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How to Simplify The Complex Sale w/ Brian Burns [Episode 317]

Among the many topics that Brian and I discuss are the problems Brian sees in the poor implementation of sales automation tools, the lack of sales training to teach sales reps how to authentically connect with customers in the complex buying process, and traits for success as a sales maverick.

Joining me on this episode of Accelerate! is Brian Burns, host of the popular podcast, The Brutal Truth About Sales and Selling, and author of The Maverick Method: Simplifying the Complex Sale.


Brian got into sales, and soon discovered he didn’t like it, because of the high stress and the low recognition given.

Andy asks about brutal truths of sales and selling. Brian says most consultants either say to ‘work harder,’ or they offer a ‘silver bullet’ methodology; but neither answer is complete.

Brian says managers see salespeople kind of like the garbage collector. They get paid more than the fireman, but the job isn’t as clean.

Brian asks, would you get on a plane with a pilot who had studied flight, but never flown? Why get sales advice from consultants who have read studies, but never sold?

Brian calls marketing automation, spam automation. It’s important for sales reps not to forget the human who is behind the email address.

Brian says the real point of automation is to scale your activity; not to annoy people, or create meaningless activity.

Brian says, what sales managers need, is not to have more metrics, but to hire a maverick rep, who finds a new way of connecting, and engaging authentically with people.

Andy and Brian discuss qualities of the maverick sales rep.

Brian explains why deals die at the first meeting. Brian shares his maverick method to push forward stuck sales by breaking them down into the smallest steps needed to advance.


What’s your most powerful sales attribute?

My curiosity, and putting myself in the other person’s place.

Who is your sales role model?

My parents, both in sales.

What’s one book that every salesperson should read?

The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, by Steven Kotler.

What music is on your playlist right now?

U2, AC/DC.

Episode Transcript:

Andy Paul 0:35

It’s time to accelerate! Hi, I’m your host, Andy Paul. Join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership, management, training, coaching, any resource that I believe to help you accelerate the growth of your sales, your business and most importantly, you. 


Hello, and welcome to Accelerate! I’m really looking forward to talking to my guest today. Joining me is Brian Burns. Brian is the host of a very popular podcast titled The Brutal Truth About Sales and Selling, which is a great name, and author of a book called The Maverick Selling Methods: Simplifying the Complex Sale. Brian, welcome to Accelerate.


Brian Burns 1:17

Great. Thanks, Andy. It’s great to be here.


Andy Paul 1:18

So take a minute, introduce yourself. How’d you get your start in sales? Because I know you were trained as an engineer and then moved into sales.


Brian Burns 1:25

Yeah, sure. I think we have a similar background in a sense of starting with startups. But I started as an engineer, and then became a sales engineer before the sales engineer role really existed. It was basically some sales rep would have a sales call. And they’d say, hey, who’s free? Or who’s willing?


Andy Paul 1:47

That’s right. Who’s willing? Who knows more than me, which is what they’re basically admitting. 


Brian Burns 1:50

So I was the pony tail guy who would go out and explain how the product would work. And at dinner one night, I realized over casual conversation that that sales rep was making almost three times what I was making.


Andy Paul 2:06

And you were doing all the work.


Brian Burns 2:08

Well, she did a very good job of introducing me.


Andy Paul 2:12

And then standing back.


Brian Burns 2:14

And then standing back. We’d go like an hour, hour and a half on the product and then she would follow up with a proposal. And I think I could introduce myself, and I think I could figure out that proposal part on my own. But since then, I’ve learned that it’s a whole lot more than that. And I was dramatically underestimating the amount of effort and complexity.


Andy Paul 2:38

Sure, sure. But I mean, it is an interesting conundrum, though, that we see, especially in tech companies and startups. When I was in charge of sales teams and startups, oftentimes we wouldn’t pay commission while we were in the early stages of the company. Because no sale got done without the engineers being absolutely involved, as involved as the sales rep. And there’s no sense of fairness there, paying the sales rep more. And they couldn’t have possibly gotten the job done without the engineer.


Brian Burns 3:06

It is a conundrum. And it’s hard to do right, because even when I was a sales engineer in the following job, there was no bonus. It was pure salary. And when you’re traveling a lot, and you’re being forced into very uncomfortable situations at the end of the quarter, and your weekends are necessary. And the sales rep would say, well, I can’t help you, so I have to go home.


Andy Paul 3:39

Yeah, I was reminiscing with somebody once about a boss forcing me– he really wanted to get this order before the end of the quarter. And the customer knew the game, right? They knew that if they just waited, held out, that the price wasn gonna get better. And I told him, we’ll get this order January 1, marginally much better. But I was having to call the customer at home on Christmas Eve, like 8pm on Christmas Eve, to get the order. So yeah, not good stuff in general.


Brian Burns 4:08

Right. It’s very difficult. So then I got into sales. And at first, I didn’t really like it because it was a lot of stress. And you didn’t get treated the same way. As an engineer, you were treated as– they replaced commission or bonus with accolades, I guess. Not many accolades in sales, especially if a deal doesn’t come in. No excuse is acceptable. 


But I very quickly learned the system. And I was always very frustrated because there was tons of sales stuff out there on the door to door and the telesales model, the simple sale. But there was almost nothing written on the complex sale by anyone who had done it in the last 20 years. So I constantly was looking for that, and that motivated me to come up with it myself. 


Andy Paul 5:09

Yeah, I do want to get into that. But before we get into that, I love, like I said, the title of your podcast, The Brutal Truth About Sales and Selling. So what are some of these brutal truths?


Brian Burns 5:23

Yeah, so what I see, and I do listen to your podcasts. I’m very familiar with a lot of your views and agree with them. I think that there’s two ends of a spectrum. There’s the hard working crowd, the people who – I think it’s kind of a cop out – but who just say work hard or grind it out, hustle more. And I can certainly put the names to that mode. 


And that’s great stuff, but that’s a cop out. No one’s gonna say, oh, that’s bad advice. It’s not bad advice. It’s good advice, but it’s not complete advice. And then at the other end of the spectrum is the silver bullet crowd that says all you have to do is buy our product, take our methodology, and everything will work perfectly.


Andy Paul 6:11

300% improvement in sales! I guarantee it! Those things always drive me nuts when I see that. Every time there’s a methodology or some sales trainer or something, it’s like these percentages, this is what you’re gonna experience. I don’t know. I was gonna say it sounds a little Trumpian but I don’t want to get into the political side of things. But it’s just, how do people still buy into that these days? Because they are looking for that silver bullet, right? 


Brian Burns 6:40

They want it, and it comes down to managers don’t want to understand how the sausage is made. They just want a nice juicy sausage on their plate. And they treat salespeople like the garbage collector, where they get paid more than the firemen, but the job isn’t as clean, right? 


Andy Paul

That’s a great analogy.


Brian Burns

You have to go around, depending on the weather, pick up all this stuff, deal with the smell, and keep a smile, and make sure you put the cans back in the right place. 


Andy Paul

Unless you’re in New York City. 


Brian Burns

So managers buy into it really easily. And I think that’s a lot of the success that you see happening with these advisory companies and consulting companies putting out books with numbers attached to it and referencing this research that is unpublished, unscientific, which is also known as marketing. And you call them out, and you invite them on your podcast. And you want to debate, and they never want to talk about it. Because they’ve never sold. Would you get onto a plane with a pilot who’s done a lot of research on flight, you know? 


Andy Paul 8:02

Bulb never flown.


Brian Burns8:03

Right, but never flown. Or a heart surgeon who’s observed several operations but never really took a scalpel in his own hand. Those types of things, and that’s where the brutal truth comes from. I think reps today really want to hear, what are they doing wrong? What does work? What’s the real meat behind it? And hear it from somebody who’s done it, who’s got the bruises and the war wounds.


Andy Paul 8:36

One of the things that you talk about in your book and on the podcast and so on is that you refer to natural selling. But isn’t there this trend, though, when we talk about the silver bullet, to think that somehow automation becomes like the new silver bullet and that we’re gonna be able to dispense with the messy person to person selling at some point. And I don’t see that ever really occurring.


Brian Burns 9:07

It’s gone wrong, it’s gone awry. And I think the perfect example of it is the marketing automation space, which has turned into the spam automation space. And what happens is you go to a website because you read a piece of content that’s interesting and maybe valuable. But to get the real meat of it, you have to forfeit your email address. You didn’t want to learn about the company, you didn’t want to be contacted. And you probably don’t want to be on their list. But you did want that juicy piece of content that promised a lot of answers. 


So you give it up, and all of a sudden now you’ve got to either unsubscribe or delete or overlook the bombardment of the two or three times a week of their message. And reps are very good at hitting the send button. We can all hit the send button. And we’re all looking for the magic script, and we’re forgetting that there’s a human being on the other end of that email address. And I think automation is great. I love tools. 


Andy Paul 10:17

I use them.


Brian Burns 10:19

I use a ton of them and I play with them. And I love building lists and coming up with ideas and stuff. But none of it works unless you’re really connecting with another person and bringing something to them, giving before you’re trying to get.


Andy Paul 10:35

Yeah. And you see that with companies that suddenly now a lead becomes just somebody who’s downloaded a white paper. And that compounds the difficulty, right?


Brian Burns10:46

It makes it worse. I think the inbound thing has increased the complexity. Because even if you read about HubSpot, who’s kind of the pioneers in this space, that it causes this enormous problem. Because now you’ve got what are really contacts. And now somebody has to qualify them and turn them into or identify them as, are they worth something? Are they a prisoner? Are they a consultant in Bangladesh? Who knows who they are? Because they have M5@gmail.com.


Andy Paul 11:25

That’s me when I sign up for ebooks.


Brian Burns 11:28

Oh, now we know where to find you.


Andy Paul 11:31

I mean, I’ve become a master at the fake names and the fake email addresses. Well not the fake email addresses, but the ones that have no bearing of resemblance to my name or anything. So it seems like there is this danger of burning out prospect pools.


Brian Burns 11:53

I think it’s gonna happen. Because we’re really at a tipping point right now where email addresses are becoming visible. There’s enough tools and technologies out there. Because that’s one of the last bastions of privacy. On LinkedIn, we kind of know how to do it and either block the person or unconnect from the person. Twitter, we just ignore because the stream is too fast. We can’t possibly keep up with it. 


Andy Paul

Just like our inbox. 


Brian Burns

Our inbox is turning into that. 


Andy Paul

It’s turning into Twitter. Right, exactly. 


Brian Burns

Yeah. And what’s happening is that reps inow with these spam machine guns and the cadence machine guns, they’re missing the point. The point is to come up with a way to scale your activity, not to annoy people or just try and do a lot of things that aren’t going to add value. 


Andy Paul 12:49

And that’s sort of a segue question. So it’s really managers that are missing the point and not necessarily reps. Reps are injected into this process. But I think what’s hard in some of these environments is to do what you talk about in your book, become this maverick, become the rep that defies convention and says there’s a better way to do things and maybe pioneers that. It seems like that’s getting harder and harder for them to do, especially given the focus on these activity metrics that really don’t relate to quality.


Brian Burns 13:24

It is. In a lot of ways I think we’re going backwards in sales. I think the division of labor is good. But the KPIs have gone mad. The CRMs and the dashboards should be informational. Because once you tell somebody that you’re going to start measuring something, they’re going to do it. Because they know that you want to see it, but they may fake it. 


And I’m talking now 20 years ago, I worked for a company where I was the first outside guy they hired. And I got to know all the inside guys. And I worked on the enterprise deals, they worked on the smaller deals. And they all had KPIs, and they all would call the movie theater 20 times a day to get their numbers up.


Andy Paul

Those were the days.


Brian Burns 14:15

It’s like the manager would smile and nod, and they’d all roll their eyes. And you’re not accomplishing anything there. What you want to do is find that maverick who finds a new way of doing it, somebody who finds a way on Twitter or LinkedIn or through their network or through some tool to be able to find, connect, and engage with people in an authentic way.


Andy Paul 14:39

Well, I think it’s really the path to success, right? When you talk about being authentic, I think that for a rep, I look at my own experiences. And I’ve talked about this in blogs and so on, I certainly didn’t fit the mold at the time of a typical salesperson. I had to find a way to do it that fit with me in the way I was, and my strengths and my skills. And it didn’t comply with the standard process that everybody else was using. I used to drive my bosses nuts.


Brian Burns 15:10

Yeah, because in my background, usually I was one of the only salespeople who had a technical background. I wasn’t the golf playing, Martini drinking–  


Andy Paul

Yeah, me neither. 


Brian Burns

And all of a sudden, people don’t know how to relate to you. Why aren’t you fitting in? And this is how I empathize with women in sales, where they don’t fit into certain things. But yet in other ways, they’re insanely effective. So I had a way of connecting through users groups of my product, because I could talk to the engineers. And they’d be shocked that a guy with a tie could do anything other than give the pricing.


Andy Paul 15:56

So getting to the maverick, you’ve got a list of five qualities. I love the qualities, because I feel like I could have written them myself. You talk about a maverick is somebody who’s proactive, they’re intelligent. We’ll unpack these in a second. Motivated, competitive and creative. And what I love about it is that nowhere in there was there hunter, closer, aggressive, extrovert, these labels that still to an incredibly high degree I see companies put into their job postings or job descriptions when they’re looking for new sales candidates, sometimes even sales management.


Brian Burns 16:38

Yeah. Because how many interviews did you come out of where the feedback was, he wasn’t salesy enough? 


Andy Paul

Yeah, I’m sure several. 


Brian Burns

That’s what I heard from headhunters. And the coaching I’d always get is, go have a couple of cups of coffee before you meet the guy.


Andy Paul 17:00

You’ve got to get amped up, right?


Brian Burns 17:01

You got to get amped up. And they want somebody bouncing around who’s going to grab you by the neck and not gonna leave until you get the order. And some markets exist that way, selling cars maybe or selling door to door. That worked, because the aggressiveness and the transactional nature of it worked. 


But if you’re selling a complex product that people don’t really understand, not sure why they need it yet, costs a lot of money, takes multiple calls to get someone to understand it and appreciate the value, and to get the money and the piece of paper out of the company, people don’t want to deal with that personality very long. And I’ve had clients where they’ve asked me not to bring my manager in.


Andy Paul 17:54

Oh, I’ve had that. I remember tiptoeing around the office on multiple occasions. I had one boss who was the absolute mentor for me. But when he got it in his mind that the prospect wasn’t serious, it was, Katie, bar the door. Just you couldn’t bring him in front of the prospect. 


Because one time we were going out to close a big deal. And he gets up and walks out in the middle of the meeting and accuses the prospect of not being serious, which was a great technique at the time. But this is one of the biggest deals I’ve ever worked on. My jaw just dropped as I watched him walk out the door.


Brian Burns 18:30

Yeah, I worked for a guy out of Manhattan who was used to selling into the financial services group, but it was in the tornado. There was a tremendous amount of demand for the product. And he talked like people in Manhattan talk, which is several words per minute higher than people in Virginia where we were. And the client actually asked him, did you used to sell vacuum cleaners? He didn’t get the joke.


Andy Paul 19:03

Oh, gosh. So getting back to your list of five qualities, we have time to go through those. You talked about being proactive. And I know people are gonna confuse that with being aggressive, but you’re really talking about inspiring and leading prospects, which is really the job of a sales rep. And it’s not to manipulate, persuade or convince. You have to inspire and lead.


Brian Burns 19:28

You do. And you’ve got to understand that you may know how to sell, but they do not know how to buy. I mean, they may know how to determine what they like. But if you work in a medium to large company, you may have not have marshaled a purchase request from initiation to closure before. And that, for anybody who’s done the complex sale, knows that deals don’t really die during the first meeting. You really have to be a C player not to get the first meeting right where you leave and everybody’s happy. They die shortly after that. And somebody realizes all the work and administration and pieces that have to be put in place to get that order through an email to you or fax to you back in the day.


Andy Paul 20:18

Yeah. Well, even as you talked about, it’s daunting when you’re the buyer and you said they don’t have a lot of experience. So suddenly they look at, okay, well, there’s six other people who have to coordinate and have input on this. And that sounds tiring.


Brian Burns  20:32

It sounds tiring. And the first time they hear no, they believe it. They don’t know how to recover from it. They don’t know how to justify it. They don’t know the legal process. They don’t know the shipping and receiving process, the installation, the impact that it’ll have. They think budget, and they go, well, where is this elusive budget that someone’s managing? It’s whatever we can afford, whatever makes sense, is what the budget is.


Andy Paul 21:05

Yeah. Because oftentimes in those scenarios, if you’re fortunate, and I’ve been fortunate in the past, working some really big deals where I met my counterpart inside the buyer’s organization, the maverick inside there. And they could be the inspiration and leadership on their end to get things done. 


But absent that person–  the qualities you talked about really become important. Because not only do you have to inspire, but you have to be open to learning as you’re talking about, being intelligent. Because every deal is different. In a complex sale, there are no really prescribed steps.


Brian Burns  21:43

Right. And often you’re working for somebody who doesn’t understand it as well. Because often in these startups, they don’t hire people who used to do startups. They hire people who come from the previous hot company – the Cisco, the Oracle, the Google, the hot company. And that person was very good at scaling the organization, but not very good at you know initiating brand new, net new deals, which is very different.


Andy Paul 22:14

Extremely, a completely different skill. And actually, I think a lot of times companies make a mistake because they bring this person on too soon to scale. Because they really haven’t gone through the learning curve to know what the ultimate target is.


Brian Burns  22:27

Yeah, they believe their own slide deck that they sold the investors on that it’s straight up and to the right.


Andy Paul 22:36

I’ve never seen that before. 


Brian Burns 22:38

Yeah. I think everyone uses the same chart. It’s amazing.


Andy Paul 22:43

Yeah, and that’s interesting. Because I think, to your point, it really is a completely different skill set. Those first sales, especially if it’s a large complex sale, how do you get those first customers to really understand the lesson of what you learn from selling to them?


Brian Burns 23:00

Yeah, because a lot of people grew up in what I call the beauty contest market where the market’s already established and there’s five contenders. And they all come in for the talent episode, the bikini episode, the ask the questions, how would you save the world? And you’re looked at as a commodity, and that’s a different sale. That’s complex in and of itself. 


But before that market is established, there’s the what is it and why do I need it market. And with a company who’s like 0 to 10 million, and there might be three or four people at different stages that have some kind of product out there and you’re one of the first salespeople hired. And they give you a laptop and they go, well, here’s your quota. See you in three months. And you’re out there trying to make stuff happen. That’s a very different sale.


Andy Paul 23:56

Yeah. I have one one startup I work for where I was brought in to build a commercial part of the business. They are a small defense contractor, and they want to do some commercial business. And the charter was– we didn’t have a product. It was basically we can do whatever you want just as long as the customer pays for it. And they’re talking about paying for the development of it. The customer had to pay for the engineering costs as well. So that was a fairly blank slate.


Brian Burns 24:32

Yeah, and that’s creativity.


Andy Paul 24:35

That’s the creativity. And that’s not somebody that’s scaling. I mean, I have to admit, I’m not the scaling guy. I’m the front end. Somebody I spoke to recently had a great description called that Renaissance salespeople, the Renaissance rep. People that come in and can synthesize on multiple fronts as you talk about, proactive, intelligent, motivated, competitive, creative, synthesize those qualities together. Because you’re selling a vision of something that’s not cast in concrete.


Brian Burns  25:04

And that’s it. And I think most reps today, even though they might be more mature markets, they’re probably not given a cherry territory. They’re probably given a brand new slice of a territory that no one cared about, that doesn’t really fit the exact demographics that really work for them. And they’re not given all the resources that they need. So all of us have to be creative in that space.


Andy Paul 25:30

Yeah. If you’re in that place as a rep where you’re not getting the cherry territory, that really sucks. I’ve had to go into lots of companies and help them say, okay, after these first four reps you hired, everybody else has failed. Now there’s a reason for that. These four have all the business. And you have to start reallocating that, another tough challenge. 


So before we get to the last segment of the show, I just want to ask one question back to The Brutal Truth. Why is it that some of these people that have these methodologies are just not adapting them to what’s really occurring in the world today?


Brian Burns  26:14

I think it’s hard. I think it’s also that they haven’t sold, that the facilitators haven’t sold themselves. They’re pretty much facilitators. And I’m sure you were put through all the major methodologies. And I liked it. I liked the courses, but they really didn’t fit what I did. And that’s why I had to come up with something on my own. 


Because the problem wasn’t how I asked questions and in what sequence I asked questions. The problem was that deals got stuck. Deals would get stuck, and I had to break the sale into the tiny pieces that really have to take place. And nobody talked about that. Because the people who wrote those courses sold in the 80s and the 90s, they were managers, and they then retired and they’d come up with a course. 


And today, we’re replacing that with, oh, all you need is this hundred page book about what worked at this mega company. And I basically did what someone else did and then we call it something else. 


Andy Paul



Brian Burns 

Yeah, and it’s already obsolete. Because how many times do you get emails, oh, who’s responsible for buying airplanes at your company?


Andy Paul 27:41

That’s an extreme example. It’s a great question. Because I’ve got a couple that I’m actually dueling back and forth with these days. Because now I take pleasure, I stopped being passive in the face of some of these. And I start responding. And it’s like, I understand that this was an automated mail, part of your cadence you sent it to me. Somehow you got my name. Maybe at a trade show, I breezed by your booth and you scanned a badge or something. 


But do you understand the effect this is having not just on me, but all of your prospects? Because clearly you haven’t done any, even the minutest bit of research into who I am and so on. I went through one company, a SaaS company in San Francisco that was selling enterprise level data management solutions. And an SDR was reaching out to me and wanted to set up a meeting with a regional VP that was going to be in my area.


Brian Burns 28:41

Imagine how happy he’d be.


Andy Paul 28:44

Yeah, well, the regional VP was a woman. And so I wrote to the regional VP and said, I found your email on LinkedIn. I wrote to her and I said, look, I got this email. Obviously, I’m not a prospect for this. So what percentage of your SDRs time are they spending doing outreach to people that in no way could ever be a prospect for your product? And how does that flow through your process? And wouldn’t you like to hear about a better way to do it? I never got a response.


Brian Burns  29:16

No, no, because you can count emails. You can’t really quantify quality. And that’s the missing piece. Because that really takes effort. Looking at a dashboard, you can just check the dashboard off. Sitting down with a rep, and say, hey, check out Andy’s LinkedIn profile. Oh, he’s got a training company, probably not in our demographic. He might be a great referral. Might be a great person to have in your network, but he’s not a customer.


Andy Paul 29:47

And I think that’s the trouble with the dashboard is that it makes everybody a manager. I was at a conference not that long ago, a couple months ago, where one of the themes was in essence, I’ll boil it down to stop coaching your sales reps. Seriously? Yeah, one on ones are a waste of time. And there was this applause from the audience that was listening to the talk. And I’m like, oh my god, okay, interesting. I don’t think that’s the case. Everybody that’s listening, they’re not a waste of time if they’re done right. 


So anyway, all right, we’re gonna move to the last segment on the show. Gosh, we’re gonna have to have you back and get into your books. We really didn’t have time to do that. But I’d definitely love to at some point. So I’ve got some standard questions I ask all my guests. 


And the first one’s a hypothetical scenario. And in the scenario you, Brian, have just been hired as VP of sales at a company whose sales have stalled out. And CEO and board are anxious to get sales unstuck and back on track. And sales turnaround has to begin somewhere. So you’re in charge. What two steps would you take your first week on the job that could have the biggest impact in terms of starting to turn things around?


Brian Burns 31:04

Well, seeing as I do this for a living, and I’ve heard so many responses on your podcasts, and everyone colors it into what they do. But I think since it’s stalled, you’ve got to ask yourself, what changed? And I typically start with the rep who’s doing the best. And I ask the manager, who’s the rep who should not be doing really well, but is? The person who you’d say, I couldn’t imagine that person being successful at sales, but he’s killing it or she’s killing it, and I interview them. 


And then I go down to the C players, the people who are disgruntled. And I’ll ask, where do deals get stuck? What happens? Are you not getting enough leads? Are you running into competition? And you’ve really got to dissect that. And what’s scary is that more often than not, it’s not really a sales problem. Something changed. Either a new competitor came out, someone lowered their price, support sucks. The product isn’t keeping up, somebody left marketing, and all of a sudden the leads stopped. Something changed and trying to unravel that. 


Unfortunately, most of the time, it’s not within the sales group. Sales can always get better. There’s no Macs that we run into. But if service has changed with one client, I found out that they bring in the deal, but then the deal would get hosed in support. No one would get called back. The customer would get upset, and the salespeople would get disgruntled. Because they’re like, I killed myself for three months to get this started and then it drops. So I think that the diagnosing of the illness before you start medicating is really important.


Andy Paul 32:56

Interesting, because as I’ve talked about before, we all have these biases, these filters when you look at the product. As you talked about, I’ve asked this question over 250 times. The bias is always to sales.


Brian Burns 33:14

Yeah, if you have a content person on, they’ll say, well, I’ll look at the content and see what’s caused the problem there. You get somebody who’s a CRM person. Oh, I think the CRM is in the way. And it might be, but I think you really have to diagnose it.


Andy Paul 33:31

Yeah. Okay, cool. All right. So some rapid fire questions for you. You can give me one word answers or expound, if you wish. And the first one is when you, Brian, are out selling your services, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?


Brian Burns 33:45

I think it’s my curiosity. And I think the key thing that’s worked for me in sales is I put myself in the other person’s place. And I really try to understand what they’re facing, what they care about, and what they need to do to to make it happen.


Andy Paul 34:01

Okay, excellent. Who’s your sales role model?


Brian Burns 34:05

I would think– my parents were both salespeople.


Andy Paul 34:09

Interesting. Both Mom and Dad?


Brian Burns 34:10

Yeah. Completely different approaches, but equally successful. So I think I grew up in that environment where every time something went wrong, they would explain why it went wrong. You were just thinking about yourself, you don’t understand what the other person’s going through. A politician would go crook if they’d always say, well, whatever is in his best interest, that’s what they’re going to do. So I understood human motivation.


Andy Paul 34:43

Yeah. And the thing I love about that answer is that we have this tendency we all have, as we all came of age to think that we’ve reinvented everything that went before us, right? So in our generation, we reinvented sales because everybody before us was Willy Loman, carrying a bag and so on. 


As you learned these lessons from your parents, these are the timeless truths about sales and dealing with people. Much like I tell people, want to read a great book about sales? Read Dale Carnegie, written in the 1930s, fabulous book. And it still sells, so relevant today. So I love that answer. Okay. 


So aside from your own book, and maybe aside from Dale Carnegie, what’s one book every salesperson should read?


Brian Burns 35:27

What I really liked, I think over the last couple years, Steven Kotler’s book on flow. I’m trying to remember the actual name of it. I had him on my podcast, and it put things together. Because you read so many books like Tony Robbins’ stuff on motivation and neurolinguistics programming and everything. But  that emotion that we’re trying to get, that flow state, if you’re able to get that in sales, and certainly over a long period of time and be able to manage it is insanely powerful.


Andy Paul 36:01

Got it. Yeah, that sounds great. 


Brian Burns 36:03

Rise of Superman, that’s the name of the title of the book.


Andy Paul 36:07

Rise of Superman. Excellent. Gosh, last question for you, what music’s on your playlist these days?


Brian Burns 36:16

I like U2, the 80s and 90s rock and roll, I guess. AC/DC is good, too. I know that’s a favorite


Andy Paul 36:27

It is, big one on the show, AC/DC. And it’s actually across generations. It’s not just people that were young when AC/DC came out. There’s something still about AC/DC that’s very enduring.


Brian Burns 36:39

And it’s also, I think, a key trigger to get into that flow state. So it’s very helpful.


Andy Paul 36:46

All right, we’re gonna put that down. When I first started the podcast, I asked the question what got you in the sales frame of mind. But a lot of people were like, oh no, I can’t listen to music. And I was like, gosh, I used to get in the car and I’d put it on a CD or whatever it was and just crank it up to some head banging to prepare for calls. You’ve got to be motivated.


Brian Burns 37:15

You have to. Let’s face it, you’re driving around, and especially even today when people are sitting at their desk, a lot of inside people, you get a few hang ups, you get a few unsubscribes. You need something to get you going again.


Andy Paul 37:29

Yeah, go to a room or walk out to your car and spend a couple minutes. And just get amped up. Nothing wrong with that at all. So Brian, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. And tell people how they can find out more about you.


Brian Burns 37:43

Yeah, so I’m all over social. It’s Brian Burns on LinkedIn, as well as on Twitter. And Maverick Method is the website and Maverick Method on YouTube as well.


Andy Paul 37:58

All right, excellent. Well good, thanks again. And remember, friends, make it a part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. And an easy way to do that is to make this podcast, Accelerate, a part of your daily routine. Whether you listen on your commute, in the gym, or make it part of your morning sales meeting. That way, you won’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guest today, Brian Burns, who shared his expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks for joining me. Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling, everyone.  


Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.com. For more information about today’s guest, visit my website at AndyPaul.com.