Pushy Salespeople Suck: I Found a Better Way
Written by Dave Lorenzo on August 8, 2016 / Archived Podcasts / Behavior
Pushy salespeople suck. In this episode of the 60 second sales show you hear how I discovered a better way.
Welcome everyone to another edition of The 60 Second Sale Show. This is Dave Lorenzo, and I’m the guy who helps you close more deals fast. Today, I’m going to start off with kind of a confession actually. It really is a confession. I’ve been thinking a lot about you and what you’re facing from a sales perspective, and I wanted to share with you one of the stories that has really shaped my approach to sales over the years. The confession is that, when I first started using this approach, actually how I first started using this approach to sales, it came about really out of the intimidation I felt related to sales and selling. You heard that right. I was absolutely intimated to walk into the office of some senior level executive and offered to help him or his company build and grow their business.
It seems, I guess, a little, maybe a lot surprising to those of you who know me well, because I go in now and I’m like a steamroller, I’m happy to walk into any executive’s office at any time and I just start having a conversation. I guess maybe I should preface it by saying I don’t steamroll over people, I steamroll into the office, and then I use the approach we’re going to discuss, but at the time when I first started developing this relationship based sales approach, I was a guy who thought that sales was, well, for lack of a better word, show up and throw up type opportunity.
Here’s the story that really changed the way I think about things. I had developed a business for Marriott. I was probably, if I think back I can give you the exact math. It was probably 20, no 18 years, 18 years into my career, and I had developed a $50 million a year annual revenue business for Marriott. I did that by selling corporate housing. I was the GM, I was the executive VP of the brand, but I sold every day because that’s who I am. I was selling corporate housing to large companies, to a lot of financial services companies: Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Cantor Fitzgerald, all of the large financial services companies who would place executives on a temporary basis, at least 30 days, but most the time I was for 3 to 6 months. I was doing this in New York City, which is a very fast-paced environment.
Well, that sales approach was one where I would walk into an executive who handled relocation, usually it was a human resource executive, and I would do a presentation. I would spout off features and benefits, and the executive would either think they were valuable or he wouldn’t. Most the time, because I was successful, he would think they were valuable. To be frank, I was selling a Marriott product which was a very high quality product and had a huge successful brand behind me. They would either agree to work with us or they wouldn’t.
The sales process was very straightforward. Like I said, it was a show up and throw up sales process. When I ended up leaving that role when I was recruited to join the Gallup organization to start up their business in Manhattan, I had to change my approach. The reason I had to change my approach came from this specific incident. I worked with a partner when I first started at Gallup, and my partner was a phenomenal relationship oriented guy. His role, I guess, would be considered an inside sales role these days. He would call people on the phone and he would set appointments for me to go in and talk about our consulting services.
My approach when I first began was one where I figured I would just go in and say, “Hey, I’m Dave. I’m here from Gallup. Here is the latest thing we’ve come up with you need it in your company. What do you think?” Typical show up and throw up sales process. I would go in there, talk about features and benefits, and apply the features and benefits to the client’s sales organization. That’s what I thought selling was all about, particularly when it came to consulting services.
My partner James would go out, and he will go on the phone and set up all of these meetings for me. Our area of influence are, I guess, you could call it a territory, our territory covered the entire Northeast. I had a team of consultants ready, willing and able to help people. They were counting on me, so every day they would send me off into the field and I would try and go find some business. One particular day, James had set up 3 appointments for me in Boston. I took the 5:30am shuttle from LaGuardia Airport up to Boston Logan Airport. James picks me up in his car and we go on some appointments, and I’m doing my thing. I walk in and I have a PowerPoint presentation deck ready to go. I set up my projector in 5 minutes and I present.
I do one meeting at 10am, I do a meeting at 1pm, and then we have a meeting at 3pm. The meeting at 3pm was one that I had circled on my calendar for quite some time. It was with one of the top technology companies in the United States, and they happen to be based in Boston. James had taken a long time in setting up this appointment, and it was with the executive vice president of marketing. James and I were going to go in there and we were going to show this gentleman how our brand-new really powerful brand management system would help him grow his brand.
Keep in mind that this is a gentleman who is heading up a marketing division for a company that did in excess of 8 or $900 million at the time in annual revenue. I walk into the office undeterred, unintimidated. I set my stuff up. The executive vice president walks in. He sits down and he says, “Hi Dave, what have you got for us?” I launch into my presentation. About 3 minutes into the presentation, the guy raises his hand and he says, “Thanks. I think I’ve heard enough. You showed me nothing new here. I appreciate you coming in, but we’re all set in this area.” Well, I knew as a salesperson that I needed to hear no at least 3 or 4 or 5 times before I got to a yes, so what did I do? I kept going like a robot undeterred.
I kept going with my presentation. I didn’t even stop to hiccup after the gentleman said we’re done here. I got another 35-40 seconds into the presentation, and the only reason I got through that long was because I think the guy was shocked that I was still speaking. At that point, he put both hands on the table, kind of slammed them down, and he said, “I’m not sure you heard me Dave. We’re all set. We’ve got exactly what you’re doing.” He went into a 2-minute speech of his own about what he was doing to measure the power of his brand and how he was certain he was already connecting with the people that were part of his target audience.
I looked at him and I nodded my head and I said, “I appreciate that, but you don’t understand.” Again, I went right back into the same presentation as if he hadn’t said anything at all. I look back now and all I can do is laugh, because as I glanced over at my partner James, I noticed a bead of sweat beginning to form on his forehead and he was looking down at his shoes. Quite frankly, he was so pale, I thought he was going to be sick right there in the room.
At that point, the gentleman stood up and he said, “I’ve never seen anything like this. You are going to keep going regardless of what I say. I’m not sure what I can do to stop you. He said I appreciate that you feel like you have something valuable. We were done.” He’s like, “I think it’s time for you to leave.” He had brought one of his associates in with him and he turned to his associate and he gave him a nod. The associate got up and he walked out of the room. I don’t know at that point, I think I was more determined than ever just to get through my presentation. I had another 10 minutes left, so I just kept going. I really just kept going.
Look, at that point, I think I was thinking to myself, “This guy’s got to admire my persistence.” Well, I think, quite frankly, he was scared, because as I turned around from looking at the slide that was on the screen to looking at the gentleman, I noticed on either side of me were 2 security guards. The gentleman had send his associate out to call security on me and they were there to escort me out of the building.
My friends, this story is something that scarred me for a very long time. I remember thinking in the car all the way back to the airport, on the plane all the way back to New York, and then in the taxicab on the way back to my home in New York City that I didn’t know if I could do this job, because showing up at places and just spewing information was such a tough way to make a living. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed and really ultimately I didn’t know if I was going to be able to succeed.
Now, I had in my background a $50 million business I had developed for Marriott in the past. I had been a very successful manager and sales executive in the hotel industry for, like I said, 18 years at that point. In the cab on the way home, I was done. I knew I could not continue like this any longer. Now, you’ve been there. I know you’ve been there, and you may be listening to this and you may be there right now.
Here’s the thing. I changed my approach after that meeting. What I chose to do was I chose to go home and look in the mirror and say, “Listen, if I’m not going to make it in this business, I’m going to fail on my own terms. What I’m going to do is I’m just going to walk in with nothing, with no presentation materials. I’m going to have conversations with people. I’m going to see what issues they have, and I’m going to offer to help if I can, and if I can’t offer to help, then we’ll just part company as friends, but I’m never ever going to allow this to happen to me again.” Now, by allow this, I don’t mean being thrown out of the office by security. I mean, to allow myself to go in and just assume what’s on the client’s mind, assume I know what’s best for the client and to force what I have down the client’s throat. That’s not my style, and it’s not good business.
Here’s what I want you to think about today. I know that you can do this and it will change the way you approach your business. I want you to focus on having real conversations with your clients understanding what they need and helping them solve their problems. I’m going to give you a script that will help you get into that conversation. Now, it’s really important to understand, you don’t have to use my words. The way I outline the script for you, you don’t have to use these exact words. You should internalize the script that I have and put it in your own language. Make it comfortable for you once you do this. Once you have a real conversations with your clients, they’ll view you as somebody who is there to help and not somebody who is there to show up and throw up to just sell them.
Here’s how you get into this conversation. Picture you and I together walking into that same office with that executive vice president of marketing and we sit down. I say, “So Mr. Smith, how are things going? How is your business?” and he tells me. I say, “You know, I was reading about you online. Here are some things I saw and I really admire what you’ve done here. Tell me a little bit about how you got into this in the first place. How did you get into being a marketing executive for technology company?” Then he would tell me now. One of the reasons this question is powerful is because people love to talk about themselves. People love to get into the mode of telling their story, so this will build some rapport, but even more importantly, the person will feel, the person in either side will feel like you’re genuinely interested in him or her. Like you’re genuinely interested in them.
The next thing I want you to do is I want you to say, “Wow, what a great story. Thanks for sharing that with me. How are things going today?” Then they’ll tell you. You say, “How is business? How are things going today? What are you working on now? What are you focused on?” They’ll tell you. The idea is to get them to share some of their goals for the next 6 months, the next year, share some of their aspirations. Once they do that, once they say, “Well, things are going well. We’ve got a brand-new project we’re working on. It’s very important to me. Here it is.” They’ll share the project with you, or they’ll share their goals with you. You say, “mm-hmm, I appreciate that. That’s really, that’s really an interesting project. Why is that important to you personally? How will that impact you personally?” That’s the key to the next step. You have to get to what personally they will achieve when they get the results they want from their business.
My friends, all business is personal. Everything we do in our business world echoes in our personal lives. We define ourselves so often. We define ourselves by what we do that this is a very personal thing to a lot of people, so I want you to ask them what achieving these goals or this goal, or being successful at this project will mean to him or her personally. Once she shares that with you, say, “That’s great. I can’t wait to see that success, but tell me right now what’s holding you back? What’s holding you back from achieving that success?” The person will think about this for a little bit and they’ll tell you. They’ll be very candid with you. You’re having a conversation here.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Dave, look if I go in there and I grill this person and I ask him 15 questions or 20 questions, he’s going to think I’m taking a deposition, he’s going to think I’m interviewing him, he’s going to think he’s getting the 3rd degree. Why would he share this information with me?” It’s not like that. It doesn’t work that way. What happens is, this is a conversation and the information is flowing freely, so the person will feel like you’re really interested in what’s going on in his life. You say to him, “What does that mean to you personally?” He shares it with you. You say, “What’s holding you back? What’s keeping this from happening?”
At that point, he’ll reveal to you the roadblocks he’s facing, and you simply say very matter-of-factly, “Would you like some help with that?” Now, at this point when you say that, two things are going to happen. He’s going to say to himself, “Wow, that’s great. I love you to help me. I’d love for some help.” He’ll say to you out loud, “Hmm, sure, I’d like some help,” or he’ll say to you, “What would that help look like?” People never say no. They never say they don’t want help. Everybody’s interested in receiving help from you, and we’ve discussed this in the past offering to help. That’s what selling is all about. Selling is helping.
When you say that, he’ll be interested and he’ll want to know more about how you can help. At that point, you can either offer one of your services or offer to introduce him to someone else who’s going to help him. That’s the entire objective of this conversation. It’s the entire objective of this meeting. If it’s not, if the solution you’re going to provide is not under your roof, if you can’t help him, you need to introduce him to somebody else who can. At that point, you’re going to live to sell your products or services another day. What you’re doing is you’re building that relationship. This is the entire essence of the 60 second sale. I repeat this, these steps over and over again, because this is the essence of the 60 second sale.
You have the opportunity to close a deal for yourself, for your company, but a lot of the time, what you’re going to do is you’re going to make a connection, you’re going to build a relationship, and you may end up introducing the person on the other side of the table to someone else who can solve their problem. You’re not going to refer him to a competitor. You’re going to introduce them to someone completely and totally different in a different area, because the problem may not be something that you can solve, but make no mistake, you have closed the deal right then and there. You’ve closed the deal right there, because that person realizes that he’s in a relationship with you now. He’s got a connection, he’s in a relationship with you, you care about him. Somewhere down the road, you’re going to do business with him in the future. Got it?
He is realizing that you’re interested in him, and those are the people that all of us want in our lives: folks who are out for our best interest, folks who are looking to help make us successful. That’s the 60 second sale. Close the deal on developing a relationship and you may close a sale right now, but more importantly, that relationship will lead to financial prosperity now and down the road.
All right, let’s turn to the mailbag. Today’s mailbag segment is about, it’s really a conversation I had with one of my best clients, one of my favorite people to speak with. Gentleman’s name is Brad Gross. He runs a very successful intellectual property law firm in Florida, in Weston, Florida. Brad had the same issue. He still has the same issue that I had in the story. He’s intimidated by the sales process. It’s funny that Brad is phenomenally successful. He’s grown his practice threefold just in the last 2 years, and he is really, really good at what he does. He’s a technology guru. In fact, I wouldn’t be speaking at a school to call him a tech geek, because he loves that term. He’s a guy who understands technology as well as any engineer. He just happens to be an intellectual property attorney and he’s passionate about technology. He’s passionate about protecting technology and protecting intellectual property.
Brad recently did some speaking and he was on the road at a big convention, and he spoke to over 300 people and he got several leads. He’s in the process of following up with those leads now, and he feels like he’s selling to people because people have requested time with him to review some of their documents in their business. He feels like, at the end of this review, he should just be giving legal advice and not be offering to take money as a result. Brad and I had this conversation, actually it was just yesterday. We did a mindset shift for Brad.
I said to him, “Imagine that you were the doctor, and the patient had come to you and they needed help. You have an ethical obligation to help them. You also have an ethical obligation to feed your family. These are people who are in business. The people you’re helping, they’re in business. They sell a product or service. They sell a product or service or an experience, and they receive compensation as a result. People invest in them because they want the product, service or experience. They know about this exchange of value for money. Right? It’s value for value. You give them value. They give you money in return. Everyone you’re talking to knows that. They’re on the phone with you. They know you’re an attorney. They know you’re there to work with them. They know that you are not, you are not a charity. When you offer to help, you also have to tell them what the investment is in return for that help. Everyone knows the rules when they enter into this conversation with you and you’re there to help them just like the doctor doesn’t help the patient for free. You’re there to help these people for an investment.”
That metaphor and that conversation of helping in return for financial value, for financial compensation help put him back on the right track. These conversations, he began to approach them from a sales perspective versus the perspective of offering advice for charitable purposes. Every time, you have a conversation with someone they know that they’re getting value and in exchange for that, they have to invest in that value financially. If you feel, if you ever feel like you’re intimidated and you’re being put out because you’re being too salesy and you’re forcing yourself on people, remember selling is helping. Your role is to help them solve a problem, help them achieve a goal. In return, you receive fair financial compensation.
That was the conversation I had with Brad, and that’s our mailbag segment for this week. If you have a question where you’d like to discuss something on our weekly podcast, on our weekly show, The 60 Second Sale show, you can reach out to me. You can reach out to me on Twitter. You can find me @thedavelorenzo. That’s the @ symbol and the word T-H-E and my name D-A-V-E L-O-R-E-N-Z-O all together. You can also find me on Facebook, same handle @thedavelorenzo and find me on Instagram @thedavelorenzo.
Until next week, I am Dave Lorenzo and I’m the host of The 60 Second Sale show. I hope you make a great living and live a great life.
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