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Unexpected Honesty in Sales, with Todd Caponi [Episode 746]

Todd Caponi, author of The Transparency Sale: How Unexpected Honesty and Understanding the Buying Brain Can Transform Your Results, joins me on this episode.

Key Takeaways

  • Todd Caponi has five hopes for sales in 2020. The first hope is the death of the “Death of sales” trope. Cold calling is still important. Sales employment has grown.
  • Classroom training is ineffective. Todd offers solutions. There should be learning every day on the job. Andy talks about the curated book club he offers to companies. Todd advises learning to be a “buyer journey sherpa.”
  • Todd’s second hope is that sales will rise on the list of “trusted professions.” Todd shares the secret of “4.2-star” reviews. If your facade is “perfect,” buyers will spend more time researching you because they doubt you.
  • Andy tells how he used transparency as an underdog Burroughs salesperson against IBM’s fear, uncertainty, and doubt sales pitch. Todd talks about transparent negotiation, showing your motives. It generates trust.
  • Adam Grant wrote about Givers, Takers, and Matchers. Unfettered Givers are the least successful. The most successful are Givers. Be clear about your self-interest. Allow your buyers to negotiate their deals.
  • Andy tells an anecdote about a company using contract negotiators to sign so salespeople were removed from the negotiations. Salespeople should be the trusted contact, not the adversarial negotiator.
  • Sales negotiations should be managed in the qualification phase. Tie their business case to the investment they need to make to get there. Don’t find yourself at the end of a deal facing a buyer’s demand for a 30% discount.
  • Todd’s third hope is paying more attention to behavioral science and decision science in sales. Todd talks about emotional decision-making over logical rationalization. How does Todd flip the script to tell a story?
  • Thomas Huxley advised learning something about everything and everything about something. Each sales conversation is unique. What you’ve studied helps in various situations.
  • Todd’s fourth hope is for sales organizations to realize that enablement needs 2X to 3X the investment that companies are currently giving it. Today’s sellers and sales managers need more training to be more engaged.
  • Todd’s fifth hope is that organizations realize the need to go back to pods and walls and replace annoying and distracting open office plans. There are reasons for walls.
  • A recent Harvard study debunks every supposed benefit of open offices. They do not help anyone.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:00  

Hey friends, this is Andy. Welcome to Episode 746 of Accelerate, the sales podcast of record. We have another excellent episode lined up for you today. Joining me as my guess is Todd Caponi. Todd’s the author of a book called The “Transparency Sale: How unexpected honesty and understanding the buying brain can transform your results.” And among the topics we’re talking about today are Todd’s five top hopes for the sales profession in 2020. And we’re gonna start with number one on his list. And I have to admit, I couldn’t agree more. His number one hope is that we stop talking about all this nonsense about the death of sales. And hopefully, that’s, that’s put to death itself here in 2020. Among other topics we’ll get into today are why salespeople need to learn how to become buying journey Sherpas using Todd’s term for their buyers. We’ll talk about how Todd hopes sales can rise in the rankings of trusted professions. So we’ll get into why transparency is so vital for helping make this happen for sellers. We’ll talk about why Todd hopes salespeople and sales leaders start paying more attention to behavioral science and decision science sales and take from that we can also teach them about their buyers and themselves. And we’ll also dive into the topic of sales enablement. And this is what Todd’s hopes about that sales organizations really ramp up their investment in enablement and training because sellers and sellers are missing out on so much learning that could be doing so. We’ll be getting into all that and much, much more. Alright, let’s jump into it. Todd, welcome to Accelerate. 


Todd Caponi  3:05  

Well, thanks for having me.


Andy Paul  3:06  

Well, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you. I mean, we’ve been circling each other for a while here. You’re based where you’re joining us from. It looks like some sort of subway station or a mall.


Todd Caponi  3:19  

I hang out in a subway station just northwest of Chicago in beautiful Palatine Illinois. 


Andy Paul  3:28  

Palatine Illinois.


Todd Caponi  3:29  

Oh, God. It is. It’s been crazy. And we had Halloween a few months ago, it snowed four inches. So my younger kids, and they loved it, but they were trudging through the snow. So winter started earlier.


Andy Paul  3:45  

Now, here’s a question for you. How old are you kids?


Todd Caponi  3:49  

Six and eight. And you know what? I digress. He just turned seven. So he’s seven. My daughter is eight and she’ll be turning nine in February.


Andy Paul  4:05  

All right, well in case they listen to the show why should they get the ages right? So have you started training your seven year old to shovel the driveway?


Todd Caponi  4:15  

That’s a good point now and I’m totally a snowblower guy. I mean, normally the snow around here is heavy enough but shoveling is kind of a fool’s errand. 


Andy Paul  4:30  

Why, you know, that’s what I always thought growing up in Wisconsin, and yeah, I would plead with my dad who would knock on the door at 530 in the morning was time to hear him to take a shower to go for work and see the driveways all snowed over and go shoveled driveway and it’s like, can’t you just buy a snowblower and he goes, I’ve got one. That was my role in life for a long time.


Todd Caponi  4:58  

Yeah, I think mowing the lawn will be first.


Andy Paul  5:00  

Yeah, well, I did that as well. So everything was sort of handed down from the older brothers. When he left. It was up to me. So well, thanks for joining me even though we have sort of a holiday. This is the last episode I’m recording this year. People will listen to us in January, hopefully. But you’d written an article on your blog about your five hopes for sales in 2020. I thought, well, it’s, first of all, very optimistic. And I thought, well, let’s go through that because I thought they were kind of entertaining and worth talking about. So your first one was, you said you hoped for the death of the sales trope. But we’re also tired of hearing about so tell us what motivated that for you. Well, yeah,


Todd Caponi  5:49  

I mean, I think part of the idea of doing hopes versus predictions is I can’t predict anything. So I decided that hopes would be a little bit more of a positive way to go about this. But, you know, when I do a lot on LinkedIn, just kind of spreading ideas around. And I always see people talking about the death of cold calling, that cold calling is dying, the death of classroom training, the death of this, the death of this, I always drove myself crazy. And so I started doing the research because I’m a nerd. And it’s funny, you know, one of the things I call out there is, there’s only been one profession since the 1950s. That’s actually gone away as a result of technology. And it turns out, it’s the elevator operator. Hmm. You know, technology has really had a terrible time trying to eliminate physicians. As a matter of fact, in most cases, it exploded the professions, you know, back in 2011. And then there was another article as recently as 2015 or 16 that Forrester put out, that talked about the fact that 3 million sales jobs would be eliminated by 2020 data. Now, we’re getting listeners who are listening to this in 2020. And has any of those been eliminated or if they’ve been replaced and added, and now we’ve seen the sales profession explode over the last five years versus go away. And so I guess, I hope that we can stop claiming the death of things because I don’t believe cold calling is dying by any means. No, I think it’s an important part, while as a CIO, I wouldn’t answer a cold call myself. I believe that every touchpoint provides an opportunity to build trust or erode trust and leave a voicemail fail, that builds trust, it plays an important role in a multi touch type campaign. Right.


Andy Paul  7:37  

Right. Yeah, and I think it’s, it’s all been overdone. And I think, but I think you talked about the mass hysteria, but I think the, it’s an interesting conundrum is that the people are somewhat sort of feeding the hysteria or the people that are also sort of largely responsible for the explosion of the sales employment. I mean, look at the tech industry, right so ay ay ay. Say that finally says I spent most of my career in that business. But, you know, hey, I am going to eliminate sales. It’s like, okay, but you just exploded your sales team to be able to sell that concept.


Todd Caponi  8:10  

Exactly. So,


Andy Paul  8:12  

yeah. So you also wrote about, you mentioned to me just like classroom training. And you know, the claim that younger generations, millennials, these, whatever, I guess we call them Zoomers. I only want a digital learning experience in it. But let’s broaden the conversation with that because, as you point out, that’s that’s likely not true. But we do have this issue that that well documented it’s been researched by Xerox and other people for decades is that classroom training kind of sucks. So yeah, I think some people in the house are welcoming the death of it. And it’s our place in this whole concept I’m passionate about is that there’s so little learning that actually It goes on sale. So how do we address that issue in your mind? I mean, because classroom training is like a check the box, let’s do that or let’s hire, you know, a speaker like Todd or Andy to come into our sales kickoff meeting and then that line item for training for the year just zeroed out. That’s like, how do you get it? If it’s a manager’s fault? I think I want levels. How do you get managers serious about education and learning?


Todd Caponi  9:25  

Yeah, I think, you know, when we get to number four, talking about decision science and behavioral science as something that needs to be taught, well, those concepts apply to the way that we learn. neuroscientists have figured out how to optimize learning. And most classroom facilitators and teachers don’t read or know any of that. You know, I think that part of the reason that we believe that classroom training is dying. It’s not only this desire that millennials are going to want an on demand digital experience versus classroom but it’s because in most cases, we’ve Just been doing classroom training wrong. You know, we’ve been teaching in large chunks. We’ve been trying to jam as much content into the human brain as humanly possible. We’ve been killed by PowerPoint.


Andy Paul  10:13  

Well, let’s, let’s stop right there. Because I think that speaks to one of my hot buttons, which is the reason we’re cramming all this information then you’re talking about, I don’t know, if you read David Epstein’s book range where a great book about education and how we learn. And yeah, his whole thing was that, you know, the ideal education or training experience looks inefficient because it takes longer to consume information in smaller bites. But really the motivation for the way we train right now is this whole idea that we need to bring people up to speed as quickly as possible, right that we need to scale and onboard to some mythological 90 days, 60 day whatever, which feeds into a cycle of bad behavior in terms of, you know, short duration of unemployment other things with people that we put that through.


Unknown Speaker  11:07  

Yeah, you know, a while ago, this was 2011 2012, I was on the sales leadership team of a company called exacttarget. Who knows maybe they got acquired by Salesforce while I was there for 2.7 billion in 2013. But back in 2010 2011, I was tapped on the shoulder to rebuild the enablement program from the ground up. So, because a long time ago, you know, 2003 to 2006, I owned and operated my own sales training company. They’re not very well, but I at least knew about modern learning theory, right? So we did a couple of things. We did take all of the curriculum and we made it on demand that we learn so that arap that comes in could take a class and then when they need that knowledge three months later, because they just learned how to run a contract process. Need to recall it? into their brain like, Oh, yeah, that Thursday at 10. We took a class on that. They can now go take a 15 minute on demand class, remind themselves of the process and then go execute it. Hmm, that was awesome. Because when Salesforce bought us, you know, Benny Hoffs directive was, hey, you’ve got 60 days to teach my 2000 reps what I just spent $2.7 billion on. But we laid out the digital training for all of those people, but then we supported it with the classroom. The classroom was where we traveled around and got into these classrooms with 30 to 50 people at a time. And I believe that classroom training with the pure intent of learning is the wrong pure intent. classroom training is not only about, hey, let’s figure out two or three things that we want every participant to walk away with a firm understanding of not 10 but two or three, and then use the classroom as an opportunity for them to collaborate to hear each other to practice with one About to get to know each other to network. And then when they go to the bar after class and they’re talking, hopefully they’re talking about some of the things that they learned and some of the fun things that got brought up. that fosters engagement, collaboration, and it reinforces the two or three things that you’re trying to learn. And so I believe classroom training has to play a role, but most people are just not thinking about it the right way.


Andy Paul  13:23  

Yeah, interesting about that, those is that hundred percent in agreement in terms of the service socialization aspect of training and knowledge. I wonder whether it really has to be a classroom so my belief is that there should be learning every day on the job. And and this is




comment on a LinkedIn post. A year ago, somebody was celebrating the fact he thought this SaaS company had a learning culture. And his evidence was so they have an annual learning day and I was like, Dude, that’s not a learning culture. That’s the opposite of learning culture. You know, that’s, uh, I’m just paying lip service to this culture. And, yeah, what most successful programs we run is a book club, a curated book club for companies, and a list of 10 books read over 12 months, we provide discussion guides, reading guides, and there’s a level of engagement and content that they do their daily schedule, they follow 15 minutes a day. And then monthly discussions. But you know, the VP of Sales sales leader, whatever has something to discuss in every sales meeting that’s relevant to it. The sellers are being engaged in content every single day learning, continuous active learning every single day.


And this is


very achievable. And yet you get so much resistance from sales leaders also, I think the problem starts at the top because they Oh, we don’t have time for that.


It’s like,


Okay, well, we know from the statistics that you’re only spending a third of your time, you’re actually talking to prospects or involved in sales. You have 50 minutes a day. That’s 3% of the work day. I think you could spend that, to help people get better.


Todd Caponi  15:12  

Yeah, it’s when you say, we don’t have time for that. I mean, you literally and the sums are cheesy, you literally don’t have time not to do. Yeah. I mean, it’s like in this era, where, you know, back if you were selling, you know, back in 2005, before the, I mean, the internet was really getting going them but anybody that was a walking brochure of a sales rep, they were starting to find themselves at the bottom of the stack Rick’s right that we had to get into this world as sellers that we were like personal trainers that we were not only bringing our product knowledge but we were bringing industry knowledge and we were bringing, you know some selling skills to be able to position those the right way. So you know, selling skills, industry knowledge, and then product and product was just a piece of it. But you had to become more like a personal trainer unless like a drive thru attendance who’s just like If you want a burger, you want fries with that. And so the only way to do that is through training. If you just fall back on your old selling skills, I’m just going to feed your benefit my way into this client, you’re going to lose and so that classroom environment to learn all three of those things and to become irrelevant, you know, buyer journey Sherpa, versus the selling Schleper. I think I mean, that’s got to be the future of sales. And that doesn’t happen unless there’s learning happening every day and a big chunk of every day.


Andy Paul  16:31  

Yeah, I think one of the one of the issues though, too, is is that Yeah, how do we break this this idea that the as I said, sort of the classroom is the way to do it, because, you know, part of the reason I think sales training in its current iteration, and this is not new, this has been I’ve been in sales for over 40 years. It’s been as long as I’ve been doing it is that the classroom training really isn’t about learning. It’s really about indoctrination. It’s really about programming. People to a process and a method and harnessing them in a way that’s ultimately counterproductive to your point. And this was true when I got started, as everybody features benefits things. The smart people learn, oh, well, that’s that’s not the way this works. But most people don’t. And that hasn’t fundamentally changed. I’m sure it’s true. 40 years before I got started, I’m sure and probably largely withdrew 40 years from now, unless we radically change this perception of what needs to happen in these learning moments. Yes,


Todd Caponi  17:34  

yeah. And I think that the line of what we call classroom training is blurred a bit too. You mentioned sales meetings. You know, I view sales meetings, especially if they’re in person and you’ve got a zoom video going or whatever, that those are. That’s like a classroom opportunity. So when Why do you have a sales meeting? Exactly. The whole purpose of a sales meeting is to help arm and enable your sellers to be more effective when they’re talking to customers prospects. That’s kind of a classic And that’s never going to go away. And until we focus our time during those sales meetings around that objective, you know, there still will be the people that perceive classroom training as being, you know, two weeks in a room, you know, 4000, PowerPoint slides and at the end, like, hey, congratulations, you’re enabled. Yeah, yeah.


Andy Paul  18:23  

All right. So we’ll get back to enable and as you said, So number two on your list, which is, you know, always always a bugaboo for a lot of people in sales. Is that your hope is that on Gallop’s next annual study of most trusted professions that sales won’t be loitering at the bottom with members of Congress.


Yeah, and


you talked about your new book. The future sales is radically transparent. So tell us what you meant by that.


Todd Caponi  18:55  

Yeah, I mean, it’s such a change in my life, which is really good. Weird and i know it before jumping on with you I listen to Larry Levine selling from the heart like we’re kind of kindred spirits. But it basically what happened was I was the chief Revenue Officer of a company called power reviews for the three years before three and a half years before bringing the book how reviews helps retailers and brands collect and display ratings and reviews on your on Crocs, calm you’re looking at a pair of shoes, you look at the reviews, it was power reviews, helping with the collected display of the right. So we ended up working with Northwestern University here in Chicago, looking at Alright, what do buyers do when a website is acting as the salesperson right so you’re buying shoes, you’re buying clothes? And what they found like First of all, no surprise 96% of us look at reviews before we buy something Hmm, well, I haven’t found before percent but don’t like we’re all if it’s medium to consideration, we haven’t bought it before, we’re probably reading reviews. But what changed everything for me was the next two data points that I talked about in the article was 82% of us skip the positive reviews and go right to the negatives first. So instead of reading the five star reviews, we’ll read the ones, twos, threes and fours, right. And again, that’s when a website is acting as the salesperson but our brains are kind of wired to go drive to try to predict what our experience is going to be like. And then the next data point was this idea that a product that has an average review score between a four two and a four or five actually sells better than any other score, including a five. So a four to sell better than a five product that only has perfect scores, doesn’t sell as well as the ones that have some negatives. And


Andy Paul  20:54  

so, by the way, your book has all five star reviews. By the way.


Todd Caponi  21:00  

There’s one four star review for my nephew.


But, um, but when you just consider that I started to think, Alright, we’ve historically been teaching our sellers to sell as though we’re perfect. I mean, I was at SAP in the late 90s. We literally used to tell sellers and solution consultants, the technical guys that come with us, the answer is always Yes. Right. And so it was like we always positioned things as perfect, there are no flaws. Well, I then went in and started to dig into the neuroscience around this and go right, if that’s when a website is acting as a seller, what happens when a human is acting as a seller. And when I found it really quickly the exact same thing happened. a buyer is wired to try to predict their experience. And when we sell nothing, but perfection, we actually put up what’s called the limbic filter, which is the buyer’s brain going, whoa, whoa, I need to go do research. Which is why according to Gartner 61% of a buyer’s time is spent basically back channeling you, right? Doing research. And, you know, check in with their buddies that have experienced in the category. If it’s tech, they’re looking at jeetu comm or trust radius, if it’s any company, they’re actually looking at Glassdoor now to predict what people are like. And so those two things came together for me that alright, the brain is wired to resist perfection. So when we embrace our flaws and sell as though we’re a four to two or four or five, magic happens, you know, sales cycle shrink when rates go up, we only work deals that we should win and stop working the deals that we shouldn’t. But there’s now this proliferation of reviews and feedback and everything we do buy an experience anyway. So you have to. So I think that combination if we sellers realize that leading with their flaws. It certainly builds Trust so rapidly. But you combine that with this proliferation of reviews that sellers are going to have to become a vital purpose in the buying journey. And I think that that’s where you start to see trust, build, and sellers become an important piece versus this necessary evil that they’ve been historically.


Andy Paul  23:20  

Yeah. And looking at the article and and look through your book as is. Yeah, I agree. 100% I probably use slightly different terminology. Because I think we’re either about to be wired to resist influence. I think we’re wired to resist being sold more than influence because influence I think, in sales people misuse the word influence to say it and they conflate it with persuasion and convincing, which influences not influences having an impact or an effect on someone where persuasion is really a coercive hack. So, but the point is, right and I was that’s the link to your book and and and read the article is like it really resonated with me because when I started sales I was working for a company called Burroughs at the time was the second largest computer company in the world. But it was at a time and IBM owned 80% of the share market share in the computer business. So we were all horrible underdogs. And so there was no way we could pretend to be perfect. And so I sort of learned early on is that, yeah, I had to deal with the fact that, you know, the industry they called it IBM and the Seven Dwarfs I mean, every time we went into a competitive account, a guy from IBM had been there. IBM was famous for spreading their fear, uncertainty and doubt about the Fudd factor. Yet I still want a ton of business and I was like, Yeah, okay, how do I do that? And it has being transparent about who you are and what you can do and and I think also The other element of transparency, which, which I think is really an issue, and terms of being a barrier for trust, which I’m sure you’ve encountered many times this is we need to be transparent in our motives in dealing with the customers. And, and this one, we’ve all experienced right under the money crunch. But you’ve preceded that by two months of telling the customer we’re here to help you, we’re here to serve you. But this gets to the end of the month or the end of the quarter. It’s like, hey, but if you signed today, and suddenly, yeah, the blinders are off for the customer. If they thought you were there to help them that suddenly disappears, doesn’t mean they’re not gonna buy from you. But the nature of the relationships are really different than if you’re worried about churn and so on. Yeah, they’re gonna churn quickly.


Todd Caponi  25:47  

Yeah, there’s the thing that I teach the most now as a result of this and I, I rolled it out an exact target and power reviews and now it’s this concept called transparent negotiating. Sounds so counterintuitive, but it’s this idea that, you know, in business, let’s say we’re selling tech, there’s four things that mattered our business, right? How much you buy, how fast you pay, how long you commit, and when you sign. And so part of what transparent negotiating is, is instead of taking on a new personality, once the client says yes and says, Oh, you’re going to buy for me, All right, cool. I’m going to start lying to you, like ping pong on, you need 30% off, I can give you 10. And we go back and forth until we end up in the middle. And then we’re both like, I got him. Like that’s, that always drove me crazy. So this idea of transparent negotiation, and its core, is to be transparent with your motives, exactly what you just said, which is to say, Hey, listen, our pricing is based on these four things. So when you first talk about pricing, when you lay out the proposal, you outline that, hey, your pricing is based on those four things. When the negotiation comes, you then get an opportunity to reiterate that as the client asked for a discount, you can say, all right, I understand why you need that discount. I think we’ve got a way that we can work with you on that, you know, commit to more volume. It can’t do that. Okay, great. How about we pay us faster, all about committing longer. And oh, by the way, there’s value to us in our business, in being able to predict our business. I know we’re coming up here on the, you know, the end of the month. If you can rally around the end of the month, I’ll pay you in the form of a discount to help us predict our business and if that’s cool, but that changes around alignment skin in the game for the customer, and then understanding why you’re offering an end of the month discount. It’s amazing how that rallying point changes the perception that a customer has. And it works like magic to be able to say, Hey, listen, I The reason that I’m offering the end of this month is because I think we’re close and there’d be value to us. So I want to pay you in The form of a discount, right?


Andy Paul  28:01  

Yeah. So have you read Adam Grant’s book give and take?


Todd Caponi  28:05  

No, I haven’t. Okay, another great book.


Andy Paul  28:07  

He talks about givers and takers. And one of the key points that is made in the book is that you can be a giver. Well, it’s a couple of key points. One is, yeah, there’s this talk and Gartner was talking about recently, in their latest research about, you know, sort of the unfettered giver, which is a problem, right? But what Grant found in the studies and I’m sure it’s his or somebody else’s, that when you take there’s givers, takers and matchers people to give as much as they take is that taker givers. unfettered givers actually are least successful in their careers. But the most successful are givers. So they’re both the bottom and the top. But, yeah, it’s okay to have a self interest when you give as we talked about The buck, you just have to be clear about it. So your point is that, you know, hey, this is what we’re trying to achieve. This is what’s in it for you this is what’s in it for me. And it creates a position of influence with the buyer, when you can do that, because again, you’re being very transparent about it. And thanks SPECT that you have self interest, right? I mean, that’s, I’m always suspicious of people that are, you know, the unfettered givers because it’s like, No, no, this person is just not realistic. They don’t get it, whatever. You know, there’s gotta be something in it for you. And that’s okay.


Todd Caponi  29:35  

Yeah, I mean, I think that having a framework for those four things, I would guess that for most of your listeners, it’s you want your customers to buy more, pay faster, commit longer and sign when you want them to sign. So having that framework is super simple for you to just start to memorize and attach value. The second piece to your point is you actually enable your buyers to negotiate their own deals. And that’s been before. In the magic of this is even, you know, if you’ve got a SaaS offering and there’s a renewal involved, you’ve got customers that are saying, Hey, listen, I want to buy a little more, but I can’t pay at that level. So we literally had this happen to power reviews where a customer committed to more, they decided to renew for three years instead of one and pay us annually instead of quarterly, right. And they basically came in, they said, I understand your levers correctly. This is how this works. And we’re like, here’s the paperwork. All done. Yeah. But they got the deal for you. Right? Exactly. They enrolled. And while we maybe gave some dollars away, in return, we got a three year commitment, and we’re getting cash paid faster. But it’s amazing how that is just the transparency around negotiation. But obviously, like we talked about before, two to four or five and building trust, yeah, is important. But in negotiation, I think it has a huge impact on your deal values and your predictability.


Andy Paul  30:55  

Yeah, I think I found this from my experience, again, growing sales teams at startups and selling is the biggest, most effective way to increase deal value was to get sales out of the middle of negotiating altogether?


Todd Caponi  31:07  

Yeah, you know, so yeah, if you could give them a framework, I think that’s a great way to think about it.


Andy Paul  31:13  

Now we had contract negotiators. Oh, wow. Okay. I mean, that’s our job and these professional contract negotiators. And you get sales out of the middle of the relationship, in terms of, you know, the negotiating relationship, because here’s somebody who spent all this time building up this trusted relationship with and suddenly you’re an adversary. And yeah, really unproductive place to be and this was the brainchild of this one CEO of this company, which was just genius. Is and we


Todd Caponi  31:46  

helped to sign some really big deals because yeah, salespeople shouldn’t be negotiating. Yeah, and that’s it. Can’t be controversial for some listening, but salespeople are horrible negotiators just in general But I’ll give you one last example there, where I discovered this concept was going in negotiating a four plus million dollar deal. Back in 2009, I was walking in, I was the VP of sales of a company, my rep brought me in to talk to the procurement person, right? I walked into the room, and there were five of them instead of one. And they immediately just pounded me with 30% off. And I knew that, like they, you know, the typical, well, I can’t do 30 Did I tell you about the value like that bs that never gets you anywhere. Then instead, I was like, hey, maybe we can train a little bit here. And I wrote those four things on my whiteboard. And like magic happens. They were the five of them. were negotiating their own deal. Yeah. And I was, I think sellers can do this. I mean this and it becomes less adversarial and more. Hey, here’s the framework for the way our pricing is structured. We placed it this way for a reason. And if you need to get that price down, here’s the ways you can do it.


Andy Paul  32:58  

Yeah. I agree with But


stay what I


did. And I train people and teach people to us. You do that as part of qualification?


Todd Caponi  33:07  

Yeah, all you have to do in the beginning, if there is an event, it’s like going to a marathon and running it without training. Right? Yeah. Tony, you popping off at mile eight, because because, beginning,


Andy Paul  33:18  

right, because you tie all that to the outcomes they want to achieve, and they know this. And, yeah, if we can’t qualify you, you’ve quantified what your business outcome will be. That’s really essential, right? What’s your business case? You have business guys, well, what’s this? Do you want a 10% market share increase? What’s that mean? In terms of dollars? Let’s tie it to the investment you have to make. They can’t tie that, um, that’s they’re not qualified. I’m not gonna find myself at the end saying give me a 30% discount. It’s like, No, no, yours. You’re not a prospect for what I’m selling. Exactly.


Todd Caponi  33:46  

Exactly. That’s right.


Andy Paul  33:48  

Okay, so let’s go on to number three. So number three on your list is your hopes to see even more you brought this up before even more attention paid to behavioral and decision science in the sales profession. And I’ll just preface it by saying I couldn’t agree more. But I do have a caveat. So we’ll get into that.


Todd Caponi  34:04  

Yeah, I mean, there’s two things that are pretty easy, but they’re at their core of what neuroscience is to figure it out around the way we make decisions. The first one is this idea that we make all of our decisions in the feeling and emotion center of our brain, and only use the logic to back it up. And that’s the reason that I am so emphatic about that is I still see sellers leading with their NASCAR slide. And they’re, hey, this is our mission. Here’s our products. Here’s our awards. We’ve won like we, this is how awesome we are. A NASCAR slide is a perfect example of a polarizing slide. Because while you walk in, and you display this slide that’s got these great logos on it. Half of your audience is walking in for you. The audience is walking in again. So let’s just proceed that sure you can have that for you looks at those logos and says oh well If they’re good enough for those guys, they’re good enough for us. That’s great. I’m going to use that as my justification. But the other five that are against you, when they walk in might look at that and go, well, we’re going to be a little fish in a big pond or I don’t really see companies in our vertical, do they even know our business? Right? So your logic,


Andy Paul  35:19  

I just flat out don’t believe it.


Todd Caponi  35:22  

Like, they’re like one little piece, a billion dollar organization, but everybody claims that LinkedIn is a custom right? Or whoever. So when you think about that, there’s an opportunity to instead of starting with we, we flip the script and tell a story that’s in like, we probably don’t have time to go too deep into it. But I teach people to present like the choreography that’s used in reality makeover TV shows. And so that sounds very secretive. But I mean, what am I? What is it reality makeover TV shows do? They’ve got a participant that’s volunteered so Very similar to sales, it’s not like you’re barging in a conference room, the conference room going, you guys need to stop. So when they’re invited in, they very quickly show that participant that what they believe their problem to be is broader, more urgent, their status quo is less sustainable. They match up emotion with logic. So the two go together. And by the end of the show, the participant is willing to run through a brick wall, or the people that are facilitating the show. And in every case, they do that. And that’s basically what we want to happen in sales. So it’s really just about reordering your slides to tell a story. So neuroscience piece number one, emotion and logic, or I’m sorry, emotion and feeling over logic, take your logic, put it to the back, tell a story. And then the second piece is this whole idea around that resistance to influence? And how do you disarm that limbic filter that is and you said, you know, you’re right. I use influence a little bit. More broadly, but it is being sold to right in this idea that transparency sells better than perfection, I think is a great example of how you disarm that. And, you know, once the sales community starts to understand that I think there’s a tremendous opportunity for sellers to move up that Gallup list.


Andy Paul  37:19  

Yeah, well, and so, right. So several points is, is you’re my only caveat about decision science behavioral science is that and there’s there’s been this, this when they call it a crisis over the last five plus years and social sciences, they can’t reproduce the results of many of the studies that we bet so I think the famous one was, I think Amy Cuddy with power posing and so on. But even Columban, in terms of thinking faster, slowest published, what’s that retraction but close to because he had said, Hey, this is settled science, and then it’s like, yeah, okay, moving on. Or would you want the classic ones that we’ve learned and I think Cialdini talks about the research and influences that you know, people make decisions more to avoid a loss, then they get a gain. Then last year a new research at Northwestern said Nope, absolutely wrong. It’s completely opposite. So I think it’s valuable because it gives you perspectives as a seller. to that. And what I get troubled by is that people like you and me, because I’ve done it too, we start to present these things as, hey, this is what happens 100% of the time. And the fact is that it doesn’t we just, I think the key is we want people to Yeah, one of the one of the watchwords or sayings, I live my life by and have forever as you would from Thomas Huxley is a 19th century British writer saying that, you know, life Your goal should be to learn something about everything and everything about something and And this is this is what people do is it doesn’t matter, it’s 100%, right? Doesn’t matter. It’s just, it’s a perspective, it’s something to keep in mind because you, everyone’s a recipe. And the fact is, when you walk out the door as a salesperson, you’re gonna go talk to one of seven and a half billion people in the world and you could talk to all seven half billion, each conversation, each interaction be unique and different. And so if you’re armed with this, this perspective on maybe this is a person that’s investing more to avoid a loss than again, perfect, right? It doesn’t have to be true. 100% the time everyone’s a certainty. And that’s, that’s why I you know, rebel against the this idea that, you know, everything is true, it’s now just learn all these things because they give you ammunition to use when you’re in a situation and that you perhaps don’t know what to do, as opposed to saying I’m just gonna blunder through a thought process. And you know, you’ve talked about gardening earlier here. is a perfect example, though it’s not tied to decision science necessarily. But, you know, a year and a half ago, they came up with new research saying this is the buyer’s journey, and they call it their spaghetti diagram. You know, it’s not a linear stage based progression, like every sales process in the world is, it was a jumble. Right? And they weren’t; they looked at it for jobs that had to get done. But it wasn’t a linear process as there’s a lot of revision recurrence on tasks. And yet, you talk to every sales organization, the world they haven’t, I haven’t seen one. And I talked to hundreds of people a year on the show and so on, not a one who has changed their selling process to reflect what that buying process is. And there’s some behavioral stuff in there that they should be thinking about. And they are just unmindful of it.


Todd Caponi  40:49  

Yeah, it’s I think it comes down to empathy. But if sellers at least have empathy for the buyer, knowing the basics of how decision making gets made, But being able to when you talk about learning something about everything and everything about something, I just wrote that down because I love that line. Because it’s like, if I’m selling the marketers, I better be able to empathize with what the marketers challenges are and learn as much as I can about that, and then just optimize your selling approach for those things. I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s a big step forward that I don’t see a whole lot today. But, you know, to your point about selling processes, the one thing that I am starting to see that I love because it makes a difference is at least selling organizations are starting to forecast based on the recognition of where buyers are in their journey, instead of the What did the salesperson do less


Andy Paul  41:43  

of the weighted weighted average probability? Yes.


Todd Caponi  41:46  

Yeah, exactly. That’s like, I still see some forecasts where it’s like, Hey, we did discovery. There are 25% we did a proposal 75 or 70 75% of the proposal. And, like, you know, we did a demo. Oh, there it is. It’s got nothing to do with what the buyers but going on to the buyers brain and


Andy Paul  42:04  

well, but just logically though, and I’m sure you’ve thought about this is because yeah, I wrote about this in my, my second book is like, Okay, if you have four sellers, and they’re all using that same methodology and they all say we got a 75% probability of winning the deal if we submit a proposal and for sellers to submit proposals, you don’t have a 75% chance of winning.


Just FYI, in


case I hadn’t occurred to you, well, it’s like, yeah, the whole issue of another my bugaboos is our win rates and pipeline coverage, you know, SAS companies, and and I was presenting to a group of SAS CEOs and I thought of if you ever figured out that your, your win rate is the reciprocal of your pipeline coverage ratio. As like, Yeah, so those of you who want seven seven x coverage, you’re saying, I want a 12% win rate. Is that what you’re right Yeah. Okay, so let’s move on to enablement because I want to talk about what you have to say on that. And then also, I want to throw an idea at you because you worked in that space. But your hope for enablement was to see in 2020 organizations realize that sales enablement needs to x two, three x the investment most organizations are giving it. So tell us about that.


Todd Caponi  43:26  

Well, yeah, I think, you know, as a CRM, when I had, I built my team up to about 20. And I went to my CEO and said, Listen, I need enablement support. And, you know, my CEO looks at me and says, I thought that was your job he has exactly. So like, it starts with that, but it goes to it. You know, as you grow these organizations, being able to have somebody who’s solely focused as I’m making sure that they’re optimized, is hugely valuable. Now, when I would ask for that enablement resource, my CEO would look at me and Sarah is got X number of dollars, we’ve already done the salesperson productivity calculation that shows that we invest this much in a rep will get this much return. So let’s just keep doing that. And my argument back, especially in this era, where we now have this massive demand for sellers, with very short supply, is that the dollars that go into enablement are going to pay you back in a huge way. Because you can’t find the sellers in this, you know, this employment world right now that has the experience you’re looking for. So you’re going to have to hire them a level down, and then you’re going to have to enable them, right, you’re going to have to teach them you’re going to have to bring them up. Otherwise you’re going to be searching forever and spending three to five X on recruiting. And then the second piece that happens is as we grow our sales organizations, you look around for managers, they’re like, well, let’s promote from within, because we can’t find the managers that have the good experience. So we take a wrap, we promote them to a manager and the manager Alright, how do I do this? It’s just like, well just do what you do when you know our company, you know, our products, just lead your team. And they look around and they’re like, Alright, can I find a book or something? There’s very little training. Yeah. And then kind of the third level of that is then you’ve got a short, invested, enablement team that has only so much time and bandwidth. So what do they spend their time on? Well, they’re going to spend it on the five reps you hired, not the one internal person that you promoted to manager. So now you’ve got leaders that don’t have leadership ability. And then Gallup just came out with their study that showed that only 34% of employees are actually engaged at work. And, and 70% of that is attributed to their manager by leaders that aren’t trained. So a huge opportunity gap there. You invest in enablement, the return is massive versus just trying to find people that already know how to do this. Right.


Andy Paul  45:54  

Well, I’d say go a step above saying invest enabled invest in your people, right because that’s to me, that’s The message of Gallup is that people stay when they feel valued. They feel valued when you are investing in them. And so yeah, so I don’t know how much you follow what I write and talk about, but I’m a huge soccer fan, no surprise to most people listening to this, and

I always have a lot of lessons coming from soccer for sales. But one of the ones that’s really dawned on me is, when you look at how a professional soccer team organizes its staff, okay. Compared to what we do in sales, it’s just mind boggling. So here are two organizations, both focused on performance, right, and increasingly, both driven by data and metrics that they can capture. I mean, in and soccer players, you see them take their shirts off, it looks like they’re wearing a little bra. I mean, that’s an Activity Monitor real time that they’re tracking. So every step and so on. So if you look at how a soccer team is stressed, If you’ve got a manager, and then we’ll have oftentimes that multiple teams have a first team, which is the one you see on TV, they have a reserve team. They have different coaches. And then they’ll have a director of performance who focuses on skill development of a professional director performance. CEU focuses on mindset. And when you’re watching the show billions,


Todd Caponi  47:25  

yes, yeah.


Andy Paul  47:27  

Why doesn’t every sales organization have a Wendy role?


Todd Caponi  47:31  

I mean, yeah,


Andy Paul  47:32  

seriously, this we’re a business that so much of it, you know, talks about peak performance is mindset. It’s attitude, it’s confidence. And yet we do nothing. Absolutely nothing. And so yeah, and then this, these teams will have, you know, two or three deep data analytics departments, they have video departments now we’ve got conversational intelligence we can, but we put on the manager. To do that. We should have a whole team People that are focused on nothing but or if you’re a small organization, get one person that’s, you know, analyzing the calls and saying, look, this is what we do better. Instead, we’re just so focused, we use these tools to, again, in such a trite fashion. So, but the point being is, if you had a sales organization that was structured like that, right, those really focus we got this person just gonna help you on skill development. That’s all they do. They’re not training, skill development. And this one’s just my mindset. And so on and so forth. And yet, you couldn’t find any VP of sales that I’ve met that would sign up to say, yeah, I’m gonna make that investment. But he didn’t look to your point earlier about attrition rates and productivity rates, and so on will all be dramatically different if they did, yet. We’re still meant. My point is we manage sales like we did 100 plus years ago, exactly, hasn’t fundamentally changed and the resistance starts at the top.


Todd Caponi  48:54  

Yeah, well, yeah. And I’ll leave you with one last stat. There was a glint study that came out that looked at actually interviewed heads of HR and said, what percentage of your team is engaged? Right? Remember, Gallup said 34% in actual employees, HR leaders across the board on average said 70%. So there’s a massive disconnect in our self perception of what our own employees engage versus reality anyway, and I think it leads to a lot of that under investment.


Andy Paul  49:23  

Yeah. And I think it just be so different if if somebody came into work of sales and yeah, an email from your director of performance saying, Hey, you know, what, what deconstruct a couple of these calls we heard, you know, we’d son, you got your mindset person saying, look, yeah, based on what’s happening, maybe we should have a, you know, 20 minute talk about, you know, confidence building or something. Well, you don’t think people would be engaged to stick around? Of course they would because they would see their performance go up. That’s either earnings go up. Yeah, don’t get me started on productivity. But anyway. So lastly, yeah, your last hope. I couldn’t agree more with this is to see organizations come to the realization of the benefit of having sales floors where everything is open. No walls are dwarfed by the benefit of higher walls, offices or pods. Yeah,


Todd Caponi  50:15  

yeah, this is one that as I was researching for the book, I found a book that talked about the science essentially of what annoys us. And when it listed the things that very acutely annoy us. They all are present in a sales floor and, you know, making calls and selling, it’s a high anxiety role. And then you match that up with creating an environment that’s as annoying and anxiety ridden as possible. And we’re crushing the productivity of our sellers. I mean, a couple of things that jumped out about the study, it said, you know, our brains are impossible to shut out a sound or a conversation. That is a potentially relevant right, sales floor, every conversation potentially right then number two is that The End cannot be predicted. So you can’t predict when it’s going to end. And it could go on forever. So your brain just gets annoyed by that. When’s this over? Exactly. And then the third piece is that when you can only hear one side of the conversation, now you take those three things and say, all right, a rep on the phone that’s across from me, is making having a conversation that’s potentially relevant. I don’t know when it will end. And you know, that last piece around, you can only hear one side of the conversation. Our brains are trying to predict what the other person’s Yeah, absolutely. Right. And then you match up a fourth thing that annoys our brain. It’s the judgment, anxiety, meaning if I look around, and I see eyeballs, I think those people are listening to me. Right? And so whether they are or not, they probably aren’t, but our brains are wired for false positives, that right now you throw out four of those four, and we created an environment that we forget I talk to leaders and they look at me like I’m crazy. They’re like, Oh, no, we’ve got sound machines, A, B, and D. But the learning that happens from listening to each other is like the value of that. I’m like, Well, okay, maybe a little like, there’s a trade off. But


Andy Paul  52:16  

there’s just, there’s no story on the phone not listening to other people and learning.


Todd Caponi  52:20  

You’re literally crushing their emotional and subconscious spirit. Like when you watch HDTV, you’ll be used to everything being open for plans. Well, now you hear so much. There’s a show that’s about man caves, and she sheds. Why do you need a man cave? And she said, it’s because there was a purpose for those walls that men want their time by themselves. Women want the time with themselves, right? And you start seeing houses that have multiple living rooms now. And then you see environmentalists that are talking about this idea that heating and cooling a massive open room is bad for the environment. Yeah, we’re going to come to a point where maybe the wall starts coming back because we realize they were there. for a reason, and in a sales capacity, they optimized for the sales brain that I think will create better performance and better engagement from your sellers. If you think about doing


Andy Paul  53:10  

Yeah, well, Harvard came out to study I think in the last year that basically said, yeah, this open floor plan for all the reasons you decided is just yet right. So we should get rid of it. I mean, I started my first job. Four years and open office is a sales bullpen. Now the saving grace was so long ago, we only had one phone that I shared with the person sitting next to me, so I had to take turns so I actually got pretty good at shutting him out. But yeah, we’re also not inside sales either. We are out in the field, right, I suppose to be in the field from 830 to 430. Every day, I didn’t have quite the same issue. But yeah, I just go into companies and see that and, and I have to admit the clients I’ve worked with the ones that have partitions have, you know, half pods or something Half cubes, much better off, you know, people to all the reasons talked about us. I’m that way I wouldn’t I thought three or four people are listening to my call,


Todd Caponi  54:10  

I wouldn’t be happy about it, would you at least from a brain perspective would not be optimized on your call? Right?


Andy Paul  54:16  

And that’s why you can’t because you’re thinking what people are. These people are judging me to your point, right. So I can’t be I can’t be present for the client because I’m thinking these people are listening and judging me. It’s all


Todd Caponi  54:25  

my like, I was just at LinkedIn, Chicago headquarters last week, and they’ve got pods, these cool, beautiful pods all over the sales floor now, which are like, high end phone boots. Go in and take those calls. The reason those are popping up everywhere, is that these organizations are coming to the realization that the open floor plan does not work. But they’re trying to still maintain some semblance of creating an environment where you’re amongst family and you’re collaborating and all that too, and I’m cool with that. It’s just shopping.


Andy Paul  54:57  

Right? But that’s what cubicles are for right now. I’ve been like I’ve worked in sales in a cubicle environment. That was, that was fine. It was just good just so I could see the person made a huge difference. But I really paid attention. I could listen to John next door. But I had other things to do. I wasn’t worried about john. I think the Harvard study said that even this whole socialization aspect of not having the walls and open floor plan also doesn’t work either as a breeze and the other anxieties, and also, I spent so much time with you, I don’t want to socialize with you. I don’t want to go to lunch with you. Right, because I’m sitting next to you all the time as opposed to if you’re in cubicles, you see somebody we meet at the watercooler. Hey, let’s go to lunch, whatever.


Todd Caponi  55:37  

Yeah, well, it was funny at power reviews, The open floor plan or among our engineering staff. Every single engineer was listening to music while they were working anyway, so they weren’t each other. They weren’t talking to each other. They were in their business headphones on. So it’s kind of counter counterproductive anyway to have the open environment because it’s not giving you the results you want.


Andy Paul  55:59  

Yeah, that’s Absolutely. All right. Well, Todd, this has been fantastic. And I hope the audience has enjoyed it as well. This is a little longer than usual. But hey, good talk. So tell people how they can contact you and find out more about you and your book.


Todd Caponi  56:13  

Yeah. So the book is called the transparency sale available wherever you buy books, but you can find me, I encourage you to follow me on LinkedIn, I share a lot of my nonsense there. And you can check out transparency sales, calm for more info, a blog, and all kinds of other craziness that will hopefully help you in your sales pursuits.


Andy Paul  56:32  

Excellent. Well, good. Well, Tom, it’s been a real pleasure. And we’ll make sure we do this again.


Todd Caponi  56:36  

I’d love that to be a blast. Thank you. Talk to you soon.


Andy Paul  56:46  

Okay, friends, that was accelerated for the week. First of all, as always, I want to thank you for joining me so very grateful for you listening to us. And I want to thank my guest, Todd component. Join me again next week as my guest will be Patrick Morrissey. Pat’s, the Senior Vice President and gm of upland software’s optimize CRM solution suites, we’re gonna talk about that the acquisition was identified by upland. And we’ll also be talking about getting into the details about this emerging field of customer revenue optimization in the world of complex b2b selling. You’ll definitely want to check this out. Be sure to join me next week for that conversation. Now before you go Don’t forget to visit Andy Paul bi comm there you get my copy, or get your copy, excuse me for my sales growth planner for 2020. Now the sales book player walks you through a step by step process to write an incredibly effective sales plan that will help you hit your targets.