This week on Catapulting Commissions Sales Talk Anthony is thrilled to welcome Andy Paul. Sitting at number #8 in LinkedIn’s top 50 global experts to follow, he is a bonafide thought leader in the sales industry. Though he has never been the prototypical salesperson, he’s been in the business for more than four decades, selling everything from shoes to complex communications systems that sold for tens of millions of dollars. He had closed hundreds of millions of dollars in products and services over the years before starting his own company. Now, he is a published author and podcast host who has grown and managed large sales teams from scratch and coached average performers into being top producers. Today, Anthony is going to pick Andy’s brain on just about everything and discuss his latest book Sell Without Selling Out.
We all know “being sales-y” doesn’t work. Buyers instinctively resist sales-y techniques. Andy believes some sales managers have an insistence on conformity– forcing all reps to use a prescribed playbook. It leaves no room for sales reps to experiment and try other processes, which leads to that sales-y vibe. He believes that professionals need to be allowed to explore different strategies. Sellers should be given autonomy to sell in a way that’s more aligned with them as humans, in a way that feels natural and authentic to them. When a manager won’t allow that, sellers can push back and provide metrics to show a different strategy works, or find an employer that allows for more freedom.
Andy’s latest book was born out of his realization that sales isn’t getting better. He says that’s because businesses are “selling out,” or leaning more into sales-y techniques, only now they are amplifying those through automation. It makes the buying experience worse than it’s ever been. He also said he seeks to provide solutions, which he discovered through his own experience, research, and collaboration with other professionals. The opposite of selling out is selling in. Selling in is based on human attributes most of us are wired with– connection, curiosity, understanding, and generosity. People naturally want to connect with others, learn more about the world, understand the world around them, and to give to those around them. Those attributes come together to shape a positive buying experience.
Sellers need to keep these two questions in mind when they are planning every single interaction with their qualified opportunities.
- What does that prospect need from me now?
- How can I help them make progress toward a decision?
If you can’t answer those questions, you aren’t ready to have another conversation with your prospect. When the buyer (which might be an entire team of busy decision makers) invests time and attention in the seller, the seller needs to provide that value, and value is really just progress. Is the buyer closer to making a decision than they were before? If so, the seller has provided value.
There will always be a need for a great discovery process, but the basic problem with discovery is that it stops too soon. It can’t just be compartmentalized and checked off a list. The buyer is continuing to evolve in the buying process, and it is the seller’s job to make sure they understand at every step of the way how they can be helpful. The point of discovery is to uncover what is really most important to the buyer. What really drives them? In the absence of human connection and trust, the seller will never find the answer to that critical question.
In his new book, Andy lays out 6 types of questions to ask. One of the most important types are impact questions. You want to ask the buyer questions that will get them to consider the impact your product or service will have on their organization, on their team, and on them. This forces them to take a ‘mental test drive’ of what it would be like to use your product. When they buy your product, they aren’t really buying a product; they are buying a vision of what success looks like. Be the first seller to make connections with them, to be curious, to show them the vision of success. At the end of the day, a lot of products and services offer very similar features. As such, a buyer just wants you to shorten their decision cycle so they can make the “good enough” decision and move on to solving their next problem. The marginal gain they may make by spending months looking around for other solutions won’t be worth it if you offer that ‘good enough’ solution and create a vision of success.
Connect with Andy Paul on LinkedIn
Read Andy Paul’s book, Sell Without Selling Out