fbpx

Using NLP and Neuro-Semantics To Change Your Buyers Beliefs

Aaron Evans boasts 13 years of sales enablement, coaching and hands-on training experience in multinational, corporate, and start-up business environments.

In today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast, Aaron describes how we can use NLP and neuro-semantics to change our beliefs, our thought patterns, and our buyer’s beliefs to improve sales performance.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:
Win More Deals Or Your Money Back.
Selling Made Simple Academy: The proven way to improve sales results. Trusted by 2,000+ students.

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Aaron Evans
Sales Enablement PRO

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

This episode of the show is brought to you from the Salesman.org HubSpot studio. Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman podcast.

 

Aaron Evans:

Well, I think that the studies on this show that having a positive mind frame and believing that you’re lucky, as an example, typically puts you in positions where opportunities are presented to you.

 

Aaron Evans:

Well, they’re mutually inclusive because by definition learning is probably deeply ingrained in the belief system itself, and we talk about fixed mindset versus growth mindset. And again, these are beliefs, and we talk about the luck scenario that we use very early on. This is no different when it comes to how people learn.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation. My name is Will Barron. I’m the host of the Salesman podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, we have Aaron Evans. He is a sales coach and trainer. His excellent YouTube channel is linked below this video, or if you’re listening on the audio over at salesmen.org, in the show notes.

 

Will Barron:

On today’s episode, we’re getting into how we can use NLP, how we can use neurosemantics to change both our beliefs, our thought patterns, and our buyers thoughts and beliefs as well. So with that said, let’s jump right into it. Aaron, welcome to the Salesman podcast.

 

Aaron Evans:

Thank you very much for having me. Very, very excited to chat to you.

 

How Much of Our Success in Life and In Sales Comes From Our Beliefs, Both Positive and Negative? · [01:16] 

 

Will Barron:

I’m very, very excited to have you on. Okay. In today’s episode, we’re going to cover, or hopefully cover the topic of using NLP. And this is a new one on me, neurosemantics, to help change our belief systems. But before we get into the how, let’s touch on the why. And let me ask you this, Aaron, how much, and this is, I guess, anecdotal, but I don’t have the data on this that’s going to prove this, but how much of our success in sales and in life comes from our beliefs, whether they are positive or negative?

 

“Having a positive mind frame and believing that you’re lucky, as an example, typically puts you in positions where opportunities are presented to you.” – Aaron Evans · [01:42] 

 

Aaron Evans:

Well, I think that the studies on this show that having a positive mind frame and believing that you’re lucky, as an example, and typically puts you in positions where opportunities are presented to you. That there’s no coincidence that the shop owner who stays open the latest is the one that wins the most business because they simply see it, well, as opposed to it being quiet, I’ll shut, it’s quiet, so I’ll stay open. Again, you got to remember that luck and opportunity are a symptom of looking for luck and looking for opportunity. And I think that the sales people that knock on the most doors often have the most success, so I think a large part of it is down to your perspective and your mindset and also your beliefs as well.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. I love you how you tied this to optimism and positivity, because that is really well studied. And the simplest studies are getting people to walk from one location to another, and they’ll put five pound notes, a 10 pound note, wherever on the floor, pessimists will look at it and go, “Oh, well, it’s not mine. If I pick it up, someone’s going to complain. I’m going to like an idiot.” While an optimist will go, “Hey, great free money,” stick it in their pocket. So, that is really well studied, so I appreciate that.

 

How are Beliefs Formed? · [02:50] 

 

Will Barron:

With that then, I guess there’s multiple ways we can go with all of this, but I want to start at the beginning of it the best we can. How are beliefs formed in our brain? And is it a tangible thing, a belief, or is a belief a cloud of randomness that we label as a belief and we try and label it the best that we can?

 

“People hold beliefs very dearly because they are the base level building blocks to perspective such that when you start challenging beliefs, often people find it very, very uncomfortable.” – Aaron Evans · [03:30] 

 

Aaron Evans:

It’s a really good question. And in all honesty, I don’t know the true answer to that, but I have some theories around it. And I think that these are kind of the building blocks of behaviour and the building blocks of, again, perspective and often beliefs are the early stage mind frame or frame of mind that you have, and particularly when you transfer this into sales. This is where I get really excited about it is that people hold beliefs very dearly because they are that base level building block to perspective, that when you start challenging beliefs or you start putting the way the layers and you get to beliefs, often people find it very, very uncomfortable when you challenge those beliefs.

 

Aaron Evans:

And this is how, I suppose, how bizarre it is that obviously cognitive dissonance is where you can hold two opposing beliefs at the same time. And regardless of the evidence, you can still not change your mind because you’re so strongly attached to that belief, and it’s such a foundation of your whole perspective that it’s very difficult to change those beliefs.

 

Aaron Evans:

So when you look at like the questioning stage, or when you look at challenging an objection with a client, often salespeople go in there and they’re quite combative about this. Whereas I’m always training people to actually, “No, let’s be collaborative in peeling away the layers, not just look at the logic of someone’s belief, but also the emotional side that’s attached to that belief as well.” And that will often help them change that perspective. A guarantee now, Will, be it political, be it a football team that you support, you’ll hold a opposing belief or two opposing beliefs, and you’re quite comfortable with that because you’re so tied to these beliefs at the same time. And that is cognitive dissonance, right?

 

Aaron’s Thoughts on Which is More Marketable: Earning the Skill of Challenging Buyers’ Beliefs and Assumptions or Understanding Your Own Negative Beliefs · [04:47] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. It’s almost like we don’t question them and you need someone else maybe to go in there and start prodding and poking at things to bring the cognitive dissonance and negative beliefs to light. So let me ask you this, if you were doing coaching, if you were doing some training, if you creating a YouTube video and you could only focus on one of these two things, which would be the biggest bang for buck for people to work on? Would it be learning the skill of challenging buyers’ beliefs and assumptions and be able to break through them and have transformational conversations with them, or would it be more effective on their sales career for them to understand their own negative beliefs and perhaps what’s holding themselves back?

 

“By definition, learning is probably deeply ingrained in the belief system itself.” – Aaron Evans · [05:13] 

 

Aaron Evans:

Well, they mutually inclusive because, by definition, learning is probably deeply ingrained in the belief system itself, and we talk about fixed mindset versus growth mindset. And again, these are beliefs. We talk about the luck scenario that we use very early on. This is no different when it comes to how people learn. Some people sit there and say, “Well, I’ve learned everything at the moment, so I don’t need to learn anymore,” and that’s very much a fixed mindset. Or they look at things like, I don’t know, accountability, responsibility, when things go wrong. Salespeople typically blame the client where the great salespeople actually look at themselves and go, “What could I do differently? What’s the lesson I’ve learned from this?”

 

“There’s something that sets aside the real talent and that’s people who have the ability to self-analyse, to learn, and to be critical of their own performance.” – Aaron Evans · [05:58]

 

Aaron Evans:

So I’d actually, I know this is going to sound deeply meta, but I’d actually look at how you learn in the first place because in my having trained thousands upon thousands of salespeople and sales managers globally, there’s something that sets aside the real talent, and that’s people who have the ability to self-analyse, to learn, to be critical of their own performance, to listen back to their own performance and dissect it and look at it in that way. I think you need to almost look at learning as the framework and then go into what you’re going to learn, but I’d always start with yourself. I mean, you can’t change a customer’s mind until you’ve worked out that changing your own mind is actually quite a good thing and not a bad thing.

 

“Being able to change your own mind having seen the evidence and thought about it is so powerful, yet people are so stuck to these beliefs because they think, “Well, no. I identified with that belief, therefore, I can’t change it.” – Aaron Evans · [06:31] 

 

Aaron Evans:

And there’s this perception with changing opinions that it’s a bad thing, it’s actually an incredible thing. Being able to change your own mind, having seen evidence and thought about it, is so powerful yet people are so stuck to these beliefs because they think, “Well, no. I identified with that belief, therefore, I can’t change it.” And that, for me, in itself is fascinating. I change my mind all the time when the evidence is there.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. This is a phenomenon that I see all the time. I see it even with friends and family and people that are close to me as well of they will have beliefs that they had as a child, and it’s almost that the haven’t physically grown up. So, they will see evidence around them, but they choose to ignore this evidence as we’re discussing here, Aaron. But it’s almost like they’ve got cognitive biases that want to force them, I don’t know what the cognitive biases are, we could probably outline some of them, but they’re almost not allowing themselves to become an adult and have their own thoughts and opinions.

 

Why Is It So Difficult to Challenge Our Own Assumptions and Beliefs? · [07:42]

 

Will Barron:

Because I feel like one of the most important elements of becoming an adult is you can listen to a parent. You can listen to an uncle, that friend, whoever it is, someone who has seemingly authority in your life at a younger age, and you can choose to not listen to them. I think that’s like the fundamental step of becoming an adult. Well, with that said then, why is it so difficult to challenge our own assumptions and beliefs when seemingly success is on the other side of learning, how to challenge them? Why is it so difficult to do it?

 

“I think sales is an almost fertile breeding ground for bad habits, because there’s so much repetition in it.” – Aaron Evans · [07:55]

 

Aaron Evans:

Well, I’ll put it in the context of sales, and I think sales is a almost fertile breeding ground for bad habits, because there’s so much repetition in it. And then you start to slip into abductive logic versus deductive logic. So if you make five calls and you get the same objection two times, it’s really easy to turn around and go, “Well, every call is going to get that objection.” So you start using abductive logic versus, “Okay, well, let’s make a list of how many times I get that and let’s work on getting better on it.”

 

Aaron Evans:

Particularly when it comes to learning. When you learn a new skill, you’re shitty. You’re just not good at that skill. So what people do is they turn around they make three calls with the new skill and they go, “Well, that’s not working therefore I’ll give up.” That’s classic deductive logic, sorry, abductive logic. Deductive logic is going, “Well, I’ll do it 100 times, I’ll see where I went wrong, and I’ll improve on the areas where I went wrong.”

 

Aaron Evans:

So I think, and I always say this is that because there’s so much around KPIs and activity and sales, you almost create the most fertile breeding ground for bad habits, and getting salespeople to analyse those bad habits and undo them, particularly when they perceive that they work, where actually, when you look across the grand scale of things, they probably don’t work that effectively. They’ll work one in 200, 300 times. It’s quite difficult.

 

Aaron Evans:

And I’ve gone into sales organisations, both as a consultant and as someone who works there, and you’ve got people who are perceived to be incredibly successful making loads of money, and then you look at how good they are and you think actually there’s gaping holes in what they do, and then you’ve got to go in and undo it, and it’s really hard because they perceived to be successful. So I’d say in the context of sales, I think one of the reasons why we have these blind spots, and one of the reasons why we have these sweeping assumptions is because of the repetition that’s involved in it. Do 150 calls a day, you’re going to pick up bad habits.

 

Will Barron:

We could literally, and I’ll be back on to dive into this in the future because I feel like there’s multiple ways we can go with this of self-image and self-esteem and perceived success and all this stuff as well. And whether, if you are doing the wrong things, be making a load of money, should you even change? Maybe you shouldn’t, maybe you should just plod on if there’s a five-year plan of that ahead of you. So we can, perhaps, cover that on another episode.

 

Fixed Versus Growth Mindset · [09:58] 

 

Will Barron:

Something that I don’t want to gloss over, you mentioned it. We’ve had Carol Dweck on the podcast in the past, but can you just give us a quick overview of fixed versus growth mindset? Because I feel like this is fundamental to what we’re talking about here. If you’re not forcing yourself into that fixed mindset approach, all of this is irrelevant, isn’t it?

 

Aaron Evans:

Yeah. I mean, look, fixed mindset comes down to lots of different criteria, but it’s a case of not looking at everything as an opportunity to grow or learn something. A really simple example that I use is when I’m doing a training session and someone’s on their phone or they’re not concentrating, the easy thing to do is to turn around and blame that person. Whereas what I like to do, and this for me was such a big turning point in my career was to take accountability and say, “Well, what did I do to create an environment where someone felt that that was acceptable?”

 

Aaron Evans:

It’s about constantly looking at your own performance, constantly looking at your own mindset, and constantly using everything as a way of learning or grasping as an opportunity to get something out of it. And then what happens is, is that failure doesn’t become failure, it actually becomes an incredible learning opportunity. And then, no matter what job you’re doing is that you’re constantly shedding layers of skin and growing.

 

“Having that mindset of being able to use everything as an opportunity to learn is a pathway to success in itself because you don’t tend to make mistakes the same time over.” – Aaron Evans · [11:23]

 

Aaron Evans:

And if we’re not doing that in our job, and some people aren’t motivated by that. But typically if we’re not doing that in our job, what’s the point? That’s my perception on it. And I’m a trainer, I’m learning something every day, from people that I trained as well because I’m not arrogant enough to think that I know everything. And I think having that mindset of being able to use everything as an opportunity to learn is a pathway to success in itself because you don’t tend to make mistakes the same time over.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And just very literally for the audience, I use the example all the time of, I always get confused between an anecdote, a metaphor, simile, and there’s another one, but whatever this is, you’ll hear people say, “I could never work in sales,” when there’s no evidence that they couldn’t work in it, so that’s a fixed mindset. They decided that they can’t do something without evidence to support it. And yet people who go, “I’ve never worked in sales, but could probably give it a go. I’ll have a crack at it. Other people learnt how to do that, so I can learn how to do it,” and that would be a growth mindset, and we should all clearly be focusing down on the growth mindset side of things.

 

How do NLPs and Neurosemantics Affect Our Willingness to Change Beliefs, Thought Patterns, and Assumptions? · [12:04] 

 

Will Barron:

With that all said then, I think we’ve made it clear that we need to have a growth mindset. Beliefs are important, beliefs lead to behaviours which leads to success or failure where we’ve talked about this learning cycle of do something, get feedback, improve upon yourself, and be open to changing opinions based on the feedback and the evidence around you. How does NLP and neurosemantics come into all this with regards to changing beliefs, thought patterns, and everything else that’s NLP? And I’m assuming because neurosemantics is new to me, neursemantics can be used for as well.

 

Aaron Evans:

I mean, look, I think it’s worth giving a disclaimer and saying that NLP is quite culty where there’s sort of two halves of it, which one half I’m really interested in because it’s deeply entrenched in science and has led me to learn about lots of different things that has studies and essays written on it. And a large part of it [inaudible [00:12:56] garbage [crosstalk [00:12:58].

 

Aaron Evans:

There’s the half which is around self-help and there’s the half that’s around kind of communication. And ever since I was a very young boy, I became obsessed with communication. In fact, I’d say that’s what’s sort of driven me in my career is this sort of my own obsession with learning about communication, the way we communicate, the way we consume language, the way we consume thought. And the bit that I really love is communication and making people effective in communication, shortcutting tactics to build rapport quicker, to get trust from the customer quicker.

 

“If you can create an environment where people can be honest with themselves straight away, you’re in a good position to actually tackle real problems and also strip away the lies in our belief systems.” – Aaron Evans · [13:35] 

 

Aaron Evans:

But also this translates to coaching. I mean, fundamentally about 80% of my job is spent coaching people. So if you can create an environment where people can be honest and be honest with themselves straight away, you’re in a good position to actually tackle real problems and also strip away the lies that get to belief systems that we spoke about before.

 

Aaron Evans:

The way I look at it, to be perfectly honest with you, is that how can we create an environment where the customer can communicate honestly, and truthfully, and ultimately clearly with us to help us get better at selling and servicing those customers? And it’s brilliant. It’s absolutely brilliant. It can help in so many ways. Let’s talk about how it can help, right? I mean, from the language that you choose to the tone and the pace that you choose, the types of questions, the way you frame those questions, the way you get people to look at problems from a completely different angle. The way you get people to buy for themselves, this is all achieved by the choice of language that you have, the way you positioned that language and ultimately the way you get people to look at things.

 

“Your job as a salesperson is to change your customer’s perception to see that they’ve got a problem and ultimately your product or service can solve that problem.” – Aaron Evans · [14:25] 

 

Aaron Evans:

And again, that’s deeply entrenched in coaching, but the knock-on effect of that is that that’s your job as a salesperson is to change perception, change customers’ perception, to see that they’ve got a problem and ultimately your product or service can solve that problem.

 

What’s an NLP and How Is It Different From Neurosemantics? · [14:40]

 

Will Barron:

We’ll get into the communication side of things in a second, but just, again, for clarity, what’s NLP? You kind of give us an outline of what it is then. How is it different to neurosemantics? What are the two things that we’re talking about here?

 

Aaron Evans:

Neuro-linguistic programming is an offshoot of psychotherapy, which is basically around communication and how we choose language and how we perceive the world to take it away from subjectivity to objectivity. Neurosemantic is much more down to the language we use and the choice of words we have as well to change those perceptions and to self-analyse ourselves as well. And again, I just want to put a disclaimer out there. A lot of it is garbage because it was invented in the ’80s and some of it’s been disproven, but when you start looking at things like language and abductive logic versus deductive logic, there’s a lot of truth in the communication side of it, which is really interesting.

 

Will Barron:

I’m totally on board. I appreciate the disclaimer as well, some of it is complete nonsense. But I do find the language elements of it, how even just sentences are structured, and how we can essentially not incept people with thoughts and feelings, but how you can, essentially you’re better communicating it so it goes through all the filters that we have and jumps into their brain and into your own brain more effectively. I find that absolutely fascinating.

 

Aaron Talks About the Underlying Theories of How Communication Works · [16:18]

 

Will Barron:

I came across all this from Tony Robbins has his own spinoff of a spinoff of a spinoff, I imagine, but the way he communicates and the way that he just even just has a sentence that I would use 15 filler words, so um’s and er’s, and he structured it in a way that it can be impactful and can lead to transformation in just one or two sentences, I find, is really interesting and really effective. Is there an underlying theory behind this of how communication works? Is there an underlying theory or structure of how we can implement, not the whole process of both of these products almost, but is there an underlying structure of how we can implement some of this that you can explain on a 30-minute podcast?

 

Aaron Evans:

Yeah. I think that when you boil it down or distil it down to sales, I think there’s so many words that salespeople use that are actually really, really affecting behaviour of clients. And just a really simple example is just the word try. I mean, we put that into sentences so much, and it’s so dangerous. Like if you turn around to a customer saying, “Can you try and get that contract back to me by [2:00],” and the customer agrees to it, what they’re fundamentally agreeing to is trying to do it as opposed to doing it. Right?

 

Aaron Evans:

And again, it’s a simple thing like that, that if you’re being more forthright and more authoritative in the way you deliver it, which is, “I need you to get that contract back to me by [2:00] PM,” all of a sudden you’re cutting through the nonsense and you’re getting straight to it. But the part that fascinates me is actually when you start inserting it into questioning. Because fundamentally question requires so much thought, right? Because particularly an open question is that customers have to sit there and think about it. And some of the ways you can change perception through questioning is phenomenal. A really simple example. Let’s think of it. Like what colour is the sky, as an example, Will?

 

Will Barron:

Blue.

 

Aaron Evans:

At the moment, what colour is the sky, do you think?

 

Will Barron:

Right now in beautiful Leeds, probably grey, cloudy mess.

 

Aaron Evans:

Okay. What about night? What colour is the sky, would you say?

 

Will Barron:

I think I know where you’re going with this, but black.

 

Aaron Evans:

Okay. During the course of a year in England, how often is the sky actually blue?

 

Will Barron:

Little.

 

Aaron Evans:

Okay, so what colour was the sky?

 

Will Barron:

Grey, blacky mess.

 

Aaron Evans:

Brilliant. So, we’ve gone from you with utter conviction saying the sky is blue to now saying actually about four or five different colours of what it is. And again, we hold these assumptions and we hold these beliefs and we hold these thought patterns and obstructions as well, and by being a good salesperson you can challenge those through the way that you gently prod and question the client. I didn’t offer you a single opinion in that scenario, I merely questioned you. And you’ve gone from saying the sky is blue to a grey, blacky mess.

 

“Sales isn’t one person selling to another person, sales is a salesperson getting someone to sell to themselves. And the best way of doing that is through questioning. The most trusted advisor you have is yourself, and if you can get yourself to sell to yourself, you’re in a good position.” – Aaron Evans · [18:40] 

 

Aaron Evans:

And this is what I find fascinating is that by using those tactical questions, the way that you can change a customer’s perception and get them to think differently themselves. Let’s not beat around the bush here. Sales isn’t one person selling to another person. Sales is a salesperson getting someone to sell to themselves. And the best way of doing that is through questioning. The most trusted advisor you have is yourself, and if you can get yourself to sell to yourself, you’re in a good position. And that’s what a salesperson should do. They should facilitate a conversation between the person they’re selling to and themselves, and all of a sudden they change their own perceptions, which is far more long-lasting, far more meaningful. It gets them to see it themselves because of the questions that you’ve enacted on the client.

 

How Much of Changing a Customer’s Perceptions Comes From Strategically Asking Questions From a Position of Authority? · [19:10] 

 

Will Barron:

How much of this comes from very strategically choosing the words, the questions, and obviously this can be refined over time with experimentation, and how much of it comes from you just being dead certain and assertive and asking questions from an authoritative standpoint of, I am the expert in this, and you will follow the lead congruently within the conversation, you’re not trying to force push anything, but how much of it comes from just plain confidence and assertiveness?

 

“I think where a lot of salespeople go wrong, and I think it is the belief thing, is that they assume that the person they are selling to knows more than them.” – Aaron Evans · [19:37] 

 

Aaron Evans:

I want to say it’s a combination of the two, and I think where a lot of salespeople go wrong, and I think it is the belief thing is that they assume that the person that’s selling to you knows more than them. And I say this to STRs all the time, “Who knows more about the market, you or the CEO of a blue-chip company? Well, you do? The CEO’s not putting 200 outbound calls into the market every day speaking to their competitors.”

 

Aaron Evans:

And I think when you start adopting that mindset, actually you’re an expert and a practitioner, clients quite like to be challenged because they’re being challenged by a peer, an equal. And for me, this is such a big turning point in the coaching that I do is that as soon as you start acting like that, you start actually manifesting those behaviours and clients start trusting you and wanting to listen to you and the way that you position yourself and your product becomes that of an expert.

 

“I think expertise is the cross point between knowledge and skill.” – Aaron Evans · [20:37] 

 

Aaron Evans:

But there’s a skill element to it as well, and this is where I think a lot salespeople go wrong is they try it two or three times. They fail miserably because it’s a brand new skill, a bit like when you first learned to drive. And then they go, “This is too hard. I’m going to go back to constantly asking for permission from the client.” I’d say it’s a good mix of the two, and I think expertise is the cross point between knowledge and skill. That is what expertise is, and you have to work on both of them simultaneously. And I think we often spend far too much time on one or the other, so you’ve got to get the knowledge and you got to get the skill exactly right.

 

Will Barron:

I love this. Clearly some of this is the basis of the challenger sale, of when you are able to challenge a potential customer, a buyer, they have to go, “Oh, wait a second.” You can’t just throw the usual, “I’m not interested. Call me back next week, send me something over email.” They have to go, “Oh.” They’ve broken out of whatever kind of flow or state that they’re in, and they have to actually respond to you. Now, they might just tell you to piss off, but at least you’ve got an actual response as opposed to an automated response from them.

 

Will Barron:

Or if you’re coaching a team, right? So we’ve covered a lot of ground here, I appreciate this. Let’s pull it back together-

 

Aaron Evans:

It’s great. I love it.

 

How Would Aaron Coach Someone with Lower Beliefs to get Them to Question Their Own Assumptions · [21:26]

 

Will Barron:

… and make it practical for the audience. How would you coach someone who is perhaps, perhaps they have poor beliefs. This is going to be a bit of a stereotype here, but it’ll give us a story to kind of build on.

 

Will Barron:

Perhaps Sam works in sales, he’s got his first sales job. He comes from a background enough to do sales. He’s from a lower income family, and so he’s got beliefs about money or income or finances or whatever it is that are, perhaps, holding him back slightly. Perhaps he has some kind of beliefs of salespeople are annoying, and that all I am doing is pestering people all day. I’m not really providing any value. How do you coach someone? How do you literally coach someone from negative belief systems, some which are come from these environments, some of which have been learned, perhaps from the media, he’s seen some films where salespeople have been assholes, how do you coach someone beyond those beliefs and get them to question their own assumptions?

 

Aaron Evans:

Questioning is the key thing, right? So you need to question them and get them to see the logic that they’re adopting to have that perspective in the first place. And as soon as you start opening the wound and they see that this actually isn’t necessarily congruent with the truth, then all of a sudden you start building out logic at the back of that.

 

“Your objective is not to sell anyone anything, your objective is to go in there and learn about their business. By learning about their business, that’s a success.” – Aaron Evans · [22:56] 

 

Aaron Evans:

But I think there’s an elephant in the room associated with that, and I think this is where a lot of sales people go wrong is that objective and expectations. Brand new salespeople walking into a sales job, their objective is to make a sale. It’s like, well, no, you’re not going to do that for a long time. Right? Let’s start with the right objective that’s going to get the right result, and that is questioning. Your objective is not to sell anyone anything, your objective is to go in there and learn about their business. By learning about their business, that’s a success.

 

Aaron Evans:

And all of a sudden, you start realising that actually you’re doing the right building blocks to selling, which is you’re learning about an organization’s business, simultaneously you’re learning about your product. When those opportunities come up to start positioning your product versus a customer’s need, you often grasp it.

 

“Someone above you is paid a lot of money to tell you whether you’re doing a good or bad job. If you’re the one telling yourself that, you’re doing the wrong job.” – Aaron Evans · [23:21] 

 

Aaron Evans:

But there’s also an expectation that people put on themselves. And I always say to people, “Someone above you has paid a lot of money to tell you whether you’re doing a good or bad job. If you’re the one telling yourself that, you’re doing the wrong job.” And again, I posted this on LinkedIn today that sometimes it takes six months for an SDR to be successful in the job without actually regularly booking meetings, because it takes that long to get the skill or the competency and the confidence. I really like managing the expectation of the person that I’m coaching, making sure that they don’t have an unrealistic expectation, and looking what the outcomes and objectives are we’re looking for. And guess what, a sale isn’t going to be the outcome.

 

Aaron Evans:

The other part of this, which is really important, sorry if I’m waffling on, but-

 

Will Barron:

Oh, no. Keep going.

 

“One deal that you’ve been working on that closes and then you’ve got nothing in the pipeline for six months is a waste of everyone’s time, including your employer.” – Aaron Evans · [24:15] 

 

Aaron Evans:

… what outcomes are going to actually deliver long lasting, meaningful success? The first sale people put so much pressure on, but then they boom or bust. They get their first sale in but they’ve built no meaningful pipeline for the next six to 12 months. So I’m always conscious to get salespeople to change the perspective from deals to pipeline. Late-stage pipeline over the course of the next six months is really valuable because you can close a lot of it. One deal that you’ve been working on that closes and then you’ve got nothing in the pipeline for six months is a waste of everyone’s time, including your employer. And that’s typically where people go wrong is the wrong outcome, the wrong objective.

 

“You can’t just keep telling people what your product does. You’ve got to question them until they realise that there’s a problem” – Aaron Evans · [24:34] 

 

Aaron Evans:

But yeah, just to go to the very nub of your point that you’ve got to question people, you can’t do it by telling them. And the same way with a client. You can’t just keep telling people what your product does. You’ve got a question them until they realise that there’s a problem, and then you get them to analyse that. And then they go away and they think about it, and then they come back and then you continue to question and talk about what they’ve learned. And that’s the most powerful way of communicating is by getting people to question themselves and you being the facilitator of that, particularly in coaching.

 

Do the Assumptions About What Salespeople Should Be Capable of Come From a Salesperson’s Self-Image or is it Organisation-Based? · [24:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Do you find that when you go in and you’re doing consulting, do you find that these assumptions about what salespeople should be capable of doing, what they should be aimed towards, what building blocks they should be working on right now in this moment, is this on them and their self-esteem, their self-image, what they believe is possible in sales, or is it more to do with the company culture and what they’re told internally they should be achieving?

 

“I think where a lot of organisations go wrong is they don’t look for coachability in the interview stage.” – Aaron Evans · [25:21]

 

Aaron Evans:

It’s a mixture of both, but I think where a lot of organisations go wrong is they don’t look for coachability in the interview stage. You can hire someone that you think has got the potential of being a great salesperson because they’ve got the gift of the gab, or they’re really good at talking, but you have to take accountability. But in the recruitment stage, particularly for entry-level sales roles, your number one objective should be to understand whether that person’s coachable and they don’t have a part or a slice of their interview stage that is ultimately the radar to see whether someone is coachable.

 

Aaron Evans:

So, I think it’s a combination of the two. Sometimes we hire the wrong person who just simply isn’t coachable, and sometimes the culture of the organisation is that of an unrealistic one, or often they’re concentrating on the wrong outcomes, like I said. But ultimately, the organisation has to take accountability because they’ve brought that person into the job and it’s their responsibility to ultimately set them up for success, not for failure. And businesses aren’t always going to do that.

 

Are You a Coachable Salesperson? Here’s What You Need to Look Out For · [26:18]

 

Will Barron:

Aaron, let’s say Sam is listening to this. He’s going, “Hmm. I want to improve my game.” He’s listening to a podcast like this, so he’s probably ahead of the curve versus most salespeople who don’t do any work on themselves whatsoever. How does Sam know if he is coachable or not? Is there a way to, maybe this is the fixed versus growth mindset, but how does he know if he is coachable or if that’s a trait he needs to work on himself?

 

Aaron Evans:

It’s a really good question, and it comes back to that of unconscious incompetence versus a conscious incompetence. Sometimes people are shit at things and they don’t know they’re shit at it, and it’s a manager’s job to let them know they’re shit at it through the questioning that they ask. But there’s a couple of key indicators of coachability. Number one is, are you self-analytical? Can you give yourself honest feedback and improvement areas? Then it’s about, can you actually coach yourself to come up with a strategy, not necessarily the right strategy because no one knows always what the right strategy is, but a strategy to improve on that stuff, at least try something differently?

 

Aaron Evans:

And what you’ll find is if you’re sitting there and you’ve performed, and the feedback you’re getting is wildly different from what you perceive your performance to be, then there’s often a big gap in self-analysis, and ultimately, coachability. To translate that, Will, in terms of how you do it in the interview stage, is you need to ask metacognition questions to get people to think about thinking. I often say like, “How do you think this interview’s gone? If you could improve one thing, what would you improve?” Okay, you’ve now got a chance to do that, go and improve it and watch how they enact that feedback they’ve given themselves.

 

Will Barron:

Just on that point there, Aaron. That’s an amazing question because there’s two ways it could go at it. They could say, “I could have improved the interview by doing this, this, and this.” Or they could turn it on the interviewer and say, “You should have done this and this,” so maybe there’s insights from wherever they turn that question of the accept responsibility for the interview and how it’s going, or wherever they try and push it off as well.

 

Aaron Evans:

I mean, I’ve hired people who have performed awfully in the interview, but the feedback they’ve given themselves and the strategy that they come up with to improve it, and then how they enacted on that strategy has been so good that the coachability, it just stands out above every other part of their personality or skillset.

 

Aaron Evans:

A really good one to think about is ask the candidate what you think of them. So Will, “What do you think I think of you?” And all of a sudden you’re asking them to put themselves in your shoes, to look at it from your perspective, but also look at it from your expertise as well. And that is a really good way of getting to see how someone’s mind work, the empathy, and how they can give themselves feedback for your perspective, and it’s fascinating some of the answers you get. But one piece of advice that I always give people is, is if someone’s sitting there going, “It’s the best interview I’ve ever had,” and it wasn’t, that’s a clear indicator that they’re not coachable and they have some serious self-awareness problems.

 

Will Barron:

I got asked this question of how do you think the interview went on a, it was in between medical device sales jobs, and it was a job that I wasn’t really interested in, and the guy probably knew I wasn’t that interested in his medical device. It was a physical medical product, as opposed to the camera systems that I really enjoyed selling. The company was called Stryker. I know there’s people from Stryker who listen to the show.

 

Will Barron:

We sat down at hotel. It was these orthopaedic implants, tiny implants, hundreds of dollars a pop. He passed them out and was like, “Hey, check these out. These are what we’re going to be talking about. These what we’re going to be selling and I’d love to get your insights on them.” I opened this top, and it flies everywhere all over this hotel, and I’m sat there going, okay, was this a test? Was it designed to explode? And then I looked at this poor fella and he’s on his hands and knees scraping them up, and I’m sat there in the seat. “This is so awkward, dude.”

 

Will Barron:

I literally just sat there, and then I hesitated too long then to help him, so I let him pick them all up. Finished the conversation and then he turned around to me and was like, “Will, how’d you think the interview went?” I was like, “It was lovely. It was lovely to meet you. I don’t think this is a good fit.” He showed me out and then I got the train home back up from London. But literally, he was absolutely just, he couldn’t believe that I’d done something so stupid because obviously imagine being clumsy and being a klutz and doing that in the operating room. You open his orthopaedic implants and five of them end up inside the patient, so it wasn’t a good fit.

 

Will Barron:

But as you say that, that was a great question because it emphasised to me that, and I had the, I guess, the self-awareness to know this isn’t going anywhere. And then he appreciated the fact that I outwardly showed that it wasn’t going anywhere, and so he didn’t then feel awkward having to ring me up an hour later to say I didn’t get the job, so it’s a good question to ask.

 

The Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Creating Moments of Reflection · [30:52] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there any other questions that we should ask even ourselves? Is there any questions that we can ask ourselves to create a moment of reflection? Because as we’ve talked about this whole show, it’s very easy to just get in the routine, you turn up to work, even more so as an SDR. You make the calls, you do your research, you make more calls. You reach out, you fill in a report, you go home. Is there any questions that we should be asking ourself on a regular basis, Aaron, to just, I guess, put a stop on things and allow us to reflect on whether what we’re doing is right, wrong, and then just our own personality in our lives as well to refocus on that?

 

“If you get into the habit of being objective in your own feedback and really looking at how you’ve done, it’s a really good start to changing your mind around self-performance and self-analysis, and more importantly, self-awareness.” – Aaron Evans · [31:45] 

 

Aaron Evans:

I mean, particularly in sales. We’re in a really fortunate role where we can actually analyse performance immediately. So the question that you should ask yourself is, have I given myself 45 minutes a day to listen back to my own performance, my calls, my activities, even my interactions with customers? And I think if you get into the habit of being objective in your own feedback and really looking at how you’ve done, it’s a really good start to changing your mind around self-performance and self-analysis, and more importantly, self-awareness. And I think this it’s the best place to do it is to just give yourself 45 minutes to listen to your own calls or listen to your own performance, listen to what your coaches are saying, listen to how they’re coaching you, but ultimately create a habit of listening to yourself, listening to your own calls. We’re really fortunate, not many professions get the ability to do that.

 

Why Don’t People Self-Analyse Themselves? · [32:20]

 

Will Barron:

That is so simple, yet if you’re, I’ll use the language that you’ve used, Aaron, if you’re shit on the phone, it’s very obvious when you listen back to it that you’re not doing very well. Why, I guess, is it just, again, is it self-image? Is it protecting our ego that we choose not to do that? Because that is just real sound advice that you should be doing, if not every day, every couple of days just to refocus on things and make sure that you’ve got that continual improvement. Do we not do this just because we’re trying to protect their own egos?

 

Aaron Evans:

Well, I think it’s a heady mix of different things. I think that there’s so much pressure in the sales role to the point where you work hard, but you’re not necessarily effective. Running on the spot for eight hours is incredibly hard work, but getting anywhere. That sometimes people feel that it’s a task that’s not going to generate revenue or outcomes, so they just simply don’t do it.

 

“It’s like going to the gym. You’re always going to be better than the version of yourself that sat on the sofa not going to the gym. It’s the same as listening to your calls. You’re always going to become a better salesperson than the version of you that chose to not listen to the calls.” – Aaron Evans · [32:25] 

 

Aaron Evans:

But yeah, I guess there is some part of it where people would go, “I hate the sound of my own voice. I hate doing role plays.” It’s like, well, no one likes that, but there’s parts of your job that you’re not going to like that actually when you do them are really, really valuable and effective. So you just got to do it, you just got to suck it up and do it. It’s like going to the gym. You’re always going to be better than the version of yourself that sat on the sofa not going to the gym. It’s the same as listen to your calls. You’re always going to become a better sales person than the version of you that chose to not listen to the calls. Very, very simple, but incredibly effective.

 

Advise Aaron Would Give to His Younger Self on Selling · [33:41] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. Okay. So I’ve got one final question that I ask everyone that comes on the show, Aaron, and that is, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be one piece of advice you’d give him to help him become better at selling?

“The more used to you get to being given advice and accepting advice, the better you’ll become.” – Aaron Evans · [34:28] 

Aaron Evans:

Well, don’t take things so personally for me was a huge lesson, both as a sales trainer and as a salesperson, carrying no’s, carrying negative feedback. And it was like a switch went off in my head where I was able to listen to feedback and ultimately realise that actually it’s quite valid and it’s not a personal attack. And that is like the true tonic for growth is if you can distance yourself from the feedback itself and not take it personally, and just look at a set of objective criteria you need to go and act on. And I say that to all sales people, “The more used to you get to being given advice and accepting advice, the better you’ll become.”

 

Will Barron:

I used to take things personally, so I’ll ask you how you had that light switch moment in a second. But for myself, I, even in school, college, university, someone would say something and then I’d dwell on it. I’d be depressed over it or it’d be bouncing around in my head for long periods of time. And it could be just something subtle. And it was someone, I’m going to butcher both the anecdote and the quote here. But someone said to me once, they’re quoting someone else, probably Socrates or a stoic of some kind, and they just said, “Hey, you look, you’ve got this bouncing around in your head. Well, they’ve said it, and they’re not thinking about it. So they’re just living in your head rent free. And they’ve said this flippant thing, they probably didn’t even mean it. If you ask them to repeat the sentence that they said, they probably couldn’t even repeat it because they don’t care enough to physically have remembered it.”

 

How Not to Take Things Personally and Why It’s a Crucial Skill for Salespeople · [36:04] 

 

Will Barron:

That was my kind of light bulb moments of when someone says something negative, it’s quite good they’ve got you taking the feedback and improving myself. That was never an issue. But I would let that dwell in my head. Or if I had a bad experience, I’d let that dwell. And that held me back in school, college, university, because it physically takes energy. Your brain is burning glucose to process that thought over and over and over. And it would be I would sleep on it and then my brain would reset and I’d be fine the next morning, but I would dwell on things and take things personal. Because, and I said, that was the light bulb moment for me of realising, hey, I’m literally physically wasting mental brain chemical energy to process this when the person who said it can’t even remember what they said. So, do you have a light bulb moment or how did you learn to not take things personally? Because this is clearly important for salespeople.

 

Aaron Evans:

I think you and I are probably quite similar in the sense that you run a successful podcast, YouTube channel, and all that. And to do that, there’s probably a degree of fragility to your ego because you’re standing up and you’re talking and you’re doing it in front of lots of people. And same with me, I’m standing on stage sometimes presenting to 1000 people, and there has to be a degree of fragility to your ego to do that, to even get up on the stage in the first place. I think it was recognising actually that, pretty much what you said, it’s me holding myself back and not being accountable and also trying to externalise the problem onto, oh, it’s because they’re saying this as opposed to you’re not looking at the feedback, you’re looking at the effect of the relationship of the person who said it.

 

“We’ve got to constantly be looking at when something goes wrong, what can I do differently? Not external factors, not other people, not environments, not situations, what could I do differently?” – Aaron Evans · [36:58]

 

Aaron Evans:

And I think it’s a word that I just love is accountability. You probably heard me say a million times during this podcast is that we’ve got to constantly be looking at when something goes wrong, what can I do differently? Not external factors, not other people, not environments, not situations, what could I do differently? And when I learned that lesson, it really helped me take on feedback and not take it so personally and think that it’s about me, as opposed to it’s about performance. It’s a combination of the fragility of my ego. [inaudible [00:37:20] a counselling session now, and also just falling in love with the concept of accountability really helped me make that change. And I coach it everyday now, accountability, particularly.

 

Parting Thoughts, Aaron’s YouTube Channel and How to Reach Out to Him · [37:31]

 

Will Barron:

For sure. Jocko Willink has a great book. I think it’s called Extreme Ownership that covers the accountability side of things, so it’s highly recommended if that is something you want to work on for yourself. And with that, Aaron, tell us more where we can find you and your coaching if we want to get in touch, and tell us about the YouTube channel as well, which is crushing it. I’m a subscriber. I tune into your YouTube videos, so tell us more about that as well.

 

Aaron Evans:

I run a sales training YouTube video, which is Aaron Evans Sales Training. Don’t forget to subscribe. Which is very simple. It’s just about giving people free tips, free hints, free strategies, free frameworks to go and become better at selling. And also it sparks some really interesting conversations in the comments. I’m also on LinkedIn. I try and post one daily tip on LinkedIn, so you can follow me on LinkedIn, Aaron Evans. But yeah, that’s me, and that’s where you can learn more about me and see some of my work.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well, wherever you are watching this video on YouTube, Aaron’s YouTube channel will be linked below. If you’re listening to this on audio, it will be in the show notes of this episode over at salesman.org. And with that, I really want to thank you for your time, your insights on this, mate, and for joining us on the Salesman podcast.

 

Aaron Evans:

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

SALESMAN WEEKLY EMAIL