How To Listen (And Instantly Improve Your Sales Prospecting)

Michael Reddington is a certified forensic interviewer and the president of InQuasive Inc., where he uses his background in forensics and understanding of human behavior to teach businesses how to use the truth to their advantage.

On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Michael explains the 6-levels of listening and how they’ll improve your prospecting, discovery and sales calls.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Michael Reddington
Certified Forensic Interviewer

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Welcome to the Salesman podcast. My name is will, and on today’s episode, we’re looking at the six levels of listening and how they’re going to help you improve the performance of your prospecting discovery and sales calls with buyers. Today’s guest is Michael Reddington, his certified forensic interview. He’s got a book coming out in the not too distant future, The Disciplined Listening Method. You can find out more about Michael at InQuasive.com. And with that, Michael, welcome back again to the show.

 

Michael Reddington:

It is great to be here again, Will, thank you so much for having me.

 

Will Barron:

You’re welcome. I’m glad to have you back on me. Is this the third time you’ve been on the show?

 

Michael Reddington:

It is, yes. I’m afraid to admit it, because you’re going to cap me off, I don’t want to stop myself from maybe getting invited back after, but yes, it’s the third time.

 

Are Salespeople Born with the Ability to Really Listen to Prospects and Buyers? · [00:59]

 

Will Barron:

Good man. Well, maybe there’s like five or six people have come on three or four times a year. You’re in a select group there and it’s because of my fan of you and your work, mate. We’re going to dive into the six levels of listening. We’ll see if we can get through all six. If we don’t, that’s fine, we’ll have you back on in the future to dive into them, but let’s start with this, mate. Are we born with the ability, sales people specifically, are born with the ability to really, really listen to our prospects so that we can help them or is this a skill that we need to learn?

 

Michael Reddington:

I’m going to walk the fence a little bit. My official answer is it’s a skill we need to learn. My unofficial answer is it is something we’re born with, it’s something that we typically stray away from. So if I was bold enough, which I guess I have to be, to take us all the way back to being infants, we literally have to be astute observers to everything going on around us, especially with Mommy and Daddy, to understand what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling. I have a four year old son. So he’s right on track to developing his theory of mind, which is essentially understanding what people around us are thinking or feeling at any time, and just over the last couple of months, he started asking, “Daddy, are you mad at me?” which is a funny question to answer to my four year old because I might be, but I don’t want to make this situation any worse.

 

Michael Reddington:

So I would contend that, especially as young children, yeah, we have this real curiosity, this real interdependence, we’re very much in tune, but then as we grow up and we get distracted and develop our own thought processes and assumptions and such, then it becomes less of a skill that we really focus on.

 

“Listening is something that we have to intentionally work to develop because so many of our sales conversations involve some level of stress. And as stress mounts, we tend to go to what we know, and generally in the sales profession, what we know best is ourselves, our product, our service. So if I feel like I’m under the gun, the best thing to do is to feel comfortable talking about me and what I’m selling and not listening, which comes back to backfire.” – Michael Reddington · [02:24] 

 

Michael Reddington:

So that would lead me to my final answer if you will, that yes, especially in the sales profession, it is something in that we have to intentionally work to develop because so many of the conversations we have involve some level of stress. They should and as stress mounts, we tend to go to what we know, and generally in the sales profession, what do we know best? Ourselves, our product, our service. So if I feel like I’m under the gun, the best thing to do is to feel comfortable talking about me and what I’m selling and not listening, which comes back to backfire.

 

The Key Identifiers of a Healthy Sales Call · [02:52]

 

Will Barron:

Is the goal then to develop a skillset or a series, which we’ll talk in a second, of skills to listen better, or is it to be just so relaxed during a sales call? I don’t know what you take, do, have, or be to be relaxed in a sales call, but to reduce all the stress from it? Should a healthy sales call have a healthy level of, maybe not stress, but energy on the call itself?

 

Michael Reddington:

Several questions in there. Try to work my way backwards. Yes, I think a sales call should have some energy. Passion can be a double edged sword, so we’ve got to be a little bit careful communicating our passion to too strong a degree, maybe with an audience that isn’t quite there can be a little bit overbearing, overpowering, can push them away, but people often interpret passion for conviction and for knowledge and expertise. So having some passion and energy there certainly is important.

 

“Confidence comes from three places: having experience, being prepared, and surviving mistakes. So the more mistakes we live through, the more relaxed we can be in future situations, because the brain will be like, “I’ve been through this before. I can get myself out of it again.” – Michael Reddington · [03:54] 

 

Michael Reddington:

I do think being relaxed on the call helps and I’m a firm believer that often our confidence… Well, really confidence comes from three places. Having experience, which often we only get that the hard way, being prepared and surviving mistakes, which I think is an interesting subset of experience. So the more mistakes we live through, the more relaxed we can be in future situations, because, “I’ve been through this before. I can get myself out of it again.” But even on that prepared side, yes, it is true that we’re under stress, we go to what we know and that can be dangerous, my personal experience and opinion has been the better we know our stuff, the easier it is for us to apply it to somebody else’s world.

 

Michael Reddington:

So if I’m just learning it and top of mind, and I’m worried about how do I convey it, I might be really tempted just to inadvertently force it on people. However, if I know it so well inside, out, upside down, backwards, the research behind it, the support, whatever it is, now I can engage in a conversation where I turn the keys over to somebody else. I let them lead the conversation because I’m not worried about what I’m going to tell them. I’m now listening for the perfect opportunity to fit what we’re looking for into their world so it resonates at a much greater level. So the energy and stress should probably be there, we care about what we’re doing, we’re passionate. Really being completely confident to an in depth degree with our material allows us to let the conversation come to us instead of forcing it.

 

Michael Reddington:

And then I think that first piece was, do I think people should focus on developing a listening skillset? Yes, without a doubt. For me, a mechanism that I try to use, being biassed self or talking about myself, of course, is going into these conversations I try to ask myself, “What can this person teach me?” Because if I go into a conversation feeling like I’m the one with all the information to give, that can put me into a validate mentality as opposed to a learning mentality and really limit my opportunity to create these connections that we’re looking for. So I literally at the top of my notes will write down, “What can I learn? or “What can he teach me?” to try to put me into that mindset before the call starts.

 

The Validation Mindset: What It Is and Why You Should Avoid It · [06:00] 

 

Will Barron:

What do you mean by a validation mindset?

 

Michael Reddington:

When your a hammer everything looks like a nail. So we can call it confirmation bias if we want, but if I’m going to check the box mentality, if I can get someone to tell me that they’re experiencing this pain or they have this opportunity or this financial need or this staff need or software need, then great, I got them where I want them. Now I’m not really listening, I’m trying to fit them into a box that I already have as fast as possible and I could be missing all kinds of other opportunities.

 

Michael Reddington:

We like to talk about listening for intelligence, as opposed to information. Listening to information can put us in that confirmation bias or that validation mentality where I’m looking for those three or four things that I’m predetermined to set somebody up for what I would like to sell them, but if I’m listening for intelligence, now I can pay attention to their tone of voice pauses, specific word choice. They might say some things that sound like throwaway statements about their day, their week, their weekend, their team, a call they just got off of, that could give me insight into another role to take, but if I’m just trying to fit them in that box, I’ll never pick it up.

 

How to Listen for Intelligence During the Sales Qualification Process · [07:10] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. And to be clear, qualifying our customers is important, right, whether we’re all using banned med pick medic, one of like the bazillion different qualification frameworks, but I hear what you’re saying, I think I do, tell me if I’m wrong here because I’m trying my best to actively listen as we do this year, right? Just ticking the boxes is something that we need to do, because we’re a professional and we just make sure that someone is a fit for what’s going on, but that’s that’s layer one. Layer two is, “Hey, are they responding to these questions? Do they give us information freely? Are they enjoying this? Are they in emotional turmoil? They’ve given me all these qualification questions, but they’re never going to close a deal with me today because they’re obviously stressed and we should be perhaps rearranging the call for another time.” Can we describe this as perhaps level one listening and level two listening, which is the word people can really separate themselves as salespeople.

 

Michael Reddington:

Yeah, I think that is fair. The one thing I would say about qualification without disputing the necessity of the steps, is be careful not to do it with an exclusionary mindset. I’ve worked with a lot of sales professionals. I’m sure you have as well that when they talk about qualifying, “Are they a good fit for me? I don’t want to waste my time.” So they literally, if they go in with that time focused mentality, “I don’t want to waste my time.” If the goal is literally qualify them as quick as I can, one way or the other, and we could end up disqualifying candidates or prospects that might be an okay fit for what we’re trying to sell or it might be a good fit for something else we have or maybe even somebody else in our network that allows us again to build a relationship and demonstrate value over time. So yes, qualify for sure. Just I would coach to not have such an exclusionary mindset or approach when we do.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. I think I’ll challenge you slightly on that, but agree in principle. Where I was going to go with it was, in a wonderful world, we’ve all got big fat pipelines, unlimited people, we can spend time on the phone, we can get to know them, we can close them six months a year from now when things change, when budget align, when timing aligns. Unfortunately, most sales people live in world of, “I’ve got to get my number by the end of the month,” which is both bad sales targets for management being handed down, multiple other factors as well.

 

The Rigid Qualification Framework You Should Probably Stop Using · [09:25

 

Will Barron:

So what you’re saying is correct when we’re doing [inaudible 00:09:28] rates, but I can just feel the audience going, “But, Mike, I’ve got to hit target and I’ve only got eight calls and I’ve only got so much time during the day and I’ve got to qualify them out.” Is there… how to describe this? Is that a mechanical process that salespeople need to rethink perhaps or is that just a mindset shift of, hey, you could qualify people hard, but don’t miss important things that if you were listening more effectively, are there, which might counteract the very rigid qualification framework that we’re probably using?

 

“Time is the enemy of empathy and time is the enemy of quality. If I’m thinking to myself, “This conversation has to be done in five minutes, I have to make eight calls. If this isn’t going to work, I’ve got to hurry up and get to the next one,” I’m literally prioritising time over empathy, understanding, resonating with my audience and I’m prioritising time over the quality of the call.” – Michael Reddington · [10:15] 

 

Michael Reddington:

Yeah. I think you just hit another nail right on the head. I probably need a new analogy now, this is the second time we’ve used that one, but yes. So it’s about finding a bit of a balance and it’s about making the best of the time that we have. So time is the enemy of empathy and time is the enemy of quality. If I’m thinking to myself, “This conversation has to be done in five minutes, I have to make eight calls. If this isn’t going to work, I got to hurry up and get to the next one,” I’m literally prioritising time over empathy, understanding, resonating with my audience and I’m prioritising time over the quality of the call and it can be tough, especially in what we do because in some ways our calls are predicated on failure. There’s a reasonable likelihood this isn’t going to work, I’m going to try to figure that out as fast as possible. If it’s going to, I’m in, if it’s not, I’m onto the next.

 

Michael Reddington:

So it’s finding that balance of how am I going to maximise the time that I have, really give every opportunity to suss out value in this conversation and if it’s not there, cut bait and move on, but do that more from a value standpoint, as opposed to a time standpoint. I guess my personal belief is oftentimes time takes care of itself. Not always. We can run on forever, we can run on to people that, “Ooh, someone I can talk to today,” and they’ll just talk our ear off, but generally speaking, if we have a good process in place, the time piece takes care of itself.

 

The Six Levels of Listening and Understanding · [11:38] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. That makes total sense. Okay. So we pitched the six levels of listening. We should probably get into, at some point of the show, since I’ve talked about it at the top, before we go down too of the many rabbit holes, Michael, do you want to run through perhaps the first one or two, and then I’ll throw some questions at you and we’ll see how many we can get through. We don’t need to get through them all if we’ve don’t have time.

 

Michael Reddington:

That’s no problem. So with the six levels of listening, I’m assuming we’re talking about Judy [Burnwell’s 00:11:51] the HURIER model of the six levels of listening?

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Michael Reddington:

So the first two we have are hearing and understanding, and I think we could probably pause there just for a minute and talk about those two and section them off. I was, if you can believe this, sitting at a bar in Gainesville, Florida, if I remember correctly, when I was travelling and teaching years ago, and I sat next to a guy, who, we were talking, he was a nice guy and he said, “Hear me now, listen to me later.” And I thought that was an interesting way to put it, but it’s a phrase that he used a lot to basically say, “Yeah, get what I’m saying now, but put some time into it, think about this later and think about what it really means.”

 

Michael Reddington:

So I would argue that hearing and either listening or observing are two different things because we can hear the sounds that people are making, but are we really paying attention to the nonverbal cues, the tone of voice, the speed of delivery, the word choice? And one of my absolute favourite things to listen to is does somebody start to say a word, cut themselves off and then change it to another word because if they do that, there’s a strong likelihood they’re engaging in some impression management activity. The word they we’re going to use is more than likely representative of how they’re really feeling in the moment, the word they switch to is the word that reflects the feeling or the impression they want us to have. So if somebody starts to say, “Well…” Now, I’m trying to do one off the top of my head. I should have planned this out in the advance. But if someone was trying to say something along the lines of, “We’re all on boar-…. We’re going to take some time and talk through this.” Well, they’re not all on board. So understanding what somebody is really thinking versus what they’re telling us can be really important.

 

Michael Reddington:

So yes, hearing it is important and being focused in limiting distractions and all those basic attentive or active listening skills that we’ve been taught forever are important, but just hearing the message isn’t enough. Understanding is really where, we talked a little bit before, emotional intelligence comes into play, contextual or situational awareness. What is this message likely indicative of? What’s the totality of their delivery? What can I assume from their intentions or motivations or fears? Who else is in the room? What might be going on? Really understanding the totality of the message would be that next level up from hearing and I’ll certainly pause for you to jump in.

 

Situational Awareness in Sales · [14:22] 

 

Will Barron:

How do we develop this? Clearly your book when it comes out in the not too distant future, is your part of the experience here, right? Clearly. I’ll give an opportunity to talk about the book at the end of the show, but is this experience, is this Will and Michael are going to be 80 and we’re going to look back at all the mistakes we made in our 20s, 30s, 40s, and go, “Oh, that was because it was there, but I didn’t see it,” or is this a skill that we develop of there’s a checklist of things that we need to look out for, and then those things directly correspond to a certain result or thinking pattern in the person that we’re engaging with?

 

Michael Reddington:

Another great question. By the way, I look forward to having a beer with you when we’re 80 and looking back and having that conversation.

 

Will Barron:

You’ll to show. There will be some kind of weird virtual show that’s just like beamed into people foreheads in like 40 years, 50 years from now.

 

Michael Reddington:

Who knows what it’ll look like by then. An interesting piece of research that I discovered writing the book, I focused a lot on situational awareness because I think that really touches on what you’re saying, understanding everything that’s in play around us, just besides what I want to say and what I want them to say, and I really honed in on research done by a woman named Mica, if I’m pronouncing her name correctly, Mikey or Mica Endsley here in the United States, who was with the Air Force for many years. And she did a lot of situational awareness research, specifically with fighter pilots. And one of the things that she found was the majority of errors that fighter pilots make were involved with recognising all the relevant information when it was available. So everything that they needed to make the right decision was there, they just didn’t see it, so they made a decision that they shouldn’t have.

 

Michael Reddington:

So when we think about correlating that to us, oftentimes in the sales conversation, it’s the same. So yes, experience of course is helpful because the more we’re involved in a situation, the more it becomes familiar. Our subconscious mental Rolodex does a better job at identifying when something is familiar, out of place, we’ve been here before, but really it’s a decision. It’s a decision to be aware that starts with understanding the goals we want to achieve.

 

Michael Reddington:

So one of the things that we go through with the folks that we work with, which typically annoys them to death, is we’ll break down their sales process step by step and it can be familiar, prospecting to setting the introductory meeting, qualifying, to discovery, to a demo, to post demo conversation, to sign the deal and now we’re all friends forever doing business together, and through each one of those levels, okay, what’s your strategic goal? What’s your strategic goal? What’s your strategic goal? And 99 times out of 100 their strategic goal is to get to the next level, when in in reality from hello, their strategic goal should be, how do I interact with this individual to eventually turn them into my best sales professional, my best sales advocate?

 

Michael Reddington:

So if we reframe what our goal is, now we look for different cues, we listen for different opportunities, our situational awareness expands, whereas if I’m just trying to qualify somebody, do they fit, while that’s a necessary step, I could be missing some additional intelligence. If I’m just trying to get the demo scheduled and they could say, “Yeah, shoot me an email and we’ll see if we can get it on the books.” I can hang up the phone thinking, “Awesome, I just got the demo.” Probably not. Whereas if they say, “Absolutely, I’m very interested in learning more about this, please let me know what times work best for you next Wednesday or Thursday.” Now I’m far more likely to have the demo.

 

Michael Reddington:

So in setting the proper goals to really frame our perspective, making the decision to stay aware and consistently questioning and checking what we’re experiencing versus we want to achieve can really help elevate that.

 

The Observable Cues will Always Be There. You Just Have to Spot Them · [18:49] 

 

Will Barron:

All the signs, whether this be verbal, nonverbal, literally what people are saying, the buildup to the meeting, were they on time? Are they dressed professionally? Things like that I tend to find, when we do our sales calls or or sales org for our training programme, if someone shows up 10 minutes late to the call, and I’m just about to leave the call and it’s your corporate client we’re selling our training product, they’re just not interested, right? The, the deal can basically just be ended there. We’d follow up with them in six months, send them some literature, see if things change. So I find that even leading up to the conversation there’s clues as to the outcome of things.

 

Will Barron:

This is a bit of a weird question, but are those things there and our brains are just so narrowly focused that we don’t see them as in we need to expand what we’re physically looking for or are our brains just not capable of seeing everything that’s there at the time, and so we need to go, “Okay, I’m going to now check in on Michael’s body language. I’m going to now check in on this. I’m going to now make a mental note of that and this,” and we need to constantly task switch to keep on top of this? Is this something that just happens and maybe it’s a gut feeling that we get at the end of all of this, as opposed to something that is more tangible or is this something that we need to go, “Okay, check in here, check this one, two, three,” and go through a checklist in our brains as we’re trying to communicate with someone,

 

“Gut feelings are good, listen to them. Gut feelings are typically our subconscious brain saying, “Hang on, we’ve seen this movie before,” and maybe consciously we can’t pinpoint exactly where that came from, but we should be listening to our gut feelings for sure.” – Michael Reddington · [19:37] 

 

Michael Reddington:

First, gut feelings are good, listen to them. Gut feelings are typically our subconscious brain saying, “Hang on, we’ve seen this movie before,” and maybe consciously we can’t pinpoint exactly where that came from, but we should be listening to our gut feelings for sure. My biassed opinion is I think it would be too bold to say that all of the information we need is there. All of these observable cues and hints are always there. Some people are harder to read than others. Their emotions can conflict and shift throughout. So to say that they’re all there would be too bold a statement. I would contend that quite often, many to most of them are there, and usually we miss them because we’re either distracted, we’re looking for the wrong things, or we don’t know what to look for. And when it comes back to distraction, the single biggest distraction we typically run into is our own internal monologue.

 

“The single biggest distraction we typically run into is our own internal monologue. You can’t possibly have anything more important to say to me than I have to say to myself, and the same is true if we reversed it. Our brains can’t multitask, so if either one of us is talking to ourselves while the other is talking to us, we’re fully focused on what we’re saying and only hearing a portion of what the other is saying. So we hear just enough that we trick ourselves into thinking we’ve got the whole message when we really didn’t.” – Michael Reddington · [20:27]

 

Michael Reddington:

I thoroughly enjoy our conversation. Anytime you’re crazy enough to have me back, I’m in. You can’t possibly have anything more important to say to me than I have to say to myself and the same is true if we reversed it. I have nothing more important to say to you than you have to say to yourself. Our brains can’t multitask, so if either one of us is talking to ourselves while the other is talking to us, we’re fully focused on what we’re saying and only hearing a portion of what the other is saying, but we hear just enough that we trick ourselves into thinking we got the whole message when we really didn’t.

 

Michael Reddington:

So part of going back to that preparation is I’m not saying we need to go as far as having scripts, because those can be limiting, but understanding the goals we want to achieve, the framework we’re going to take to get there, where the common pivot points might be, at least what our important illustrations or questions we want to make are, now we spend a lot less time thinking, “Well, what am I going to say next? Where do I go? What do I do? What’s the next slide? What’s going to happen?” And we can spend far more time being in tuned to all the cues that they’re displaying in order for us to internalise those and adapt as necessary during the conversation.

 

How to Stay Present During a Sales Conversation with a Prospect · [21:49] 

 

Will Barron:

Again, super basic question here and I’ve tried to make steps towards this and I’ll explain why with the [inaudible 00:21:44] in a second, but how the heck do we remember everything that’s being thrown at us where we’re not just focusing on what people are saying, but we’re trying to take the whole picture in, Michael, on maybe a 20 to 45 minute sales call where we’re trying to… We’ll stick to the beginning of the sales process where we’re trying to qualify the buyer, we’re trying to see if we’re they’re a good fit to work with us?

 

Will Barron:

How do we avoid getting to the end of the conversation and then we go, “Well, I really enjoyed speaking to Michael. What just happened?” Like we’ve chatted, we’ve gone back and forth, I’m not really any idea because I’ve been so in the moment, I’ve been so focused and actively listening, trying to ask questions that bring the best out of yourself during the sales conversation, the sales process, how we from a salesperson perspective then, remember it if we’re not taking notes and we’re not trying to plan the next question that we’re going to ask and we’re not following a script, which keeps everything down a straight line? How do we keep track of the conversation that we just had?

 

Michael Reddington:

It starts with our goals, keeping our goal in mind. So for me, the average sales call, let’s just say, is 45 to 60 minutes give or take. If somebody schedules a block of time with you, that’s about how much time they have. So for me either right now while we’re talking, I have my watch in front of me where I can see it so I don’t give long winded answers. So if I have my watch in front of me where I can see it, I can at least keep a basic idea on where that time wise, so that way I know if I have to start shifting the purpose of the call towards the end, I’m leaving myself time to do it.

 

Michael Reddington:

You mentioned notes. Especially if somebody’s on a virtual call, which is happening so much more now and probably will stay that way moving forward to some degree. Right now, if I was writing notes over here with my right hand, you wouldn’t be able to see it. So I could be not writing notes like I’m witnessing a lecture in college, but just a couple key words that I can look down at and because my handwriting is chicken scratch at best, when I do this, I’ll write in all capital letters because it’ll make it easy for me to just glance and see that one word that is the trigger I need to remember what I was doing.

 

“Listen to remember instead of listen to forget. So there are plenty of times where people will be talking to us and we’ll start to think, “Oh, I’m never going to remember all of this.” Well, unfortunately we are now far more likely not to member because that’s what our brain is focusing on, “I’m never going to remember this.” – Michael Reddington · [23:52] 

 

Michael Reddington:

The other thing that I do is listen to remember instead of listen to forget. So there are plenty of times where people will be talking to us and we’ll start to think, “Oh, I’m never going to remember all of this.” Well, unfortunately we are now far more likely not to member because that’s what our brain is focusing on, “I’m never going to remember this.” So instead, keeping a chain going in my head. I know this borderline’s talking to myself, I’m still focusing on you, and now I’m trying to chain some of the things together.

 

Michael Reddington:

I guess the last thought that I’ll give here before turning it back over is instead of listening to the whole conversation, really observe for reactions to triggers. So at any point in the conversation where I’m saying something that my counterpart might have an emotional reaction to, that’s really the time I want to make sure I’m paying attention. If they’re talking to me about their concerns, their future goals, what they think of myself or what we’re talking about, the times I really want to make sure I’m dialled in is when they are talking about how they think, feel or wants in a way that helps me achieve my goal. So instead of me trying to be full on a hundred percent for the entire duration of the call, I really want to hone in on those trigger moments that will give me the most intelligence. So it’s like conserving resources, so to speak,

 

Will Barron:

I get it. So we need to prioritise, listen to everything and then prioritise the one, two, three things that are going to have the most impact when we repeat them back to the buyer, if it’s one specific objection that people are getting stuck on, we can double down and focus on that. I’m similar to you. So I’ve gone from a… I don’t even have it anymore an eight four pad of paper and I’m just constantly scribbling down during these interviews. I’ve now resided myself to one post-it note per interview so I can just type single words and I’ve got… I can’t read my own writing, start from surname. I don’t even know what I’ve got surname on here anymore. So who knows how effective this is, but I find it keeps the point in my brain if I just do one word note long enough that I can continue listening, then look back, then ask the question, as opposed to being like, “Must ask this, must ask this must ask this.” So that’s how I go about doing that and this is my post-it note system, January onwards we’re going to give it a go, but we’ll see how it goes.

 

Will Barron:

But what I do get is better feedback from guests and I can see sometimes I’ll be… Previously, I’d be jotting down making notes, Michael, I’d look up and then the guest would be just staring at me waiting for the next thing to come out my mouth and there’s a bit of a delay. So I guess in person this might work better, doing long form notes, but short form notes, especially over Zoom, I think is really useful for the audience.

 

Michael Reddington:

And I guess maybe one last, I think hack is the word the kids use these days, especially over Zoom, if I type out the questions that I want to ask and not necessarily in the script, but I do it in like 16 font, all capitals, can’t miss it and I leave a bunch of space in between them. Now instead of me thinking, “What do I say?” There you go.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Michael Reddington:

Now instead of me thinking, “What do I say next?” I can just glance down.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

“A lot of observing for value and identifying hidden value comes down to managing the number of variables we have to deal with during the conversation. The more we can limit the number of variables we have to deal with and focus on the correct ones, the more successful we’ll be.” – Michael Reddington · [27:18] 

 

Michael Reddington:

Love it. Or if you answer a question before I even get to ask it, now I just go ahead and I scribble that note next to the question that I was going to ask and I move on. So the little things we can do to prepare, make it easier. In my opinion, a lot of observing for value and identifying hidden value comes down to managing the number of variables we have to deal with during the conversation. The more we can limit the number of variables we have to deal with and focus on the correct ones, the more successful we’ll be.

 

The Primary Goal of All Your Qualification Conversations · [27:40] 

 

Will Barron:

So would it be fair to say then if we are going into a qualifying conversation, the goal of the conversation is to see if this person is a good fit to work with us, as opposed to here is a 27 step qualification framework, med, pick, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and we’re trying to tick these boxes off as we go through by monotonously asking the prospect these questions that they don’t want to answer because there’s no value in them answering it. Is that fair to say?

 

Michael Reddington:

I think it’s a hundred percent fair to say and I would guess that many situations that demotivates the prospect to answer, because there’s nothing personal, there’s no resonating going on, there’s nothing between me and you. It’s like when we go to the doctor and the doctor asks us the same 10 questions, not even looking at us, typing it into the computer and we’re like, “Do you even care about me? Are you going to help me with what I feel like is bothering me today?” So I’m a huge fan personally, especially in qualifying calls, going with an illustrative opening, and I’m going to keep it abridged for time, something along the lines of, “Will, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today, appreciate that we’re both interested in potentially understanding if we are the right fit to work together. In fact, we found that a lot of times at this point in the relationship, many of the people who are considering partnering with us have the same two or three questions,” one, two three. “So with that in mind, generally…” bam. So now it’s like I’m educating them before I start asking questions. And there’s some other psychological influence mechanisms that out we’re using there, but we like to say illustrate before you investigate.

 

Michael Reddington:

So now I’m making it more of a conversation. Some things I’ll just throw out, do they nod their head? Do they smile? Do they react? Do they smile? Do they laugh and say, “Yeah, me too,” or do they shake their head like that’s totally foreign? I’m gathering intelligence. Some, I’ll asking a question. So by balancing that out through the conversation, now it doesn’t feel like I’m sitting in front of them with a clipboard and a checklist and they’re going to get the results of my evaluation when we’re done.

 

Will Barron:

Let me ask you this and this is going to ruin this call that I do when people… We do essentially a qualification call when people want to sign up to our training programme because there’s so much of my time now invested into each of the students and the price has gone up versus just the online version of the course that we need to make sure that it’s the right people coming in there.

 

Michael Reddington:

Of course.

 

Will Barron:

So we go through the call and I’ll do a bit basic consulting, see where they are. Typically it’s where are they, where do they want to get, can we bridge the gap across? And then towards the end of the course something I’ve started doing and this was just a mistake at first, the Zoom was just playing up and so what I did was there’s two packages, two offers that we have, I just typed it into Zoom chat and clicked enter and said, “Hey, talk of the pricing, look at the offer, what you get for it and you tell me which one you want to go with.” So it’s some of a close ended question, maybe it’d be more appropriate to have a “What you fancy would be a… I don’t want to force people down. I don’t want to do like in an assumptive close, I’m not weird like that.

 

Will Barron:

But what I find is then people go, because they’re looking, they have to move their laptop closer, so they’re looking at the two offers that we give them typically, whether it’s like a one month mentorship or 12 week mentorship and you can see the face and I then have this weird moment where they forget that they’re on camera.

 

How to Look Out for Genuine Responses Over a Zoom Call · [31:20] 

 

Will Barron:

I can see their genuine reaction, their guards drop and obviously most of the time people are like, “Oh great. This kind of fits my budget. This fits my goals. I’m excited,” and people like, “Yeah, yeah, let’s move forward with it.” And you can see some people, their face drops and it’s not quite the right fit for them and that is that. And before they even say anything, I can then react to that on the call itself. What do you think of that? Because it’s all a fluke and I’ve done it a few times now on a few calls and people seem to give a… that’s the… because it’s a sales call as well, but people seem to drop the guard and give me a genuine response just via the kind of the nonverbal cues on camera.

 

Michael Reddington:

I love it. I was doing a sales programme a couple years ago and I spent way too much time going into all these nuances of non-verbal communication and different areas of the body and what to look for and all this stuff and I say this jokingly, all proud of myself for all the stuff that I’m teaching them. And then at the end, one of the reps in the back of the class raises their hand and says, “So I think I got it. Really what I just need to do is do they look happy or do they not?”

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Michael Reddington:

And I started laughing. I was like, “Yes, you’re way smarter than I am.” Like all of this stuff is nice, but it doesn’t really matter. Do they look happy or do they not? So one of the tools that I’ll use, we like to call a suggestive series. So I’ll give somebody a suggestive series of choices. Oftentimes at this point in the conversation, the person I’m talking to, their top three or four concerns might be one, two, three four or their top goals might be one two three or there are two or three things that they really have on their mind or the problems they really want to get resolved right now are one, two, three. And when I throw them out there, I do exactly what you just said. I’m just looking at their reaction to each of them and now does one seem to turn them off? Does one seem to make them angry? Does one seem to make them happy? Do they smile? Do they shrug? Do they stop and move their eyes like they’re really hesitating to think about it? Do they kind of give me a disgusted face?

 

Michael Reddington:

But now all of these things give me immediate intelligence. That’s an immediate emotional response to something that I said, they almost certainly didn’t even realise that they did it and now I have intelligence that I can begin to adapt and specify where I go next to take advantage, either avoid or go for something. So I think what you’re talking about is another great application for that.

 

Will Barron:

I think I’ll experiment with it. With your blessing, Michael, I think I’ll experiment with it a little bit more then because I don’t want it to be a manipulative tool that I’m using, but just dumping it in the chat, allowing them just have two, three seconds to look it over and see what’s a good fit for them and respond. As I said, I just had this moment of clarity when it happened the other day, as I said, when I had to do it and I’ve done it since because it seemed to work, of people’s faces like either light up or occasionally just go, “Oh crap. I’ve not got the funds for this,” or “This is not a good fit,” or “This isn’t what I was expecting,” and then that immediately, no more bullshitting, no more fuffing around. I know exactly where people are on the call. So yeah, I’ll do more experimenting and I’ll I’ll report back to the audience.

 

Remembering and Interpreting: The Keys to an Effective Sales Call · [34:14] 

 

Will Barron:

Now I’ve just ruined it for everyone who listens to this episode of the show who jumps on a call with me to see if they’re a good fit for the training programme, but I’m happy to sacrifice our sales process for the audience. Michael, we’ve covered two levels of the six levels of listing now. Is there anything you want to throw in on top? I’m just conscious of time. Is there anything out of the other four levels that we really desperately need to cover?

 

Michael Reddington:

Well, the next two are going to be remembering and interpreting and we can’t remember what we don’t hear and we talked a little bit about helping with remembering. With interpreting that one thing that I would say is we talk a lot about emotional intelligence, putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Context is king. So trying to understand where they’re coming from, all the factors that could be impacting what they say.

 

Michael Reddington:

A funny example, I think from my interrogation career is people used to ask me, “Don’t you get mad when people lie to you?” No, I’m actually thankful for it. And then they would look at me kind of crazy. I’m like, “First of all, they’re not lying to hurt me. It’s the last good decision they have. Like they’re just trying to stay out of trouble, so I can’t fault them for that and it probably has some intelligence buried within the lie. So if I listen carefully enough, I can figure out where it’s coming from, what they’re afraid of.”

 

“Always remember that as sales professionals, often people have more reason to at least initially resist us than they do to welcome us. So never take that personally.” – Michael Reddington · [35:16]

 

Michael Reddington:

So let’s remember as sales professionals that often people have more reason to at least initially resist us than they do to welcome us. So instead of taking that personally, really working to understand, as we go through that interpretation. Interpretation, of course, then leads into evaluation. Evaluation, again, takes in all the contextual clues and works that in with our goals. How does everything I’m hearing and seeing relate to the goals that I want to achieve? If I’m qualifying, is this a conversation I should continue having, is this one I should break off? If it’s one I should break off, how should I do it in order to leave some door open for potential? Or if I’m going to keep going, how do I go in a direction that gets me closer to my goal?

 

“It’s important to remember that people react the strongest to what they hear first and people will interpret how we communicate with them as proof for how much we respect them.” – Michael Reddington · [36:04] 

 

Michael Reddington:

And then the last one in her model was responding, and I would like to say that it’s important to remember that people react the strongest to what they hear first and people will interpret how we communicate with them is proof for how much we respect them. So really being conscious with our responses, trying to respond in a way that helps protect their self image, doesn’t put the swinging spotlight over their head or makes them feel embarrassed and keeps us moving towards the goal would be considerations.

 

Will Barron:

There’s a whole conversation there. Maybe we can discuss this in the future of not… kind of respect, but also the dynamic between buyer and sell where typically at the beginning of most sales calls, there’s like an alpha beta kind of battle where the buyer wants to be the one in control. Then when they see that we can help them, that we’re a consultant, that we’re following Michael’s advice, we’re generally listening to them, perhaps that simmers down around the same kind of level, which is where we want to be. And then it depends on how, forceful is the wrong word, completely the wrong word, but how assertive we need to be to help them get over the hurdle of spending the money, putting the resources in, building a team, building consensus within the account, getting a champion on board, depending on how assertive we have to be to help them help themselves towards the end, there can be another bit of a battle back and forth.

 

Will Barron:

So it’d be interesting conversation to have in the future, Michael, of how that respect and all these different dynamics affect a conversation from the perspective of a salesperson where you always start in second place typically. It’s very rare, even when I jump on sales calls, when people have listened to the sales and podcast for the last five years, the begging for a book, the begging for consulting and I get on a call with them and they still are trying to treat me not as a peer for the first 20 seconds until I do certain things to not allow that to happen. So that could be a cool topic for the future.

 

Michael Reddington:

Yeah. I’d be happy to talk about that. I think that’d be fun.

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:58] 

 

Will Barron:

Cool, man. Well, we’ll wrap up with that. I know the book isn’t out yet. Tell us, if you want to share when it’s going to be out or you keep the timeframes rough, if you like, but tell us more about the Disciplined Learning Method and where we can find out more about yourself as well.

 

Michael Reddington:

I appreciate it. Thank you. So the book is The Discipline Listening Method, how a certified forensic interviewer unlocks hidden value in every conversation, a bit of a mouthful. If all goes well, I don’t want to jinx anything, it should be available globally in spring. So we’re working hard to hit that target date. They can learn more about me at InQuasive.com, I-N-Q-U-A-S-I-V-E.com. I’m on LinkedIn as well. If anybody wants to find me on LinkedIn, Michael Reddington CFI, and really the message that they’re going to get from the book, from the website, hopefully from our conversations, is that everything that we do should be about enhancing the value of our relationships and conversations in order to spur goal achievement, not just goals we have in mind, but even greater goals. And oftentimes the path to do that is a bit surprising and if we take a step back, prioritise somebody else’s experiences, and really, like we talked about today, open our situational awareness up a little bit wider, we can begin to create opportunities that previously didn’t appear to be out there.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well I’ll link to the book when it’s out, your website right now, and everything else that we’ve talked about in the show notes this episode over its salesman.org. With that, Michael, it’s a pleasure as always, mate. I want to thank you for joining us on the Salesman podcast.

 

Michael Reddington:

My pleasure. Thank you for having me back.

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