Understanding Human Behavior: How To Sell To People Who Don’t Want To Be Sold To With Anthony Vizzari [Episode 141]

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Are you considering human behavior when you’re selling?

Many salespeople go through the motions, but don’t always remember to consider what may be happening underneath the surface with their clients. In this episode, Doug C. Brown speaks with Anthony Vizzari, the Chief Sales Officer of 7th Level. Doug and Anthony discuss the importance of asking the right questions (and doing it effectively), building rapport with clients in the information age, properly assessing your own skills, and much more.

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In this episode you will learn:


Episode’s guest – Anthony Vizzari 

CEO Sales Strategies | Anthony Vizzari | Understanding Human Behavior

Anthony Vizzari is the Chief Sales Officer at 7th Level Group. With $20M+ personal sales and a data-driven approach, he guides 6 to 9-figure companies, expanding teams and boosting performance. Anthony’s impact is global, empowering 5,100 sales reps across 37 countries, achieving remarkable 3X to 10X results. A strategic innovator, he’s essential to 7th Level Group’s success, shaping a human-centric, revolutionary sales landscape with NEPQ, Neuro Emotional Persuasion Questioning.

Visit his website: www.salessniper.net


Understanding Human Behavior: How To Sell To People Who Don’t Want To Be Sold To With Anthony Vizzari

I’m really excited to bring this conversation to you with a man named Mr. Anthony Vizzari. Anthony is a super nice guy. He is the Chief Sales Officer at a company that is called 7th Level. They can be found at www.7thLevelHQ.com. We’re going to talk about how you sell to people who don’t want to be sold to and how you use the power of questioning probably like you’ve never heard before. We’re going to talk about the history of how sales have formed to where it is and what we were doing even a few years ago. If you’re still doing it, it’s not as effective. In some cases, it’s antiquated. Let’s go talk to Anthony.

Anthony, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for being here.

It’s great to be here. I am looking forward to this episode.

Let’s start off the frame. Why don’t you tell people who you are and what you do, and then we’ll get right to the topic we were going to talk about?

I’m the boring guy so I’ll keep this quick. My name’s Anthony Vizzari. I’m the CSO or Chief Sales Officer for 7th Level. We’re a sales training organization. Inc. would say we’re one of the fastest sales training organizations at the moment. We were voted Top 20 Sales Training Organizations based on Selling Power magazine. We are a training organization that helps salespeople, whether that’s B2B, B2C, individual reps, companies, or large organizations, sell to people who don’t want to be sold. To use human behavior to help people persuade themselves into buying something when nobody wants to be sold to is what we do. 

I have a question. It’s an unfair question right out of the gate. I know you got married. Was that a sale that you didn’t want to be sold to or she didn’t want to be sold to?

That was the biggest sale I have made to date. That took about nearly nine years. It was a pretty long sales cycle, but we got there.

That’s awesome. For those of you who are going to get married, sometimes, it is a very long sales cycle. Mine was almost five years myself.

There you go.

Let’s talk about how to use human behavior because that’s one of the places that most people when they’re selling look at it and go, “Business return on investment will be this.” They forget what the personal return on investment is and forget they’re selling to human beings versus titles. How do we use human behavior more effectively and be more personalized?

That’s a really good point. One of the reasons why I wanted to get on the show with you is we share similar philosophies on how we help people become the top 1% earners, which is what we’re about as well. Our mission as a company is to change the way sales are perceived. People have a negative view based on sales. It’s based on how they’re being sold to. Sales reps, a lot of the time, are using the old-school methods, which is to assume the sale. It’s the buy or die, choke them by the ties, or sell or be sold. It could also be hard boiler room selling, which does not work on buyers because people are more cautious and skeptical than ever.

I personally found this selling pre-COVID and post-COVID. In the post-COVID era, for me, and I was selling all the way through, people were on guard. Their walls are up. If you are inducing sales resistance as a business, company, or sales professional, you are leaving a lot of money on the table. The biggest thing as well I’ve found is the sales reps themselves are losing confidence in their own process. That’s getting expressed in conversations. Some people unfortunately even quit the industry because they feel like they don’t have what it takes.

Sales reps are losing confidence in their process, and that's getting expressed in conversations. Share on X

Two questions come out of that one. Why are people more on guard than they used to be?

The reason is we’re in a different era of selling. Eras change. There are times in your life when the old-school method used to work. What we find at 7th Level is we find three forms of persuasion. If I said to you boiler room selling, what’s the first thing that comes to mind, for example?

You are stuck in a room with a phone attached and you’re making call after call. It’s the tin man selling type style with hard clothes. It’s the Glengarry Glen Ross movie style, right?

Exactly. It’s the boiler room. It’s the Wolf of Wall Street. I’ve got a great opportunity for you. Back then, people didn’t have access to information. They relied on the sales rep for that information. They had to go to the sales rep and had to form trust in the sales rep to get what they wanted. Things have changed. According to the data, we are the least persuasive when we tell somebody something or we attempt to dominate them, or we attempt to posture them. I see this day in and day out with sales reps who come in and want training. The way they are selling is triggering resistance.

You mentioned to me you’ve got a family. If someone has teenage kids and they tell them to do something, what are the kids going to do? They are going to push back because that’s what humans do. We push back. It’s the least persuasive way to sell. What I see a lot of the time is I get into a sales presentation. It might be a complex selling environment. The sales rep pulls up a slide deck. All of a sudden, three minutes into the conversation, they are like, “We’re the best this. We’re the best that. These are the pics. These are the awards we’ve won. We’ve got the best service,” straight away. They go straight into what we call pitch mode. That does not work because people are more cautious.

Will anybody tell you that they’re the fifth best in their industry? Of course not. Every single company you speak to will be like, “We’re the number one. We’ve been the number one voted this.” The prospect automatically, as soon as you sound like every other company and every other sales rep, says, “Sales rep.” It’s the first thing that gets triggered in their mind. Psychologically, your prospects will trust you less when you say things like that or when you talk down to your competitors.

I know you’ve heard this before. You get into a sales call or maybe you are reviewing a sales process and then the competitor conversation comes up. The sales rep automatically starts talking down the competitors, telling them how much better they are than them. All of that does not work because people are on guard. They trust people less. That’s why at 7th Level, we call it the new model of selling. It is how to sell in a way that works with human behavior rather than against it.

CEO Sales Strategies | Anthony Vizzari | Understanding Human Behavior
Understanding Human Behavior: People are on guard. They trust people less these days.

Two sales reps and an owner walk into a meeting to meet with a company. The people on the other side of the table are thinking, “Two liars and a potential honest person.” That’s how they’re thinking. It’s sad to say that, but the reality is that they know as a salesperson, somebody’s there to sell. That’s the reality. Backing up what you were saying, they’re already positioned and conditioned to think that they’re going to get sold to.

When I talk to CEOs, I ask them this question, “How do you prefer to be sold to?” I purposely ask it that way, but the majority of them answer and say, “I prefer to buy. I don’t really want to be sold to.” We can get into that conversation, for sure. I loved what you said about teenagers. You ask them a question and they push back immediately or you say, “Don’t do this,” and they’ll push back.

You and I have generations between us because of age. I can tell you when I used to push back on my parents, for example, because all teenagers will do this, I would say, “No,” but I would have an argument. With what I’ve learned especially with my daughters growing up, and they are in their early twenties, they push back with data. They push back with studies. They push back with information that I don’t know. My father might say something to me like, “You’re not going to go out there because you could get into trouble,” or something like that. They’ll come back and say, “Dad, in that area of town, there’s a 3% chance. Here’s the data to support it because Harvard wrote this article on it.” It’s like, “What?”

It’s the perfect example of the information people have now that they didn’t have many years ago. That’s the biggest issue as well. It’s not like your company, CEO Sales Strategies, and ours, but there are so many sales trainers out there that I personally see. I see them online. I feel like they still see sales as adversarial. It’s you against the prospect. It’s you trying to win them over so you can take something from them so you can make money, but if you want to be the top 1% earning sales professional, you can’t sell like that.

We have a saying that you need to be more of a problem solver and a problem finder, not a product pusher. It is where everybody else out there, the ones that are struggling, are pushing their product or service down the throats of the prospect and then they are wondering why they get all the objections. It is like, “We already have someone for this. We want to think about it. Now is not the right time. We’re not interested. Tell me how much it will cost.” What a lot of people don’t realize is these are certain words that are triggered based on the question the sales rep is asking or based on what they’re saying or maybe the tonality they’re using that immediately has the prospect feeling like they’re being sold to.

There is so much to unpack on what you said there. Of the reasons that salespeople position that way I have found is because they don’t have enough qualified prospects that they’re dealing with. They try to twist the arm and sell that way because they’re not in abundance mode. They’re in scarcity mode. Have you found that as well?

Yeah, 100%. That’s where the whole “it’s a numbers game” comes from. It’s a numbers game where they’re focusing on quantity over quality. Personally, I don’t agree with that, and I’m sure we share the same view here. If you have the right skills as a sales rep, and we train people in B2B, B2C, and B2G (Business-to-Government), whether they’re cold calling or taking inbound leads, it doesn’t matter what approach you use. If you know the right questions to ask in the right order, that gets your prospect to internalize their problem and create a gap. There’s always room for you to create your own opportunity, even if you’re out there cold calling.

In NEPQ, which is our methodology that stands for Neuro Emotional Persuasion Questioning, which was founded on behavioral science, what we find is it is the first 7 to 12 seconds of any conversation you are in, whether it’s on the phone, selling on Zoom, or you are on the doors. We train a lot of people who are door-knocking, whether it’s solar or anything else. We can’t help it as human beings to pick up on social cues. We immediately do that. Your prospects are doing that on a daily basis.

Back to what you asked me before, why are people on guard? It’s because they’re assessing if you are a threat or not. Your prospects are assessing, “Is this person trying to sell me something?” That comes from the reptilian part of the brain. Your prospects are picking up on verbal and non-verbal cues. It’s either going to trigger them in 1 or 2 ways.

If you are coming across as way too excited, and you know what I’m talking about, these are the reps that are needy, excited, and happy to be there but, in a way, sounds pushy, automatically, it’s like, “This person’s going to try to sell me something.” It doesn’t happen. They’re going to try to get rid of you at that point. If you approach it from a different way and you’re there to help them, and the prospect feels your intent is to help them, not to sell them, that’s when they lower their guard. That’s when they are willing to open up to you.

When the prospect feels your intent is to help them and not to sell them, they lower their guard and are willing to open up to you. At the end of the day, your prospects have problems and you have the solution to their problem. Share on X

At the end of the day, your prospects have problems. You have the solution to their problem. Why wouldn’t they buy from you? I don’t feel it’s a numbers game. I feel like it’s a lack of skills that a lot of sales reps have. It’s not their fault, but it’s their problem in my eyes. They need to look at acquiring the right skills to overcome that.

We’re speaking with Mr. Anthony Vizzari. He is the Chief Sales Officer of the 7th Level. They’re at www.7thLevelHQ.com. I 100% agree. Sales isn’t a numbers game. Sales is math. That’s the difference. I would much rather have 500 highly qualified people who want to really engage in a process than to have 5,000 but 2% of them are ever going to be even at that level.

I have a question, but firstly, I want to make a comment on intent. If anybody’s wondering, “Does this work?” We’ve all done this. We’ve all approached somebody for a date, for example. If the other person on the other end is sensing from visual or audio cues or tonality that the intent is not what they’re looking for, they reject it usually.

They shut down. That’s exactly right.

If all of you are wondering, “Does this work?” Think back to when you asked for a date or you were hoping to be asked on a date. Somebody asked you and you went, “No. I’m not doing this,” or, “Why did I get rejected?” It’s usually the intent. There’s a second thing here that you’re bringing up, which is great. All of this really starts on the front end before you even talk to somebody about how we’re bringing in whether it is qualified leads or a lead in some regards.

I always feel there are five different sets. There are people that are different. There are people who are pretenders, tire-kickers, and that type of thing. It then starts crossing over to people who do have that right intent that you’re talking about into people who are more highly into that intent. We all love the purchase order ready lead. I call them eager beavers. They’re like, “I’ve been thinking about this for a year. I got the budget,” and they take it. This is disagree time, too, if you want. Do you agree or disagree that this all begins on the front end of the planning on getting clear on who the target ideal target buyer is?

Yeah. I 100% agree. The reason I agree is as a business, you are wasting resources. You are wasting time if you’re not targeting the right client avatar. I know your audience is a lot of business owners and CEOs. It really comes down to whether you understand your client avatar, but have you also translated that over to the sales reps? At the end of the day, you want to have a nice feedback loop from sales to marketing. We come in and train a lot of organizations. The biggest issue I find when I walk in and I’m revamping a sales process is sales versus marketing rather than sales working with marketing. If you’ve got the right client avatar on the front end and you’re not getting that, it needs to come back.

In addition to that, it’s also important that your reps are asking the right questions. I see a lot of the times people think it’s a marketing issue or a lead issue on the front end. I’ll review a call as part of our training and then I realize it was simply the sales rep. They didn’t know the right questions to ask, which we call connecting questions at the front. It takes the focus off your company and puts it on the prospect. They didn’t know how to ask the right questions.

The lead may have been a good lead. They had the intent and were on the call, but it was something the sales rep said or didn’t say at the start of the conversation that turned the lead from interested to, “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to move forward,” or, “Now is not the right time.” That was the sales rep inducing that. I agree with you. It’s a game of balancing. What have we got on the front end, but then how do we pass the baton and the sales rep then takes over the right way?

I 100% agree with what you’re saying. If any of you are having that challenge and it’s like, “The leads are good, but we’re not getting the close rate we want,” it’s generally in the handoff process. That could be the sales handoff process to the rep itself or that could be from marketing to sales. For example, you might be waiting too long to hand the lead off, and the lead is cooled down.

I could not believe this. You probably can appreciate this. I reviewed a company. It was a solar company. Their people were not getting back to the leads. The sales team was not getting to the leads. On average, it was between 21 and 30 days after the lead was submitted. I went to the owner and was like, “You got a big challenge here.” He was like, “I don’t understand.”

I said, “How many different people are only going to one solar company? Trust me. They are hitting your ad and hitting 5 or 6 other ads, and maybe more than that. Out of the 10, 2 of them are probably getting back to these people, or maybe three. You’re waiting 21 or 30 days. What’s happening is when you’re closing this type of business, either somebody didn’t get ahold of them at all or they did such a terrible job,” as you said in the connection component of it, “that they queued up the lead.” What happened is we took that speed to lead time and speed to contact time and brought it down to less than five minutes. 

We’re speaking the same language here. I’m glad you said that because that’s a major issue in the space. In 21 days, that person has already purchased something because they had an intent. They had a problem at one point and wanted it solved. The data I looked at shows, and I could be butchering the number, that there’s around a 450% higher likelihood of converting the lead if you dial that lead within under 5 minutes. Even within our organization, leads need to be called in under 60 seconds. You have to staff your SDR team appropriately, whoever’s taking the inbound inquiries, to be able to do that.

It then comes to, “What are we saying when we call that lead as well?” If we’re calling everybody else out there like, “This is Anthony from XYZ solar company. The reason for my call today is,” every single person is saying that. There are multiple eras of sales. This ties into what I did want to go over, which is more so the second era.

The first era is the boiler room. The second era was the consultative selling era, which I know you know about. Everyone’s heard of that. It came out in the ‘80s. It was the Sandler Institute and the SPIN selling. It was revolutionary when it came out. That’s based on logical-based questions. That was the difference between consultative and boiler room selling.

The issue with that is if you use that in this era and you ask logical-based questions, your prospects are going to give us logical-based answers. Do people make decisions based on logic or is it based on emotion? In emotion, studies prove that. When you ask questions at the start of a call, a conversation, or a complex selling environment, “Can you tell me two problems that are keeping you awake at night?” or, “What two problems do you have the most right now?” or, “Who besides you is involved in the decision right at the start of the call?” that alone is triggering resistance. Even if you call that lead in five minutes but you are asking questions that trigger resistance, you’re not going to be successful.

CEO Sales Strategies | Anthony Vizzari | Understanding Human Behavior
Understanding Human Behavior: You won’t be successful if you’re asking questions that trigger resistance.

We would re-language that. We would say something along the lines of, “Can you walk me through your company’s decision-making process when it comes to solving cybersecurity issues so you don’t keep getting hacked?” It’s more neutral. We re-language questions in a more neutral way because it allows your prospect to work with you. It helps them realize, “I’m not here to sell you anything. I’m here to help you,” if that makes sense.

It makes total sense. For those of you who might be scratching your head a little bit, I’ll say it this way. How many of you personally or someone you know has ever gone out on Valentine’s Day or right before Valentine’s Day and paid 4 times as much for Roses as they could 2 days after Valentine’s Day? They may have bought Christmas presents for the kids or the significant other and said, “I don’t want to spend that.” You know it’s going to be dropping down afterward.

In the United States, we have Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Christmas stores. People go in the beginning and are paying full price for these tree lights and things like this and are putting them all over their house. You are not doing that on logic. It’s out of emotion because come the 10th or 12th of December, they mark these things down 50%. It happens every year. I see this in the stores every single year. People know this. Try to go buy Taylor Swift tickets. People are paying $10,000 for Taylor Swift tickets. It’s an emotional-based process.

I agree with you that in the ‘80s, and that was the era that I came up in, it was certainly all about logic-based questioning. I agree with you that the pandemic has really shifted it as well as the information explosion. I remember in the ‘80s, I was telling people, “This thing called DSL is going to revolutionize sales and how we sell.” People were like, “You’re crazy. That’s not going to happen.” I’m like, “Think about it.”

We used to be the information resource for a company making the decision. This time, they have almost made the decision before they even talk to people most of the time. Marketing is so much more involved in the decision-making process now than it ever has been from a buyer’s point of view. I know this because I’m talking to CEOs all the time. They’re like, “We’ve researched the heck out of this.”

What they’ll do with the salesperson is they’ll delegate and say, “Check these people out. Go to their LinkedIn profile. Go to their Facebook profile. See if they have any articles online. See if they have any branding material or whatever.” They’ll start making decisions about who they’ll call into their office based on that information. If you’re not asking infused questions that make their eyebrows go up where they’re like, “I don’t know that. That’s a really good point,” then you’re going to be losing out. It’s that simple. That’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to have you here.

I’m really happy to be here as well. I’ve got an interesting stat on what you said as well. Forbes Magazine says the average-sized company has 6.7 decision-makers and/or influencers who decide on every vendor. If you don’t know how to navigate those decision-makers, you won’t be able to get the sale. Most salespeople say, “Who’s the decision maker?” within a conversation. You can’t do that. It’s too abrupt. People will push back on you because they know you’re trying to sell them something.

CEO Sales Strategies | Anthony Vizzari | Understanding Human Behavior
Understanding Human Behavior: You can’t sell if you don’t know how to navigate decision-makers.

Let’s say we’re selling SaaS, for example. It’s software that’s going to get installed. The way we would re-language that is, “By having this software installed, who else would this impact in the organization when it comes to protecting?” If you’re selling cybersecurity, it is like, “Who else aside from your organization would this impact having cybersecurity software installed within the business?” It’s more emotional. I’m getting them to pull me in rather than pushing me away. Tonality would add to that as well. I wanted to give an example to your audience how it’s the questions people are asking. If you ask surface-level questions, you’re going to get surface-level responses. You’re never going to get to the real reason why somebody needs your service or your product, not just wants.

You’re hitting the drum that I hit all the time for people. There are 6 to 7 decision-makers. They all have an influence on the buyer. In the case where you’re like, “Who else in the organization does this impact?” It’s cybersecurity. IT is going to be impacted, for sure. Why? It’s because it’s going to get dumped on them. That’s one strong influencer potentially in the process. Something as simple as human resources might be involved in that type of decision because it’s like, “This is how it impacts us.” If you’re not doing what you’re talking about doing and asking the question of how it impacts them and why, then we’re missing out on invaluable pieces of information.

CEOs, even though they’re supposed to be the king or queen decision-maker, some of them buy on a consensus basis. If they don’t get the consensus going on, it’s going to be like, “I want to move forward on this. That IT person’s going to go.” We’re then like, “Do you know how it’s going to cost us an extra $35,000 and upgrades to our network on this? Do you know it’s going to impact us for six months and we’re going to have to retool the whole system of what we’re doing?”

In the CEO’s head, it’s going to be like, “That’s going to cost us hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars potentially in business compromise. All of a sudden, that doubt starts creeping in, but we’re not there to answer those questions. Those decisions get made behind the scenes. All of a sudden, it’s like, “We decided to take XYZ,” or, “We decided to go in this direction,” or, “We’re going to stay where we’re at.” 

Exactly. It’s the common thing everybody hears. That’s the third era, back to your original question. What we found anyway is according to behavioral science, you are the most persuasive when you are persuading someone to sell themselves. When you use what we call dialogue, that’s when we allow humans to sell themselves into it and persuade themselves rather than you having to push them.

We do that through our methodology called NEPQ questions. A lot of people say, “How can you get someone to persuade themselves?” You can’t say, “Persuade yourselves into why you need this product or why you need this service.” We can’t do that, unfortunately, for us. Otherwise, that would be an easy job. We probably wouldn’t get paid as much as sales reps and salespeople if it could be that easy.

You have to learn skilled questions and tonality as well. When can I use more of a curious tone, skeptical tone, or challenging tone? Your tonality is how your prospects perceive the meaning of what you’re saying. Your tonality triggers them to open up more. If I need to challenge someone, I will use more of a challenging tone throughout the process. I’m like, “This is so I understand. Why is having that so important to you guys now?” It’s challenging.

You can almost ask questions that push somebody away. Back to a cybersecurity example, if someone’s coming to me wanting to purchase cybersecurity, I could ask what we call a rationale question. I’ll say, “This is so I understand the rationale. What’s the main reason after twelve years of running the business possibly looking at getting a cybersecurity system installed now rather than relying on the IT software you’ve been using up to this point?” I’m asking that in a challenging and more skeptical tonality. It sounds as if I’m pushing the prospect away but I’m really curious.

I’m like, “If you haven’t had something installed for twelve years, what’s the main reason for wanting it possibly installed now rather than relying on the system you’ve had up to this point?” When I ask that question, that’s immediately going to cause the prospect to defend why they’re on the call with me and defend their position in wanting the service. That’s tonality. That’s questions. What I want your audience to understand is you want to create internal tension, not sales pressure. Internal tension is an internal force that gets your prospects to act from within whereas the pressure or the old era of doing things is what triggers the resistance.

CEO Sales Strategies | Anthony Vizzari | Understanding Human Behavior
Understanding Human Behavior: Create internal tension, not sales pressure, because internal tension is an internal force that gets your prospects to act from within. The pressure or the old era of doing things triggers resistance.

Hence, what people call objections. We’re speaking with Mr. Anthony Vizzari, Chief Sales Officer of 7th Level. They can be found at www.7thLevelHQ.com. I really appreciate you discussing all of this here because it’s so relevant to what people are thinking. It is the primary reason I believe people are losing confidence when they are sellers. They’re all jazzed up like, “I’m going to get this sale,” or, “I’m going to get this done,” or whatever.

It is fun when it goes the way it’s supposed to. If it’s not going as fun because of the discussions that we’re having here on this call, then the confidence is going to drop. When the confidence drops, the language is going to drop as well. It’s a spiraling bad time. What I heard you say and from reading between the lines and I’m going to reframe it, language controls questions. Questions control discussions. Discussions control conversation outcomes.

Language controls questions. Questions control the discussions. Discussions control conversation outcomes. Share on X

That is a very great way of putting it. I like that.

If you are not paying attention to this process, you’re burning off opportunities. The worst is you’re going to be prepping your competition to take them because you’re queuing up. You brought up earlier the person who comes in and says, “Let me tell you about us. Let me tell you about the product. Let me tell you how it’s going to serve you. Let me tell you about this.” It’s a me positioning. Watch the body language because they’re going to start zoning out and toning out unless there is such a high need or frustration.

What’s happening is they’re gathering all this information so when the next company or the next salesperson comes through the door, they have new questions to ask. If they run into somebody like you who is asking these questions of emotional curiosity and getting them to internally motivate themselves, they’re going to ask you that question. You’re going to reframe it in some manner and it’s going to come out as a question that you’re asking them. They’re going to be thinking, “That’s a great question because I was thinking that anyway.” They’re going to want to know more so they’re going to say, “Tell me more.” You’re in a discussion where it’s win-win, if you will, in a lot of ways.

When you ask the right questions on that because that’s a super important point, it’s the prospect feeling like they have full control. It makes them feel like they have got so much internal tension that they need to act. This is where a lot of sales reps miss it, which means the business and the company aren’t driving. At the end of the day, what’s the goal? It is revenue growth. They’re missing out because a lot of sales reps don’t even want to ask the hard questions. If you don’t ask the hard questions, you won’t get the hard responses.

If someone gives me an objection, we train a lot of our reps, “At some point in the call, you can ask a question in more of a challenging tone. If someone says they don’t feel like now is the right time, you could simply say in more of a challenging tone, “Which is more risky for you? Is it more risky for you to get the funding together and get the software installed that will allow your employees to increase their productivity by 300% or is it more risky to do nothing at all? All your problems stay the same and nothing changes. You keep losing $500,000 every single year. What’s more risky?” It’s more of a challenge and concern tonality. When you ask things like that, it helps them pull you in.

The biggest motivator for sales is change. That’s all sales is. It is change. The biggest motivator for change is pain. It’s unfortunate. For a lot of reps, it’s not their fault. They’ve never been taught the right skills. They don’t how to ask the questions that get your prospects to sit in their pain long enough to have them realize, “It’s probably time for us to do something about this.”

Part of the logic-based questioning also was around pain back in the ‘80s. That was there. What I’ve found also is pain works. Opportunities or innovation also is a form if we ask it the right way. The selling brings the pain up anyway, but it’s framed in a manner where they’re moving towards something versus moving away from it.

You brought up a super valuable point, which is about asking these difficult questions that others won’t dare ask. The reality is when we are using the right tonality, we stay in a state of rapport. I‘ll give a demonstration when I ask somebody, which people would say, “You can’t ask that question of a high-level CEO,” but I did and we’re still good friends.

When we’re asking these hard questions, then that challenge-type process that you’re talking about in high rapport increases trust. That is where you win in the selling process. When you’ve got that potential buyer on the other side going, “I trust this person maybe even more than I trust myself to have my best interest in mind,” then it becomes an easy process. It’s like, “Is the budget there? Are the resources to a budget there? The decision can be made,” etc. I really appreciate you bringing that up because so many people are not willing to ask the question.

I had a CEO who was hemming and hawing and saying, “This is the reason why this. This is the reason why that.” My spidey sense kept going up and saying, “This doesn’t even make sense.” Every time something emotionally or logically made sense, they were going in a different direction over and over. The question you asked was, “Does it make sense to stay here? Does it make sense to move forward? Does it make sense to do that?” I asked that type of question and they were evasive on that question. I asked this question. It was a man, Mr. CEO. I said, “How long have you been lying to yourself?” I was in such a high state of trust at that moment. We were like best friends. It’s like, “I’ve known you my whole life. How long have you been lying about this to yourself?”

It’s a great question. 

He looked at me and said, “I never thought of it that way.” Some people would cringe, like, “How dare you ask that type of question?” The reality is that’s the hard type of question that we want to ask as long as we’re doing it in a manner that is benefiting them and they can feel that intention. 

Some people will say, “I’m going to jump on the start of the call and ask that question.” That’s not what Doug is saying. What you’re saying is when you build up enough trust based on the conversation you already had, you have permission to ask the hard question. I’m so with you on that. Even when I was full-time selling myself, I’ve looked for reasons to ask the tough questions. It gains status for you as the salesperson.

If I can say to someone, “Can I make a suggestion? Have you ever considered it’s not what you thought it was? Have you ever considered that the way you’ve been looking at your business for the past ten years has resulted in where it’s at today of you not being able to be more profitable from this point?” I can ask a question like that and say, “I’m on the same side of the table as you. We are on the same team. Let me see how I can help.” If they perceive you to be on the same side of the table, they’re going to want to open up to you.

We would even say something like, “Between you and I off the record, what’s the real reason you’re not moving forward today?” It has to be at the right time. You have to ask the right questions upstream. I love that because a lot of sales reps are missing out on the opportunity to create deep rapport and trust because they don’t ask the right questions.

A lot of sales reps are missing out on the opportunity to create deep rapport and trust because they just don't ask the right questions. Share on X

That is what I’m hearing you very loud and clear bringing forth in our conversation. It is that it’s a huge key to the neuroscience of what you’re talking about as well. The greatest stories when we’re a child ask us questions within the story. Will the superhero prevail? Will the superhero get the princess? Will the prince get the princess? Is the princess making the right decision to take the prince? Good kids’ stories will paint that picture for kids, and kids are asking those questions. A lot of times, people are trained out of it.

I remember when my kids were little. They would ask questions that would make me go, “How am I going to answer this one?” It is that curiosity-based thing. They don’t have the filters that adults have. That’s why, in a lot of ways, they’re the best salespeople in the world because they ask these questions. I know that the people, some of them are smiling, some of them have their hands on their heads, and some of them are crying about how they blew up the sale that they could have had. How do they know more about you and the company? How do they know how to get ahold of you all? 

There are a few ways. If your audience wants to learn more about the questions you could ask because we do have our own methodology or they want some maybe more specific industry examples, if they go to SalesRevolution.Pro, that will take them to our Facebook group. It’s a free Facebook group. We’ve got a little over 100,000 sales professionals in there.

What I’ll do for you is if they jump in there and say that they read about Anthony on the show, I’ll get someone from my team to send them the black book of questions. They’ll drop that in their inbox, and then we’ll give them some questions that could ask. If they’re readers as well, we’ve got a book called The New Model of Selling that was co-authored by Jerry Acuff. They can grab that from Barnes & Noble. It’s about how to sell to an unsellable generation. There are a few things there that they could go through if they didn’t get bored to death from this episode.

If they got bored, they should be out of selling. I am going to get some hate mail on that, I’m sure. That was SalesRevolution.Pro. I really appreciate you being here. Congratulations on getting married. I was wondering about this. Sometimes, my daughters ask me, “Why do you say these things on these episodes?” but I do it anyway. I was wondering. Since we’re so highly skilled in asking these questions, what if we ask these of our spouse?

They already know what we’re doing. That’s the issue. 

That’s true. She looks at me and says, “I don’t think so.”

She’s like, “It’s not working on me today.” That’s why you have to keep innovating the questions. That’s the trick though.

That’s so true. Thanks so much for being here on the show and bringing you’re A-game.

Thanks. I really appreciate it. I love what you are all about. The reason I’m here is I feel like our missions align. I love what you’re doing. You’re helping a lot of people. It was great to be a part of this episode.

What did you learn? I bet you learned a lot. I have a question for you. Are you asking emotionally-based questions, logic-based questions, or the old boiler room-type questions? That’s my first question for you. Please rate yourself on a scale. Take 0 to 10 and say, “On value-based questions, emotional questions, logic-based questions, boiler questions, or controversial questions, I’m a zero. I’m not that great at it,” or, “I’m a ten. I’m really good at it. I’m the top of the top.”

It’s important I have found in growth for us to take a baseline to find out where we are. If your baseline is like, “It’s not that good. Don’t worry about it,” you can get better. If your baseline is, “I’m a ten-plus at everything,” you are probably not. You think you are. All of us are never ten-plus across the board on likely anything. There’s always room for improvement. I can tell you this because I’ve worked with CEOs who have multibillion-dollar corporations. I’ve worked with billion-dollar earners. I’ve worked with people on a regular basis who are earning seven figures and up in doing this.

There’s always another level to climb. It’s like martial arts where you start out as a white belt and then you go through the progression of colors and the belt. When you get to a certain level of proficiency as a black belt, you don’t reach the end. You start all over as a white belt again. That is really what I would ask all of you to take a look at in how you’re selling. Is it time to start out as a white belt again? Remember. You’re bringing a lot of experience. You’re not starting out fresh, but you’re looking at things from a fresh set of eyes.

I do this on a regular basis because things change. Trust me. Things are changing again. Many years ago, when dial-ups came out and then they came out into DSL, I was telling people, “This is going to change how we sell.” Many of them said, “You’re insane.” I can imagine Marconi when he was saying something like, “We can make our voice go across an invisible plane and it can be picked up by another receiver. We’ll call this radio or whatever we’re calling it.” People thought he might’ve been crazy.

You can look through thing after thing in history. There’s the horse and the automobile. With television, it was, “This will never last. It’ll never hurt the theater. It’ll never hurt movies,” but it did. Guess what? Streaming had come out of this whole process. In 2005, I was talking about IPTV and people thought we were nuts. It’s called streaming.

Pay attention to where AI is going because that’s going to change things. You don’t have to fear it. You have to adapt. You must adapt. Asking emotionally-based questions and getting the prospect or the potential buyer to come to the conclusion that this is a really good deal because it is but they’re internally motivated is an invaluable skill for you to have going forward.

If you like this episode, please give it a review. If you love the episode, please give it a five-star review. I know it takes time to do this and it’s a pain. I wish the companies made it an easier process, but they didn’t for whatever reason. If you have time, please do that. If you love the subject matter on this and you think you’re a subject matter expert or you know someone, reach out to us.

If you’d like a copy of our eBook, The Nonstop 1% Earner, and you want to know more about the 1% Academy where we’re training you on how to think and act, whether you’re a company and you have a sales team or you are an individual seller and you want to up your game and increase your sales revenue, reach out to us at YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com. Tell us what you’re looking for and then we’ll respond back to you. We answer all inquiries unlike some other companies who say, “Do this,” and they never get back to you, which is crazy. I don’t understand that, but it is life.

As always, go out and sell something. Sell a lot of it. Play win-win-win where three people win out of the process. Be the first to disengage. If it isn’t right, have a strong moral obligation to move forward. If it’s truly what they should have and you know it in your heart of hearts, do everything you can to persuade them or get them to come to the understanding that it’s right for them. Until next time, to your success.

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