Stop Persuading And Win More Sales

On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Andy Paul explains why you should stop trying to trick your prospects and why you should focus on winning more sales.

Andy is the host of the “Sales Enablement with Andy Paul” podcast and author of “Sell Without Selling Out: A Guide to Success on Your Own Terms”.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Andy Paul
Sales Enablement Expert

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Transcript

Will Barron:

Hi, my name is Will, and welcome to today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast. On today’s show we’ll look at why you need to stop persuading if you want to win more sales. And today’s guest is Andy Paul. Andy is the host of the Sales Enablement With Andy Paul podcast, and author of Sell Without Selling Out, A Guide To Success On Your Own Terms. And with that, Andy, welcome back again to the show.

 

Andy Paul:

Will, thank you for having me.

 

Will Barron:

You’re more than welcome, sir. I’m glad to have you back on. We just had a nice tune wag before we click record. Tonnes of value in that conversation…

 

Andy Paul:

We did. We did.

 

Stop Persuading Prospects · [00:30]

 

Will Barron:

… so I appreciate that mate. But, let’s get into the topic. Let’s not diddy daddle too much. Let me ask you this mate, we’re going to talk about how not persuading prospects, this is going to seem a bit backwards to the audience until it kind of pans out. We’re going to talk about how not persuading prospects is going to win us more deals. But, isn’t the whole point of working in sales, being a salesperson, to persuade a prospect, to make a purchasing decision, so that we get some nice commission checks in our back pocket at the end of the quarter?

 

“I don’t believe that our job fundamentally as the sales people is to persuade someone to purchase our product. I think that our job as sellers is to listen to our buyers, to understand what are the most important things to them, both in terms of the challenges they face and the outcomes they want to achieve, and then help them get that. And I think that when you have that mindset and that perspective, what your job is, you use a different set of actions to get to the end result.” – Andy Paul · [01:07] 

 

Andy Paul:

Well, we certainly want the commission checks. The question is how do we get there? Right? So yeah, no, I don’t believe that our job fundamentally as the sales people is to persuade someone to purchase our product. I think that our job as sellers is to listen to our buyers, to understand what are the most important things to them, both in terms of the challenges they face and the outcomes they want to achieve, and then help them get that. And I think that when you have that mindset and that perspective, what your job is, you use a different set of actions to get to the end result.

 

Why Salespeople Stubbornly Continue Trying to Persuade Prospects · [01:40] 

 

Will Barron:

And that makes total sense, right? Everyone who’s listening to the show right now, Andy, have just gone, “Yeah, of course.” But why is that common sense, but it doesn’t get implemented? It doesn’t happen for a lot of sales people that way.

 

Andy Paul:

Well, I think a couple things. One is, I think people come into the profession with this idea of how they have to act to be a salesperson, which they picked up through maybe people that they know that are in sales, but certainly through popular culture, and so on. The way sales people are persuaded, or excuse me, portrayed for ages. But then most importantly, it’s really how sellers are socialised and educated about what their jobs are. And in most cases they are told, “This is your job. Your job is go and persuade someone to buy your product.” And it’s like, all right, well, you can push. But, the alternative is, maybe I can exhibit some leadership and inspire the buyer and influence the choices and trade offs the buyer makes, and achieve the same result perhaps with greater predictability and in less time.

 

Will Barron:

So, the audience will know this by now, we do this show as live as we possibly can. I’m choking, choking on air, literally as I-

 

Andy Paul:

You’re choked up by what I just told you. Yes, I know.

 

Will Barron:

It upsets me. It upset to me Andy. So, excuse me. With that mate, with that, we’ll try and cut this out after the show, of course.

 

Andy Paul:

That’s fine.

 

The Root Cause of Pushy Sales Behaviours · [03:12] 

 

Will Barron:

Oh man. Okay. So with that, who is to blame? Are we blaming individual sales people here for not having agency over their own kind of profession, over their own career, over their own actions? Is this media and Hollywood. Obviously there’s a stereotype of the used car sales person out there that we can perhaps lean into as well. The Wolf Of Wall Street, these kind of shows and films. Or, is it sales management? Or, is it the customer who’s accepted this behaviour for long enough that it’s then becoming ingrained as the correct way to do things? If we have to blame someone, who are we going to blame?

 

Andy Paul:

If we had to blame someone, yeah. It’s not the individual salesperson. If anything, it starts at management, right? Is increasingly we see managers, when I said increasingly, is use this great technology that’s available for sales. And instead of using it to sort of fundamentally reset how we engage with our buyers, what it’s typically in the hands of most managers being used to reinforce these previously bad behaviours that existed in sales, these pushy salesy behaviours. In fact, perhaps using the technology to amplifying those behaviours. And so I think it starts, blame maybe too strong a word because this is part of a tradition that’s going on for a long time. But, we haven’t used the tools available to us to, so I said, sort of fundamentally rethink and reset the relationship we have with buyers.

 

How to Rethink The Way You Sale From Less Persuading to More Leading · [04:45] 

 

Will Barron:

So the salesperson’s listening to this now, they’re driving along, their rocking and rolling. They’re excited about you being on the show, Andy. They’re going, “Okay, that makes sense. But I already do a discovery call and I already I listen to some of Andy’s podcasts and some of Will’s podcasts. I already ask some, what I consider decent questions. But, I still find that the buyer has like status quo. There’s confirmation biases of decisions they made in the past. There are other elements that like hold them steadfast in this position where I know that if they leverage our product, they buy into what we offer, we can help them.” How does that salesperson who’s listening right now, who perhaps, I think you’ve used and I’m mirroring your wording here carefully, Andy, they are persuading buyers having done discovery to get the deal, to get them over the line. How do they need to rethink the process and perhaps do less persuading and more leading? What practically does that look like?

 

Andy Paul:

Well, what practically looks like for discovery is, in hands of most sellers, the way they’re trained is, okay, you’ve got a playbook for discovery. You’ve got these questions we typically ask to this persona within this ICP. You should expect to get this type of answer. Based on receiving this type of answer, this is how you respond. And what happens then is discovery turns out being like a survey taking, right? I collect some amount of information, but I don’t understand a thing, right? I know this information, but I don’t understand why it’s important to the buyer. And this is the big gap that exists in discovery oftentimes is, I sort of know what they sort of think, but I don’t really understand why. I don’t understand what’s most important to them in terms of the challenges they’re trying to face.

 

Andy Paul:

I haven’t helped them think more deeply and broadly about that challenge with the questions I’m asking because I was just gathering information. Rather than using questions as a way to help the buyer think differently about the problems they’re trying to achieve or the problems they’re trying to solve and the outcomes they can achieve. So, there’s a gap between knowing something and understanding it is a big difference, and it requires going deeper with the question. So in my book I lay out in a chapter on curiosity is layout six question types that if you use them in combination is you will surface eventually what is most important to the buyer. And then when you that information, when you know what’s most important to the buyer, then you can say, “Okay, now I can work with the buyer because we know what the target is. We know what the real target is. I can work with the buyer now to try to influence the choices and trade offs they make about how to achieve their desired outcomes.”

 

The Process of Getting The Buyer to Understand What You’re Selling Instead of Trying to Persuade Them · [07:20] 

 

Will Barron:

So is it a case of getting the buyer to understand where they are, and you go through this process as well, right? Allowing the buyer to then, or enabling the buyer, helping them with your industry expertise. Clearly you’ve probably sold this product more times than the buyer has bought it. Get them to visualise, understand where they could be. And then is our job then to enable the buyer to see how they get from one place to another? As opposed to have a stick behind the back of the head, whacking them to get from the start line, to the end line.

 

“If you’re doing a persuasion based sales approach, you’re pushing the buyer. And I think sales is really a leadership role. What you’re trying to do is you’re trying to help the buyer understand what’s most important to them. But then you’re going to inspire them to go on this journey with you to co-create what this vision of success will look like when the buyer invests and uses your products and your services. Because, really when the buyers make a purchase decision, what are they buying? They’re not buying the product. They’re buying the vision of what that product can do for them and the outcomes they can achieve.” – Andy Paul · [07:52] 

 

Andy Paul:

Yeah. Right. I mean, so just fundamentally you can even break down even further and say, “Look,” if you’re doing a persuasion based sales approach, it’s pushing, right? You’re pushing, pushing, pushing the buyer. And I think sales is really a leadership role, right? What you’re trying to do is, you’re trying to help the buyer understand what’s most important to them. But then you’re going to inspire them to go on this journey with you to co-create what this vision of success will look like when the buyer invests and uses your products and your services. Because, really when the buyers make can purchase decision, what are they buying? They’re not buying the product. They’re buying the vision of what that product can do for them and the outcomes they can achieve. And I think that’s more fundamentally a leadership aspect than a push, push, push aspect.

 

Will Barron:

So, let’s see if we can go practical with this. So I know when I’m selling our Selling Made Simple academy training programme, right? I do what we’re describing here and I’ll start one place and I’ll say, “Well, the training’s going to allow us do this. It’s going to free up your time. It’s going to do this. It’s going to do that.” And then I’ll allow the prospect to, and I call them a prospect loosely, because usually they’re fans of the show already. There’s a bit of relationship already there. So, perhaps a few steps ahead of what the audience might be with their potential customers.

 

The Importance of Trust and Credibility When Trying to Win More Sales · [09:43] 

 

Will Barron:

But then we get to the point of, “Well, what do you actually want to achieve? Forget your sales target. Let’s go beyond that and let’s see where you need to be in five, 10 years, what you need to earn to get to that point.” And then you see their start to open it wide and you can then go, “Well, okay, well our training maybe can help with this or maybe it can’t help with this.” And we go down the kind of giving the solution to the problem, right? And again, I’m conscious I’m coming from a perspective of the audience. By the time I get on a call with them, whether it’s a sales leader, the VP of sales, to sell our training product, they already know everything about it. They already know all about me. There’s a layer of trust rapport there. So, with that said, Andy, what do we do if we’re selling something like office furniture or accounting software, or something like this where there’s perhaps, and maybe you can help me with this, but instantly I’m struggling to come up with some grand vision for the cheap office furniture that I’m selling. You know what I mean? Versus what I just described of a transformation, which is going to change both your career, but perhaps your personal life as well.

 

Andy Paul:

Not every price, you had that vision on the first call, right? So, there’s a process. You have to build this connection with the buyer as a human being. You have to build a level of credibility and trust, which you talked about. You’ve built through your podcast with your audience and the people you’re talking to, is what they’ve done is said, “Look, okay, we’ve built that connection.” So I talk about four pillars of selling in, in my book, connection, curiosity, understanding, generosity. You’ve built that connection, that trust. So now what the buyer says, “Look, I’m going to open the door to your influence Will, right? I have this trust in you. I’m going to enable you to come in and sort of stick your nose into our business to really learn what is most important to us. What are the outcomes we’re trying to achieve.”

 

“If you go in from a position of trust, you’re going to be able to go much deeper and get deeper and better insights into what the buyer’s trying to achieve than you would without trust.” – Andy Paul · [11:21] 

 

Andy Paul:

And as you know, I mean, when you talk to sellers, two people can ask the same question and get two dramatically different answers, based on the connection and the trust that they’ve built up with that buyer. So that’s why starting with that human connection is so important, leads into your curiosity. We use our curiosity to explore the things that are unfamiliar to us. Well, again, if you go in from a position of trust, you’re going to be able to go much deeper and get deep and better insights into what the buyer’s trying to achieve than you would without them.

 

Why You? How to Create a Seamless Buying Experience That Gets the Buyer To Choose Your Product or Service · [11:32] 

 

Will Barron:

How much of the practical skill of doing this, Andy, comes from building trust, building rapport, having the buyer going into the conversation with them seeing you as someone who can often value as opposed to a pesky salesperson who’s just trying to suck money from their pocket, right? How much of this comes up from framing the conversation? How much of it is enabled by framing the conversation up as, this is a consultative call, as opposed to a, I don’t know, maybe you wouldn’t do this on a cold call. You’d use your cold call to set up a meeting, right? But, how much of this comes from the perception of the buyer of you versus what you are able to do on the call itself?

 

“Let’s take your training products, great training product. But, the fact is there’s what, a million sales trainers out there? And when the buyer is talking to you and they’re valuing products saying, “Well, the products are basically all the same. So what’s the difference?” Well, the difference is how I’m experiencing Will versus experiencing John or experiencing Bill, who’s also trying to sell to us. And that’s where the difference is really made, is how the buyer experiences you in this process.” – Andy Paul · [13:01] 

 

Andy Paul:

Almost all of it, right? And so I write about my book is, there’s a question that all buyers ask of you as seller, excuse me, I call that the why you question, right? Why should I invest my time in you? Why should I invest my intention in you? Why should I trust you? And that’s something that they answer through how they experience you, right? It’s a question they’re not really verbalising, but they’re just being asked nonetheless. And so it starts with really small things, right? What’s the first impression you create with a buyer? And are you being intentional about trying to create a positive first impression? Right? Because at the end of the day, every interaction that we have with a buyer, is part of their buying experience with us. And we know on a day, the age that we operate in today, let’s take your training products, great training products. But, the fact is there’s what, a million sales trainers out there? And when the buyer is talking to you and they’re valuing products saying, “Well, the products are basically all the same. So what’s the difference?”

 

“When you have the opportunity to interact with the buyer, it doesn’t matter in what form that takes, whether it’s an email or a voice call, Zoom call, in person meeting, the buyer has invested their time and attention in you. You have to enable them to earn a return on that time and attention. And that just doesn’t happen by coming in and sort of trying to flog your product. It happens by sort of being in this process together with the buyer, right? Really understanding what’s important to them. Being focused on how can I help you achieve what’s most important to you? And then you become the differentiator, not the product or the company.” – Andy Paul · [13:35]

 

Andy Paul:

Well, the difference is how I’m experiencing Will versus experiencing John or experiencing Bill, who’s also in trying to sell to us. And that’s where the difference is really made, is how the buyer experiences you in this process. So, what it means is that when you have the opportunity to interact with the buyer, doesn’t matter in what form that takes, whether it’s an email or a voice call, Zoom call, in person meeting, the buyer has invested their time and attention in you. You have to enable them to earn a return on that time and attention. And that just doesn’t happen by coming in and sort of trying flog your product. It happens by sort of being in this process together with the buyer, right? Really understanding what’s important to them. Being focused on how can I help you achieve what’s most important to you? And then you become the differentiator, not the product or the company.

 

Why You Need to Become a Leader in Sales Instead of Trying to Spam the Marketplace · [14:21] 

 

Will Barron:

I think you alluded to this, you’ve mentioned technology a few times in the show so far Andy. This is an important question, but it’s going to have an obvious answer. How does this translate into the world that we’re living in right now in modern B2B sales, where seemingly most salespeople just want to sit behind spammy, automated, semi personalised cold emails, and just flog the whole marketplace, hoping that they find the right person, at the right place, with the right pain, at the right time, who will maybe get on a call with them? How does what we’re talking about here, the strategy of leading through the sale and adding value each step, and you being the experience differentiates versus the competition, how does that translate into this world of just spamming crap at people and praying that someone responds?

 

Andy Paul:

Well, you’re going to trigger me here. It requires a culture change, right? There are many, many industries right now where the win rate on their most qualified opportunities is acceptable, considered acceptable if it’s like a 20%. Meaning you’re winning one out of five of your most qualified opportunities. Yeah. I mean, a lot of companies are playing the game just as you described. They’re getting really good at, we’re going to put a tonne of opportunities through our demand gen and lead gen and to the top of the funnel. And if we’re just moderately effective at selling, we’ll close, yeah, 20% of our qualified opportunities. And that will be enough to enable us to grow. But, that parties not going to last forever. At some point, you, as an organisation, you as an individual, need to learn how to sell. Because, Hey, we’re in the midst of 14 years of uninterrupted economic growth. But Hey, we know things can go off the rails pretty quickly.

 

Andy Paul:

I mean, look at the unfortunate situation in Europe, in Eastern Europe. I mean, who knows what that leads to? We fall into a recession or something. Yeah. Those ways aren’t going to work as consistently and as reliably. You’re going to have to learn how to win a higher fraction of the opportunities, meaning that you’re going to really pay attention to how you sell. And unfortunately, many cases it’s not. And so there are small companies and midsize companies have taken the wrong lesson from some of the successes of the companies that have grown using these methods, thinking that’s that method that’s enabled the company to grow, that sales method. When actually it’s the product being in the right place at the right time.

 

Will Barron:

Now, respectfully, I’m trying to do this politely, but you’ll understand. You have been through and been in the game for a lot longer than what I have, right?

 

Andy Paul:

Yes.

 

The Changes to Expect in Sales Incase of a Recession · [17:00] 

 

Will Barron:

So, you were working through the 2008 recession and there’s been ups and downs since then and prior to that, right? Because obviously, what’s going on in Ukraine, what’s going on elsewhere in the world, we’re due just a massive recession or like a nose dive, just load of crap are getting thrown at our plate in the not distant future. It’s inevitable at this point. How does sales change in that period? And is it the people, when the person’s really get, and we’ve just come through COVID and all this other stuff as well. So, that’s perhaps a taste of some of what’s to come. But, how does sales change in that kind of environment? Does the spam work then, or does it just go down to zero at that point? And then it’s down to salespeople who actually are capable of selling, capable of leading, capable of guiding someone through a sales process and adding value every step of the way? Which side do we want to be on when the shit hits the fan, Andy?

 

“You can’t really help somebody get to that position of understanding what’s the shortest time to the value of your solution if you don’t really understand what would have the most value for them.” – Andy Paul · [18:58] 

 

Andy Paul:

Yeah, well, not the former. It’s more the latter, right? Because, there’s going to be more people chasing fewer dollars at that point, right? So this idea of differentiation through how you sell becomes more crucial. And your ability to ensure that every time you interact with a buyer, that you’re helping them make progress toward making the decision, hugely important. Because, and I said, you become the differentiator. And you’re saying, “Gosh, when I’m working with you, when I understand what’s really most important to you, then I can help you sort of work through this problem.” Which is, we see when things are tough and this came through at sort of the beginning of COVID, is yes, some decisions were deferred. But, the ones that went forward were the ones that had the shortest time to value for the purchaser. And you can’t really help somebody get to that position of understanding, what’s the shortest time to value with your solution, if you don’t really understand what would have the most value for them.

 

The 80/20 Rule in Sales · [19:10] 

 

Will Barron:

What’s the 80 20 of getting to this point? Because it seems like what we need is the ability to ask great questions. We also need industry expertise. We need to understand the industries that our customers are selling into, or the market that they’re servicing. But, this is stuff that maybe takes five years, 10 years, of head down sales experience, right? To nail some of this. Whether it’s the contacts within the space and all this kind of stuff and building-

 

Andy Paul:

Well, some.

 

Will Barron:

So, whats-

 

Andy Paul:

Some. I mean, I would argue that, I mean, fresh out of school, I knew nothing about business and the customers, my customer’s businesses and so on. Yet, I had some success right out of the gate. And what it came down to for me was this ability to ask questions, right? And to make sure that continue to ask questions, so I made sure I really understood the buyer and their concerns and what they were trying to achieve. And I just got better as I added industry expertise to it and had more experience in selling. But I would say if you start with the basics, as I talk about in my book, anybody can have these conversations, regardless of the level of expertise they have.

 

Will Barron:

So the ability to ask questions is perhaps from a timeframe perspective is the 20% that can give us 80% of the results?

 

Andy Paul:

Yes.

 

Will Barron:

Because that’s what we want to ramp up to.

 

Andy Paul:

What you’re driving at. Yep.

 

The Only Framework You Need to Ask Better Questions · [20:42] 

 

Will Barron:

So with that said, then, and I realise this is kind of going against the whole premise of this show. Is there a framework to asking questions? Is there a structure, not necessarily a script? But, other than just being curious, which, when I was selling medical devices I was insanely curious. I loved talking to surgeons about this insane equipment that I was passionate about selling. I know it sounds ridiculous to anyone who does not really understand that space, but it was such a cool environment to be in. A cool product. I’m a massive tech nerd, right? I love chatting about all the different, even how things were cabled up, right? It was insane. I loved all that kind of stuff. So I was insanely curious. So, with curiosity, hope we can hopefully tick that box.

 

Will Barron:

If you’re in a crappy job selling to crappy people and a crappy product, you need to perhaps change what you’re doing, if possible, right? That will a lot of boxes automatically. But, are there any structure to asking questions or any questions that we should be asking? Is there any kind of framework to be able to enable us to ask better questions, especially if we are perhaps not at the point where we can do this kind of unconsciously competently at the moment?

 

Andy Paul:

Right. Yeah. So again, hard not to flog my book necessarily, but yes. In my book, I write about six sort of core question types that sellers can ask and should ask. And the thing is, to reach a level of mastery, it’s how you combine the questions to help you get to where you want to go. But, examples of questions are, and one of my favourite for this are I call impact questions. And so the impact questions are causing the buyer to think about what the impact of making a change would be, or the impact of not making change. But, to quantify what that impact is in one regard or another. And it’s really useful. You use these impact questions sort of in layered forms, right? What’s the impact on the organisation of making a change, impact on your team, impact on you personally.

 

Andy Paul:

But, when you get people thinking about, “Wow, what would this mean for me, right? What will the impact be? How do I quantify what that be,” whether it’s time spent or time invested or dollars or whatever. I start thinking more deeply about what it is they’re trying to solve from a challenge standpoint and what they potentially can achieve. One example I talk about in the book, another I talk about in the book are insight questions. We always, not always, but you hear people talk about, Hey, insight led selling is we have to be prepared with commercial insights to tell our buyers. True. But, I think more importantly than telling insights is conveying insights through the questions you ask. And so where the buyers sort of arrives at that insight by themselves.

 

“An insight question is the type of question you’d ask a buyer where you’re going to ask them something about their business that they should reasonably be expected to know, but possibly don’t.” – Andy Paul · [23:25] 

 

Andy Paul:

So an insight question is the type of question you’d ask a buyer where it’s, you’re going to ask them something about their business that they should reasonably be expected you to know, but possibly don’t, right? So, it’s something that’s going to cause buyer sort of sit up and think, “Oh, that’s really interesting. I hadn’t thought of that before.” The fact that you asked that question, in their mind they’re going, “Clearly, they’ve got some industry expertise to come up with this, because this is an insight into my business.” And then a little bit of fear missing out because they know this from the people they’re working with, the companies they’re working with, what am I missing? So it’s just an example, two of the six question types that you can actually, as you get into the book and you read them you think about, okay, how can I pair these up now to sort of say, “Okay, this will become sort of a standard questioning routine I use maybe to open the door to a little deeper insight into what’s most important to the buyer.”

 

Practical Example of an Insight Question · [24:20] 

 

Will Barron:

What would be an example, I’m kind of putting you on the spot, but I know you can handle it. What would be an example of one of these questions for selling B2B sales training? Or you can use a different kind of niche you like. But, what would be an example of a couple of these questions in that kind of context?

 

Andy Paul:

Well, I would start with an impact question, right? Or we could even start with an insight question. I mean, for example, in my consulting business, in the past, a question I used with CEOs was, “All right, so tell me, how many hours of selling time does it take you on average to move a prospect from initial point of contact to a close?” And the response was generally crickets. Now, the problem with that is this is one of the most core questions you should know the answer to as a CEO, as a sales leader, because this really dictates how productive your sellers are being. How many dollars of revenue are they generating per hour of actual selling time? And this dictates what your productive capacity as an organisation is. How can you really forecast unless you know this? But more importantly is it gives you information about how effective your sellers are in front of the buyer.

 

Andy Paul:

So, if you’re selling sales training, this becomes pretty important because then you say, “Okay,” you want to look at that data and say, “Okay, well, how does John differ from Jennifer in the dollars of revenue they generate per hour selling time?” You now suddenly have some information about again, how effective they are in those moments that matter with the prospects, and what you might need to do to change and to train them up. Could be you’ll learn some of that through listening to their calls or whatever. But that’s just one sort of question that gives you some, it’s a conversation trigger. It’s a discovery trigger with the buyer. Because, if they don’t know the answer, they are certainly curious to find out what the answer is.

 

How to Come Up With Insightful Questions For Your Buyer · [26:19] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Absolutely love it. Okay. With that said then, how do we come up with some of these questions? Right? Because it seems like this isn’t something that we’re doing on the fly. We’re not coming up with this magic in the moment. These are somewhat thought out beforehand, and maybe we need to test some of this as well when we’re looking for prospects to have crickets, to have bright eyes on the Zoom call, and go, “Hmm, great question.” And start kind of stumbling in their words, getting back to us. Is this a case of getting the sales team together, brainstorming ideas, leveraging different people’s experience? Is there a process that we can go through to write these kind of questions? How do we go about formulating a series of these questions so that hopefully the audience can start using some of this today?

 

“Insight questions require that you really understand what your buyers are doing with your product and service.” – Andy Paul · [27:03] 

 

Andy Paul:

Right. So insight questions require that you really understand what your buyers are doing with your product and service. So whether this working with your success team, working with marketing team, with case studies. And you start with the premise, which in my experience over decades has proven out almost a hundred percent of the time is, the buyer has found a use case for your product or service that they didn’t anticipate when they were looking at it. And from that use case, they’re extracting value from your product and service that they hadn’t anticipated. And you want to find, through conversations with your buyers, your customers, what those are. So whether that’s your sales team, your success team, marketing team, it really requires you to be in touch with your existing customers and make sure you’re asking these questions of them and really exploring. Because, this then is the source of insight, right? It’s not that, “Hey, 60% of our buyers get this value from using our product.” It’s like, sure, you sort of expect that. But, where are the unexpected sources of value that they’re generating, unexpected use cases? Find those out. And then those become the substance that you use to create these insight questions.

 

Will Barron:

So would that be-

 

Andy Paul:

They exist. They exist. You find with, I mean, I’ve found for decades, won’t say how many decades, in selling to who from the largest corporations in the world to small business, is there’s always one thing in there. There’s always one thing that was unexpected, that was surprise, that again, generated or helped generate a return on that investment that they hadn’t anticipated.

 

Why Your Buyer Needs to Understand the Value They’re Getting From You · [28:53]

 

Will Barron:

So would we be asking questions to a good customer, get them on the phone going, “What did you think you were buying the product for? And then why are you continuing to use the product moving forward?” And then I guess we can, if we did this across sales team, we could document this into industry. And then when speak to a certain person in that industry, we can perhaps refer back to the documentation. We frame it in a question, but it’s almost like a case study of value as well, right?

 

Andy Paul:

Almost. But then you want to have them quantify the value they’ve received from it, right? I mean, one of the key things in qualifying buyers, make sure that you have a firmly and finely qualified prospect, is you need them to do their internal math and work to say, “Look, if we think we’re going to get 10% market share increase, or we’re going to save X amount in cost savings or generate additional sales,” until the buyer does the internal work, and internal business case to justify and say, “Look, yeah, we quantified what the value should be of making this change. We know what it means in Euros or dollars or whatever.” Well, now you’re doing it on the other side of the equation. Now they’ve put it to use. Yeah, let’s quantify. What is this value that you actually received? And so it’s starting with those questions. You talked about then digging deeper and saying, “Yeah, we need to reduce this to dollars.”

 

Will Barron:

Should every conversation-

 

Andy Paul:

When you do that, you’ll find the sources. I’m sorry.

 

Get Your Sales Qualification to Yield Better Results · [30:26] 

 

Will Barron:

Should every conversation be like this? Or is it fine occasionally to go, “Okay, well, it seems like you need our product. Here’s our product.” And the deal is done. And obviously it happens rarely, but it does happen. Is there a reason, is there value in going these few steps deeper, no matter how easy the sales process is going through? Or is this reserved… Go on.

 

“In the B2B world, a high fraction of qualified opportunities end up in no decision. The buyer simply decides to do nothing. And in my experience, most of those turn out because the buyer hadn’t taken that final step of doing their internal justification for the investment based on a quantification of the value they’re going to receive from doing it. So if you can’t get the buyer to a point where they actually say, “Oh yeah, this is going to mean an extra $200,000 to the bottom line,” you run the risk of ending up in a no decision. So even if the deal looks easy, get the buyer to quantify the value they expect to receive from it. Absent that, you run a real risk of being a no decision.” – Andy Paul · [30:54] 

 

Andy Paul:

Well, because in the B2B world, a high fraction of qualified opportunities end up in no decision. Buyer decides to do nothing. And, my experience has been, and my belief is that most of those turn out because the buyer hadn’t taken that final step of doing their internal justification for the investment based on the value, a quantification of the value they’re going to receive from doing it. So they might as well just stay where they are. So you can’t get the buyer to a point where they actually say, “Oh yeah, this is going to mean an extra $200,000 to the bottom line.” You run the risk of ending up in a no decision. So even if the deal looks easy, yeah, get the buyer to quantify the value they expect to receive from it. Absent that, you run a real risk of being a no decision.

 

How to Create a Summary of What The Buyer Should Expect from Your Product or Service · [31:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Amazing. Final question for you Andy, that is, I assume we do, but how do we document some of this? Because if this happened in conversations and you get people super excited and their loving the conversation with Andy Paul, he’s really opened our eyes. There’s this unique value in this opportunity that they didn’t see beforehand and you’ve communicated effectively and that they’re loving it. But then a week later they’ve forgotten about it, right? Or a month later when they’ve got Bill, they champion the account on board and then they’ve got to get signed off from the CFOs pushing back. And maybe they are not as able to communicate what you’ve described as what you are in the call with them directly and the CFO doesn’t want to meet with you. How do we, and again, I’m assuming this is part of the process.

 

Andy Paul:

Yeah, sure.

 

Will Barron:

How do we document some of this so that it can be kind of shared within the account, or it can be communicated on our behalf, by our champions?

 

Andy Paul:

I’m a big believer in summarising what you think you’ve learned and sending it to the buyer. So to confirm, first of all, I’m a big believer in confirming it in person, first of all. And I take it a step further in the book because yeah, it’s fairly common sales training. Use your reflection questions, reflect back to the buyer what it is you thought you learned. Get them to confirm it. Sure. That’s great. But there’s usually a missing step when you’re doing this in person, which is, “Hey, this is what I think, Mr. Prospect, this is what I think I heard. Did I get that right?” “Yeah. You got that right.” And then you say, “Okay, so what are we missing?”

 

Andy Paul:

And when you put in that, what are we missing, after you’ve confirmed everything, again, it’s another opportunity that causes the buyer to stop and think, “Yeah, what are we missing?” Right” and an opportunity to open the door to further discovery. You do that, again, you summarise it again, but make sure you send it back to the buyer in writing in an email, somehow you memorialise this and then make sure that you’ve got the note in your CRM system as well, so that you can track it. And so part of what you’re doing is continually sort of refreshing the memory of the people you’re dealing with, because what happens as soon as you stop talking with the buyer? They forget about you. And that’s natural, right?

 

Andy Paul:

I mean, it’s funny. I read these studies where people, research analysts, decry, “Oh gosh. During a buying process, the buyer only spends 17% of their time with sellers.” It’s like, sure, that’s fine. I mean, that’s probably high. I mean, they’ve got real jobs to do that don’t involve talking to you about buying a product or service. So you need to think about the fact that, how do you keep their knowledge about what’s going on sort of up to date and current. And yeah, you’re going to do a bunch of that through written communications, or you summarise your communications. You remind them of it and refresh them and say, “Okay, now we’re ready to go to the next stage. This is what happened before.”

 

Pausing, Probing, and Extending: The Art of Great Questioning · [34:47]

 

Will Barron:

Final, final question here. I know that the last one was the final question, but you’ve done it a few times in the podcast, Andy, when you’ve given examples. How important is it for sales people, right? To be able to ask a question and then just shut up and take that little bit of stress and pressure with the buyers that perhaps they’re struggling to come up with an answer. I said you’ve used it a couple times in your examples, because this is something I see really lacking in sales people when we’re training them, right? The ability to just go just stoic faced and just sit there. And if you’re on a phone call, you just mute your call, right? And run around the room and kind of get the stress out. But if you’re on a Zoom call, you’ve got to sit there and wait for the prospect to respond. How important is that for a skill to implement everything that we talked about today?

 

Andy Paul:

It is important. And I talk about it in the book. And this idea that they can’t shut up and listen is driven by the fact that they want to respond, right? When they’re listening, they’re not listening to understand. They’re listening to respond. And so this is the thing, the habit that needs to be broken. Is because yeah, if you’re already formulating your response to the buyer while they’re giving you the information, you’re not really capturing the nuance of what they’re trying to tell you.

 

Andy Paul:

So, what I recommend my book is just a simple pause between hearing and listening to what the buyer has said and before I respond. And what I talk about is sort of Americanism is like, when we play touch American football is we talk about giving something a one Mississippi, that’s a count, right? Giving something a pause before you take an action. So when the buyer finishes speaking, say to yourself, “One Mississippi,” say it silently. You don’t have to say it out loud. But, you’re giving yourself that space to process what they just told you before you respond. And that’s really important. So building this beat, or maybe two beats, depending how long it takes you to say one Mississippi. And then you get a chance to absorb what they’ve said, process it, and then formulate an appropriate follow on, either question or a response of some sort.

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:00]

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. I appreciate that, Andy. Well, with that mate, tell us where we can find more about the book, the title, where we can find out more about the man, the legend, Andy Paul, himself as well.

 

Andy Paul:

Here’s the book, Sell Without Selling Out, back on the full screen. Is available at Amazon or wherever you buy books. And shipping in the UK on the 22nd of March, I believe. And available most places now, unfortunately proverbial supply chain issues, getting the book to the UK. They can follow me on LinkedIn. I have a very active presence there. You can listen to my podcast Sales Enablement With Andy Paul. And finally come to my website andypaul.com.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well, I’ll link to all that in the show notes of this episode over at salesman.org. And with that, Andy, it’s a pleasure as always. I appreciate your time and your insights on this-

 

Andy Paul:

Well, thank you.

 

Will Barron:

Thank you for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Andy Paul:

Thank you. It’s been a lot of fun as always.

 

 

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