We’ve got some experts that are going to teach you quite a bit. We have Todd Dewett and Phil M. Jones and you’ve probably seen both of them. Todd has a TED Talk and he’s written several books. He’s a consultant and a professor and he’s done a lot of different things. Phil M. Jones has been a speaker in more continents and more countries than I could list. He has expertise in the area of sales. We’re going to learn a lot of things to be more successful from them.
Listen to the podcast here:
Leading With Authenticity with Todd Dewett
I am here with Dr. Todd Dewett, who is the world’s leading authenticity expert. He’s the bestselling author at LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com, a TEDx speaker and an Inc. Magazine Top 100 Leadership Speaker. His book is Show Your Ink: Stories about Leadership and Life. He is listed everywhere, in The New York Times, Business Week, Forbes, the list would be on and on. I’ll introduce him because I’m sure you’ve seen him at least in one of these locations. It’s so nice to have you here, Todd.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure.
I was looking at your site. I love that you’re throwing out the rule book in your picture and I love that you say, “Stop selling, stop leading, stop pretending and start connecting.” What does that mean exactly?
It’s the foundation of my career at this point. The idea is pretty simple. We all, with good intentions, try to relate to other people but what we end up doing too often is managing impressions in a false way. What the research and common sense tell us is that if we stop acting as much as sometimes we think we’re supposed to act, that’s impression management. Instead, let the walls down a little and try to be more authentic and better relationships emerge.
I loved your story. Was it Dave, your student? It was a great story. I was in sales for a long time and they used to have all these contests where whatever I would win, I didn’t even want the prize. I was so competitive. I just wanted to win and then I’d give the prize away to somebody else. Sometimes people are giving away incentives for things that aren’t wonderful. Can you speak to that a little bit?
You said people are giving away what?
Their prizes and the things that they think are a value to people that people don’t value. How do we get over ourselves? How about start with that?
We spend gobs of money in corporate America trying to do just that, which is giving people stuff that we think will motivate them. What we know about motivation is pretty clear. Sometimes material things and/or money can be useful, but it’s far more limited than most people realize. What people crave are connection and purpose. It’s fascinating to me that as many years of study of leadership we’ve had that we’re still struggling with this, “Here’s a plaque. Here’s a gift certificate. Here’s a trip somewhere,” all the variations of things we give people. In fact what they want to do is feel good about showing up on Monday morning. I’m very lucky to be in the business of saving a company $1 or $2 as they realize that time invested in relationships is very often superior to money invested in things.
I’ve received a lot of things, dinners and the things that you were saying that Dave, your student, would give them the things that meant a lot to him. It’s like the old Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you,” but now isn’t it more what other people want? Don’t we need to change the Golden Rule a little bit?
I never enjoyed the Golden Rule that much. I get where it comes from. I’d like to be honest and say, “You should treat people how they deserve to be treated.” A part and parcel to your idea of how it’s about them, it really is about them. One of the beginning parts of any leadership education for an aspiring professional is self-awareness. Figure out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. Here’s the big one that people struggle with. How you are honestly perceived by the average person around you and most people are clueless about that. Until you shut up more, listen more, ask honest questions and be open to feedback, you’ll never know. You can’t start making real connections, productive relationships until you get a grip on how they see you first.
You say we don’t show our true selves. We show a slice of our self. How do we know how much to show?
I’ve been preaching authenticity for several years and most of the time people go, “You’re right and thank you.” Sometimes people say, “How much and how fast can I start being more honest?” It’s a great point. We think it too much. We act too much. We manage impressions too much, but too much raw and unfiltered us could also be a problem. The answer to your question is it’s a toe in the water. When you realize that you’re acceptable professional, managing impressions too much and you want to move in the direction of better connection and more authenticity, it’s a toe in the water. Maybe you start simple with a comment about something going on or by asking them about their family. Something that gets at a personal human issue, not just a work issue and you see how that feels and how that develops. It can be seen as a skill that develops over time. You’ll build comfort doing that. Here’s the goal. It’s not about just being a firehose, full authenticity all the time no matter how others feel. That’s not the goal. The goal is to let the wall down a little bit so that you can be seen by others not just as a professional, but also as a person they know. When you achieve that, that’s when great business relationships happen.
I have seen people either do things where they don’t tell you anything about themselves and then you’re guessing or they’re up on a pedestal and they pretend everything’s wonderful. How do you see yourself for what you are? I studied emotional intelligence for my doctoral dissertation. I understand what you’re talking about. The importance of self-awareness, but some people just aren’t. How do you become more self-aware?Let the walls down a little and try to be more authentic for better relationships to emerge. Click To Tweet
It’s difficult. As you studied, I’m sure you found that there are lots of ways to think about this topic. If you’re going to get in here, you have to admit that people by personality, by genes, vary in terms of the capacity to gain quality and consistent self-awareness. That’s true. Having said that, my simple answer to your question is you want to try to appropriately give people feedback that will bridge the gap between how they see themselves and how the typical other person sees themselves. For example, it can be searching for a person who believes in candor and has knowledge of your work performance. Who is willing and able not to blow smoke, but to speak truth to power and tell you what they see about you at work? It takes a little effort sometimes, but you can find that person. We have all kinds of new engagement, motivation and feedback-related apps and tools that corporations are starting to use. They have all kinds of anonymity features that allow people with far less apprehension than they may have had twenty years ago to try and be honest and provide people with that frank look in the mirror that they sometimes need.
I’d love to hear about a couple of those tools. What do you recommend? Is there anything that you’ve had good experience with or that you see people use a lot of?
It’s a huge vibrant, Wild West area right now. People are trying all kinds of variations of apps. For example, LifeWorks is a popular engagement app that does some variations of these things. I’d done some work with them. There are many. Some people are creating tools that work with the established group discussion tools such as Slack to create anonymity and allow people to have conversations around their work performance without hurting feelings. I, as opposed to pushing a particular product, always come back when coaching face-to-face with someone to the need for person-to-person in life own it when you say it conversations. Anonymity sometimes can be a drug that gets abused and it reduces our desire to look Diane in the face and say, “Diane, you’re one of those articulate people I had ever heard, but sometimes you have to stop speaking and let other voices in the meeting speak up.”
It’s hard and sometimes it’s even harder in smaller teams to be able to be anonymous, because if you do say something, it’s going to be obvious who was saying it. I see a lot of people that have difficulty speaking up and then the engagement becomes worse. Everybody’s talking about engagement and you’re an expert in engagement. I’m curious, give us your top tips to help improve engagement?
Transparency is one of my favorite answers to that question, the ones we’ve already started talking about is authenticity. The more they believe in you, the more they’ll believe in everything that you were involved in together. That’s a big thing for me. Beyond that, I would say transparency is one of my favorite answers because there’s a consistent, very strong belief in management groups that thou shalt not share widely and there are risks associated with that. That’s not completely wrong, but you should spend time actively thinking about where it is relatively or completely safe to share information about how decisions above them are being made.
Most importantly, any decisions with the team that directly affect them should be made with their input in a collaborative sense instead of just handing somebody something as a dictate. That type of transparency, “Here’s what we did. Here’s why we did it. I made this decision. We are going to make this decision.” Whatever the case may be, letting them know exactly why things are happening the way they’re happening. The more people understand why decisions are made and how change is happening and why, the more they will accept it as something they need to deal with instead of resist and complaint about it. Transparency, ironically is difficult for people to embrace even though it’s free. Back to that thing about not needing to buy people stuff, but the stuff they want is free such as transparency.
Is that the reason that led to your book, Show Your Ink? Is that what you’re doing, sharing stories of leadership where they do this? Tell me about that.
I did the professor thing for years and I loved being in the classroom and writing dorky scholarly papers. I loved all of it. It was so fun. I think I missed the classroom more than anything. The truth is when speaking became a big component of my life and I started to meet larger circles of people, I couldn’t help but notice the same thing that’s in the classroom. People posturing, people putting the best foot forward and sometimes in a problematic way. That’s impression management times ten. Every new group I would meet, I would think about initial interactions with them and you would see it. It comes from a place or desire to be good, a desire to be safe, a desire to display something valuable to the person you’re meeting.
They’re all good intentions. The question is, are they productive? Group after group, I realized they’re not that productive and people aren’t getting the connection and comfort and the real authenticity they want. I started thinking, “I’m on stage all the time telling stories.” Some speakers would say this is crazy, but for me, it’s worked out very well. Let’s commit some of them, in this case, twenty short stories to a book. People will receive knowledge effectively in many different ways. Some can study online, some can hear you live and some like to read a book. I’m like, “Let’s put some of these stories in a book.” It turns out people enjoy reading them just as much as others enjoy hearing them live.
Can you share any story, a quick blurb about what was so impactful to you when you were writing the book? One of the stories or how it impacted you when you were researching the story or whatever came to you from the book.
I’ll give you a little quick summary and some thoughts on the story. This story in the book is the oldest story I still use. Every year, the rotation of stories shifts a little bit as you create new material and another material becomes outdated. Having said that, there’s one story that I suspect it’s going to be with me until I am done doing this in my 70s some day. It’s a story about my father. We’ve all had challenges for sure and he had many, but one of them was cancer. During his journey with cancer before it finally got him, he taught me a lot. I love sharing this. I share stories that make people laugh more than the stories that make people cry. The full spectrum of emotions is useful. That’s why I always use at least one challenging story and the one about dad is pretty simple. The brief version of it is that he found out he had cancer. They gave him three weeks. It was late stage, little bits all over his abdomen and nothing can be done. The doctors told me, “Get on a plane and go see him,” and I did that. We had tough conversations. We hugged and we cried and then we ended up walking.
I’ll never forget this, the two of us. I am my father’s son. He was an extrovert. I’m a world-class speaking extrovert. We were walking the first day I arrived after the diagnosis and for an hour, neither one of us said a word, which is surreal given our background. We just walked. There’s my dad. He is 73 years old. He’s got three weeks to go saying nothing, which is bizarre. Finally, he got tired and sat down on a bench by a pond in this neighborhood. I sat down next to him and I will admit to you as I have admitted to many others. I was doing the obvious sitting there stewing in negativity and confusion and anger, all those predictable emotions when you’re trying to process such a rough situation. I was doing that, marinating, stewing in that negativity and then something very unexpected happened. I was broken out of that cycle by a sound that surprised me. It was the sound of laughter and I look next to me. That’s exactly how I felt. There’s my dad. He’s 73 with three weeks to go and he’s laughing at me.
I asked him why and he said, “You’re clearly sitting over there stewing in a lot of negativity aren’t you?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I get that. I’ve been angry. I did that. I’m done. Before you got here, I was very angry because I’m not going to watch your kids grow up as I thought I would. I was angry because I don’t get to go home and see that woman who I still love after 40 plus years many more times. I did that. I’m done. There’s a better way.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “The doctors are very clear. I had this situation. Nothing apparently can be done about it, but how I choose to feel about it is completely, entirely, wholly and utterly up to me. I could be angry. I did that. I’m done or I could be happy.” I said, “What do you mean happy?” He said, “No, thrilled. Why not? I’m sitting here right now doing what I love most in life. I’m talking to my best friend. When we’re done, I’m going to go home and I’m going to eat whatever that woman cooked because it’s always amazing.”Sometimes, you have to stop speaking and let other voices in. Click To Tweet
He adopted that attitude and I watched him in an amazing visceral way and it’s a choice to adopt that attitude, that perspective. They gave him three weeks and he’s lucky. He lived for the better part of two and a half years, in surprisingly good health for a lot of it, for many rounds of chemo before it finally got him. The doctors pulled me aside many times and told me, “I can’t prove it scientifically the way I want to, but in my bones, I know that the best explanation for his unexpected longevity is the fact that he woke up every day and made a choice to frame that situation as positively as possible.”
That’s a very rough short version of the story. Putting that all down into words is therapeutic and emotionally cleansing. It makes me think deeper about the people I try to help. You’re writing down something raw. I want to write it down in a way that helps people as much as possible relate to it. That’s the whole point. The more I talk about dad and our relationship at a certain way, the pain he went through, the perspective he adopted, the more likely they’re going to find a parallel in their life from a dear friend who had a similar struggle with cancer or something else. Writing these things is therapeutic and fun for me. It’s also a call to action to be relevant and relatable so that people can use the stories to stimulate their own thoughts that they need about their experiences. It’s a very fun thing to do.
That’s an inspiring story. A lot of people could benefit from that because you get these ideas in your head and you get that voice that gets you into this pattern of negativity. I see a lot of people that get wrapped up in that. That’s a tough thing to teach people. You’re a teacher. Sharing stories like that is a good way to help people do that. How do you get people from focusing negatively?
The only thing I’ve ever found that truly works is the combination of authenticity in their face. Meaning you show them the human, not just as professional and then probing candor and bluntness. I see someone who is acting like a know-it-all. I see someone hiding something painful, I tend to ask the questions others don’t want to ask. When they’re seeing me be vulnerable and believable in terms of authenticity combined with probing and using candor, they tend to lower that wall and real conversations come out. On top of that, a story that humanizes you, let the emotions flow a little bit and let the flood gates for many people down. From a therapeutic coaching perspective, I show authenticity. I probe and demand more authenticity and then a story or two on top is a wonderful emotional release.
I liked the confronting. Sometimes people are mean and rude until you ask them why and then you deflate that. I don’t think they even realize that they’re doing it or they’re taking advantage of the situation sometimes by bringing it out. They realize you’re not going to tolerate that.
It’s a great point. Most people who were engaged in problematic behaviors are meaningfully unaware that they’re doing it. There’s good logic here and good research. When you’re looking at a jerk, it’s the garden variety jerk or someone’s back to problematic fashion. The vast majority of them are meaningfully unaware. Once in a while, there is someone aware of it and they are a true, wonderfully evil jerk and we don’t need those people at our workplaces for sure. Most people need feedback from someone with an ability to articulate like you and when Diane give them that feedback, they are much more willing and able to think before they speak or act. They need someone to pop that bubble.
I like to ask the questions, you said, you ask the question, so we get them alone. It disarms people in a good way because some of them are bullies. They’re so used to getting away with it. If you do it in the right way, you can have a good end result. It’s all how you approach it and your attitude and your openness. Don’t you think?
The way I would summarize them, the more they believe in you, the more likely some conversation intervention gets through.
You’re a doctor and I’m curious, do you have a Ph.D.? What is your background?
I went to Memphis for my undergrad and I did an MBA at the University of Tennessee and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M in the business school, Department of Management in Organizational Behavior. The business school’s version of a shrink if you will.
What did you teach when you were teaching? Was it mostly organization behavior?
For ten years, I had a blast teaching almost exclusively graduate and MBA students with leadership-related courses. I was at an interesting fun school in Dayton, Ohio called the Wright State University. If you want an MBA from us, you had to have a one, people course as it were and that was mine. I had a wonderful captive audience for us to talk about motivation, conflict, communication, team dynamics and all these awesome people issues at work.
That must have been a fun class to teach. It’s interesting to see how you’ve gone off in different areas. You worked with Anderson Consulting and Ernst & Young. How did you get into that?In sales, how you use words is a huge thing. Click To Tweet
After the MBA we were looking up at the University of Tennessee to be highly ranked enough to be on the campus recruiting list for these types of large consulting firms. I got in the interview queue. I did well, I landed the first job and learned a couple of things quickly within a couple of years. One, I think business is fascinating. Two, people are strange and weird sometimes. Three, I didn’t fit nicely in a classic insider corporate role, which altogether led me to leave and go get a Ph.D. so I can study it from the outside.
You’ve created courses on LinkedIn Learning and Lynda. I’m curious, do you still do that or are these older courses?
I’m still doing that. It’s funny, you plan life. There’s some way that you could’ve never planned. About the time I decided to retire from a tenured life job as a professor because speaking and writing are becoming full-time pursuits, I’ve got a call from Lynda.com who I’d never heard of. We started making movies together. I have 33 courses I believe that are live. Unexpectedly, they changed my life. These courses had been watched by over ten million people in over 200 countries. That’s what I say. I can’t believe I got lucky enough. Do I think I have expertise and talent to deserve it? Sure, but there’s also some luck involved in any achievements and they found me. On LinkedIn, some ten to twenty people from a country I’ve barely heard of will send me a note to talk about a course or just to say thank you. I’m not going to lie, it almost makes me cry every time. I feel very lucky.
You’re funny. I was watching your TED Talk, I loved it. You would be a wonderful teacher and a speaker. I was excited to have you on the show. I’m sure a lot of people would probably love to find out how they could get you to come to speak for them and buy your books. How many books have you written? I saw quite a few.
Two that are still on the market and for those who follow what I’m doing, I’m happy to say I’ve got a big revision of my old classic, The Little Black Book of Leadership that will be out. I’ve got a new book dedicated to relationships. I’m always working on the next book as you know.
The relationships at work or a little bit more than that?
I took a risk. This is a defining thing for me. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t, but I like to try things. I’m a try junkie, I like to say. I decided as a business coach, as a leadership expert that the data was very clear as I talked to people over many years. Half the time or more easily everything we’re talking about is equally applicable to life and relationships outside of work as they are to the relationship we’re in at work. Sure enough, more of the coaching, informal conversations and such led to life discussions about marriages and sons and daughters and what have you. It took twenty years for me to realize that I’m a relationships person just as much as I am a business person. I’m going to finish up a book. I’m about half done about what happens in inside a partnership, a marriage and when does it go well and why? When it derails, what does that all about and what do you do about it with my take on plastic relationship issues.
Everybody could find your information on your website. Can you just say your website one time here?
Anybody wants to hire me for speaking or anything can always go to my website and you’ll find everything you need. That’s www.DrDewett.com.
You have some great stuff out there, Todd. I enjoyed our conversation and it was great to watch your videos. I wish I’d found you sooner because you have all the stuff that’s right up my alley. I love all the behavioral stuff and I appreciate having you on the show. Thank you.
My pleasure. Thanks so much.
Learning How To Sell with Phil M. Jones
I am here with Phil M. Jones, who was truly a self-made sales performance legend. With nearly twenty years in sales and retail fields, he has made a name for himself across the globe. His effective methods are sought by companies and individuals in nearly every continent and every major industry. He has written quite a few books. I want to get right to it and get to introduce you, Phil, and talk about some of your books and what you do. It’s so nice to have you here.
It’s great to be here, Diane. Thanks for inviting me on the show.
It’s nice because we’ve met and I’m interested in what you do because you are a sales expert and an international speaker. You’ve been on 50 countries and five continents. You have spoken to a lot of people about this stuff. I’m anxious to talk to you about what you do. What I found interesting when I was watching some of your videos. I loved how you help people understand the use of words. In sales how you use words, it’s a huge thing. I’m curious. Before we get into that, can you give a background of how you got to be so good at sales and the use of words?You do need to ask for the things that you wish for in life. Click To Tweet
I’ve been in this space for around twenty years, but more than just time, I’ve been thrown into the deep end from the very start of my career. I was an entrepreneur at the age of fourteen and found myself needing to be in a situation where I was looking to make some extra money. It started on me knocking on the doors of my neighbors and asking them quite politely whether they would like to have their cars washed. That resulted in me growing quite successful with car cleaning business, to the point of about I was fifteen years of age, I was perhaps commercially more successful than most of my school teachers. I always had this interest in seeing, “How can you get more of what you want by asking?” I remember once my grandmother, she was a huge mentor in my life. She once said to me, “Phil, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” That thing got conflicted with information that you received from your parents as a child like it’s rude to ask.
We’re in this situation in a modern society where we think, if we do a good job or we’re nice around people, then they’ll ask us to do the things that we’d like them to ask us to do and that never happen. What does happen is that you do need to ask for the things that you wish for in life. I became quite almost pedantic towards thinking, “If I want to progress, I need to be identifying the things that I’d like to have more of and then start asking for more of those things.” I started to realize that it isn’t just asking for the things. It’s how you ask, when you ask and the way in which you do things can have a far greater impact on the success that you have. As I’ve studied many of my peer group when I was in sales roles, I’m running sales teams. Quite often the difference between those who perform fine and those who perform at the very top of their game knew exactly what to say, when to say it and how to make it count. I thought when studying those word choices and the impact that they would have on other people was worth investing some time into. I got a lot of practice through my own experience, my failures and then witnessing the successes and failures of others.
You were saying how you politely asked your neighbors. You are very polite and you have this classy English accent and you don’t have the image when you hear sales, you associated it with negative images like The Wolf of Wall Street. Is there a difference in Americans of how we come across as salespeople in different countries? What have you seen as how everybody sells? Is it different?
The commonalities are more of the frustration. There seems to be a general preconception that being a sales-person is in some way manipulative. If I ask people to reach for adjectives that would describe a stereotypical salesperson, they say words back to me that I wouldn’t ever to be used to describe myself. The picture that somebody conjures up as to what a salesperson is, is an ugly image. Yet we have a huge disconnect because people don’t like to be sold to, yet people love to buy stuff. Between those two things, there must be a giant disconnect because what happens is consumers are scared of salespeople, yet people need often an expert, a professional, a consultant, an advisor or somebody to assist them through that decision-making process.
The thing that many people miss on is where somebody celebrates success. Historically, salespeople would celebrate the day they closed the deal. We see it in some of the famous movies out there and you mentioned one of them a second ago, rooms of salespeople high fiving, whooping and hollering about the signature of the contract of the day they banked the check. In a modern society, my philosophy sits on the wholesales piece is the celebration should come for later. The celebration comes when your client gets the result that you promised them in the conversation. That might be weeks, months or years later down the tracks, but that’s the point that everybody should be focused on. My view on sales philosophy is that we should be looking to create environments in which everybody wins, in particular, the customer.
If anybody ever says the words to you that you are a great salesperson, that certainly isn’t a compliment. It means you’ve been caught trying to sell something to somebody. The outcome we’re looking for is getting other people to say thank you to you. What great salespeople are in my mind is we’re decision catalysts or professional mind-maker uppers. That’s what our job is to be able to do. We’re in a very responsible position of helping to guide the uneducated through a complex series of decisions to find the right outcome for them, not for something that helps us drive our bonus, the right outcome for the other person.
I was in sales for decades and I’ve won several Presidents Circle Awards and all those types of things. I think of all the things they’ve done to motivate us when I was in it. A lot of it was they have yearly event to try and get people ready out there, jazz you up and get you ready to sell again. I saw on your site or somewhere in your notes about return on investment for sales training events that they aren’t receiving the return that they’d like. What do you think you need to do to get your salespeople to get the return on investment? Are we motivating them the right way? Are we spending the money on the right events?
What I’d love more people to spend more time on is teaching people to listen and teaching people to ask more questions. What selling is earning the right to make your recommendation. What that means is you should never ever, ever, ever recommend your product or service to anybody unless you can say these words first. The words I’d like you to be able to say first are, “Because of the fact that you said.” If I could say, because of the fact that you said that you’re looking for some entertaining guests for your show, I’d love to come on and be a part of it and see what I can impart for your audience. Then you go, “That is what I want.” I’m talking back in your language. Yet many people just peaked too early is what they do. They give too much information too soon and if you get to the outcome that your prospect or client needs before they do, then they won’t believe you. Then you have a tussle. This isn’t dealt with another way around, when we’re thinking about what can people do from an ROI point of view is to teach people to ask better questions. That is the key.
What happens is questions lead to conversations, conversations lead to relationships. Relationships create opportunities and opportunities lead to sales. People are quite predictable in their nature. We think that we’re all unique, but we will follow standardized patterns when you drill it down. If you could ask questions that lead people through the pattern and then you can gain confidence in where those people are going to go following those questions, it grows your confidence and we fail individually. If your confidence is maintained high in conversations, what does that do to the final outcome and your feeling and self-belief when you’re running into your daily activity? It increases significantly. Our goal from our events and our training isn’t to hype somebody up to a point where they’re excited. It’s to give them an internalize self-belief that provides them the confidence that what they can do is to use what you’ve taught them to help them achieve more of what they would like to get. That’s a different thing. Lastly, it starts with questions.
Which questions do you think are important to ask? I’m using your little lead in there because I love that one.
I used some example of some the magic words from my new book, Exactly What To Say, to be able to ask a direct question and soften it with the practice out of curiosity and you did it excellently. It’s not so much what are the precise right questions. For example, you’re meeting somebody in a consultative environment. They’ve invited you in because they’ve got a genuine interest in how your product or service can help them. What often happens in these appointments is the salesperson professional, the leader turns up and automatically leads towards, let me talk you through our features and benefits. Let me show you our program. Let me walk you through our pitch deck, whatever that might look like. Wouldn’t it make more sense to say at the start of a meeting after building some rapport, what is it that’s got us to this point in time? What is it about us that you think means that you might believe that we can help you overcome the challenges that you have right now?
What is it you know about us and our service proposition that gives you the confidence to think that it was worth meeting up to see if we can help you overcome these obstacles? We can reverse the whole process. More often than not, you find yourself very rarely needing to say great things about yourself because the other person will say the great things for you, particularly in the modern business landscape where information is key. Often stepping into a sales negotiation, the customer knows more about what you can offer than you do. They know more about their problems that you do. We may as well let them do more of the work and the least find out what they’re thinking before we start talking.
What you must then prepare are sets of questions that take you further on that. Questions that allow you to be able to ask things about, “What are your plans for the future? Where is it that you’re looking to be able to go into business? How would this be able to lead you towards that? What would the consequences be if it is not working out?” What happens if you don’t manage to be able to find a solution to this thing?” When you take it towards what’s the good news if this does work and what happens if it doesn’t and you’ve helped somebody see that, you perfectly position yourself as somebody to partner with them on that decision-making process. Start to help them see with clarity why you might be a perfect choice.People don't like to be sold to yet people love to buy stuff. Click To Tweet
In the past, we were taught to paint a picture in our customers’ minds. If I was a pharmaceutical rep, you’ve got a patient that’s going to call you at midnight and wake you up. Instead of sending them to ER, you can give them this and they’re going to be better and you’re painting this picture in their mind. Are you saying we’re having them paint the picture of the problem for us? They’re telling us their problems more than we’re telling them.
It’s a combination of the two. What we’re asking for, first of all, is let them give us the canvas and the outline. Our job is to color the canvas then. What we are is almost doing the paint by numbers part of it. Our pictures lay on top of the canvas that they provide it. Whereas what we were starting to do is to get straight to the problem. That would have been the training that you’d have been talking towards. We still need to be able to embellish this and there’s nothing changed in psychology that we make decisions twice as a minimum. Firstly, we make it in our mind and then we make it in reality so pictures, reference, the memory and those pictures can be used to outline your decisions. What I’m asking people to do more of though is to create a contrast with the pictures that they create. We’ve been trained to be, “Let’s focus on the problem” What that often does is it scares people into thinking that you might have the solution for them. If you took it in a parenting context.
If you scared your child to a point that they would never wish to leave the house because you wanted to keep them safe, would that be the best course of action for them? What we probably want them to do is to be aware of those consequences but accepting the consequences so they behave responsibly through them. In pictures, we want to create contrast. A contrast between the happy place and realistic understanding towards the bad place. We also want to anchor this with the feeling because decisions are made on emotion over logic. We want a result not for the reasons that many salespeople think they want the result for, often pass that. If you take a situation that says the CEO is approaching you for your service proposition because you might be slightly cheaper than the other guys they use. They don’t want you because you’re cheaper. They probably want you because their existing supplier has done something wrong and they feel that that relationship was tarnished, but why do they want that?
They’d like to be able to save some money, but why? Maybe because their profit numbers are down, but why is that important to them? You’re pushing and you find out it’s because of the fact that they’re hoping to be able to draw a little extra money out of the business so they can take their extended family down to Florida for some holiday. That’s what it then comes about. Now, we get to a point where we are talking on the same level of our prospects. Here’s where you can start to paint pictures. You can now use little magic words to anchor conditional future feelings. If I preface, say, the question with the words, “How would you feel if,” and what I can do is to create positive and negative scenarios to anchor those feeling.
How would you feel if twelve months from now you’ve generated enough of a saving that allows you to be able to tour that money out to take the family on holiday? How would you feel that? I feel proud. Do you know when you mount the words “I would feel proud,” you experienced pride? Not a full dose, but enough to be able to say, “I like that. That feels good.” You can go the other way. How would we feel if what you failed to do is to go to rectify the situation with your incumbent supplier? You continually pay over the odds and you have to tell little Susie, she can’t go on vacation, how would you feel if that was true? You’ve created another powerful picture, but not just a picture, a picture anchored with an emotion.
I’m thinking of some of the books that are out there that you have to hear no a lot before you hear yes. Should you even ask questions that get a yes or a no? That’s so close-ended. I’m curious to continue to ask more questions if you’re getting a negative response. What’s the next step?
I get that. You’re talking about Richard Fenton’s work in a great sales book called Go for No! I completely understand the principles of that book are about the fact that you’ve got to get through some noes to get some yeses, don’t give up too easily. Quite often the context of that book can be taken out of sorts in that it just keeps going and that you’ve got to get through the noes to get some yeses. I’ve heard that old saying that every no is one step closer to a yes. In my personal experience, that is often nonsense, because when you care about what you do, every no hurts. Every no is something that you carry to the pillow at night. Every no is something that weighs you down. You think about it, you wonder what you did wrong. You carry it as baggage into your next opportunity and it affects your confidence. Confidence is key in order to be able to succeed in a professional sales environment. It’s something that with that you can knock down brick walls, yet without it, you’re useless.
We have to get through a number of noes to get to a yes, but the noes hurt. Those things just sit in a permanent conflict in the sales environment. My belief isn’t that you’ve just got to work through the noes and keep asking. It’s not try harder, it’s get better. That is what very few people look to be able to do is they fail to stop and listen and say, “What’s working right now?” Let me take this as an example. I work with sales professionals all around the world and I’ll say to them, “What’s working in your appointments?” They make a lot of stuff up. Then I say, “When you get to the point in time where you’re going to deliver to your clients your value proposition as an organization, what are the precise sets of words that you reach for to make sure that you maximize the understanding and the value of that the other person sees in what you’re about? What are those exact things?” They said, “I didn’t know. Everybody’s different. I just make it up as I go along.”
I say, “How important are these words?” They said, “We have a script.” I’m like, “I don’t like scripts” but it’s because they’re lazy. Scripts are wonderful. That’s why fantastic movies because that could bring their brilliance towards a script. That’s why Shakespeare is still awesome as he was in the sixteenth century is because that script is something that was well articulated. With sales professionals, what I’m asking them to do is to build their own scripts and then their own patterns of words and diagnose and say, “The reason that went well is because and therefore I must keep doing that.” The reason that didn’t go so well is because and then reverse engineering where you’re saying, “Is there a question I should have asked earlier that could have prevented that objection?” What can happen is we can refine our processes.
It does not just work through the noes. It’s saying, “How can I be more sophisticated in my approach in order to be able to get fewer noes” You’re still going to get them, it’s still part of the game and the noes is only a “No, not right now.” Let’s not just think and let’s try harder. We’re seeing people do this on the internet and they’re bumping into a brick wall because we found out that there are only a certain number of people on the planet. Conversion rates are still going to be key. By shooting in the wrong area, you waste time, you waste attention and you damage reputation. By fishing in the right pond, you increase conversion rates, you grow reputation the right way around and everybody wins by results.
The hard part for a lot of salespeople would be the last part of the sales presentation, the actual close. You have words that you think are helpful in certain parts of the process. Do you have specific words that work in that part of the process that you think is helpful?
Huge sequences of words can make a massive difference. I also want to reiterate that the timing is everything. The mistake that many people look to make is they look to close too soon. It’s like asking for something inappropriate on a first date and then wondering why you faced some form of resistance attached to that. Be patient. Coming back to a point, I made earlier on and that’s to never ever recommend anybody moved forward to anything, until you’ve got the confidence of gathering some evidence first. You can say things like, “Because of the fact that you said this, this and this, what we’d recommend is this, this and this.” What we then need to be is to be proud of our price and we then need to move the conversation forward. What many people have trained in the past, which still for me is crackers is you deliver them the price and then you shut up. If you delivered somebody the price and then shut up, what you’re going to expect to happen is that the other person believes that you don’t have confidence in that price and you’re now going to have a conversation about price.
Enjoying having price negotiations pulls after the price. If you’d rather lead it through with an assumption towards the fact that we’re all on the same page looking to achieve the same outcome and we’ve already decided ahead of time that this is valuable to all parties involved in the conversation. We can lead it forward with a couple of simple ways of building a bridge to the next island. Once we’re able to do this, the things like “What happens next is” or “The next step is” or “The way I see it is you have three options.” Those little ways allow you to be able to move from the, “We’re thinking about doing this” to “This is how we do this.” If I was to say, “What happens next is.” I can say, “What happens next is we take your basic details. We get you set up on our internal systems and we’ll have your information out for getting started. When it comes to the address that you want to be registered on the system, is it this address or do you have a centralized office address?” Now, what I’ve done is I’ve moved them for the rest of the conversation forward.Selling is earning the right to make your recommendation. Click To Tweet
It’s almost like a dance to me. You’re guiding and I like that. You provided some formal way to move people along the dance floor.
Success in selling is all about maintaining control of the conversation. That’s where it comes from. People give away control too easily and it’s not in a manipulative fashion, it’s just in a leading or guiding fashion. Sometimes we’re selling a product, sometimes we’re selling a service, sometimes we’re selling an idea or an outcome if you’re in a leadership role. These rules and principles apply to everybody, not just sales professionals. The key though is to understand that people are looking to be led. Many people enjoy the fact that somebody is pointing in that direction. Yet, too many people in a sales or decision-making environment say things like, “Should we go for it?” or “What do you want to do now? What do you think?” That’s one of the worst possible questions anybody could ever ask, “What do you think?” Because I’m now I’m under pressure trying to answer that, so I give a vanilla answer. I’ll give a, “I like it. It’s good,” and it almost automatically also cues the objection. We just need some time to think about it because you haven’t made it easy for the other questions and make a decision. You’ve pre-empted some form of indecision.
What if they’re selling something that you can’t prove a return on investment? If you can’t prove the ROI, that there’s no data yet and they say they want something like that, what would you tell them? What words get you to the next conversation?
Just paint the picture out for me and the scenario and what somebody might say and let’s see where we’re taking it.
I get a lot of that in podcasting. It’s hard to prove that people are going to buy a product they hear on a podcast because they may decide that they want to buy this product they heard on the radio, but they don’t remember the codes and things that they heard at the time. Let say, I was trying to get you to invest on the show for example and I’m not able to prove the return on investment, what do you tell me?
First thing, we can create a hypothetical situation. I 100% understand that we cannot prove with absolute certainty what’s going to happen as a result of this investment. What I can tell you for certain is that 60,000 people on a regular basis that listen to the show. I can give you some understanding of who those 60,000 people would be. What other ways do you have that are working in your business for you to reach 60,000 potential other people?
It turns it around and it puts them in the position to try and visualize that.
I would keep going and I would ask a series of other questions. I’d start and I’d let them sit on that and I’d wait for them to give an answer. I’d ask further the questions that would then say, “How well have you got other areas of your marketing system working that are reaching those numbers of people?” When you reach those number of people in another area, what typical conversions would you correct? Or would it be fair to assume that if we reach this number of people through this medium that we could expect some form of similar results? I’m going to take this out and I’m going to create a potential best-case scenario. What I’m then going to say is, “Let’s look at it from the other side of things. What would be the minimum that you would need to require for this to be worthwhile as an experience? How much is an average customer worth to you?” Not just one, how much are they worth over their lifetimes.
If you secure a customer and for the five years, you keep them for an average and they purchase from you three times a month, what do they worth to you? That means that the worst-case scenario for this to pay for itself, you need 0.6 of a customer. We cannot do half for customers, we say one, “Tell me right now going into this, do you believe the people who listen to your message or like what this is about, at least one person will progress and do some business with you?” “I think that would be the case.” “Let’s get to work on being able to make sure that that happens then.” We stretch it again. We go best-case scenario. We look the monster in the face and say the monster isn’t that scary and we empower confidence. I haven’t told them what to do, I’ve just helped them see for themselves how they can best to make that decision by looking at the good news and the worst-case scenario. We create a risk-reward scenario by helping them see the truth.Success in selling is all about maintaining control of the conversation. Click To Tweet
A lot of our audience could use that for their speaking engagements and different things that they do. You offer some great tools. You have a book called the Toolbox and you have a book called Magic Words as well. You also have a new book Exactly What to Say. In all these books, you offer so much wisdom. I know our audience is going to want to know how they can get these books and how they can find out more about you. Do you mind sharing your website and all your information, Phil?
My website is PhilMJones.com. From my website you can reach out to us if you have any bulk request for books. The best place to go and find books where they’re fulfilled in the most efficient way is on Amazon. Search my name on Amazon, Phil M. Jones. The new book has been released and it’s gone crazy successful. It seems people are very interested in word choice. I’d be delighted to hear how you get on when you plug in and see some of these word choices and seeing how they can work for you. Please reach out. Find me online. Twitter’s a great place to know that you’re getting me in person and that’s @PhilMJonesUK on Twitter. Tell me how you’re getting not just with enjoying the book but using the techniques and tactics and getting results into your workplace. That’s the things I love to hear.
Phil, this has been great. I enjoyed having a chance to talk to you again. It was so nice to meet you in Dallas and this has been wonderful. Thank you for being on the show.
You’re very welcome. Thanks again.
Thank you so much to Todd and to Phil. I loved our conversations. I’ve learned so much. I hope you did too. I hope you come back for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Dr. Todd Dewett
- LinkedIn Learning
- Show Your Ink: Stories about Leadership and Life
- The Little Black Book of Leadership
- Exactly What To Say
- Go for No!
- Magic Words
- Exactly What to Say
- Phil M. Jones – Amazon
- @PhilMJonesUK on Twitter
About Dr. Todd Dewett
Dr. Todd Dewett is the world’s leading authenticity expert. He is a bestselling author at LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com, a TEDx speaker, and an Inc. Magazine Top 100 leadership speaker. His latest book is Show Your Ink: Stories about Leadership and Life. He is a former award-winning professor whose clients include: ExxonMobil, Ernst & Young, GE Aviation, State Farm, JM Smucker, Medtronic, NCR, and many more. He has been quoted widely, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Forbes, TIME, US News & World Report, and hundreds of other outlets. After beginning his career with Andersen Consulting and Ernst & Young, he has since created a body of work that has motivated millions of professionals around the world.
About Phil M. Jones
Phil M. Jones is a truly self-made sales performance legend. With nearly 20 years in the sales and retail fields, Phil has made a name for himself across the globe. His effective methods are sought after by companies and individuals on nearly every continent and in every major industry. His rigorous travel schedule is jam-packed with new countries and cities, and his best-selling books and CDs have helped hundreds of thousands of business owners and sales professionals develop new skills to maximize their potential. Phil is the author of quite a few books, including Magic Words: 17 Ways to Influence, Persuade and Encourage People to Take Action, Toolbox: Essential Selling Skills to Win More Business, and Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact.