconsciously, that this is probably a person that I want to speak to.

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. And it’s like, the word that I wrote down here is, human. It’s like you’re humanising yourself a little bit. And it’s that break in the conversation, where you get the prospect to actually see you as a human, because you’re acknowledging that they’re a person, not a prospect, not a VP of sales, but Will as a person.

 

Will Barron:

Jason, let me ask you this then, and I’ll just play devil’s advocate slightly here for a second.

 

Jason Bay:

Sure.

 

What To Do When Empathy Isn’t Working During a Sales Call and The Buyer Just Wants to Get Rid of You · [24:20]

 

Will Barron:

So, what happens if, and we’ll use this example of, “I’m busy.” And then, you show that you’ve had, rather than doing pre-call research, you’ve done pre-call empathy, and you’ve sussed out why they might be busy and you’ve given the spiel that you just concluded then. And then, they turn around and say, “Jason, I’m busy. What do you want? Why are you here?” And the buyer’s still in this instinctive mode of just get rid of person, salesperson, get rid of them. Well, what do we do in that situation? And then, what can we do to make things stick, if empathy, just for whatever reason, isn’t working on this occasion?

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. Okay, so this is not going to work every time. I think we need to wrap our heads around that fact first, is that we’re going to try this and this might work half the time that we do it, or maybe it works a third of the time. That’s more than we got not doing it, right?

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Jason Bay:

So, we do have to accept the fact that the other person maybe doesn’t want to talk to me, and that’s an okay outcome. I can call them later.

 

Will Barron:

Yep.

 

Jason Bay:

They might genuinely be taken care of and that’s an okay outcome too. So, we have to be okay with that. So, if I did the example earlier and I’m like, “Hey, would it be a bad idea to tell you a little bit more about how we’re helping these other companies with a similar challenge?” The person’s like, “Well, what is it, dude? What do you got?” Like, “Hey, dude. Yeah, happy to share with you. You got 30 seconds here, I can tell you what I was calling about. You can let me know if you want to keep chatting or if we need to schedule something for another time. Is that cool? Awesome.” Yeah. And then I’m going to give my little spiel there. And we can talk about how to frame your pitch, we have a framework for that as well. But yeah, I’m going to try a couple of times and if that doesn’t work, I’m okay with ending the call.

 

The Value in Recognizing a Disinterested Buyer and Moving To The Next Call · [26:06] 

 

Will Barron:

And this goes against the boiler room, cold calling centres of perhaps 10 years ago, where you could get hold of people and you could just pester them and pester them, and go at them for weeks on end. How valuable is it to be able to recognise when someone either isn’t qualified, isn’t interested, and if you carry on speaking to them, using this technique of empathy or any other … I suppose, this isn’t really a technique, but you understand what I’m saying, this framework, how valuable is it to understand that we’re not going to get anywhere and eventually I’m just going to piss them off, and so it’s better just to quit your losses and come back with another angle or a different amount of value in the future?

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. I mean, I think there’s like a bunch of different elements there. So, essentially what I’m hearing is, is there a way that I can get something from this interaction to also know if it’s just truly not a good fit, for the prospect?

 

Will Barron:

I’m not asking necessarily how do we go about it, but how valuable is it to be able to appreciate that, so that you can hang up, move on to the next person, who perhaps is more likely to want to do business with you, or you have caught them at the right time? The reason I’m asking is, I know a lot of sales training … No, I don’t want to bash them. I know a lot of organisations that have done sales training that preach, pick up the phone and make dials and just hound people. And what I find, especially when people cold email me over and over and over and over again, is I just won’t deal with them in the future. They go to spam and then, well, they’ve not got access to me anymore.

 

Will Barron:

And after that point, I see that person, I see that brand in six months, 12 months time, and perhaps they have caught me at the right time for something else, but now they’ve ruined their own reputation. So, what I’m asking is … I might be totally off, tell me if I’m wrong here. That’s fine as well, of course. But is the value in having empathy when you’re doing this objection handling, having enough empathy to go, “Okay, I will not call you for three months now because you’re just clearly not interested and I’m going to burn bridges if I continue to do old school sales techniques and just continue to try and hound you.”?

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. I mean, there’s an insane amount of value in that. Because the other thing that you might truly find is, because you get the, “We already have a solution,” or, “We’re using another vendor,” objection a lot when you’re prospecting. If they’ve truly loved that relationship, do you want to waste all of that time with them in a sales process? I think most people’s sales pipelines, they look like a funnel, is what most people talk about, but I think it actually looks more like this. Where they have all of this, I cold called someone and set an appointment, but they didn’t show up. I cold call someone, they said to send a follow-up email, they never responded.

 

“I think it’s insanely valuable, especially for your productivity, to know when to understand this is not worth pursuing because the other person is not interested and if they scheduled a meeting with me, they would probably not show up. And I’m getting this person to say yes to something that they don’t really want to say yes to.” – Jason Bay · [28:44] 

 

Jason Bay:

I think our pipeline is full of that messy kind of stuff. So yeah, I think it’s insanely valuable, especially for your productivity, to know when to just, this is not worth pursuing because the other person, they’re not interested and if they scheduled a meeting with me, they would probably not show up. And I’m getting this person to say yes to something that they don’t really want to say yes to. That’s why I’m such a big fan of permission-based prospecting, is where there’s different elements in here, where they can opt in or opt out.

 

How To Overcome Sales Objections, Get the Prospect to Opt into the Conversation and Then Continue With The Sales Process · [29:21] 

 

Will Barron:

And we’ll wrap up. I’m just seeing the clock, I’m conscious of the time here, because I feel like maybe you could get deeper into this. And you mentioned another framework about pitching, so we’ll have you back on in the future to discuss that, Jason. But just to wrap things up here, what would be an example of getting someone to, perhaps on a phone call, perhaps after we’ve just been through a few objections, what would be an example of getting someone to opt in to continue the conversation or to continue our sales process?

 

“I look at the cold call in three steps. There’s the intro, there’s the hook, and then there’s the close. In the intro, I’m just trying to buy time to explain why I’m calling. Once I’ve explained why I’m calling, the hook is around what I call question stacking. And that’s like, I’m going to have two or three questions where I can really dig into the problem. And the way that I connect the hook to the close, is that I’m going to summarise.” – Jason Bay · [29:45] 

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. So, if I’ve gone through the objections and I’ve asked some questions to establish that there’s actually a need or some problems here, the next step is that … So, I look at the cold call in three steps. There’s the intro, there’s the hook, and then there’s the close. In the intro, I’m just trying to buy time to explain why I’m calling. Once I’ve explained why I’m calling, the hook is around what I call question stacking. And that’s like, I’m going to have two or three questions where I can really dig into the problem. And the way that I connect the hook to the close, is that I’m going to summarise. So, I’m going to say, “Hey, Will, so what I heard is that you guys are doing a lot of hiring right now, you’re extremely busy, but what’s really important and what you’re thinking about is, how can I quickly get these people ramped up, so that we can hit our revenue targets as quickly as possible? Did I miss anything?” “No, no, no, you didn’t miss anything.”

 

Jason Bay:

“Awesome. So, here’s what I’m thinking is, I’d love to schedule a time where we can talk about how we help companies with problems, A, B and C. Do you have your calendar handy?” “Yeah.” And then we go into the calendar part. And then, I send a calendar invite over the call, “Hey, just want to check again real quick, so for the agenda of the call, we’re going to cover problems, A, B and C that you’re having. And then, we’ll talk a little bit more about how we might be able to help you. How does that sound?” “Good.” So, it’s like, I’m asking those check-in questions several times throughout the process, but the biggest way is just summarise what you heard back to them. No different than you would at the end of a discovery call, or a demo call, if that’s your first interaction and just saying, “Hey, did I miss anything?” Or, “What did I miss?” And they’re going to feel like they have ownership over what’s going on.

 

Will Barron:

I love this. So, we teach something very similar over at salesman.org in our training programme, we call it micro closing. It’s basically the same thing, just different language of, “Does it make sense to the X, Y, Z? Does this make sense?” And just getting that, as you described, a ping of, “Yes, no, yes, no.” I think it’s really valuable. I do this when we’re selling ad space on the podcast, or if I’m very literally selling the training to sales leaders. Just constantly, “Does it make sense? What do you think about this? Does it make sense? Does it make sense?”

 

Why Empathy Must Precede Everything Else That Comes Down The Sales Process · [32:03] 

 

Will Barron:

And I find that that then allows them to coach you on how to proceed the sale. If they say, “No, it doesn’t make sense.” You say, “Well, what would make sense?” And again, you get this funnel of A, B, A, B, and a pathway, hopefully to … Well, to either a qualified prospect or to a non-qualified prospect, especially at this top end. And I like the way you brought that up then, because that ties really nicely into, that doesn’t work until the buyer knows that you care about them, until you’ve shown that empathy, they’re not going to answer these questions. In my experience, they’re just going to lie to your face. You’ve got to build that level of, even if it’s 15 seconds, that empathy. Am I right in this, that, that empathy has to precede everything else that comes further down the sales process?

 

“The only trust that you need to get from a cold call is, if I spend 30 minutes with Will, it’s not going to be a complete waste of my time.” – Jason Bay · [32:51] 

 

Jason Bay:

Absolutely. I mean, think about in your friendships, right? How did those develop into close friendships? Well, someone had to take a chance and open up a little bit and share a story from their childhood, or about how they didn’t get along with their parents, or a breakup that they had, whatever. And then, there has to be some sort of interaction there, where someone takes the opportunity to try to understand where the other person’s coming from. And that’s usually how good relationships and bonds are built, right? You’re doing this on a very, very light level, where the only trust that you need to get from a cold call is, if I spend 30 minutes with Will, it’s not going to be a complete waste of my time.

 

The Simplest Way to Build Trust Over a Sales Call is to Not Waste The Prospect’s Time · [33:00]

 

Will Barron:

So, should we have that at the back of our mind, of that is the goal? We need to build a level of trust where the buyer goes, “Hey, this person is clearly not a complete idiot, I’m going to get something from a phone call with them. It’s worth continuing to the next step.” That visually allows me to understand this a lot better. Is that the baseline level of trust that we’re trying to build on these cold calls?

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah, I would say that’s part two. Part one is just starting a conversation. So, if the mindset coming into the call was, “I don’t need to get an appointment from Will. I don’t need to get something from him. I just need to do everything I can to disarm him, and just get him talking.” So, if I can get enough trust there to get a conversation started, then I can do part two, like you said. And then, I can think about, how do I make it as easy as possible for this person to be honest with me, if they don’t see value in meeting with me again?

 

Jason’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [34:12] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. I love it. Right. Well, we’re going to wrap things up here, Jason, and we’ll have you back on probably to just continue exactly where from where we are right now. And then, I want to hear about the pitching framework and everything else you’ve got to share with the audience as well. So, with that, mate, I’ve got one final question, ask everyone that comes on the show. So, I’m going to ask you this. I don’t know if I’ve asked you this last time you were on, but I’m going to ask you again. We’ll see if the answer is different. 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?

 

Jason Bay:

Oh, it’s totally connected to this empathy thing. So, I learned about this going through therapy, in the last couple of years. That was another thing you asked before we recorded, what’s changed since last time we talked? Well, that’s been a big thing. And I would say, “Hey, take the time, Jason, to understand a little bit more about how you’re feeling and not suppress those feelings.” So, when you get rejected, when you’re doing a sales call, it’s really easy to just brush that off and be like, okay, onto the next, and not reflect on that. And then be like, “Yeah, that didn’t really feel good when I got to the finish line with a prospect and they totally just lied to me the entire time and said they didn’t want to work with me.” It’s okay to just sit in that moment and be like, “Yeah, I feel sad and rejected right now.”

 

Jason Bay:

And if I was able to do that at a younger age, that would help me empathise with other people more. I spent my entire career in sales. I’m 31, started selling door-to-door, house painting services when I was 18, and almost my entire sales career, I went without really having an understanding of how other people are feeling throughout the entire process. And I did pretty well. I’m just wondering how much better I could have done if I would have understand that, hey, when someone says, “You know what? I can’t really afford this,” and think about, well, God, they’re a small business owner. Well, how would I feel if I was a small business owner and this was a big investment? I would definitely talk to them a lot differently and not just use my rebuttals, and a lot of the rebuttals worked though. But I’m wondering, if I really would have connected with them on a more of an emotional level and just met them where they’re at, I probably could have closed a lot more deals, dude, and it probably would have felt better.

 

Will Barron:

It would have felt better.

 

Jason Bay:

I always wrestled with that.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. So, I was going to say, I’ve been the arrogant salesperson in the past. Humbly, I would consider my … I don’t know if this is quite empathetic to declare how empathetic am. I don’t know if that’s a particularly humble [inaudible [00:36:09]. But in my background, selling to surgeons, if you were an ass, they’d just kick you out and you’d never be able to sell to them again and then, the whole department was just off limits. With a finite territory, clearly it’s not a good system of progression as you’re trying to close more deals in medical device sales. But I definitely went down a little bit of a path of being the arrogant salesperson, before I had a sales leader push me back in the right direction, in the first medical device job that I had and pushed me back towards this idea of empathy.

 

Will Barron:

So, I can totally appreciate what you’re saying there, and maybe you wouldn’t have closed more deals, you would have felt better about it. You would have been less stressed probably. Sales is a stressful role, right? It would have been more sustainable and maybe your buyers would have just had a better outcome. They would have bought the product or service anyway, but there would be less buyer’s remorse. They’d be happier. They’d be more likely to give you referrals. And maybe that’s where the extra level of growth comes from, from again, just not being that stereotypical …

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:30] 

 

Will Barron:

And I think we’re growing out of this, as an industry, as sales professionals become more professional. And hopefully, this podcast and your work, Jason, really adds an emphasis to this, but we need to grow out of this ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s, just nonsensical selling and just trying to ram your pitch down people’s throats. And hopefully, this podcast has done that. So, with that, mate, I want you to tell us where we can find out more about you, and I believe you’ve got a resource to share with Sales Nation as well.

 

Jason Bay:

Yeah. I resonated 100% with what you said by the way. I love that. So, a lot of times when people listen to this kind of stuff or any sales advice, it’s like, “Oh, that sounds really good, but how do I actually apply that? How do I do that?” And so, I put together a guide, it’s got seven prospecting plays in there, and these are step-by-step things that you can say in emails, or phone calls, or objection handling, whatever it might be. And these are prospecting plays that I use, I’ve gathered from people we interview, and then also reps that we work with.

 

Jason Bay:

So, that’s in a nice little PDF guide that you can grab, and that’s at blissfulprospecting.com/will. You can just grab that for free. And I would check that out. And then, blissfulprospecting.com, you can find all the other information about us. We do bootcamps and work with reps. There’s a tonne of free content. We have a podcast as well. I post every day on LinkedIn. A lot of free content out there too on the website.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, I’ll link to all that in the show notes of this episode, over at salesman.org. And I don’t say this flippantly, Jason, I’d love to have you back on, to dive into all of this in more detail. And with that mate, I want to thank you again for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Jason Bay:

Cool. Thanks for having me, man.

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