Research-scientist turned sales trainer David Priemer stops by to talk about his new book, Sell the Way You Buy: A Modern Approach To Sales That Actually Works (Even On You!).
Listen and learn why sellers find themselves executing tactics they sense are outdated, ineffective, and inconsistent with their personal philosophy.
Andy Paul: Welcome to the show.
David Priemer: Thanks, Andy. Pleasure to be here.
Andy Paul: Pleasure happy you’re joining us from where today?
David Priemer: From beautiful Toronto, Canada. You’ll, you’ll be able to tell by my accent, I say process and project and stuff, so I will give it away.
Andy Paul: Well that’s okay. So how are things in Toronto? You guys like all shut down? Like we are here or.
David Priemer: Oh yeah. We’re all living our best lives in isolation here, for sure. No, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s quiet. It’s nice. You know, it’s funny the way I’ve kind of been describing it to people. Is when my first child was born, she was born at like six o’clock in the evening. And then I remember it was, you know, I was staying in the hospital with my wife and it was like two o’clock in the morning, like that same day.
And she starts crying and I thought to myself, is this how it’s going to be from now on? Is she going to wake up and cry? Like, this is how it’s going to be. And I feel like we all kind of went through that a few weeks ago when you know, everyone’s locked down and were like, Oh, this is the way it’s going to be.
And now I actually feel people are getting used to it a little bit. What do you, what are you finding.
Andy Paul: It’s very quiet here in New York city,
Second home. Um, cause we were in the process of moving from New York to San Diego and this has to be the place to come back and stay when we visited and said we’re locked up in it and uh, yeah. Yeah. Tighten it tight quarters. This is the same. My wife was a professor. Associate Dean that Emily school of medicine is, is holding meetings and teaching classes from, from our bathroom
David Priemer: Oh
Andy Paul: while I’m, while I’m recording.
Cause my, my studio is out in the main part of the apartment. So yeah, she’s having, she’s being a very good sport about the whole thing.
David Priemer: Well, you know what I think that this, you know, and this’ll be interesting to see kind of obviously how it plays out over time and all the lessons that we’ve learned as a society. But at least the nice thing is, you know, as I’ve been kind of continuing on my business and doing zoom meetings and the whole whole bit, and you see, you know, people that have like kids draped all over them and it, cats are on their head and you know, they’re in bed.
Cause they actually only have a studio apartment that don’t have a couch. Like it’s actually quite humanizing. I feel all of these. These great stories. So that’s, I don’t know, maybe a bright spot that’s coming out of it.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Well, we do. We joke cause we do have what we call the gym, which is where a Peloton is located. you know, it’s like we serve, make believe and fantasize that we’re actually. Back at our place in San Diego, which is substantially larger in his rooms. You can walk into it. So someday, someday we’ll get there.
David Priemer: Okay. All good.
Andy Paul: Yeah. This too shall pass as was said. So, uh, so tell us a little bit about you. So how’d you get your start in sales. So it was your first job in sales.
David Priemer: yeah. So, you know, I like to say I’m kind of like the Bob Ross of sales, like most of us, like I’m a happy accident and got into sales, you know, not on purpose, like, like everyone does. And I started my career as a research scientist and gone into firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Paul: Wait, wait, hang on. Hang on, hang on. Hang on.
David Priemer: Everything. Okay.
Andy Paul: Yeah.
And I hadn’t touched hadn’t touched anything. Um, it was like, okay. That was interesting. All right. So we’ll go back and I’ll ask you the question about your first job in sales again,
David Priemer: Okay. Yeah, sure.
Andy Paul: that was
David Priemer: Those proverbial cats jumping in your head.
Andy Paul: Well, yeah, it was like, okay, well, who is walking across my keyboard? Cause it wasn’t me. Um, alright.
So tell us a little bit about you, David. So, um, what was your first job in sales?
David Priemer: Yeah. I mean, you know, like most people who ended up in sales, I had never intended to end up in this great profession. Uh, I ended up here by accident, like everyone else. So I actually, I actually started my career as a research scientist. And I got into email@example.com boom. So kind of 1999, 2000.
When you know, you know, everything was just exploding. And I joined a little startup here in Toronto. There were 20 people at the time as a sales engineer and a shout out to all the great sales engineers out there, listening, we all know, we all know who closes these deals at the end of the day getaway. That’s all right. And so I started as a sales engineer at a small company, which basically meant like we did everything, you know, we did the demos and the custom config. And I had been a coder in my, in my, uh, research scientists days, building computer models. So, you know, it was kind of normal for me to do coding and that kind of stuff, but absolutely kind of fell in love with sales because.
To me, sales turned out to be a bit of like an engineering problem. Not that it’s all science by any stretch. I mean, there’s certainly a huge human element, but there was, you know, kind of winning and losing. And when I said it like this way, the customer understood it when I feel like that way, like it went over their head.
So that’s kind of how I, I got my start in sales and we, we actually grew that company, uh, from 20 people to 700 people. And it turned out to be a hundred million dollar business and we IPO and got acquired several years later and I just, just got absolutely hooked.
Andy Paul: What was the name of that company?
David Priemer: Company was called Workbrain based in Toronto.
It was a enterprise workforce management software company. So we did basically scheduling time tracking payroll calculations for very big companies, retailers, banks, airlines, that kind of stuff.
Andy Paul: So, if you had to say, okay, there was one person that really was sort of responsible for teaching me how to sell, who was that big influence on you?
David Priemer: Uh, you know what I’d say, one of the, like let’s say the, the biggest and consistent influences in my sales career was actually the fellow who brought me in to work brain in the first place, a fellow by the name of David Stein, who I’m still good friends with today. Um, he was one of the co founders of the company, um, scarcely a little bit older than, than I was at the time, you know, a 25 year old kind of kid being, being shoved in there.
And, uh, and yeah, I mean, he was one of these, what you call kind of like natural sellers, just, you know, high conviction, super smart. Um, he was actually the, um, turned out to be then the CEO, the third startup that I was a part of when I joined, there was just five of us and we ended up being acquired by Salesforce.
We worked at Salesforce together and so he continues to be a good friend and mentor.
Andy Paul: We have had the successful career before starting your own thing, worked for Salesforce for a long time. Um, what’s your sales, a superpower.
David Priemer: So my sales superpower is what I refer to as synthesis and not being prepared for this question, but it’s, it’s actually a question I would often ask candidates when I would hire them, say like, what’s your super power? Like, what’s the thing that you’re just really good at compared to everyone else or, or put another way.
The thing that when we look back months from now, and you’re a, an amazing using success in the sales profession, we’re going to say to ourselves, of course, you know, of course Andy was going to be great at sales. He told us this was a super power. So my superpower, I refer to as synthesis, which is. The ability to, um, kind of take complex topics and kind of boil them down with, you know, examples and make them very relatable.
Um, and that’s what I had to do of course, as a research scientist and then a sales engineer, and, you know, even today, you know, a lot of the research they do and the things they teach come from just, you know, often yeah. Times like scientific research, but also life examples that you apply to, to sell it because sales is, is all around us.
So that’s, that’s the super power it’s called synthesis.
Andy Paul: No. I like that.
When people ask me that question, but slightly different, which is the ability to. Synthesize a number of different inputs from the customer and come up with a solution that was unanticipated.
David Priemer: That’s true. You know, being able to, you know, to your point, like to listen and, and it’s almost like not even just the solution, it’s the problem. You know, sometimes people come to us and they’re not even really clear what the problem is. And we help just like, think about it like a good doctor, like who asks you, is the pain more of like a shooting pain or a dull pain?
And you’re like, well, actually now that you mentioned it right, but you wouldn’t have come up with that synthesis all on your own.
Andy Paul: So we’re going to talk about your book, just published a modern approach to sales. Most of what you might read about sales or people advocate as a way to sell actually doesn’t work. Cause I read that correctly.
David Priemer: You know, you could, you could certainly interpret it that way. Yes. You know, it’s, it’s interesting.
Andy Paul: and say that. Yeah.
David Priemer: Yeah, no, I mean, look, it’s, it’s not that everything that we do in sales is categorically ineffective. Um, however, there are tactics, which let’s say salespeople have been taught over the years, which have now been scientifically proven to be ineffective.
I’m in a sales context. So, you know, for example, um, you know, often referred to, as let’s say, closing tactics, right? So imagine you’re talking to a customer and, you know, as a sales person, you’re trying to kind of, you know, um, uh, you know, kind of close off all the angles, right? Like you want to kind of box your customer into the sale cause you don’t want them to kind of wiggle out.
And so you’re having this conversation and you say, you know, Andy, you know, do you think there’s any reason why you don’t think we could get a deal done today? And these are called closing tactics and we taught people how to do this. Right. You know, like, well, is there any reasonable,
Andy Paul: tense. They’re still being taught.
David Priemer: Oh, this is the problem.
And you’re absolutely right. We, and the reason is it’s funny. Like the way I actually describe, like why this is such a province, it’s literally the on page. One of the book, the first chapter is called the Cobra, Kai paradox. And for those listeners who are
Andy Paul: karate chronic
David Priemer: Karate kid reference. Right. And the idea behind sales is that we don’t teach sales in school.
There are actually, you know, I think I referenced, you know, over 4,000 postsecondary, you know, institutions in the U S and. Only about a hundred, 150 200 or so have anything to do with teaching sales. The way we learn sales is just by kind of the, the sensei, like the people who taught us. Right. And then they learn it from the people who taught them.
So this is this great profession. That’s, you know, the, the lore and the tactics have been passed down. But a lot of times these things get passed down from. From time to time without due consideration for how people actually buy and how that’s changed and whether those, whether there’s new evidence to support the task, the fact that those tactics do or do not work.
And so that’s kind of how we end up. If I can say, like in a bit of a mess, you say people still execute those tactics, but to your question about, you know, which tactics no longer work, that’s an example like these closing tactics, when you. Forced people, do they ever work well? You know, whether they, whether they worked or not, like people did them and people still teach them.
Right. And so,
Andy Paul: but I think that’s one of the things, especially about sales. This.
Law of supply and demand, but it’s just broken and sales. And I sort of phrase it this way is that buyers have a high, high demand for a trusted advisors. We’ll put it right. They’ve got a low demand for people to be what I call salesy. Yeah, to your point about the soul shop, worn closing techniques, sellers high supply of sales minus a low supply of being trusted advisors. And you would’ve thought that given the high demand on the part of the buyers for trusted advisors, that the sales Venus would have disappeared over time, but it’s been amazing with persistent and stuff. Like why has that been the case? I mean, there’s. A, buyer’s not saying, please, you know, Andy love your product, but you’re just not sales enough.
Could you be more salesy?
David Priemer: I need you to shoe horn me into this solution and going to box me in with your clever negotiation tactics.
Andy Paul: Well, to that point, I remember my very first sales training class decades ago, watching this videos of this guy named Lee boy. Um, and so I was working for at that time for company called Burroughs second largest computer company in the world at the time. And, and we, you know, in a training center and watching these videos and his they’re talking about handling objections.
And do the whole way you’re supposed to handle the objection was to say, well, we’ll just suppose that wasn’t a problem for you, mr. Prospect, right? So you could say, look, I sell cars. I only sell them in blue. And the prospect says, well, that’s, I love the car, but I’m only gonna buy a red car. You’re handling the saying, well, just opposing, we made one in red.
Would you buy it from us? And the guy said, well, sure. Well, I can’t make an red by consolidating blue. You already said you like it.
David Priemer: Yeah. Well, you know, that’s actually when used properly, that’s a, can be a very powerful, in fact, you know, I, I refer to that tactic in my book, in the objection, handling chapter as turning the future into the past, which is the term we used to use a lot, my third startup. But this idea of like, oftentimes when you hear an objection, you’re always wondering as a salesperson, like what’s on the other side of that.
Okay. Let’s say to your point, let’s say we overcame that. What’s on the other side. Now, the way you’ve kind of described it, if I can call it a more nefarious way is like being able to Bach someone into a decision versus being able to use it as an exploratory tactic. Because sometimes when customer says like it’s too expensive and you say, well, fair enough.
Like, well, what if it was free? Right. You know, like let’s overcome that objection. Like I’m not, it’s not free, but like what, for example, what if it was, you’re not actually trying to box them in because making it free or having the current read is not something you can do. But what you’re trying to do is figure out, okay, like what else is there?
Is, is that the only issue or is that issue masking a bigger issue? And you’re telling me it’s too expensive because there’s actually something bigger at play that we need to address first. So I actually do think it can be a very appropriate discovery tactic for objection, handling.
Andy Paul: yeah, but that’s the whole point is that right? You’re only with try and do when you, when you’re doing, it’s not the box people in, but to say there’s a question behind this objection, right? For me, objections are just questions. Somebody is asking for more information and about something, right. And your job is yeah.
You have discover what that question is that, that you need to answer.
David Priemer: Absolutely. I call that the intent, like I give the analogy, I call it the objection, handling iceberg. You know, what people say is just, just the tip, you know? So, for example, if I said let’s do expensive, like think about all the different permutations of too expensive, you can come up with like, what does that even mean?
Right. And so like, it’s like the example I give is, let’s say I invite you out on a date and you say, you know, Oh, you know what, David, I’m busy Saturday. Well, how do I know? What do you ever want to go out with me? Or are you just going to keep coming up with excuses or do you have a logistical issue with, you know, that you’re busy that day, but another day might work, you know?
So I have to keep asking it’s a, it’s a discussion, right? It’s not a, not an interrogation. It’s not a one hit crush, but that’s, that’s what sales is
Andy Paul: Yeah, it’s something to be handled. It’s something to be discovered. As you
David Priemer: for sure.
Andy Paul: early in the book, you wrote this idea that we will find themselves. In this dilemma, they’re executing, executing tactics. I sense are outdated, ineffective, and inconsistent with their personal philosophy. And it seems like increasingly in sales, it’s hard to find room for people’s personal philosophies.
David Priemer: Well, you know, so when you say you’re hard to find room, are you, are you saying like, people kind of are very clear on what their personal philosophy is, but they’re at the center.
Andy Paul: Or.
David Priemer: I think, you know, so I agree that, you know, organizations are trying to put together, you know, these sales processes and playbooks to be able to ramp it onboard reps effectively, especially young. You know, sales reps who again, receive no formal training in sales. And so they’re just looking at the organization, but I think a lot of it has to do with, you know, what I talk about is execution.
Like I can give you a tactic, uh, and teach it to you and write it down on a playbook, but the way you execute that tactic, like the tone, right? Uh, the kind of the pacing of your words has a huge impact on how. The customer will perceive it. And so, you know, I think when we think about like, what is our own personal philosophy, that’s kind of where the two intersect.
So if I were giving an example, you know, a tactic that we often would use, especially at Salesforce was reversed psychology tactics. If I can call it that, I talk about this in the book as well. So let’s say the customer says, you know, Hey, look, we, Salesforce really love your product, but you know, Microsoft is half the price.
Like you’re, you’re double the price of Microsoft. So we would train our sales reps to, to challenge the customer and, and, and basically kind of uncover the reasons why they may or may not decide to go with Microsoft. And so the words, um, why don’t you go with Microsoft can be said in all sorts of different ways in tones, right.
That may or may not align with your philosophy. So for example, if you’re, if you’re like, uh, if you’re trying to challenge the customer directly, you might say. Well, why don’t you just go by Microsoft then, right. In a very like way. Right. Versus if you do it more in like a, an inquisitive way, like, Ooh, I’m curious, you know, Microsoft is a good company.
If I’m you like maybe, maybe I should go that route. Like why, why might you not go with Microsoft? Right. And so the question is, you know, do people feel that they have the Liberty to kind of enact their own kind of personality and tone through their tactics? Or are they being told that they, or they feel they’re being told to execute those tactics in a certain way?
It’s kind of like the karate kid, like sweep the leg, just sweep the leg, you know, maybe there’s a better way.
Andy Paul: So looking at the research and studies that come out about this as well. Dictated to them.
David Priemer: Well, you know, so if what you’re saying is true, which, you know, very well could be that, you know, Hey look, there are some organizations and that hasn’t been my experience where, you know, it’s, it’s kind of very directive in terms of how people should behave. But if that’s the case, then what it means is that yes, there’s a ton.
Yeah. People out there that are going and executing tactics in the back of their mind, they’re thinking to themselves like this is not me. Like, this is not how I would behave in normal everyday life. Had I been not, you know, sitting in my sales seat and it’s almost like they’re kind of whipping out their sales badge, like their FBI.
Excuse me, sir. I’m not, I’m in sales. I’m just going to treat you like a jerk for the next half hour, but it’s okay. I’m in sales, like being in sales does not give you the right to treat people poorly. Um, and, and to be honest, when you start behaving in a way that is inconsistent with how you are as a person, it creates a big ego strain that actually hinders your ability to be successful in selling.
Andy Paul: Yeah, well, let’s pursue that little bit further because you know, there’s research showing the male sales performance sales is falling in general and B2B sales are less than seven years, I think now. And granted someone. Yeah, it’s not a rigorous scientific study, but you know, it’s a survey of a broad number of companies and the other data points. And yet at the same time when we’ve had a certain grade influx of technology into sales is how do we what’s going on? I mean, what, what if not, but people aren’t being encouraged or developed to be their best sales selves. Uh what’s what’s happening. What’s accounting for them.
David Priemer: So like why is sales getting harder?
Andy Paul: Harder, but we’re seeing as the data saying that we’re performing less well.
David Priemer: Yeah. Well, I mean, some of it, there’s a, there are a few factors. I mean, the average. Tenure and age of a sales rep is decreasing, right? So people are staying in their roles for less time. Um, there they’re much younger, especially in, you know, kind of the, the, and this is more like a tactical, you know, for those listening kind of like a tactical hiring thing that in the, in the key markets, like the, let’s say the New York Chicago’s San Francisco, you know, Atlanta is like these big markets.
Um, you know, it’s getting more expensive to hire salespeople and you’re actually getting. Less for more, you’re paying more money for a younger sales person, which is why you see actually a lot of people hiring and in some of these secondary markets, but in addition to kind of the age and tenure decreasing, I mean, that’s just on the sales side, on the buying side, things have changed quite dramatically.
So there are like a million different, yeah. Know, exaggerate, but like for example, A million, like there’s so many different solutions out there, like the barrier to create a solution for someone to buy or a product. And this is great for entrepreneurs has never been lower. It’s so easy to come up with a solution.
And so if you, for example, and I, I, we, you know, this is, these are well quoted stats, but I talk about it in the book. If you’re looking for like a marketing technology platform in 2011, there were 150 vendors. And in 2019, there were over 7,000. And while you are one of those vendors and you might think you’re this unique, delicate, snowflake to your customers, you just all sound the same.
You all sound the same, right? For everything that we do, I train salespeople, you run a podcast, there’s a million people that do what we do. And that actually very hard for people to understand the nuance, especially when everyone kind of says the same thing. So we ended up kind of falling into the sea of sameness, which makes it even harder.
For the salesperson to kind of, you know, breach the defenses of, so you’re taking a younger, less experienced salesperson to breach the defenses of customer that is more, peer-driven more skeptical, harder to reach than ever before in a sea of a million solutions. That’s why you’re seeing what you’re seeing.
Andy Paul: What do you mean when they’re younger? I mean,
David Priemer: It’s true. You know, there’s a concept I talk about in the book and talk about a lot called experience asymmetry, and this is kind of where it came out of most salespeople. Oh, you know, I know there are exceptions, but let’s just, I’m going to make a blanket statement here. Most salespeople have never done the job of the person that they’re calling on.
Is that. Always been true, right? So on people whose job we’ve never done at the same time sales people we’re told to call hi, rightly call hot called the CEO, called the VP called the Cielo. We’re told to call. Hi. So we have all these like younger. I’m not saying everyone’s young, but let’s just own the whole, like we’re younger, less experienced sales reps calling on more senior level decision makers whose job we’ve never done.
And how this manifested for you. I mean, I would see this a lot, like one of the great things about working at Salesforce and I was a COO, my company was acquired by Salesforce. That’s how I ended up working there, but I had a five year career there. That was, was amazing. The team was, was great. Um, the environment was great.
And one of the things I really enjoy, it was just the availability of data. Like you’re able to see data at scale that you can’t see at a smaller company. And I used to manage teams out of a bunch of cities, including New York. Yeah. Where you are. And the thing I loved about my teens in New York and shadow, tell me New York sales reps.
If you’re listening, it’s just the hustle. Right. Like the whole, the whole pace at which they work is amazing. Um, and they make lots of calls, lots of emails and lots of activity, but sometimes you would get reps that would have actually quite a lot of activity and very little pipeline. So I would start to listen to them.
I’m like, I don’t know what the, you know, are you call, do you have enough people to call? They say, have you got enough people to call and are you making enough calls or make enough calls? They’re calling at the right time of day. So I’m like, okay, I just got to listen to your calls now. Like I got, let’s hear the recordings and see what I hear.
And what I would hear is in the voices of these younger sales reps is fear. Like it sounds if I were to close my eyes and just listen to the recordings of the sales reps, it would S I would close my eyes and I would say, it’s, it sounds to me like you’re bothering them. Like, that’s what it feels like. It feels like you’re afraid that you’re not adding enough value.
So you’re like you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re you’re, you know, you’re you’re um, what’s the word I’m looking for? You’re tentative, right? Like you’re, you’re not coming off with the conviction you need, because you’re thinking like your head, who is the senior person and why would they listen to me? You know what, that’s exactly what they’re thinking.
Who is this kid and what are they going to teach me about running my business? And so like that, that conviction and that experience asymmetry. Is it, uh, you know, is a huge factor, right? In our ability to convert customers. And it’s actually, it’s one of the challenges I had early in my career as a sales engineer.
It’s 25 going into these boardrooms of like United airlines and Citibank and so on. So why would they listen to me?
Andy Paul: Well, you’re talking about being promoted into more responsible, more responsible positions in previous eras.
David Priemer: Well, so what I’m saying is, as a younger seller, like you don’t have the, like the, the experience in the chair to know what the person you’re calling on cares about and does every day.
Andy Paul: 10 20, 30 years ago.
David Priemer: It’s it’s similar. I mean, the average age of the sales reps is decreasing and the tenure is decreasing. So for example, if I was 25 years old or 30 years old, let’s say, but I had been working at the same company for several years and, and understood their products and services and customer landscape, very intimately.
I been, I been totally fine shape, but if I’m moving jobs every 18 months, And not building up enough tenure. And there’s actually some really interesting research that shows that, you know, the, the difference between spending let’s say 18 months versus 24 months at a company is, you know, it can be quite big in terms of your ability to convert customers and B be successful.
So I think. You’re right. Well, the average age is getting younger. That hasn’t changed, but also on the buying side. And I’m not saying executives are getting older, bite is getting bigger, but you know, again, yeah. And in a sea of similar sounding solutions and a million different, you know, uh, options out there, the ability to kind of ignore sales reps is almost a required defense mechanism for many customers.
They need to do that to survive. And I think that’s one of the things that’s changed a lot.
Andy Paul: Wonder whether the problem is. I don’t say different, but I mean, there’s a, there’s a component to it, which, which I think doesn’t get spoken enough about. And you, you address it somewhat when they were talking about, you know, just, uh, yeah. I’ve never been in that seat. That seems to be almost completely absent from the way that we educate sellers, because, you know, to your point early on very little education, uh, at the post site at the secondary level, right?
So basically we’re teaching people on the job. Is, we don’t teach them about business. So the ability to even, you know, have an understanding of what the CEO is doing is, well, if they’re not sitting there reading it on their own, it doesn’t exist.
David Priemer: There’s definitely a component of not understanding the business. You know what? I actually kind of go a little too a little bit to the side of that, where I talk about this concept of value, because this idea of like value and ROI, like what’s the value to the business. It’s like, okay, if I’m talking to a CEO, what does the CEO care about?
And we think, Oh, it’s, you know, stock price and shareholder value and employee satisfaction, all these kinds of things. And, and some of these things might have ROI to them. Hopefully a lot of them do. And as salespeople we’re told, sell value, sell value service, which really what our leaders are telling me, sell the business value.
You spend money with my company. You will either make. This much money, or you will save this much money. That’s the value. But the reality is people make decisions in our lives for all sorts of reasons. And most of them almost all have to do with feelings, not necessarily business ROI. And so the question of like selling value has to do with the discretionary feeling that the, your buyer has towards your product or service, which may or may not have anything to do with.
ROI. And so, you know, to get into the heads of these CEOs and leaders, whoever you’re selling into it’s important, understand that there’s a huge difference between the business impact that whatever you’re selling can have and the, and the kind of discretionary feeling that it imparts. Cause that’s what they were buying.
Andy Paul: When you left.
David Priemer: Well, sir, like if you, you, you might love my product, but if you hate dealing with me, I ain’t getting a sale. Right. And on the flip side, you might actually, and this, you see this a lot, right? And especially in the startup world where, you know, your product doesn’t work, you know, surprise, surprise exactly how the customer hoped it would shocking, but you know what they believe in you, they believe in your company, they believe in your mission.
And so they’re going to give you a second chance. Right. Sometimes I’ll even ask, you know, and I actually, I believe we’re all in sales, so I actually work a lot of certainly salespeople, but a lot of customer success and account managers and people that are responsible for renewals. And I say to them, has anyone here ever saved the deal, saved the churn customer from churning for the sole reason that it just came down to them?
The customer didn’t didn’t didn’t cancel their subscription because I was so good and made them feel so good about, you know, doing business with us again and hands go up. Right. Despite the kind of the business value people are still buying into the kind of that, that personal belief do I think the customers were right to buy into the people?
Andy Paul: Yeah, they stayed because of me.
David Priemer: Yes, I do. Yeah. I mean, Yeah, I appreciate you challenging me on that. No, look, there’s lots of times, you know, and you see this all over the place. Like how can and I saw this actually quite a lot at Salesforce where you would have a territory that had been statistically and historically under-serviced like, why can we not crack Raleigh North Carolina?
I don’t understand like, what’s going on in Raleigh, North Carolina. And there’s been no rep that’s been able to be successful there. And then what happens is the chosen one comes like, you know, like the Neo, the chosen one comes along and all of a sudden they have success in Raleigh, North Carolina. And that’s like, well, how did you do that?
Right. And a lot of times it was just different tactics, different personality, different tone approach, you know, some people, um, you know, some people just have it. It does oftentimes come down to like that person.
Andy Paul: Wrote about this specifically in the book, because his quote, as you say, what is truly amazing when it comes to converting prospects and the customers, even the smallest and seemingly insignificant parts of our sales motion can inspire that sense of conviction and safety. And yeah, I call that the 1% difference is you only have to be 1% better in some dimension and assign a really clear what that dimension is.
Uh, you know, there’s a study published, I don’t know, six, seven years ago in the Harvard business review with two professors talking about this called tie-breaking selling, is that when you have sort of virtually identical products or perhaps even a commodity market, that it’s actually, it’s, non-monetary factors that spell the difference.
And that could start with the sales person.
David Priemer: Absolutely. It does. No, absolutely. It does mean to your point that you know, all the products to our customers kind of sound the same. And I often actually talk about sales as like we’re the audition. For the company, like what, you know, if I can use the phrase tip of the sphere first experience, you know, and in fact, I had this discussion with a sales person.
I was looking to get some catering for a sales training event that was running. And so I spoke to the caterer and they said, I sent them an email and they said, no problem, David, I’ll get you a quote, like in a day. And then a week later, I get this note saying, Oh, sorry, David, I’m really sorry through the cracks, but no, no, no.
I’ll get you to get you a quote in the next hour, they got me a quote and it was complete, not what I’d asked for. And I said, sorry, this is not what I asked for. And they’re like, Oh, sorry, sorry, David. Our bad, we sent you the wrong quote. And I’m like, well, it wasn’t the wrong quote. It had my name on it.
And it only information. And so I, you know, I kind of just, you know, person up, I said, look, you know, this is like an audition. Like you’re trying to provide catering services in hospitality. We’re presentation. It’s not the food, the food probably fine. It’s you know, how do you serve the coffee and tea? It’s the presentation is everything.
And if this is the audition that I’m getting, I don’t have a lot of confidence. This is what I’m going to get the, the, that I’m after. So yeah, we are absolutely there. Ruby audition.
Andy Paul: So a couple other points I want to cover where we still have some, some time to talk is is, is one. Yeah. First of all book, very well done book, a very smart, um, definitely recommend people read it is, is you talk about, um, cause I did of making best guests decisions based on limited amount of information. it’s not always the case. I mean, that’s almost always gonna be the case when people make decisions as they make them on, you know, there’s, they’re assuming certain amount of risk. In their calculation, but they can never completely know what they’re going to get.
David Priemer: Absolutely like, you know, people oftentimes think about too to go back to our discussion on ROI, right? And so people say, no, not well. And B to B sales and, you know, highly involved. Cool sales. Like we have to put a business case together and we gotta, you know, it has to be rigorous and all these kinds of things.
And that may be true. But when you comes down to like a business case, the real question is, is the person that you’re presenting this business case to do they believe it? Do they believe all of the assumptions that you’ve put in? Do they believe that your organization has the capability to deliver on the solution?
That’s going to net out the assumptions that you put in the business case at the end of the day. It comes down to, I wouldn’t say, I guess, but like it’s a belief. It comes down to a feeling either you believe that that company can deliver or you don’t, and it’s not just about the product it might be, you know, in, you know, for example, even like case studies, you know, people ask about Keno case studies and references, you know, customer says, can I speak to a reference?
Well, I’m not going to put someone in front of you. That’s going to say bad thing. I’m going to go, I’m going to get a good. Well, that’s a, this is the thing. We always had a joke that, you know, that the request for a reference isn’t so much that they want to know what the reference says. It’s just that if you can produce one at all, right.
So the, someone was asking me the other day and they said, you know, what kind of case studies and so on are, you know, are important to have in your website. And like, you know what the idea is like when I go to a client section of a website, And I see that there’s people saying nice things. It’s almost like a check box.
It’s like, all right, good. They got, they have clients that are happy with their solution. Right. And it comes down to a feeling. Now whether I believe those clients are actually happy, you know, becomes well, I will. I be like them. You know, it’s an educated guess. And even interpersonal lives, if I want to go on vacation and I go on TripAdvisor and I look at the, the resort in Jamaica that I want to go to, and I see we’ll have Betty in Des Moines, Iowa.
Give this place a five and a five, but I’m a Canadian guy with three kids and Betty as a retired librarian, you know, I, I, now I gotta take my best guess, you know, like, and, and we do this all the time. This is the kind of the heuristic that we apply when we make our decisions.
Andy Paul: Well, yeah, but you also, you talk about this, this various areas of belief, but really the fundamentally boil down to do they believe in you because you’re the one representing the company and what the product does and what it can accomplish. And you presented the references and so on is, is, yeah, I think the two.
Or too infrequently is sellers. Aren’t conscious of the fact that, yeah, the question they really need to answer is why you right now? Why, why you David, when somebody, when you’re selling to somebody, that’s why should I believe you? Why should I trust you? And you don’t have to do a point you make in your book about sellers.
Just don’t stop to think about what they’re doing is you got to stop and think about this is where it all starts.
David Priemer: Absolutely. You know, why, you know, it comes down to like a feeling and that feeling I often describe as, you know, conviction or passion, you know, it’s, you know, sometimes I’ll ask people, I say, can you tell that I love what I do? And that’s, I’m not fishing for compliments, but can you just tell. And they’ll say yes.
And I said, well, how do you know? And they say, well, no, you seem like, you know, a lot about stuff. And you know, you seem very passionate and you quote stuff and it seemed very read a lot. And like, that’s true. Right? But like, you’re not fact checking anything I’m saying, right. It’s just, it’s a feeling you’re getting from you.
And that feeling is very contagious. The trick is how do you actually manifest it a lot of times if too, to go back to kind of what you mentioned at the beginning. And he is that, you know, when we kind of, we train people and we tell them what to do. They haven’t found their own conviction. They’re trying to manifest the conviction that their manager just told them to do.
And when they do that, it comes off as inauthentic. And anyone who’s taken a, uh, prospecting call from a telemarketer who was reading from a script, knows what that feels like. You know, I, I often ask people, I say, how long does it take you when someone to telemarketer calls you as reading from a script?
How long does it take you to tell that’s what they’re doing?
Andy Paul: Yeah.
David Priemer: Instantly. And I even give the example of, of my kids. So my, I have, so my three kids right now are 14, 11, and seven years old. And so I say to people with kids, I say, you know, when your kids come to you and they’re about to hit you up for something, you know, like they want permission to download an app or they want to lift somewhere.
So can you tell, like, even before they say anything, they’re like, yes, I can. Like, just by the way they approach you. Right. And so I believe people are very perceptive as it read, especially as it relates to salespeople. Right. Inauthenticity. But to your point, it’s the authenticity passionate. It’s the conviction, which oftentimes leads to the feeling, things of belief in the seller and the organization, and ultimately is what converts them.
Andy Paul: Very deliberate. And I think if every step along the way, you know, I sort of rebel against this idea. So I had written once about know sellers being unconsciously competent. And it’s like, yeah, I understand where you’re saying that, but I want people to be in the moment all the time for me, people I’ve worked with that.
I’ve seen that I’ve coached someone that have been hugely successful in sales. It’s not that they’re unconscious competent. They’re consciously competent.
David Priemer: Absolutely. You know, I, and I refer to that in the book is on unconscious versus conscious sellers. Right. And just because your unconscious, by the way, about what you’re doing, doesn’t mean you’re bad. In fact, there’s a lot of unconsciously, good sellers out there. And I say, sellers, you know, you could be a personal trainer or a hairstylist, and you’re just good at what you do with lots of conviction.
And you don’t know why you’ve just always been that way. But my point of view is that if you don’t know why you’re so good, Then it means that you can be missing a huge opportunity to be even better. And if you’re a, and if you’re bad and you don’t know why you’re so bad, or you’re not successful, it’s even worse because not only are you not going to be successful in your sales role.
And I say, quote, unquote, sales role. Cause we’re all in sales, but you’re just going to ruin it for everyone else. Right. So they, when, when you tell someone you’re in sales, they’re not going to want to talk to anyone. That’s actually, that’s part of my dream, Mandy, is that in the future? When you tell someone you’re an emergency room doctor, especially now, they’re like, Oh my God, thank you so much.
That’s amazing. When you tell someone you’re in sales and now you’re the enemy for most people, right? For most people, not, not for those of us in sales, who, who try to do it the best and right way. But you know, just on the whole, when you use I’m going back to my Dan pink to sell is human use the word sales or selling an 80% of people have a visceral negative reaction to those words.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Even though three quarters of people, white collar workers, presume that influencing others is part of their job now, too. So we’ve met the enemy and they’re are us.
David Priemer: Well, that’s why sell the way you buy. That’s what it’s all about, right? Like we are buyers and we go through life trying to make, you know, purchasing decisions and the way we buy things is often, you know, not clear to us. And yet then we go out, we sell and we execute completely different. Tactics and emotional in emotionally, you know, different ways.
And so that’s, that’s the, the object is to kind of, you know, bring it together and sell the way we buy.
Andy Paul: Yeah. And generally I absolutely agree, right, because I’ve done this with clients before, where I was sitting with a customer that client that was raging about some voice tree, he got stuck in and he was trying to get customer service at some company. And he’s talking about how ridiculous it was and blah, blah, blah.
And I just picked up my phone and dialed his number and gave him an example of his own phone tree, which is horrible. And I’ve been trying to get them to change forever. And it’s like, he just had no awareness of that. The way he wanted to be sold.
David Priemer: That’s right. Well, you know, it’s selling the way you want to be sold. There’s an empathetic component to it, which is, you know, Hey, look, don’t, don’t use tactics that wouldn’t work on you. And so in a way, that’s, that’s a little easier to come by. Um, and I would often see that, you know, with my reps that would come to me and they say, David, here’s this customer.
And they’ve, they’ve kind of gone quiet and a gun to our kindness, and I’m going to send them this email and hoping it kind of reinvigorates them. What do you think? And I say, I don’t know, what do you think? You’re the customer? Would you respond to this, this email, this voicemail, this script. And they’d be like, uh, no.
Right. So there’s an empathy. Yeah.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I think the big disconnect though, is that we never rarely.
You know, and B2B, right? So unfortunately we’re surf. Yeah. Or a mix, you know, Herbert Simon’s work about decision-makers with maximizers and satisfies there’s yeah. You can be maximize it. It’s going to examine every single option to satisfy yourself. You’re making the best possible choice or the satisfies, sir, that gathers enough information until they decide, yeah, this is a good enough decision.
I’ll make this, which is what predominantly people are doing when they’re making business buying decisions. But the thing is. In our lives are both maximizers and satisfies on, on, on the decisions we’re making know, Hey, if I’m buying a piece of business software, I’m probably, uh, uh, satisfies.
But if I’m making a decision about life saving surgery, I’m gonna be a maximizer. And so I think we have this inconsistency within us based on sort of the situations we’re in, but to your point that you’re making before about if we have the requisite amount of empathy, then we can sort of work our way through them.
David Priemer: Yeah. I mean, so empathy is a big, big component, even if, you know, to your point, even if it’s not something that we ourselves would be in a position to buy. And the good mate, the good thing is like, if you are a sales person at a company or you’re selling a product that you yourself. Could be in a position to buy or at least even use, you know, for example, if you’re a sales rep at Salesforce, okay.
You’re not buying your own software, but you use it every day. So that’s powerful, but also it’s kind of like the unconscious bit of it, which is okay. You know, the way I buy things. Could be based on, you know, getting a lot of data and research to the point where I feel good. And so like, that’s the kind of, maybe that’s the kind of feeling that we want to impart to our clients, even though I would not be in a position by this particular piece of technology, B2B product myself, you know?
Right. I want to make sure you are emotionally comfortable because that’s what I do when I buy things. I want to make sure I’m satisfying. Right. So those are the, those are the kind of the unspoken sell the way you buy drivers.
Andy Paul: Very cool. Well, David we’re out of time, but thank you very much for joining us.
David Priemer: Oh, no, my pleasure, Andy. This is great. Thanks for having me.
Andy Paul: It’s been a lot of fun. So tell people how they can connect with you and.
David Priemer: Yeah. So, so the book is called sell the way you buy and you can find it wherever you buy books on Amazon or Barnes and noble Indigo online. And hopefully one day soon in stores, again, it’s in the store. You just have to be able to go there and then, uh, you know, actually give away a ton of other than the book.
I give away a ton of content for free on my website, which is cerebral selling all one word.com cerebral selling.com. Um, you can also find me on YouTube. Uh, I have a YouTube channel called cerebral selling as well, but everything is, is linked to, and from the website, you can always hit me up on LinkedIn as well, but, um, those are my coordinates. Thanks so much. And he’s pleasure.