The 4-Step Process to Influencing Buying Decisions

Andres Lares is the managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute and the author of Persuade – the 4-step Process to Influence People and Decisions. In this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Andres explains his 4-step process to influencing your prospect’s buying decisions.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Andres Lares
Negotiations Expert

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Hi, my name is will, and welcome to the Salesman Podcast. On today’s episode, we’re going to be looking at the four-step process to influencing buying decisions. Today’s guest is Andres Lares. Andres is the managing partner over at SNI. He’s the author of Persuade: The 4-Step Process to Influence People and Decisions. He’s been featured in Harvard Business Review, CNBC, Entrepreneur, ABC, Fox, and many other places as well. With that, Andres, welcome to the show.

 

Andres Lares:

Thank you for having me.

 

Will Barron:

More than welcome, sir. You are coming on the show to talk about a topic that we’ve covered a bazillion gillion times on the past, influence persuasion. I love covering it, because everyone has different insights, different aspects to this. Am I wrong? This is one of the most fascinating topics that two humans can talk about, right?

 

Andres Lares:

I was about to say, you can’t cover it enough. It’s one of those things that if you think in your professional life and your personal life, you really can’t avoid. Negotiating and influencing is something you do all day, every day.

 

The Art and Science of Influence and Persuasion · [01:00] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. Okay. I want to ask you a really lazy, loaded, leading question, because I think it ties into the content from your business, your training, and the book and stuff as well. I think this’ll give us a starting point for the conversation, and we’ll see where we go with that. With that, Andres, can the, I’m going to say, the art and the science of influence persuasion really be broken down into just four steps?

 

Andres Lares:

As I think about the answer that, two things come to mind. The first is, I did economics in university. I took a very much, in the economics discipline, really, models are meant to balance giving you something that’s practical and actionable and meaningful, but also being simple enough that at the end, you are capturing what you need to capture. Otherwise, very quickly, you get lost in the weeds.

 

Andres Lares:

I think that’s the mentality around this four-step process. The second is, it’s not necessarily the four steps only to influencing and persuading. It’s more the four steps in the decision-making process. As a result, you take advantage of those, and by better understanding those, you’re better able to influence and persuade. That’s the structure behind it, if you will.

 

The Four Step Process of Influencing Buying Decisions · [02:00]

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Give us the high-level overview of these four steps. Then, we might not cover them all, but we’ll break down some of it, and we’ll see if we can leave the audience with some practical steps to improve their ability to influence and persuade.

 

Andres Lares:

Perfect. The four-step process is, and I build this up like Maslow’s hierarchy, if you will, for those that have taken psychology 101, in Maslow’s hierarchy, it’s a pyramid, and the base layer is building credibility. Building credibility, without it, if you think about a commercial that might have a dentist, when they’re selling toothpaste, they might have an athlete. Why is that? Because you want to build credibility, you want people to listen.

 

Andres Lares:

It’s that base layer. Without it, people, they don’t care. There’s so much noise out there, that that’s what allows us to figure out, is this someone or something I should listen to or not? Credibility.

 

“People make decisions emotionally, and then they justify rationally. And we can’t say that enough because all too often, especially salespeople, are trying to persuade others with logic. “Here’s the five reasons you should do this. Here’s five of our clients that should make you feel more comfortable.” The reality is, people make decisions emotionally then it’s the logic that helps them justify it.” – Andres Lares · [02:59] 

 

Andres Lares:

The next step is engage emotion. Really, perhaps the key takeaway of this model is really that, people make decisions emotionally, and then they justify rationally. Really, we can’t say that enough, because all too often, especially salespeople, really all of us, are trying to persuade others with logic. Here’s the five reasons you should do this. Here’s five of our clients. That should make you feel more comfortable.

 

Andres Lares:

The reality is, people make decisions emotionally. Then, it’s the logic that helps them justify it. They’re sleeping at home at night thinking, “I think I did go with the right decision, because,” whatever the logic is. Then of course comes the logic. First, you build credibility, then you engage emotion. The next step is the logic, and you demonstrate logic. The key there is to do it in a very practical and precise way.

 

Andres Lares:

Then finally, those first three steps were actually from Aristotle. In 350 BC, he taught ethos, pathos, logos. That’s credibility, emotion and logic. Of course, I say that to practise what we preach, because with a little bit of extra credibility, if you don’t believe us, who is this guy telling me this? Aristotle’s someone you probably trust, and there’s a lot of credibility there.

 

Andres Lares:

We added on top of that, is facilitate action. I think as a salesperson, anyone can relate to, “Will, is this something that you really want to move forward with?” Oh yes, it is. “Are you excited about,” oh yes, I am. Then, all of a sudden, you don’t hear back, and all this momentum is gone. Facilitate action is meant to do that. It’s talking about, okay, what are some ways we can keep that momentum, to make sure that the wheels don’t fall off?

 

Credibility and Why It’s So Important in the Sales Process · [04:30] 

 

Will Barron:

When we talk about this, I’ve not got my iPad idea, otherwise I’d draw this out, because I think visually, this would make a lot of sense. When we talk about credibility being the base, if someone does not … A salesperson selling some kind of, I don’t know, a software product, Sam the salesperson is selling software product. If he’s not credible, can he or she lean into the credibility of the company? Then, if they’re not credible, does that just then wipe out any chance of influencing a potential customer into making a purchase?

 

Andres Lares:

For the last part, it does wipe it out, because we won’t even give the light a day. If Sam the software salesperson knocks on Will’s door and says, “Hey,” and basically, it stops after that. You don’t listen. You want to move on to the next thing and just discredit it. What happens is, how do you do it? Most salespeople, most people don’t really have credibility necessarily. They’re reaching out, potentially cold. That’s of course why warm leads are so much more valuable, because there is credibility. It’s passed on, because Will knows I’m this, or knows Sam, or whoever it is.

 

“One of the ways to build credibility is to borrow it. What you would do is you’d borrow from your company, you would borrow it from peers, you’d borrow from experience, etc. The easiest one is company.” – Andres Lares · [05:3]

 

Andres Lares:

If you don’t have that, then that’s exactly what you do. One of the ways to build credibility is to borrow it. What you would do is, you’d borrow from your company, you would borrow it from beers, you’d borrow from experience, whatever you borrow it. The easiest one is company. If you’re in software sales for a large firm, then look, you don’t have to necessarily think about Will specifically and what I know, but you’ve got confidence that, if you’re a Microsoft salesperson, we’ve all heard of Microsoft. There’s trust there in the almost trillion dollar cap that it is.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s absolutely one of the ways to do it.

 

How to Borrow Credibility From Your Company, Peers, or Sales Managers · [06:15] 

 

Will Barron:

I just want to be … Because some of these conversations I have, we end up in all theory, 45 minutes go past, and there’s nothing practical. I want to layer as much practicality as we can into this episode as we go through this, Andres. With that said, if somebody’s listening to this and they’re going, “Crap, I don’t have that much experience in this space. Maybe I’m just straight out of college, my first sales role, and the company I’m selling for is a startup. No one knows who we are.”

 

Will Barron:

Is it practical to advise that person to gather as much experience as they can in that role as they possibly can, but then maybe move to a big organisation, and make selling as easy as possible for themselves, by being able to leverage the credibility, borrow the credibility, to use your wording, of the company, of amazing clients and previous deals that’ve been done?

 

Andres Lares:

There is something to be said for that. I think at the same time, you don’t necessarily have to go to the bigger company to gain their credibility, because then you can get your own credibility and borrow it from elsewhere, not just the firm. Just as a unique example, what does this look like too? I think you said something about practical, and I do want to get to that, because I think for listeners, okay, how do I do this? Hypothetically, I’ll give an example from us in our world.

 

Andres Lares:

If we’re talking to a pharmaceutical company, what’s the best way for us to use emotion, but also at the same time, build credibility? Those first two steps. When someone explains, here’s the challenge that I have. It’s one of the questions that we ask right up front, why are you calling us? Tell us more about your situation. The first thing we’ll do is briefly walk through other examples where you’ve dealt with exactly that kind of situation. Which, if you’re a startup, as long as you have at least more one other customer, hopefully there’s going to be some overlap there.

 

Andres Lares:

You don’t necessarily have to say, “Hey, look, this is Microsoft or Amazon or Cisco. Of course, you’ve heard of us.” You could say, “Will, you talked about the challenge that you have, where you are having X, Y, and Z. We’ve dealt exactly with that sort of situation. Here’s what we did.” You walk through A, B and C. What happens is, you don’t even have to get specifically to the client name, but your ability to understand what their challenge is, and start getting to some ideas around solutions. You haven’t laid out a framework, because you probably don’t know enough to do that, but you’ve at least walked them through saying, hey, not only did I listen to you, but I’ve also been through similar situations before.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s an example of very simple way to borrow credibility from the experience you have as a company. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to point to that, hey, trillion dollar company, the big one, it could be a startup that you’ve never heard of, but now, oh, okay, they understand me, they’ve done this before.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. I think a layer on that as well, there are billion dollar, trillion dollar companies that no one’s ever heard of anyway. Before we hit record, I mentioned my first sales job, job at a company called Johnson Matthey, multi-billion dollar company, mine most of the precious metals on the planet. If you look up the prices of precious metals, it’s usually set by Johnson Matthey. No one’s ever heard of the company. I think two thirds of all catalytic converters in cars use the precious metals, which make up the main price of a catalytic converter, from Johnson Matthey.

 

The Benefits of Being Specific During the Sales Process and What it Does to Your Credibility · [09:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Again, no one’s ever heard of them. When you start to use storytelling, you can finesse, is that a fair way of describing this? You can borrow credibility without having to name clients, and still talk about big numbers. What am I trying to get at? I’m trying to walk a line here between, we don’t want the audience to lie about a customer that doesn’t exist, but it’s also appropriate if we can’t name company names and stuff, to still tell stories. Not being able to talk specifics is not necessarily, or should not, not being specific, be a barrier to someone telling a story, or is a story still effective at building credibility, even if there’s a reduction in specifics, names, locations, and people within. More general stories still built credibility.

 

Andres Lares:

I think there’s a lot there, that starts getting into the nitty gritty, I think it’s worth dissecting, because I would say specificity is important, but specificity in who exactly the client is, when exactly you worked with them, isn’t as important. Specificity is important, because it makes it more real and more relevant. An example from the book, we talk about how in just a totally other example, if you say that a price is $10, versus you say the price is $9.59, it conveys that $10 seems like a general number that’s been rounded up, and then $9.59 gives automatically the brain of the other side starts to think, there must be a reason it’s $9.59. It’s almost a more credible number, that’s less likely to be negotiated down.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s an aside, but that same specificity concept translates to the story. People understand at this point that, hey, I can’t tell you exactly who this client is, or whatever may be, but the specificity piece is important. You want to be more specific about the challenges they face coming in, and the solutions you provided them to overcome that. That’s when the specificity I think is most important. Not necessarily in exactly what industry, exactly what company, who exactly you worked with.

 

Andres Lares:

Those sorts of things, you can get away with. That’s what makes the story more compelling. The idea is you want Will to sit there and think at the end of that conversation, that I’ve been through a situation like this before. I trust that because of that experience, I’m a valuable asset to you, that can help you find an optimal solution. That’s really what the story’s saying, more than, “Hey, I’ve done this before with company X specifically.”

 

Will Barron:

Got it. On that then, is this, and credibility might be the easiest one to do this upon, but is this measurable? Can we say, this person has X credibility, this person has Y credibility? Again, I’m thinking of this from the perspective of the audience, where they want to improve, but it’s very difficult to improve that something, if you can’t put a number on it, or if it’s anecdotally, “Oh, I trust that person, but I don’t trust that person.”

 

Can We Really Measure Our Credibility? · [11:59] 

 

Will Barron:

Can we measure credibility specifically? Then we can touch on some of these other points as well.

 

Andres Lares:

We’ve played around with that for a long time. We’ve struggled to find a foolproof way to do that. I would say, something we’ve talked a lot about is, there is a hierarchy, if you will, and credibility has a lot to do with the quality of the relationship. Those two are very closely aligned, because essentially, credibility is basically trust. There’s a little bit more to it, but essentially, those are very well-correlated.

 

Andres Lares:

If you think of it that way, if you want to figure out, okay, what’s the credibility you have, think about a prospective client, our client, and think about all the little things. For example, if you call them and you leave them a voicemail or you send them an email, how long do they take to call you back or email you back? Have they ever asked you for advice? Do they typically take your advice if you potentially provide a few nuggets, even without being requested? Those sorts of things. Your conversations, are they very transactional nature? How much do you talk personally, and get beyond the business relationship?

 

“If your prospects respond fairly quickly to your emails, they ask you for advice, or they clearly value your opinion, then your credibility is quite high. If none of those are happening and they only come to you when they need pricing, and you’re essentially a rate sheet, then your credibility is probably pretty low.” – Andres Lares · [13:19] 

 

Andres Lares:

If you answer all those questions, then I would say it’s actually very similar to body language, which is someone we cover in our book, which is, one thing doesn’t tell you much. It could be just a mood or very specific, it could be a lot of factors are there. It’s hard to read much from one response, but over the body of work, over a few months, if all those things are happening, they respond fairly quickly, they ask you for advice, they clearly value your opinion, your credibility is quite high. If none of those are happening and they only come to you when they need pricing, and you’re essentially a rate sheet, then your credibility is probably pretty low.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s how I would answer it, rather than having a specific process to figure that out.

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense. That impact of someone that you’re prospecting, someone that you’re working with, asking you for advice is so important. I don’t think this is really talked about in any sales books that I’ve seen. It’s a question that we include in our sales code assessment in our training product, because it really does set the bar between salespeople, and I won’t go too much into this, I don’t want this to be a pitch for the product kind of thing, but it really just separates salespeople in the data that we’ve collected, of the cliche salesperson who’s a consultant, versus the salesperson who’s just spamming cold emails, as many people as possible, trying to just get the right person at the right time, with the right product by fluke and by look, more than anything else.

 

Will Barron:

That question of, hey, do your buyers ask for your advice, ask for your opinions, ring you up, and anything other than what is the price, or how do I get started? That is a massive differentiator in our own internal data, as to a salesperson who’s in control of the sale, as much as we want to be, as the buyer goes through the buyer’s journey, versus again, someone who’s just spamming for the right person at the right place at the right time.

 

Why Patience is Key When Trying to Build Credibility · [14:48] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there anything else you want to add? I want to go through as many of these as we can. Is there anything else you want to add to the credibility? I think that makes sense. I think that is objectively measurable for the audience now as well.

 

Andres Lares:

The only thing I would add is, it takes patience. The only factor we haven’t talked about is … In the book, we talk about really, the name of the game is to speed up that process. That’s what we all want to do, as salespeople, we want to get to a point where we are credible in the eyes of a potential client, or a client, and do so as quickly as possible. That is the name of the game, but no matter what, even with the best system, even the most experienced and effective people, it takes time.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s part of just one other practical tip. If we’re talking about building credibility, if I’m talking to Will for the first time, okay, let me get you a proposal and I’ll send it to you by end of day Wednesday, and you purposely set a milestone that you can then do.

 

“You cannot build credibility and trust in the first call. You can begin to, and you want to give yourselves those opportunities and take advantage of those opportunities, but it really does take time. So patience is key when trying to build credibility.”  – Andres Lares · [15:58] 

 

Andres Lares:

Then also, I’ll follow up with you the following Wednesday, just to make sure, to check in to see if you have any questions. You do that. Then, a week later, you give yourself these milestones and these activities, and things that you say you’re going to do, and you do them, and you build reliability. That’s another quick way to build it. I bring that up because as much as you’re speeding up the process, as you can tell, that takes time. You cannot build credibility and trust in the first call. You can begin to, and you want to give yourselves those opportunities and take advantage of those hacks, if you will. It really does take time.

 

Andres Lares:

Patience is the one other factor I would throw in there.

 

The Emotional Piece of Rapidly Trying to Build Credibility · [16:12]

 

Will Barron:

[inaudible 00:16:12] emotion, how much of this is actually in the control of the salesperson, and how much of this is in the upbringing, the four patterns, the beliefs, the cultural elements of the buyer themselves of, we’re taught as kids, stranger danger and all this kind of stuff. How much of that is the variable, versus our skillset in the marketplace, to be able to attempt to rapidly build credibility?

 

Andres Lares:

The emotion piece, I think, if we segue to that, is something that you have control over. Not complete control, certainly, but you certainly have control over … I’ll give you the example again, a lot of studies around this, we did it in our book, but there’s a lot of them out there, which say that people are more afraid, and it’s more powerful to lose something, than it is to gain something.

 

Andres Lares:

The simple example that is, that Will, as an average person, will feel more pain if he loses $100, let’s say, at a casino in roulette, then he will if he gains $100, he makes $100 from playing that same game. Just as an example of that, the crudest example, the reason I bring that up is, then, when you’re talking to someone, if you want to engage emotions and you want to really compel someone to be activated in this conversation, and engaged, you might spend more time on, okay, walk me through, explain to me the challenge you face, and why is that so frustrating? You get them talking about it.

 

Andres Lares:

That is a lot more compelling on the flip side, and going straight to the solution on the positive. That’s just a perfect example of, you don’t have complete control. The person doesn’t have to go along with you, which is some of the art, if you will, that you get them going along with you. The science tells us that, if you get them talking about the struggles, the challenges they face, and how it makes them feel, what would happen if they get beyond that, that is something that’s going to engage in emotionally, in a much more powerful way, than going straight to the solutions.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s where the credibility and the emotions start to bridge together, where the story would say, I’ve seen conversations like this before. Here’s a solution we came up with. I want to go back to what you’re facing, and dig in a little more, and you start really asking questions about that. That’s where you now start balancing step one, step two, in that process.

 

Why Building Credibility Should be Enjoyable · [18:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Should this process be, fun might be an extreme word to describe it, but should it be an enjoyable process for the buyer and the seller? Because, if you take away the sales element of this, of, I’m going to sit down with Andres, he’s going to tell me some stories, he’s going to build some emotion, there might be a bit of a logical element to this, to bring things back down and to wrap things up. Hopefully, I’m going to get some kind of benefit out of it, and I’ll be able to move forward with this, or stop this pain point, or something like that.

 

Will Barron:

If you talk about this from a, even a therapy perspective or a mentoring perspective, it sounds like it’s going to be really productive and everyone’s happy. As soon as you mention sales, and you sprinkle that in, everyone’s a bit nervous. Barriers come up in the mind of the buyer a lot of the time, and salespeople feel like they’re almost battling for attention. If this is done by someone like yourself, who’s highly skilled in these steps of influence and storytelling, and all the other stuff that we’re talking about, should this be an enjoyable couple of phone calls between buyer and seller?

 

Andres Lares:

First of all, I want to put that in my bio, that Will Barron has said I’m highly skilled in this area. There’s a couple things. One is, we’ve all heard that people don’t like being sold too. I think that’s part of this too, that if you think about, we always laugh. In some of the sessions, our facilitators will often share a very relatable story about going into a store. If we go into a store to buy a pair of pants, or a clothing store of some kind, and you’ll come in.

 

Andres Lares:

What’s the first question you’re asked? Is, “May I help you,” from the store person, salesperson. What’s their immediate response? Is, no, I’m okay, I’m just looking. What’s interesting is, we’ve come in, and we could just be looking. In many cases, we’re coming in looking for a specific pair of pants or shirt or a sweater, but we would rather go find it ourselves rather than literally take advantage of this resource that is meant to do exactly that.

 

Andres Lares:

If we were to say, “Hey, I want this sweater in large,” that’s their job is to help us do that. Instead, we don’t want to be sold to. We say, we’re just looking, to get that space, to make our own decision and to get that space. I think that’s a perfect example. I think we have to keep that in mind.

 

“The salespeople that are genuinely curious in a process that’s truly collaborative are very successful because the other side senses that genuine curiosity, and so they’re more willing to share. They truly are collaborating. That’s how you get to the best solution.” – Andres Lares · [21:01] 

 

Andres Lares:

To your question, I would say, what drives all this? In some cases, it could be fun. I think the best salespeople enjoy it. I think the differentiator we saw from the most successful salespeople, is there’s genuine curiosity. When they’re doing what we talked about, they really are curious as salespeople. That’s today’s challenge is to learn about, what’s Will struggling with, why, what have they done before, and then to come up with a solution together with Will. Those that see it as, there’s genuine curiosity in a process that truly is collaborative, are very successful, because the other side senses that genuine curiosity, they’re more willing to share. They truly are collaborating.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s how you get to the best solution. Now, it’s hard to do, and that’s the art maybe less than the science, but the genuine curiosity is the biggest driver, I think, of that.

 

Will Barron:

I think a lot of this, I use that example that you’re talking about there. You go to Levi’s to buy a pair of jeans. Most of the time, there’s a spotty teenager there who you’re just like, get out the way. Then, you spend twice as long in there, trying on different jeans, when they could just tell you, because all they do is sell jeans all day, and they could’ve saved half an hour of messing around. Yet, we turn them down.

 

Will Barron:

If you flip down on its head, if you’re lucky enough to go and buy a luxury watch, an expensive watch, or a car or something, if you’re going into a Rolex store, Omega store, whatever it is, and you’re damn well expecting someone knowledgeable is going to come over and hold your hand, because that’s part of the service. You might even get a glass of champagne or something, if you make a purchase on the spot there. That’s part of the experience.

 

Statement Against Self Interest: The One Thing You Can Use to Build Credibility Fast · [22:10]

 

Will Barron:

What can we do if, we’ll use Sam the salesperson, he’s selling HR software, it’s super boring, but Sam is curious, and he does really care about his customers, and he cares about the fact that if he serves them well, he’s going to get a big fat commission check at the end of the month as well, to be real about it. How does he change the perception of the prospect to shift them from the Levi’s store rep, that when they walk into the store, they’re not interested, to, hey, I’m actually here to add value, and you’re paying for my time, whether you realise it or not, if you make a purchase, because the price of the product is factoring in the fact that we’ve got staff here, and we’ve got training, we’ve got all the facilities.

 

Will Barron:

How would you go about changing the perception of a prospect on, whether it’s via before you reach out, if you’re trying to warm up a lead before you get on a call with them, or on a call, or wherever it is, how would you change the perception that you’re actually there to help them, as opposed to, you are a pesky old-school salesperson just trying to grab cash out their back pocket?

 

Andres Lares:

I think even in the example you brought up, we’ve talked about that first step, credibility. The person selling the Rolex has the credibility to borrow from Rolex. Rolex is a world-famous brand. That comes with the expectation that that salesperson will be very knowledgeable with the product. The value they bring to the table may not be, they don’t need to sell you on buying a watch, and they don’t need to understand why you’re buying a watch necessarily, but they certainly, at the very least, need to have a lot of product understanding.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s what you’re tapping into. The value they bring to you is when you ask, okay, what’s the difference between this one and that one, those sorts of … Tell me more about how these are made, or whatever it is that you’re interested in finding out, they should be a valuable resource there. Them being a valuable resource is how they prove and demonstrate their credibility.

 

Andres Lares:

I would say in the other case, there’s a couple of ways that Sam, selling HR software, for example, can do that. One is using statements against self-interest. To quickly do that, again, it has to be genuine. The concept of, I’m not sure this is going to work for you, sometimes is done disingenuously. Your HR software probably doesn’t work for everybody. For example, there may be a sweet spot of companies too big or too small, or some industries you’re more or less likely for that to work.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s a perfect example of, if you’re generally having the first few minutes of a conversation around, Will, I’ve got a few questions for you, and then based on that, we can pretty quickly find out whether or not this could be a good fit. Now, and this would be the million-dollar piece to it, if every single time you go into those few questions, and it’s always a “good fit,” then, your process isn’t necessarily really genuine.

 

Andres Lares:

If that truly is, and here’s what’s crazy, I can tell you that, I’ve had this, we’ve had salespeople on our team had this, and I’ve been on podcasts before, very successful people talk about these stories, where you sometimes will get a better referral and long-term client from people that you can even say at the beginning, where it truly isn’t a fit. You build credibility by saying, Will, right now based on your size, I’m not sure it makes sense to go to our payroll services, our HR services, but let’s keep in touch and figure it out if it changes.

 

Andres Lares:

Then, what happens is, if Will moves to another company, think about how much credibility you build by bringing that up, by being very clear around, look, in this case, it just doesn’t make sense. It’s not fitting a square peg into a round hole.

 

Andres Lares:

I think statement against self-interest is a big one, where you walk through. Again, if every single time, you’re asking those questions early on to qualify, and every single time they’re a fit, then it’s probably not … You’ve got to adjust that a little bit. If there are a few times where it isn’t a fit, and you can tell that person, or at least not a fit at the moment, then I think that’s a pretty effective way to build credibility, and to get that early on.

 

Andres Lares:

I would say that happens even in the prospecting stage. It’s not like, Will, I know this will work for you, but instead it’s, I only need 10 minutes of your time. Look, in the third email, when I haven’t even got 10 minutes of Will’s time, I’m going to send him an email, here’s three or four questions you should start thinking about. Then, based on a brief conversation, or even you answering by email, I could tell you if it’s even worth your time to spend 10 minutes. That kind of concept again is, there’s credibility to that.

 

Andres Lares:

There’s empathy there, where they understand that I’m busy. They’re going to figure out for me, whether or not this is worth my time.

 

Should You Be Using Manipulative Selling Techniques Even When They Can Potentially Yield Intended Results? · [26:25] 

 

Will Barron:

When we’re talking about being, because I’m conscious about being flippant and cliche about this. When we talk about being authentic, we talk about being genuine, to make this practical for the audience, obviously most humans, depending on how perhaps your brain’s wired, we have a gut instinct, gut feeling, whatever we want to call it, of someone is lying to us. Someone is manipulating, something isn’t right.

 

Will Barron:

Maybe there’s a level of skill with … It becomes a manipulation then. Maybe there’s a level of skill of manipulation, where you can overcome that feeling that people have. I think a lot of salespeople believe that they are incredible at influence and negotiation, when there’s no evidence at all that they are, myself included. I used to think I was killer, all of this stuff. I’d read a few books on it. My real first sales job was working in medical device sales. I’d be dealing with surgeons all day, and they all think that they’re amazing negotiations, and it’s a bit of a boy’s club, and we’d all be battling over these things.

 

Will Barron:

Then when you start doing real deals with actual deal makers in large organisations in the corporate world, you soon realise that, I soon realised, I didn’t actually know anything. I was not necessarily from a malicious place trying to manipulate people, but I was trying to just smash through barriers, and talk over people, and do weird tricks and things to try and take control of a situation.

 

Will Barron:

Now, when I negotiate, it’s very much from an authentic place of, here’s the deal, you can either have it or not have it. You’re not going to change my life either way. That’s where things are. Deals come in so much easier, cleaner and smoother on the back of that.

 

Will Barron:

My question, Andres, is, for the average person, should they focus on just being real, authentic, not bullshitting and trying to learn some of these skills to put people on the right pathway so we can help them, or is the scope to … Is it possible to manipulate people, is what I’m getting at, in a buyer/seller relationship? Not necessarily from a long-term perspective, from a short-term. Could you teach us black arts and black magic and some witchery, and maybe we’ve got to have a weird shrine, and we’ve got to sacrifice a sheep or something, before we jump onto the call.

 

Will Barron:

Is it possible to manipulate people and get deals done, or it’s just so difficult to do, that we should just focus on the softer skills, the easier stuff that we’re talking about here, that actually gets results? That’s a terrible question, but I’m going to let you try and answer it anyway.

 

Andres Lares:

I’m all of a sudden going to take this to left field for a second, because the answer to that, actually, I want to make a connection to the Tinder Swindler. It’s big on Netflix. Your question, can you manipulate? I think the answer very much is yes. For those that haven’t watched the show, I think the title says it all, but there definitely is the ability to manipulate.

 

“The reality about manipulation is that if it’s against their will, it’s really not something you want to be doing.” – Andres Lares · [29:44] 

 

Andres Lares:

I think, and it’s one of the reasons, when we wrote our book, one of the first chapters is about that, is about the ethics. It’s short, because we could write so much about it. There could be a whole book on that. The reality is, what we say is, if it’s against their will, is that really what you want to be doing?

 

Andres Lares:

It’s also so short-term. Short-term, eventually you’ll find out, eventually, it just doesn’t feel good. Eventually, it catches up with you, and that’s, for us, when we’re training people, we’re training for a sustained process, that they can continue all the way through their entire career. If anything, if you’re in sales, those relationships you build, they begin to really … It’s like a snowball. They really begin to pay dividends over the course of your career. I’m sure you’ve seen this, where friendships you’ve made, business relationships you’ve had for five, 10, 15, 20 years pay off no matter what you do in referrals and advice and everything else.

 

Andres Lares:

There definitely is the ability to manipulate. It is hard, what’s authentic and what’s not. I think it starts with, at the core is, do you believe in the product or service that you’re selling?

 

Andres Lares:

I think that that’s almost underappreciated. If you’re in sales, that’s the first piece you need to do, rather than necessarily getting into that big company we talked about earlier, there is an advantage to the credibility, you can borrow from a really big company everyone’s heard of, but more important than that is, do you really believe in it? That alone, you’ll naturally, even without thinking about it, that’s going to ooze out of you, because you genuinely feel like, if they listen to you and it’s a good fit, you’re going to be providing value.

 

Andres Lares:

That’s the first step. If you want to do it naturally, that’s the first step. Then, there’s some other aspects that are trained. I think the trained piece is around, really, like you said, asking questions to understand what their needs are, in a way that the answer can’t always be, this is a perfect fit. If those two are happening, I would say you’re probably 90% of the way there. Then, that last 10% really is the art and science that you can fine tune over experience, do the training, experimenting, all those things take you to the last little bit, but those first two are, in my opinion, very significant.

 

Negotiation and Influence in Sales. It’s Not That Complicated · [31:35]

 

Will Barron:

Is it fair to say then that me in this conversation, and maybe some of the audience as they look into negotiation, influence? Is it easy to over-complicate this?

 

Andres Lares:

It is. I think, and that’s why I know in your podcast, it’s something that you talk about, the simplicity and the ability to execute. This is exactly why the book is the four-step process, and not the 72 ways to persuade, because the reality is, if you go back to the four we talked about, even if you haven’t read it, even if you know aren’t an expert in each area, just even the concepts alone. First, you build credibility.

 

Andres Lares:

The first time you’re reaching out to a potential client, you want to figure out, okay, how am I going to gain credibility? Why are they even going to care? Where’s my perceived credibility going to come from? Engage emotion. I’m not going to go straight the logic. I want to attach this to something that they care about. Then, the logic is, how do I do that? Whether it’s a story or something very … A logical consequence or conclusion based on the emotion and the credibility. Then finally, facilitate action. Okay. Let’s do things to, whether it’s providing options or maintaining momentum, let’s do things that make it more likely that we are going to be able to advance the sale.

 

Andres Lares:

If you think about just that process, again, an example of simple, if you and I talk today about 77 ways to do something, none of them will resonate. If we stick to four, the likelihood that those four will resonate is significantly higher, and that they’ll be usable is significantly higher.

 

Will Barron:

Okay. We’ll wrap up the show with this, Andres. Are each of these segments, and say, we’re trying to do this on, just to simplify our example here, we’re going to try and do this on one call. The prospect has booked a meeting into our calendar. We have enough credibility that they want to speak to us about our projects or services. We’ve borrowed credibility from elsewhere. Maybe we are genuinely experts in our space as well.

 

How to Take Your Prospects Down the Path of Credibility, Emotion, and Eventually Taking Action · [33:34] 

 

Will Barron:

They want to speak with us. The emotion, the logic, the facilitate action, they go in that order. Are we doing emotion, and then we transition to logic, and then we transition to facilitating action, or is this more of a washing effect, where they knock into each other, and there’s less of a hard transition between each one?

 

Andres Lares:

I would say the latter. I think it’s important, especially, most of us are selling remotely, or there’s a significant remote piece of it. Just one other practical tip that I think will answer that question is, as an example, you’re talking to a potential prospect now, and especially for those folks that may have been selling in person, but now have to continue to sell remotely due to COVID. If you think about, okay, credibility starts from the emails, the setting up a call, all the things you’ve done to even get the call. You probably have some credibility enough to at least get the call.

 

Andres Lares:

Then, generally, again, for those folks that used to meet in person, they would spend an hour with someone at their office or at their manufacturing facility or whatever, they’re used to running the sales process in one way. I would say, now you’ve gone online, now, you’ve probably gone from an hour, an hour and a half, to 30 minutes, and it’s online. Engage emotion. If you follow that, where they start going back and forth, what would you do in those 30 minutes?

 

Andres Lares:

While most of us feel the need to rush through the sales pitch, “Usually I’ve got an hour, but now I only have 30 minutes.” Instead, do these exact opposite, which is, those 30 minutes, you can send a proposal, you can send a PowerPoint, you can work through it on email, all the details of the things that you want to do from a logic perspective, all of the value proposition, you can do all that, but you cannot replicate the relationship with the bonding and the emotional aspect of the sale.

 

Andres Lares:

Those 30 minutes should really be totally on emotion, totally on discovery, because everything else, you can do after. You do that because, if you do enough of that in the richest medium possible, which is the video call, then that allows you enough credibility, and you engage enough emotion for them to even care about the logic that you’re going to share thereafter. The sales space, the value proposition, the PowerPoint, whatever you’re going to send after.

 

Andres Lares:

I bring that up because it is like the waves concept, where there’s back and forth, and it isn’t perfectly linear. It is a building of the pyramid, but it isn’t perfectly linear. I think that goes into something we cover in our selling virtually programme, which is, even these and these podcasts, I would tell you, when I do podcasts, I think it’s a richer conversation when there’s video. Whether or not it ends up being broadcast or part of the podcast, because you can see the person, and there’s the body language, the feedback.

 

Andres Lares:

I think it makes for a richer conversation. It’s the first time you and I have met, but I feel like I know you better, and I hope you feel the same. It’s just a little bit different than it would if it was completely audio-based. Hopefully, that example has a practical tip, but also answers that question of, there is some grey areas between the stages.

 

Will Barron:

Yep. That makes total sense. I’m conscious of time, because we could do an episode on each one of these four steps individually, and how it’s twined, and another episode on … We could even role play some of this. I think there’d be value for the audience. There’s one thing I don’t think we’ve covered yet, and I want to wrap up the show with this, and this idea of, we’re not doing this to someone. Tell me if I’m wrong here, but we’re not throwing this out at someone.

 

Will Barron:

This is a conversation. This is seeing their body language, as you mentioned, their cues, their triggers, if they’re interested, if they’re not in their head. Is there anything that we need to be looking out to, perhaps in one or two lines for each of these steps, for how we know that we’ve achieved that, and we can move on to the next one?

 

Here’s How To Know If You’re Credible Enough · [37:20] 

 

Will Barron:

What I mean by that is, how do we know if we’ve got credibility when we’re on a video call? How do we know when we’ve ticked a few emotional boxes and we’re now ready to talk about logic? Because some of the audience will take this conversation, try and turn it into a script, and just say it verbatim, hoping for a positive outcome. Again, tell me if I’m wrong. I feel like this is something that is done conversationally, as opposed to, I’m doing it’s to you, Andres.

 

“When building credibility, you’re not doing it to someone, you’re doing it with someone. And I think if you’ve got time with the person, then they deemed you to be credible, because it’s easier to say no than yes. We all have competing priorities and are busy. If you’ve allowed Will to take 15, 30 minutes of your time, there’s enough credibility there for he or she to allow you to do that.” – Andres Lares · [37:57] 

 

Andres Lares:

Spot on. I think, I would summarise that with the two words, you’re not doing it to someone, you’re doing it with someone, is the first answer. Absolutely. I think that’s critical. Then, for each one, I think the earlier ones are easier. Credibility, if you’ve got time with the person, then they deemed you to be credible, because it’s easier to say no than yes. We all have competing priorities and are busy. If you’ve allowed Will to take 15, 30 minutes of your time, there’s enough credibility there for he or she to allow you to do that.

 

Andres Lares:

Then as far as emotion, I think if the person cares, if the body language is, the eye contact, video-wise, if that makes sense, if you can tell they perk up and are wanting to share more, the emotion’s engaged. I would say logic is probably more around buying signals. At that point, you just start to progress. There’s the buying signals of asking for pricing, or asking more specific questions. Then, the facilitate action’s probably the opposite. It’s one that you don’t wait to see whether you’re getting those signs, you’re doing it anyways to make sure it doesn’t happen.

 

Andres Lares:

Part of facilitate action is, I think as salespeople, it’s harder to resuscitate a sale than it is to continue all the way through. When we lose momentum, it’s hard to regain it, just like it’s easier to sell to a current client, and grow a current client, than it is a new one. I would say, that one’s actually the opposite, where you don’t want to be waiting for that cue, “I think I’m losing this person.” You want to act as if you’re not even going to let that person get to that stage by continuing to facilitate action and keep the momentum.

 

How to Move Into the Close After Successfully influencing Buying Decisions · [39:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Final question for me, this is the third final question I’ve asked you. Should this come to a crescendo with a closing statement? Does it make sense to move forward with this? Should this big ball be getting faster and bigger and boulders removed, as it moves forward throughout the conversation? Or, should there be peaks and troughs, and should it be more chill, again, or should it be like, we’re building up speed, we’re building momentum, we’re building that emotion, we’re layering in the logic, and towards the end of it, it’s like, yes, we’re rocking and rolling?

 

Andres Lares:

It does build, and I think I expected a little bit of that when we started doing our research. Our research was, we did a research of 1000 decision makers around the world. We were trying to take away a bias of a specific culture. I expected to see more of that. We covered, for example, soft and hard closes, and whether there is that buildup into that big ask. I think one of the things that we quickly learned is, that doesn’t really happen, because each one’s so different. If you see a sales process as just learning about the other party, figuring out if there’s a fit, and then connecting your solutions to it, it’s that simple. I don’t want to oversimplify, but really, it is that simple.

 

Andres Lares:

Then, each one’s going to be a little bit different. Some people are going to … You’re going to need to apply a little bit more pressure, because maybe they’re changing the status quo. They’ve had an incumbent supplier, or, as you said, HR software partner for many years, and you’ve got to move them off of that. That might require a little bit more aggressiveness with a, does that make sense? Should we give this a go? Put a little bit more, not pressure, but take it up a notch.

 

“The most effective way to get someone to believe something is if they say it.” – Andres Lares · [41:05]

 

Andres Lares:

Versus in some other cases, you want to take the opposite approach, which is, you share, share, share, focus on credibility, focus on building that emotion, and give that person that space, because he or she, again, may not want to be sold to. They’ll be more … I will say, one piece that ties us all together is, and we cover this in both our influencing and persuasion class, and as well also, our negotiation, which is, the most effective way to get someone to believe something is if they say it.

 

Andres Lares:

We’re better off asking a question of, Will, what would your world look like if you were to save 10 hours a week based on your HR software? Again, those are too cliche, maybe not the perfect question, but that concept, and if you were to say, that would allow me to do X, Y, and Z, that’s a lot better than, this will save me 10 hours of time, so that will allow you to do X, Y, and Z. Who believes me? I’m just a salesperson.

 

Andres Lares:

You may not believe me, until I gain enough credibility. Until then, asking a couple of those questions that have you come up with that, and it may not be the immediate response. It isn’t, you ask Will this perfect question, and expecting to say, wow, that was a good question. I’m sold, and where do sign. That’s not going to happen, but now, you’ve planted that seed. For that next conversation, you can assume that that person’s thought a little bit about it. Now, that’s the area we’re going to spend a little bit more time in the discovery phase.

 

Andres Lares:

Hopefully, that’s not too all over the place, but I think we’re talking theoretical, we’re also talking practical, but one of my goals was to give us few practical tools and tips that people could use immediately after they listen to this. That’s another one, try to find a way you can ask that question to get to that answer, rather than tell the other party that.

 

“Your sales calls shouldn’t be weird. It should be someone who wants to speak with you, and you want to chat with them. You want to see if you’re a good fit. If you’re not, fine, ask for a referral, you can follow up later on down the line.” – Will Barron · [42:20] 

 

Will Barron:

I love it. My biggest takeaway from this show is something that I know, but I didn’t know five, six years ago when I started the podcast, and when I was still working in a sales role, but I now for experience, having done thousands of sales calls for our training product, that your sales calls shouldn’t, this sounds ridiculous, your sales calls shouldn’t be weird. It should be someone who wants to speak with you, and you want to chat with them. You see if you’re a good fit. If you’re not, fine, ask for a referral, you can follow up later on down the line. As you mentioned, they might change jobs. They might go to different companies. Budget appears six months down the line, whatever it is, you just stay in contact, add that little bit value, share some industry insights every quarter, whatever it is.

 

Will Barron:

The conversation, you don’t have to be best friends with the person that you’re chatting with, but it should be a half decent little conversation. It shouldn’t be weird. You shouldn’t be reading from a script, the next step number 27 than in the manipulation formula. Because even as you mentioned earlier on-

 

Andres Lares:

I feel like … when you start saying that, I …

 

Will Barron:

That would be an interesting show in its own right, to look at the black arts of influence and negotiation, and see maybe what we shouldn’t be doing with some of this. I feel like, what I’m taking away from this is, it should be just a fun … Fun’s a strong word. It should be a constructive conversation between two adults, talking about a business problem, and whether the business you can represent solves it. There shouldn’t be no pressure. I know we’re talking about negotiations, influence and persuasion here.

 

Will Barron:

A lot of those words have a level of pressure tied to them. In the negotiation, most people assume I’m trying to win a negotiation. As opposed to, we’re trying to compromise and come to a solution that everyone’s onboard with. This is societal, this is culture and films that, there’s no boardroom negotiation in any film where everyone’s like, “Oh, I enjoyed that conversation.” You have some pastries and a cup of coffee and you just have a chat about things. It’s obviously culturally, negotiation has things tied to it.

 

Why Your Sales Conversations With Prospects Should Never Be Weird · [44:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Am I on the right tracks here that, a sales conversation, as we just outlined, when we’ve got credibility, especially if it’s an inbound lead where the prospect wants to speak to us, we should just be having a nice chat with them?

 

Andres Lares:

Yeah. It’s hard though, because I think that requires confidence. I love the way you said, and I agree, fun might be almost too strong, but not a far stretch to say enjoyable. That’s the thing, and we get to one other piece we didn’t cover at all, though, [inaudible 00:44:51] building is, people like doing business with people that they like. That’s a part of it. That is a means to an end. If Will’s the nice guy that you enjoy talking to, you’re more likely to talk to Will, which makes it more likely for him to make the sale.

 

Andres Lares:

There is an immediate advantage to doing that. If you enjoy it and they enjoy it, good things will come from it, no matter what. That really can only come if you’re genuine, if you have enough confidence, because early on in your career, you’re reading from the script, because you’re thinking, I really don’t want to screw this up. You said something earlier today where, you’ve gotten to a point in your career where you say, look, this is it, and if it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. If it does, great.

 

Andres Lares:

That confidence that you have. Just to be fair, if you’re starting your career, you’re not at that point. You don’t have the confidence to feel like you have the ability to do that. I can certainly relate to that, and early on for anyone’s career, that’s a stage where they’re in. The enjoying aspect is, I think, highly underappreciated and underrated.

 

Parting Thoughts · [45:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. I agree. I joined this conversation. With that, tell us a little bit more about NSI, and tell us more about the book, and where we can find it as well.

 

Andres Lares:

Yeah, absolutely. The Shapiro Negotiations Institute, the acronym is a global negotiation influence and sales training firm, based in Baltimore. We do work all over, and actually, excited to share that we’ve been doing, I think, five languages, and now we’re up to eight. Certainly, taking that global to the next level. Then, the book is behind me there, right behind my head, Persuade. It’s exactly that, The 4-Step Process to Influence People.

 

Andres Lares:

If you’ve heard today, that’s what it’s all about. I really appreciate meeting you, Will, and I enjoy your podcast very much.

 

Will Barron:

I’m glad to have you on. I will link to that, everything else we talked about in this show, in the show notes of this episode, are at salesman.org. With that, Andres, again, genuinely, I don’t say this in every episode, love to have you back on the future. Love to dive into this in more detail, and thanks again for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Andres Lares:

Thank you for having me. I’d love to.

 

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