A Modern Selling Tip: Learn How To Sell With David Priemer, Episode # 150
Modern buyers are harder to reach than ever due to a variety of factors. Fortunately, science is here to help. My guest on this episode of the Modern Selling podcast gives us the answer to the problems faced by the modern salesperson in one simple phrase: sell the way you buy.
I am joined by David Priemer, the founder and Chief Sales Scientist of Cerebral Selling. David’s unique scientific and empathic approaches to increasing sales and talent growth have been featured in the Harvard Business Review and in Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. magazines.
David is often referred to as a “sales professor” and is also the author of the bestselling book. Sell the way you buyand an associate professor in the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.
David began his career not as a sales person but as a scientist. He actually has a B.Sc. in Chemistry and Atmospheric Sciences from York University and a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Still, he led high-profile sales teams at high-growth technology companies for 20 years, including Salesforce, where he was vice president of commercial sales and inventor of the Sales Leadership Academy program.
Listen to our conversation to learn how David moved from research to sales and how he is now bridging the gap between science and sales to train salespeople in modern sales techniques.
The state of modern sales
As a sales manager, you know that selling is more difficult today than it was 10 years ago. According to David, there are factors on the buy side and on the seller side.
The main factor for B2B buyers is the advent of the internet. Nowadays, buyers conduct independent research online before connecting with a seller.
In addition, customers have almost unlimited options. There is a very low bar for people to develop solutions of all kinds, which has saturated the B2B technology market. For example, there are more than 8,500 martech tools and more than 700 sales tools in the market.
With so many choices to choose from, buyers have a hard time choosing, their attention is very little, and all sellers sound the same to them. In fact, buyers are less tolerant of intrusive sales tactics than ever before.
For the modern seller, this means that they must make more attempts in the sales cycle to get in touch with a savvy and impatient buyer. An omnichannel approach and a multi-touch sales cadence are used.
Additionally, the average tenure of a sales rep is decreasing, and as a result, sales managers have less experienced salespeople who need to sell to older and more experienced buyers.
In fact, David points out that salespeople are getting younger and doing what he calls Experience asymmetry. Here’s how he defines it: “Most sales cycles come about when a younger, newer, or generally less experienced sales or business development representative brings in a more experienced decision maker whose job they have never done. Therefore experience asymmetry. “
Imagine a young, inexperienced sales rep calling a sales manager in a large company. The executive will be skeptical of what they can learn from the salesperson, and the rep will be concerned about establishing credibility and adding value to a cautious prospect.
In a 2019 HBR article, David explained that Three tactics that younger salespeople can use to attract older customers::
- Know your pain points.
- Call on the credibility of others.
- Present arguments with conviction.
We discussed this last tactic in our interview. When David was the sales director at SalesForce, he listened to calls from sales reps who weren’t converting and found the problem was that they were scared, like they were harassing the prospect and not adding value.
In his experience, a salesperson who speaks with conviction can win over any customer. How unlucky your salespeople are is just as important as the words they use.
You need to give your sellers the passion and conviction they need to connect with seasoned buyers. One way is to create an emotional connection that leads with feelings and emotions rather than just phrasing the ROI message.
David teaches a modern sales tactic that he calls “picking an enemy” that emotionally seduces the buyer. The seller should start the pitch by referring to what the buyer hates, adding emotion to the sales pitch. In other words, sell to the problem, not the solution.
Listen to the episode for some great examples of how to use this tactic.
What science tells us about how people make purchasing decisions
Science shows that the mind plays tricks on us and makes us think that we are very logical, but the truth is that we buy based on feelings and emotions almost 100% of the time, from ordering lunch to buying the B2B technology. Only then do we use logic to justify our decisions.
However, according to David, sales professionals don’t sell the way they buy. Instead of leading with emotions, lead with logic.
3 Science-Based Modern Selling Tips
1. Sell to the emotions
Sales managers often encourage their employees to sell value, which means ROI.
The logical pitch goes something like this: “When you buy our solution, you save time and make more money.”
The above is a suggested ROI, but that doesn’t mean that the buyer or decision maker will appreciate it. David gives a good example of this. Think of an employee who was hired to find IT security software for the company. If he buys the wrong solution, the consequences can be catastrophic. So during the buying process, he doesn’t think about ROI, but rather about not getting laid off.
The seller who can talk to this unconscious emotion closes the sale as opposed to sellers who only talk about the ROI. A good example of messaging that addresses the kind of fear in the above case is the famous IBM ad: “Nobody was ever fired for buying IBM.”
IBM appealed to the fear of being fired and positioned itself as a safe bet.
David points out that for most of us as buyers this is completely unconscious and we don’t internalize why we buy one product over another. But as salespeople, we can delve into the science of buying and use it in our favor.
For example, researchers have identified the tip emotional motivators that determine consumer behavior. Here is a list of the top ten:
David’s advice to modern salespeople is to figure out what their ideal customer values are, bearing in mind that customer values and the business value of the solution they are selling are completely different. They need to find out what the buyer is not saying, but that would appeal to them emotionally.
“Find the enemy and make up a narrative,” says David. “People are conditioned to respond to stories. You are passionate about stories but turn off sales pitches. “
2. Present data in ways that appeal to the brain
When creating sales messages or cold calling scripts, salespeople need to present data in a way that the brain can more easily process. For example, saying, “Save 10% of your time” is not the same as saying, “Get 20 hours of your time back every month.”
Although both statements can be mathematically equivalent, they are not processed in the mind in the same way. The percentage is more abstract than the absolute, which is more tangible and understandable for the average person.
3. Answer objections with questions
Many sales programs provide consistent responses to common customer objections, but this is a mistake. Responding to objections has to be a narrative, a back and forth conversation, because every customer has different circumstances.
Indeed, the data shows that the best salespeople respond to objections with questions so that they understand the intent and root cause of objections and can address them accordingly.
Be sure to listen to the episode for more tips and insights from David Priemer, the “sales professor”.
Outline of this episode
- [2:43] David’s story: from research scientist (and certified meteorologist) to sales manager.
- [7:15] Why selling is more difficult today than it used to be.
- [10:47] What science tells us about buying decisions.
- [16:57] The greatest challenges facing modern salespeople.
- [27:43] Sell value properly.
- [33:12] Messaging and pitch tactics.
- [37:25] The Cobra Kai Paradox.
- [40:37] Dealing with customer complaints.
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