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This week’s show is called “How You Can Stop Selling Out and Start Selling In“. My guest is Andy Paul, Speaker, Podcaster, & Author of “Sell Without Selling Out: A Guide to Success on Your Own Terms”
Join in on our conversation to learn about creating positive buying experiences for your customers while learning more about:
- Understanding what’s really most important to customers before putting strategy into place
- Differentiating yourself by becoming more authentically “human”
- A manager’s perspective on autonomy and agency in the business
- The four pillars of selling: curiosity, connection, understanding and generosity
Listen in now, watch the video, and/or read the transcript below.
Matt: Welcome, everybody, to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. I’m your host, Matt Heinz. Thank you very much for joining us. If you are, in fact, joining us live here in the middle of your workday, we are here on LinkedIn Live, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. If you are watching this in real time, you have the advantage of now being part of the show. You can ask a question. You can make a comment. We may put you on the show itself. Your face and your comment and your question may be on the show itself, including anything you want to ask our guests today.
If you are listening or watching on demand, including from our podcast feed, thank you so much for downloading and subscribing. All of our episodes, I think we’re at episode 325 of Sales Pipeline Radio. Every past, present, and future episode available on salespipelineradio.com. If this is not your first time on the show, you know we are trying to feature some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing on a weekly basis. Very excited to have with us today Andy Paul, who I’ve known for a long time. Sales author, speaker, influencer, super knowledgeable guy, recently published this book Sell Without Selling Out: A Guide to Success on Your Own Terms. Well, first of all, Andy, thanks for joining us today.
Andy: Well, thanks for having me!
Matt: This is honestly, and if you’ve seen the show you know I don’t say this often, one of my new favorite books on sales and it’s in part because it is just packed with advice, but it is highly accessible. It is highly practical. You can almost flip to any page and just like pick up an idea or two, and I’m assuming that was by design.
Andy: Yeah, it was. I mean, first of all, I had a great editor that really helped make sure that what made it into the book was worth reading. And yeah, it’s funny. It’s one of those things, actually, I find myself going back to it. So it’s, yeah. It’s chock-full of good stuff.
Matt: There’s a recurring theme in a lot of the content that is… I mean, so the book is called Selling Without Selling Out, and there’s a recurring theme around selling like a human and selling to humans, which, I mean, think we can all kind of look at our inboxes or listen to our voicemails and sort of see examples, maybe the opposite. But talk about that element of just sort of relating to people in a sales capacity.
Andy: Well, I harken back to it’s based on my own work, right? I tell the story early in the book about going to my first sales training class, my first job out of college, and thinking, listening to the training videos and going what human acts this way? Cause it was just behaviors we all identify as sort of the sleazy, pushy sales behaviors that our buyers really dislike and that we dislike if we are on the receiving end of them.
That still seems to be so embedded into this, you know, the consciousness of B2B selling that part of the motivation of the book is to say, look, we can take all of those behaviors that we experience and we could as a profession, just stop today. Cold turkey. If we never did any of those again, none of us would be worse for wear.
Matt: My assumption as just a curious person, is that this behavior persists because it works. Does it still work? I mean. Let me ask that question first. I mean, do you see evidence that it works or are people just beating a dead horse now?
Andy: It works obviously right. To some degree. But I think at that point you’re really playing the odds. Right. Enough circumstances conspire to happen at one time that somebody’s going to purchase from you doing that. But I think in the main frame, it doesn’t work. And I think that’s why we see this trend toward buyers saying, not that some people. Buyers don’t want to meet with sellers anymore. They don’t want to spend time with sellers. I don’t think that’s the case, they just don’t want to spend time with sellers who can’t help them get their job done and the selling out behaviors don’t help them get their job done.
Matt: Yeah. I love that. And I think part of the reason we continue to get spam is because some people click on and act on spam but I think that if you’re a seller who wants to have some longevity, you may get a couple people to respond to your archaic sales efforts, but you are leaving a paper trail of scorched earth and bad reputation…
Matt: …that is going to keep people from wanting to work with you in the future. And I think I saw some new research recently on sort of changes in the buying committee. It was produced on the marketing side of the fence, but it was talking about the increase in millennials and gen z’s employees that are part of the buying committee that are not just influencing and using products, but are now part of the decision making process. The fact that trust and authenticity is so, so important to this audience and it cannot be manufactured or faked. So coming with that level of sort of interest and curiosity and authenticity is a huge part of just selling in general now but I think based on that, it seems like it’s going to be increase in importance moving forward.
Andy: Absolutely. A great book people could read in addition of mine is Jeff Coleman’s book, Humans are Underrated talking about the future of work in an increasingly automated digital world.T he consensus among people that sort of writing that is that those among us who thrive or who will thrive in those environments are those who learn how to become, and I use this term, more intensely human, right? Is that we’re going to differentiate ourselves by becoming more human, not less. By leaning into these human attributes enables to connect with other people, be authentic with them, be curious about them, not relying on the automation.
Matt: Well, and it, so first of all, talking to the sales pipeline radio with Andy Paul, he’s a multi time author, blogger, speaker, influencer in the sales world and his recent book is Selling Without Selling Out. I mean, on the back cover, you’ve got Daniel Pink saying, and I love this quote “Andy Paul lays out the simple steps on all salespeople can take to become the best version of themselves”
That phrase right there, you think about like people making cold calls, just calling a hundred people a day, just trying to set up demos and feeling terrible about this process, because they know they themselves would never like want to respond to that kind of situation. So, the act of, I mean, it’s not just putting yourself in your prospect’s shoes, it’s treating other people like humans because you’re treating yourself and building a sales process yourself like a human.
Andy: Right. I think one of the issues I take on in the book is that as sales managers, you have to feel confident enough that if you give people the autonomy and the agency to make some choices about how they’re going to conduct their business, they will be more productive. They will learn to become a better version of themselves. They will be more fulfilled in the work. They will stick around longer, which is what we all want. As opposed to it just saying go make your 100 calls, go make your 50 dials, whatever.
Matt: Whenever I read a book like this, obviously this is, I would assume that the audience you have here is sort of primarily sales but I read this, and I think, if I’m a marketing leader, if I’m a CMO, there’s an awful lot to take away from this. What is the lesson here for marketers? What is the lesson here for lead generation efforts for content strategies?
Andy: Well, I started the book with a part of the book, which didn’t make it into the final cut was that we work in a world where we work through people. As a CMO, I had just done an event yesterday where people want to talk about, or two days ago, about how CMOs can work better with sales, for instance. Some of these principles, I lay out the connection, the curiosity to understand generosity are really about how do you collaborate with someone else to help them achieve something that’s important to them.
If you’re a CMO and you’re trying to support a sales organization, understanding what’s really most important to them before you put your strategy into place really becomes very important. You know, learning to connect and be curious and not just robotic in the way you interact with others really becomes critical. This is really a, interesting that you pointed it out, but this is really a guidebook towards how do you work with each other in what some people call the interaction economy, right? Is that Pink pointed out in his book is we, in all walks of white collar life, we sort of get our job done by working through other people, influencing other people to do something on our behalf. This is basically the same motion.
Matt: Yeah. I like the way you think about that. And we’ve been dancing around this idea of your four selling pillars a little bit, but I want to sort of reinforce the point there, because I could argue that and I want to let you kind of walk people through it, but it’s not just selling pure pillars. I could argue that if you, if you orchestrated your buying journey, if you orchestrated your sales process by these four pillars, you might end up with a much more powerful customer-centric message and through line so talk a about those four pillars and why they’re important.
Andy: The four pillars of selling in, in contrast to selling out, is connection, curiosity, understanding, generosity. The context really starts with the fact that unlike the selling out behaviors, which are learned behaviors. These are innate human behaviors, right? We are wired to connect with other are people. We are wired to be curious about the world around us. That’s how we navigate unfamiliar situations, that’s how we navigate the world around us. We’re wired to want to understand and we’re wired to want to give and be generous. It makes us feel good about ourselves.
Andy: Leaning into these behaviors, it creates what the subtext of the book, is how do you create positive buying experiences for your customers? Because you know, Challenger talks about this, Forrester talked about this. This is ultimately the buyer’s decision in largest measure, comes down to their experience with you as an individual seller or sellers. How do you create this experience for them? Well, it’s not by being pushy and persuasive and you know, you’re a target and then you’re the nail and I’m the hammer. It’s yeah, I’m going to listen to you. I’m going to understand what’s most important to you. What is the most important problem or challenge you have? What’s the most important outcome you’re trying to achieve as a result of addressing that challenge and then I’m going to work with you to help you get that that, and that’s just a different approach.
Matt: The book is Sell Without Selling Out by Andy Paul. You can find it on Amazon. I’d encourage you to check out, even if you buy it on Amazon, check out andypaul.com. You’ll learn more about the books, more of Andy’s content, as well. Often times when I talk like we’ll talk about everything from sort of being a trusted expert, a trusted authority to your buyers, being someone that sort of brings them commercial insights. Brent Adamson recently has been talking about this idea of sense making, right? Where the world is flush with too much content and information, as a seller, how do you curate and makes sense of what’s out there? The pushback I’ve had, when I do get pushback on that from sellers, is I don’t have time for that. I got an appointment quota to set. I need to get people into my pipeline. That sounds like a very selfish seller centric message, but it requires your approach, Brent’s approach that requires a level of discipline and patience that I think some sales teams just don’t seem to have,
Andy: Well, managers don’t have it, right? I think the situation we find itself in, is that managers have this fear of doing something different, right? They’ve been given a playbook. This is a playbook we’ve executed for 10, 15 years now. Mess with that, it’s your peril.
It’s turned to be very problematic, because certainly like in the SaaS world, the results are win rates that are very low of the opportunities in their pipeline, high churn among employees who are dissatisfied with the environment they’re working in and it doesn’t need to be that way. You know, you’re creating these experiences with buyers that, if you have a win rate, that’s 25% or 20%, which is not unusual in SaaS, you have to ask yourself, do I not have product market fit? Possibly. Or am I just so lousy at how we execute our own opportunities that the buyers are telling us that yeah, we’re so bad at it, we can only win one out of every four of them.
I think managers operate from this position of fear because they know their tenures are shrinking, at least in the SaaS world. Now CROs, the last data I saw was 17 months, is we have to break that cycle. We have to understand that the way to help buyers shorten their decision cycles is by being of more value to them, not by being more pushy.
Matt: Look, I own a business, I got to hit a sales double every quarter. I want to close deals, but just because I need that deal doesn’t mean I have done anything to earn it. My urgency is not the prospect’s urgency. I feel like if anything you do to sort of create a different timeline than your prospect has, is just introducing friction to the conversation.
Andy: I agree. I agree. I mean, it’s been one of the myths of selling for a long time is that sellers can create urgency, right? I described in the book with this process and what I experienced in my own career, what many sellers experience is that buyers don’t want to spend an infinite amount of time making a decision. I got into an argument once somebody at a conference, talked about, was presenting about slow buyers and I said, are they really slow buyers or slow sellers? Because you think about the buying committee, which Gartner talks about and others do, is these people are being yanked away from their normal jobs to be put into this committee to help make a decision and it has nothing to do with their day to day job for the most part, right?
What do they want to do when that get into that situation is they want to complete this task with the least investment of their time and attention possible. As sellers, we can help them achieve that. I talked later in the book about, how do you get to that point? Right? There’s sort of these milestones, right? If you’re the first to establish this trust based connection with the buyer, then you’re going to be the first to have them sort of open the door to your curiosity where you can ask the questions. I think that sellers are misplaced this idea thinking, well, they have to provide these commercial insights.
I think you provide the insights through the questions you ask, and often times the buyer arrives at those insights themselves. First to a connection, first to understanding, right? If you’re the first seller to really understand what the objective is, truly understand what’s most important to the buyer, that gives you a leg up, because then you can work with them to say we know the target now. We’re shooting at the right target. The buyer doesn’t share that with every other vendor they’re talking to.
There’s really a way that you, I call it front loading value into the selling process, that makes you more aligned with what the buyer’s trying to achieve and gets them to a position where they can make what I believe most buyers do in most cases, not a 100% across the board, but is the good enough decision. This is a product that’s going to enable us to satisfy our requirements and suffices for us to hit our objectives. We can invest another two months and we had never find a better solution or anything that’s incrementally better that’s worth the investment of time, right? So let’s make the decision now. That’s what buyers do.
Matt: Yeah. I love that. I love you brought up a good point about creating urgency. I think urgency isn’t created, it’s really discovered, right? Sense making is about sort of taking known variables and putting them in an order that helps people understand what the path forward should be and why that change is important and that’s a big part of sort of selling as humans.
Andy: I say that in the book is use that sense making phrase a little bit, say, if you’re ask a buyer what their job is, what they’re really trying to do is they’re trying to quickly gather and make sense of the information they need to make an informed decision with the least investment of their time and attention possible. That’s ideally what they’re trying to achieve.
Matt: Absolutely. Love it. Well, thank you Andy for joining us today. I am serious. This is such a good book, Sell Without Selling Out. You can find it on Amazon. Learn more about it at andypaul.com. Just packed with information. Right to the point, very practical. You’ll put this stuff into play right away. So thank you very much, Andy, for joining us. Thanks for writing the book,
Andy: Matt. Thanks for having me.
Matt: Awesome. Thanks everyone for watching and listening. Appreciate y’all joining us. We’ll be back next week and every week at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We’ll see you then.
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