EPISODE 444: Bob Burg Explains Why Moving from Getting to Go Giving Will Make You a More Profitable Sales Professional

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Optimal Sales Mindset virtual learning session sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on November 5 , 2020. It featured an interview with Bob Burg Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Coauthor of The Go-Giver.]

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Bob’s TIP: “Shifting your focus from getting to giving and when we say giving in this context, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing immense value to others understanding that doing so is not only a more pleasant way of conducting business, it’s actually the most financially profitable way as well. When you’re that person who is able to take your focus off of yourself and place it onto that other person genuinely and authentically, looking to discover what they need, what they want, what they desire, how you can help make their businesses, their lives better, help bring them closer to happiness, people feel good about you. People want to get to know you, they like you, they trust you, they want to be in relationship with you, do business with you and so forth. They’re going to buy from you only because they believe they’ll be better off by doing so than by not doing so.”


Fred Diamond: It’s an interesting day, it’s November 5th, we’re still waiting to see who our president is going to be but let’s get right to it. It’s such an honor to be talking to you, Go-Giver has affected so many lives, sold almost a million copies, good for you. As I told you, I read the book on the beach in Margate, New Jersey, I remember it very clearly. For the people who know Margate, right where the beach is, where Lucy the elephant is and this was back in 2012. It really had an impact on me and it really had an impact on a lot of our attendees and listeners of the Sales Game Changers podcast because when we announced that we were going to have you on the show we got a lot of response. First off, Bob, we’re doing a mindset show every Thursday, prior to the pandemic we would do one event on mindset a Friday in October, now we’re doing a show just on Optimal Sales Mindset every single week. Bob, what do you think about that?

Bob Burg: I think that when there are adjustments that have had to be made since COVID really hit, I think successful people deal in truths, they don’t bury their head in the sand and they look at what is, they don’t necessarily let themselves be stopped by what is but there are certain areas that we have no control over. We have to acknowledge those and deal with those and then we need to shift our mindset onto what we can control and focus on that. It makes sense that dealing with our mind and our mindset is something very important during this time.

Fred Diamond: Let’s get right to it, The Go-Giver, a number of people are already chiming in that they’ve read the book and they’re excited to see you. Get everybody here grounded on the same page, what exactly do we mean by the premise of The Go-Giver? You also offer a lot of value to sales professionals. Again, this is the Sales Game Changers podcast and we do the Sales Game Changer programs every day, talk about it also in context of the sales profession.

Bob Burg: The basic premise of The Go-Giver – and this is a series that was co-authored by John David Mann who’s a magnificent writer, great storyteller, he’s really the lead writer, he makes these books sing. The basic premise is simply that shifting your focus – and this is really they key – from getting to giving and when we say giving in this context, Fred we simply mean constantly and consistently providing immense value to others understanding that doing so is not only a more pleasant way of conducting business, it’s actually the most financially profitable way as well. Not for some woo-woo way out there, magical, mystical type of reasons, it’s actually very rational when you think about it. When you’re that person, when you’re that entrepreneur who is able to take your focus off of yourself and place it onto that other person genuinely and authentically, looking to discover what they need, what they want, what they desire, how you can help make their businesses, their lives better, help bring them closer to happiness, people feel good about you. People want to get to know you, they like you, they trust you, they want to be in relationship with you, do business with you and so forth. Often when speaking to a sales organization I’ll start by saying something that everyone intuitively knows and that is nobody’s going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet, they’re not going to buy from you because you’d like the money and they’re not going to buy from you even because you’re a really nice person who believes in what you do. They’re going to buy from you only because they believe they’ll be better off by doing so than by not doing so. In the free market based economy in which we operate – and when I say free market I simply mean no one’s forced to do business with anyone else – that’s the only reason anyone should buy from you, me or anyone else, because they believe they’ll benefit by doing so.

Fred Diamond: Bob, let’s talk about value specifically. We’ve been talking about sales professionals providing value from day 1, the Institute for Excellence in Sales was created in 2012, our first speaker was a guy named Neil Rackham who wrote the book SPIN Selling and Neil, I remember him very clearly saying sales is all about value creation. We’ve all known that, pandemic kicks in on March 15th or whenever it was, all of a sudden the value that you need to bring to get to the attention of your customers, prospects or anyone else has significantly gotten harder. Everyone’s focusing on their own stuff, everyone’s focusing on getting past COVID, economically getting past COVID and maybe a couple other things specific to their lives if they’re a parent or they have elderly parents, whatever it might be. Let’s talk about value in context today, you’ve been studying value I’m going to guess your whole career, at least as you’ve been writing the books, we talk about value all the time. Let’s talk about really creating value today and how that can set you apart.

Bob Burg: First I think it’s really important to define value because it’s a word that’s so over-used, it’s not that it has lost its meaning, it’s just that it’s defined differently by different people on an unconscious level. The big thing is to understand the difference between price and value which is too often confused, price is a dollar figure, it’s a dollar amount, it’s finite, it simply is what it is, it’s the price of a thing. Value, on the other hand, is the relative worth or desirability of something to the end-user or beholder. In other words, what is it about this thing, this product, this service, this concept, this idea, this particular insight that brings so much worth or value to another human being that they will willingly exchange their money for it and be glad they did while you, the salesperson in the company, makes a very nice profit. We can say in a sense the value is the overall experience but we need to always remember that value is in the eyes of the beholder, it’s not what we think is valuable about our product, service or what have you. It’s not what we think they should think is of value, it’s what they think and the best salespeople are able to discover exactly that.

Fred Diamond: Is there any advice that you received before you started understanding The Go-Giver that might have been a difference for you? I’m curious of the moment when you decided, you and your partner, “We’re going to write The Go-Giver.” Was there anything that you got along the way, maybe something specific that was a big inflection point for you that got you to write these tremendously successful series of books?

Bob Burg: The big insight that I had received when it came to sales was a long time before John and I teamed up to write the book, it was back when I was in sales – I’m always in sales but back when I was selling for another company. I’d been in sales for a couple of years and I’d been doing pretty well but I had just started a new job with another company and it was a high ticket item that we were selling and I wasn’t doing very well, I was in a slump and the bigger the slump was, the longer it went, the more I was focusing on myself which is the opposite of what we should be doing but that’s exactly what I was doing. It became about the sale and I remember coming back to the office one day after a non-selling appointment and there was a gentleman there, he was not in the sales department, I think he was in the engineering department, much older guy. I didn’t know him very well but he was one of these guys, he didn’t say a lot but whenever he did, it was typically very profound and I think he saw me as Joe in the book who we’d write about years later. That ambitious, aggressive, up-and-coming good guy but whose focus was in the wrong place. He said to me, “Burg, can I give you some advice?” and I said, “Absolutely, please do, I need it.”  He said, “If you want to make a lot of money in sales, don’t have making money as your target. Your target is serving others, when you hit the target you’ll get a reward and that reward will come in the form of money and you can do with that money whatever you choose. But never forget, the money is simply the reward for hitting the target, it ain’t the target itself. Your target is serving others.” That was really when it hit me that great salesmanship is never about the salesperson, great salesmanship is never about the product or services as important as those are, great salesmanship is about the other person, it’s about that person whose life you’re trying to touch. It’s about making that other person’s life and then their business as a result better just by virtue of you being part of it. I think when we place our focus there, now we’re really 9 steps ahead of the game in a 10 step game.

Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about that for a little bit. We have a wide variety of sales professionals, we have a whole bunch of people watching today’s webinar and listening on the podcast, we have people who are senior in their career, we have junior people. Bob, when you’re relatively junior in your career you do have a lot of metrics, you have to make a certain number of phone calls, you have to schedule a certain number of appointments every day, especially now when everybody is working from their home typically, there’s no distractions about being in front of your computer, etcetera and dialing. You spent your whole life helping people get from that where it’s about the metrics and the sales to giving, talk about some of the processes along the way or habits that people can put into play to start making the shift. If we were telling someone who’s 22 years old who’s just out of school, they’re in their first sales job, “It’s about the other person, it’s not about you”, “But I have to make a hundred phone calls today or else I’m going to get fired.” Talk about some of the steps along the way where people can start making the shift where they truly are a Go-Giver.

Bob Burg: It’s a great question and I think it’s important to understand that being a Go-Giver does not mean that you are not concerned with the metrics or that the metrics don’t count, of course they do, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. It just means that as you’re making your hundred calls if that’s what it is, that those hundred calls are with a customer focus. Again, this is not woo-woo stuff, they’re not going to buy because you want them to buy so while you’re making those calls, you better be focused on them because that’s the only thing that’s going to cause them to want to be interested. That’s really all it means, we should have goals, we should have metrics, I’m the type of person who believes more in measuring activity as opposed to measuring results only because I think if you do the activities right, the results are going to happen but that’s just a philosophy, that has nothing to do with being a Go-Giver or not. The Go-Giver philosophy simply says that you understand that you need to shift your focus off yourself and onto them because that’s how business is done and that’s how sustainable success is accomplished.

Fred Diamond: We have a question here from Lucy and Lucy is in New York City, she says, “I’m a fan, can Bob spend a little bit of time talking about the five laws that he goes through in the book?” For people who don’t know what that means, could you tell us what they are and put them in context?

Bob Burg: We took the basic premise of the book, that shift from an ‘I’ focus to an ‘other’ focus and we built five laws around that premise. The laws themselves are the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity and receptivity. The law of value says your true worth – in the business sense, of course – is determined by how much more you give value than you take in payment. We explained that a little earlier, that the value needs to exceed the price, otherwise why would anyone do business with you? An economic law basically says that people will exchange their money for that which they feel is of equal or hopefully greater value than the money they exchange for it. Whether you’re selling pizzas or whether you’re doing a complex sale, the fact is they need to feel as though they’ve received a lot more than what they paid for while you make a very healthy profit. The focus is always on them, this is why John David Mann and I say that money is simply an echo of value, it’s the thunder to value’s lightning so the value comes first, the money you receive is a very natural result of the value you’ve provided.

Law #2 is the law of compensation, this says your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. While law #1 says to give more in value than you take in payment, law #2 tells us that the more people whose lives we touch with the exceptional value we provide, the more money with which we’ll be rewarded. In the story, one of the mentors, Nicole Martin, the CEO told Joe that law #1, the law of value represents your potential income but it’s law #2, the law of compensation which represents your actual income because that’s based on how many lives you impact with that value.

Law #3 is the law of influence, this says your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first. When we say other people’s interest first we don’t mean you should be anyone’s doormat or a martyr or self-sacrificial in any way, absolutely not at all. It’s simply as Joe, the protégé learned from several of mentors, the golden rule of business, the golden rule of sales is that all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust. There’s no faster, more powerful or more effective way to elicit those feelings toward you from others than by genuinely moving from an ‘I’ focus or ‘me’ focus to an ‘other’ focus. Looking to as Sam, one of the mentors, advised Joe, make your win all about the other person’s win.

Law #4 is the law of authenticity, this says the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. In this part of the story, Deborah, one of the other mentors shared a powerful lesson and that is all the skills in the world – sales skills, technical skills, people skills – as important as they are, and they are indeed very important, they’re also all for naught if you don’t come at it from your true authentic core. When you show up as yourself day after day, week after week, month after month, people feel good about you. People feel comfortable with you, they feel safe with you because they know who they’re getting and we want to know that this person who we’re dealing with is consistent, we want to know who we’re dealing with. People are much more likely to know you, to like you, to trust you, to want to be in relationship with you. Part of authenticity is understanding what your strengths are, of course we have to understand our weaknesses too and which weaknesses we can ignore, which ones only to mitigate and which ones we need to take and actually turn into strengths. We lead with our strengths, it’s important that we understand what I call assets of value, your market value that allows you to bring that value to the marketplace in such a way that you will be financially rewarded for it. I think one of the biggest jobs of a sales manager or sales leader in an organization is to make sure that his or her salespeople understand their strengths. It’s not always easy because we’re human beings and we’re emotionally involved with ourselves, we’re too close to ourselves, we cannot always tell that what we have to offer is a big difference maker because we’re just used to having it. I think that’s very important.

Law #5 is the law of receptivity and this is the one that brings it home. The law of receptivity says the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving and this means nothing more than understanding that you breathe out but you also have to breathe in. We breathe out carbon dioxide, we breathe in oxygen. We breathe out which is giving, we breathe in which is receiving. The world around us gives us so many horribly negative messages regarding money, business, prosperity, abundance and so forth that it really gets into the head and into the unconscious and it can cause people to really sabotage their financial success for no good reason at all. This is one of the biggest things when I speak with a company and their salespeople, that’s the mind game part of it because the technique part is easy, the how-to is pretty much the easy part. It’s allowing yourself to receive and that’s a head game so I think it’s really important to actually study prosperity.

Fred Diamond: Bob, I want to talk about authenticity. A lot of people when they’re starting out in their sales careers they’re learning scripts or they’re learning what to say or the company’s process especially if they’re in the first three to five years of their sales career. A lot of it is study, learn, experiment. I want to talk about being authentic, you mentioned that as one of the laws. How do you put authenticity into practice? I want to talk about some things that people can do listening to today’s webinar or listening to today’s podcast, let’s start shifting to some things that people can physically be doing to eventually get to the point where they’re The Go-Givers. It’s great if you’re naturally like that and I don’t want to make this seem like a stupid question, but can you be taught not necessarily to be authentic but to demonstrate your authenticity? Are there things that people can be doing to be confident and comfortable? A lot of our younger members say to us, “I’m not quite comfortable talking to someone my father’s age about the challenges that he’s facing.” Let’s talk about some ways that people can start to practice to be authentic and then put that into their sales performance.

Bob Burg: Let’s take this on a couple of levels if we can because you mentioned sales scripts and so forth. Utilizing sales scripts does not equate to being inauthentic any more than an actor on stage for a play would be expected not to rehearse their lines because that would make them inauthentic. If you ever go to a play whether it’s a Broadway play or your local high school play and you see these magnificent actors, actresses on stage, none of them are winging it up there, they’ve rehearsed. I would never go to a concert and expect the band to not have rehearsed for hours and hours, there’s nothing about a script that in and of itself is inauthentic, what would be inauthentic is if you were using language or trying to move a person to do something that was incongruent with your values, that would be inauthentic. I think we always have to remember that, I’m a big believer in practice, in being prepared and none of that is inauthentic. I think it’s very authentic because what it means is we can then focus on the other person. If we don’t know our lines, if we don’t know our script, our product and service or the sales process, now we have to be focused on ourselves asking ourselves, “Am I doing this right? Did I say this right? What am I supposed to say next?” When we know what we’re doing, now we can focus on bringing value to that other person.

In terms of being authentic and communicating that authenticity, I think we’re authentic to the point that we’re comfortable with ourselves, let’s take for example the person you were saying who doesn’t feel comfortable speaking to people his father’s age. Does this young person have the experience and the know-how? Does he/she know their product enough and the process to be able to go through that in a way that’s adding value to that other person? Let’s assume they do. They’re probably more concerned than their prospect who’s older than them, that may be more themselves. It’s a worthy concern, it’s a very natural concern, the question is how do we get past that? The first thing is that we show up with humility and we don’t act like we have all the answers because we probably don’t but the other thing we can do is team up with someone maybe who’s a little bit older and/or more experienced and who has maybe a different strength set than you have and work together until you feel confident. Maybe you’ve now made a couple of those sales with people who are quite a bit older than you are and you’ve done it with the help of someone else but now your confidence is built, now you’ve had some successes so now you’re ready to do that on your own. Again, once you’ve broken the ice and had a couple of these sales, now you know you can do it so you build on your small successes.

Fred Diamond: A big part of The Go-Giver is the mentor-protégé relationships and you mentioned some examples, let’s talk about that for a little bit, I’m going to give you a little bit of a context. I had a nice conversation with a VP of Sales yesterday and he manages a team of about 150 people and he said, “Fred, I love so many things about my job. The one part I really don’t grasp is the coaching side.” This is a very successful leader, I would say he’s a Go-Giver, he’s provided value for so many companies and customers along the way but he says right now he’s struggling with coaching. I don’t want to get into distinction between coaching and mentoring but give a little insight here. There’s such a big part of the Go-Giver movement and everything related to it about how people can be a great protégé and how they could also conversely be a great mentor today. Again, we’re doing today’s show November 5th, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, a lot of challenges, everybody is still working from home, everything is different, people are looking for solutions right now.

Bob Burg: Obviously I don’t know this person of whom you’re speaking so I can’t speak to what his challenge may or may not be in terms of the coaching relationship or the mentoring relationship that he feels he should have that he doesn’t feel comfortable with. Obviously a sales manager needs to be able to coach or teach or instruct or help, guide, whatever you want to call it so I would say if it’s the terminology that bothers him because he thinks there’s something that he needs to do that he really doesn’t, then what he might want to do is reframe it and shift to a terminology that makes him feel comfortable. There are also some really good books out there on how to coach, on how to mentor, on how to work with your sales team. I think in a sense – and I’m not saying he’s not knowledgeable because obviously as you said, he’s a very successful person – but to the degree that he can acquire knowledge in that specific area, that’s probably something that will give him a lot more confidence in doing that. If it’s just that he doesn’t like it, that’s something where you’ve got to make the decision, “Is my not liking it going to keep me from doing it to at least the degree that I have to?” Another thing he can do is – again, depending upon the structure of his company – to be able to coach some of his leaders who might really love coaching and mentoring to be able to do that. Again, I think it goes to work arounds if there’s an area that not, as John Maxwell calls it, your strength zone or you could even say your joy zone.

Fred Diamond: We have time for one more question, then I’m going to be asking you for just a final action step, we like to end every webinar, every podcast with an action step that our listeners or viewers can do today to take their sales efforts and career to the next level. A question comes in from Gino in New Jersey, Gino says, “Bob talks about entrepreneurial spirits a lot in the Go-Giver books.” Every Friday we do a show called the Creativity in Sales webinar and convert it into a Sales Game Changers podcast, we’ve been doing that since March, we’re going to be doing that for the next five years probably as we continue to do the webinars and as our audience grows. Creativity, entrepreneurial shift, and again, most of the people watching today’s webinar or listening to the podcast work for companies, they’re not business owners in the entrepreneurial sense but you talk about that a lot in the Go-Giver publications, entrepreneurial I believe you call it. Give us some ideas on how people in sales roles, sales managers or individual contributors can be thinking more as an entrepreneur to help their businesses and their careers grow.

Bob Burg: I think the entrepreneurial spirit is the spirit of creating value, that’s what an entrepreneur does. We think of an entrepreneur as being in business for themselves, they’ve invested money or taken investment money or usually a combination of both, put a lot of equity into it and the entrepreneur knows that ultimately their job is to please another individual because that’s how you make a living, by bringing value to someone else who decides it’s of value to them. When you’re working for another company as an employee, you may not be an entrepreneur but you still have to have that same spirit of creativity, you are now an intrapreneur, you’re an entrepreneur within another person’s organization. Remember, when I said as a salesperson no one’s going to buy from you because you have a quota, as an intrapreneur we understand no one’s going to hire you, keep you on and pay you a salary because you have a mortgage payment to meet. They’re going to keep you on because they believe you are bringing sufficient value to them, more than what they’re paying you, that’s why they have employees which is the reason they should. Your customer in this case might be your supervisor, it might be the customer are the people you lead if you’re a sales manager or team leader. Your customer might be that person in that other silo who usually is not forthcoming with helpful information but because of the relationship you’ve created, he or she is. Your customer is your employer and ultimately of course, indirectly or directly the end-user of the company’s products and services. I think that’s really what we mean by the entrepreneurial spirit to the degree that you find ways to continue to bring immense value to others, that’s the degree you make yourself more valuable.

Fred Diamond: We’re getting feedback here, Mike says, “Thank you so much”, Tim says, “This is awesome”, Jenny says, “Thank you so much, Bob”, Greg says, “Love the books, thank you so much for spending time with us.” Bob Burg, you may not know this but you’ve impacted hundreds of thousands of lives in your career, in your writing, in your consulting and obviously you’re doing things from home now. We appreciate you for spending the time with us, we applaud you for all the great work that you’ve done and the value that you’ve brought not just to sales professionals, not just to business owners but for people in their lives as well. You’ve given us so many great ideas, give us one final thing that our viewers should do today or the people listening on the podcast should do today to take their sales careers to the next level.

Bob Burg: I think the action step is to just take those action steps, what you feel you need to do to make an improvement or to bring in more knowledge or whatever it happens to be, find the information. Someone’s already written on it, someone’s teaching on it, someone has a video on it on YouTube, find that information and then apply it. I would say apply it immediately as soon as you have enough of that knowledge to apply it. In other words, don’t wait for perfection. When you know enough, apply it, course-correct as you go along, stay persistent and stay consistent and as long as we have enough of a belief in ourselves and in what we’re doing and the value we’re bringing to others, I think at that point we’re good to go.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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