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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This podcast, sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales featured an interview with Lance Tyson, author of The Human Sales Factor.]
Find Lance on LinkedIn.
LANCE’S TIP: “Persuasion and influence are no longer soft skills. They are fundamental skills that can help you attract investors, sell products, build brands, inspire teams, and trigger movements. Despite all the processes, lingo, methodologies, and corporate rhetoric, sales—no matter the industry—has never truly been about selling business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-customer (B2C). Selling always has and always will be done human-to-human.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: Lance Tyson, this is the fourth time we’ve had you on the show. We actually did an interview prior to the pandemic in person, then we’ve had you on three times since we’ve gone 100% virtual. It’s great to see you. The book, The Human Sales Factor. One of the first things that you have in this book where you say, “Persuasion and influence are no longer soft skills.” We do a podcast almost every single day. Someone asked me recently about emotional intelligence being a soft skill. I said, “None of this stuff is soft skills anymore.” Especially over the last two years, everything has changed, transparency, vulnerability. Everybody has been rethinking their life. Every customer has things going on besides, should I become a customer? We’ve got to get better at this. Tell me a little more. Why’d you write the book right now? Let’s get deep into this conversation.
Lance Tyson: Fred, as always, I enjoy being on the podcast with you. I enjoyed when I met you. I think it was about a year before the pandemic when I came to DC with the awards banquet. That’s where we actually did our first podcast in that hotel. I remember I was recruiting a person to work for us and I had her come with me. I think that sealed the deal, right?
Fred Diamond: I remember. Yes.
Lance Tyson: What got me to write the book was, it kind of morphed. I started to write this book, I struggle writing, it’s not natural for me. I’m a better speaker. The way I write is really unorthodox. I started to write a prospecting book, because coming out of the pandemic, they’re the haves and the have nots. Obviously, we’re still in the pandemic, I guess. As the world’s changed, let’s just call it that, the big change. It started to be around prospecting. Then one of my key people, my staff said, “Why are you preaching to the converted already?” I go, “What do you mean?” She said, “You need to write a book that has more of this, because you’re talking about a person’s effect in prospecting. Get away from all those data and be that person, why don’t we just go wider with it?” We had some good examples.
Then we started talking about this human factor because inside the pandemic, there’s so many examples of leadership and people that have put their companies on their shoulders and sold, and salespeople that have saved organizations because it was scary the first six months. What we forgot with all this data and analytics and technology, that the human is really the factor in this. Using an example in the book, if you watch Shark Tank, or Marcus Lemonis on The Profit, you consistently hear like a Mark Cuban say, “I don’t know how much I love the product you’re selling, but I really buy into you. I’m investing in you.” I see Marcus Lemonis stood on The Profit all the time, like, “Hey, I’m really going to invest my money in this entrepreneur.” Or like on Bar Rescue, same thing.
We do that in sales as sales leaders. I buy more into the person. I hired a guy named John and moved to Cincinnati close to our offices and he didn’t know anything about the training industry. But you know what? I like John, and I think John has it. He’ll take some time to learn the industry. We look at who is the human in that equation? Now, for the audience, I’ve been in the training industry 25 years now. I’ve led salespeople that time, I’m not just a trainer, I run a small company with a sales team of six and activation people who are like service people, another four. I don’t believe salespeople are born, I believe they’re built. You have that human that can be in the equation and a strong factor in that equation.
Fred Diamond: Lance, we got to know you originally, because you got a lot of your chops helping sports organizations and you’ve expanded. Your company probably does, I’m going to guess 40, 50% not sports any longer, but it’s still your sweet spot. You’re still known for that. You’ve worked with the Cowboys of course, sorry about that. I’m an Eagles fan. I know you’re a Cleveland guy.
Lance Tyson: I’m from Philly originally, so I’m an Eagles fan. I was in Philadelphia yesterday working with the Flyers.
Fred Diamond: You know what? We could spend the next 45 minutes talking about Philly. We’ll have to talk offline, because I’ve been noted to do that on occasion. I’m thinking actually about driving to Pittsburgh to watch the Phillies tonight. Let’s talk about this. Selling sports, selling tickets and suites and sponsorships, it’s thought of as being like a hard no’s, you got to make a lot of calls. It’s a lot of the hard sell type stuff. In the book, you talked about emotional intelligence. How’s the shift in that particular industry? Or has it always been there, and we just never really paid attention to it?
Lance Tyson: It’s like any sale. I would even say, think about banking right now. I was meeting with a guy I was recruiting as a consultant for us. She’s worked for one of the bigger banks, and pretty high up. She goes, “Lance, as easy as it was to sell, for instance, mortgages, right now, in the last three or four years, now you actually sell mortgages,” because of the rates going up and stuff like that. I think that human factor, whether it’s in something that’s a less complex sale like a mortgage, or if you’re selling a corporate partnership, like a stadium rights deal, or a dashboard, or something that has media built into it and digital and signage and things like that, there is always an EQ factor.
We overlook EQ in so many different ways. Now, I would tell you, I look at it very simplistically. I’ve written a book on EQ, it’s sitting right over my shoulder, I talk about my new book. When it first dawned on me, I was reading Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. I started to realize right there that the book is really about how you talk to yourself. That’s your ability to control your own attitude. In my new book, I talk about this concept of the Greek mirror. As you’re messaging and you’re going to persuade or influence, it is a hard skill, you’re going to look at how you’re going to form your message. As you form your message, you’re looking in the mirror and you got ethos, pathos, logos. Which is, your character, your logic, and then what the message is going to be. Then you start looking out of the window, “How am I going to message?”
Then, with all that, you got to actually consider the audience. That’s where EQ really comes in. You got EQ with controlling yourself, but then do you have this understanding of the audience? In sales, this is strictly my opinion, I bet there’s a lot smarter people than me in the world that can talk about this. The word empathy is where we really start to have a trouble in sales, because I don’t know if I want my salespeople to be so empathetic that they freeze in trying to press on the objection. They won’t press on the objection, because they overthink that and I see that all the time. We have to be aware that we’re going to get resistance.
I was with a group when I was in Philadelphia yesterday. The day before I was in Washington with the Wizards and the Caps. One of the things we talked about was that’s really important, sometimes you got to have EQ, like, “Are you selling something to somebody that’s never done this before, so are you selling change?” Well, if you’re going to sell change to somebody, a new product, a new service, new way of thinking, regardless of what it is, you got to have the EQ to understand that that process will have a tendency to be a little bit longer unless they really need it. If you’re going to try to really hard press them, it’s probably going to backfire in a little bit. EQ becomes this filter that you got to think about, but there’s another side to it. You got to also be sympathetic to people’s ideas and desires. Sympathy plays in it, because they gave birth to their ideas or desires and that all takes in the audience.
You can have a great message, you can have a great idea, you can have a great concept. You could go on Shark Tank with a great product, but you got to think like the sharks. That’s your EQ. You’ve got to sell to them if that’s your audience.
Fred Diamond: What number book is this, by the way?
Lance Tyson: It’s just three. This is the third. Everybody knows they are really short books, a lot of pictures. If you’re in the airport, “it’s not really thick, I might read that.”
Fred Diamond: They say you want to read a book under an hour these days. Selling Is an Away Game was such a great book and such a fascinating book to understand some of the nuance of selling things like sports and the thought processes. I’m just curious, what was your major revelation when you wrote The Human Sales Factor? What was the aha moment? Not about why did you need to write it, you’ve explained that. As you’re deep into the writing of this book, and a lot of times, you think you’re going to write a book a certain way, and then you make a shift. You’ve worked with thousands of sales organizations. You’ve probably helped if not millions, hundreds of thousands of sales professionals in your over 25 year career. What was the aha moment if there was one as you were writing this book that really got you to say, “Wow, this is where we are today?”
Lance Tyson: Selling Is an Away Game was written on title because it happens in the mind of the buyer. Ultimately, if you’re selling, forget about you, forget about your product or service. Think like a buyer, because that’s really what it’s about. You’re playing an away game at all time because that actually happens in the mind of the buyer. When I was writing The Human Sales Factor, I actually went back and I was looking at some books that had impact on me. If you’ve ever read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – if you haven’t already, you should. It’s classic. The way that Stephen Covey writes that book, he says, “If you look at the personal development game…” up until Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking or The Law of Persuasion, or Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, up until that point, it was very value driven. If you took Ben Franklin’s autobiography, it was all these virtues he worked on.
It was always inside is the first thing you work on. The cardinal virtues is temperance, prudence, fortitude, courage, and justice might be the other one. I said, “All right, let’s get in our own heads first. Let’s look inside, how do I handle stuff?” Most sales training books or persuasion books are more worried about the audience. “Let’s look at that mirror first.” Which is what Covey did. His first habits are be proactive. First thing’s first. I took that lesson there and I said, “Alright, let’s go inside out, then worry about the outside.” The first part of the book is really inside out right up into EQ.
Then it’s like, “Alright, now get into how you message.” That was the aha moment because I think without looking at it that way, you’re not looking at the whole human equation. Most of us are worried about, “How do you say this to come off this way?” It’s like yesterday with a group, somebody said, “Geez, one of the things you’re coaching on, seems like, boy, you’re really pressing the buyer.” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Because I don’t know if I can do that.” I go, “Well, you don’t want to do it right now, because you’ve used through this whole training the wrong word. You’re worried about relationship.”
He goes, “Well, it’s so important.” I said, “But you’re not doing business with the prospect right now, so why do you really care about relationship?” I said, “Zero plus zero is zero, zero times zero is zero. I don’t know if you can divide zero, but it’s probably zero.” You don’t have anything right now. You’re banking this relationship on what? Do you need an extra friend? That’s not your KPI.”
I said, “You want to build enough rapport so that you can influence.” Then he goes, “Alright, fair enough.” I said,” The other thing you’re worried about is you told me what your closing ratio is, you got to 20% closing ratio. I’m looking at the data right now and your pipeline, you would have to have a 75% closing ratio to convert your pipeline right now. You don’t run the risk of offending this person because you actually really need this person. You can’t even use a negotiation principle or walk away. You can’t walk away right now because you need this person. Right now, in your mindset, you’re more in a scarcity model than an abundance model.” All of a sudden he goes, “That makes sense.” Well, Vic is in his head.
I’m not a clinical psychologist by any stretch of imagination. Vic pulled me aside afterwards, and he goes, “Hey, I needed to hear that.” I go, “You just need to look in the mirror, Vic. You didn’t need to hear it from anybody. You just need to look in the mirror and weigh it out.” That’s how all the books I’ve written first, it’s like you first and I’m not a pump-up guy. I’m not going to be your Anthony Robbins and tell you how great you are. I like Anthony, I’m a fan, I have books of him up on my shelf, but I’m not a pump-up guy. Sometimes your mind is like a bad neighborhood. It’s not good to be by yourself in it.
Fred Diamond: I’m curious, you touched on negotiations. You talk about that a lot in the book. Where are we today with negotiations? What are some of the things that you recommend on how one can master negotiations?
Lance Tyson: First of all, if you go by definition, negotiation, and you look it up. I don’t know the audience, so you can clip me on this. Negotiation is like the word pornography. Alright, let me finish before you get off the podcast. Larry Flynt versus the US government in that famous court case defined pornography in the eyes of the buyer. Some person might look at the Statue of David and see something bad, some might say, “It’s a beautiful art.” Negotiation is one of those ambiguous words that’s used in business that you know a good negotiator when you see one, as opposed to somebody really defining what negotiation is.
If you drove your car today, like I went out, and not that these guys are a sponsor, but I got my cup of Tim Hortons this morning. I negotiated my car to Tim Hortons. I drove my car, pulled in the slots, that’s negotiation. First and foremost, it’s navigation. I would say navigating that part of the sales process. Second thing I think helps change, Fred, I can’t tell you how much coaching we do on this. All my trainers and consultants, when we go in and look and do analysis like on sales process, it’s semi complex or complex. What methodology are you using? Are they consultative sellers, are they value based sellers? Regardless of what it is, then we started looking at pipelines and we look at, are they shorter or longer pipelines? A lot of salespeople confuse objections with negotiation.
You got to first get the objections on the table because if you dip into negotiations, you start the bargaining process, and you can’t bargain if you’re blind. That’s the biggest thing. I think salespeople confuse an objection and ask a push-back for negotiating. Then they dip into what that organization called formal negotiation. That’s the biggest mistake that I’m seeing right now.
Last thing with that is most people sell based of what their buying profile is. There’s a very big majority of people out there, especially today, that are very price sensitive. I have a tendency to see salespeople that will apply their shopping habits to how they sell. If you’re selling a high end more expensive product or service, I don’t know if I want salespeople applying their buying profile to that. They all tie together. One of the biggest objections you’re going to get in most industries are financial objections.
Fred Diamond: Relating to that, here we are. We’re doing this interview today, Lance, in July of 2022. You just mentioned a couple times that you’ve been on the road meeting with some of your customers. We’re still in theory in a pandemic, we’re coming out of it, people are beginning to shift. I don’t think it’s going to be until 2023 until we’re even really into a rhythm. What are some of your recommendations right now? A lot of sales professionals are still virtual because they’re still not back to the office, mainly by their choice. Companies would love their people to be back to the office, but it’s going to take some time. People are used to this. What are some of your recommendations for sales managers I should say, on how they should be managing? What should some of their expectations be right now?
Lance Tyson: It seems to be a concept that comes up all the time. Companies are just all over the place with this and they’re just challenged with it. Some organizations, whether they’re pro sports or technology, there’s a great quit out there, or The Great Resignation, whatever it is they call it. If you’re recruiting people, you better find out early in the process how somebody wants to be led or managed and what that looks like. If you go down a road with somebody that’s experienced being able to work out of their house and you’re trying to force fit them into being in an office, I’m seeing a lot of struggles with recruiting that way. That’s number one.
Our organization, we’ve been remote since 2007. I have a VP of sales, and we’re about 25 people. I have a VP of sales on the West Coast, I have a guy in Arizona, I have a girl up in Chicago. We’re just in multiple time zones. It’s your cadence of how you operate. If you have people all over the place, or they’re remote, or not remote, or a combination of both, there’s always this perfect conversation of what feels like an organic meeting, that happens every so often. My leaders will be like, “Let’s hop on a huddle real quick that’s not planned,” looking at everybody’s calendar. It feels like you’re in a meeting room. You got to orchestrate that stuff a little bit, you got to manufacture it a little bit, you got to create these momentum plays to being on a Text Chain, or Slack, and you’re celebrating small wins. You have to really plan that out if it’s going to be that way.
I would say, you’re looking at groups of people that you’re also going to have to come up with something else. A lot of people have side hustles now too. They’re making money on Amazon, they’re doing this. They don’t necessarily want to feel they need to be babysat. There’s plenty of jobs out there where they don’t have to go. If you have flexibility where you can be a little bit remote, I think that’s what people are expecting.
I got in a big debate with the president of a company that I don’t want to mention at this point. We went back and forth about culture. He said, “Our culture is being here.” I go, “What got you here is not going to necessarily get you there.” I said, “Then you’re going have to be really selective with the people that you get and you might have to sacrifice other things.” I said, “My challenge to you is, I don’t know that your culture is being here. I think your culture is your people, and I think you may have to redefine that a little bit.” That’s what’s going on. That’s raging right now. I would say, last thing from a KPI standpoint, it is really hard to manage some salespeople if a lot of your KPIs are activity driven. Like how many calls people make, and things like that. Remote sales organizations have to be very outcome driven with KPIs, very clear. There might be bigger KPIs, because if you got a lot of momentum in a sales room and get it going, but you got a lot of people remote, that’s tougher.
Fred Diamond: You raise a great point. We deal at The Institute for Excellence in Sales with companies as large as IBM and Amazon and Salesforce. We deal with a lot of small and medium sized businesses that have sales organizations as well. Our customers are primarily professional sales organizations. I’ll tell you, Lance, from the largest to the smallest, they’re all dealing with things that you just touched on, which is, how do we move forward? There wasn’t one pivot in the pandemic. Everybody pivoted in the beginning.
Then, now there’s been like two, or three, or four, and even here in the summer of 2022, not some, most of the sales leaders that I’ve talked to are thinking about, “How do we lead the organization moving forward?” Things that you just said, are right on target. Our culture is people being here, but if the group of people who are looking to be your salespeople aren’t interested in physically going to the office right now in July of 200 when we’re doing today’s interview, you got to rethink how we shift. I got one last question for you, then we’re going to ask you for your action step.
I’m curious, you gave us some examples of some aha’s that some people have had when you’ve spoken to them in their face. “Go look in the mirror and take a hard look.” What has been the overall response? You’re working today with dozens if not hundreds of sales leaders, they follow you. They need you to help give guidance on things like assessment and strategy. You mentioned KPIs many times, performance. We could talk about all these things, but sales is about performance at the end of the day. What’s been the response from the sales leaders that have known you for years to the new content and human sales factor?
Lance Tyson: Their response is, “Hey, this sounds harder.” It’s not plug and play. If you tied it to selection, like you’re asking in some cases for us to look at a different profile of a salesperson. The debate is the profile of a good salesperson has changed. I was giving a talk last week up in New York, had 500 people in the room. It was like a conference. Somebody in the audience said, “So what’s that profile look, like?” I said, “Well, I had dinner last night at Spark Steakhouse in New York, and I had a server his name is Raoul. What the profile looks like is Raoul’s profile.” Somebody said, “Wait, a server?” I go, “Yeah, a server. What’s the issue with that? Here’s a person that’s probably done it for 20 years.
Knows how to facilitate the conversation at the table without taking it over. Knows how to suggest things, knows how to move it along from course to course. When to interject, when to give advice. When to say things like, ‘Are you open for a suggestion?’”
I would take all those competencies. If you can’t notice those competencies because you have a filter of like, “Oh, I need this person to have gone to school here…” That selection is harder now. Now, I would tell everybody that’s listening, it’s statistically improbable for you to select a salesperson that will be good at everything that your organization need them to be good at. You will not find that person, so stop. Look at the core things. Today, you’re going to need to be able to facilitate, you’re going to be able to need to persuade and influence, you’re going to need to be able to critically problem solve, and then sell those ideas. All right, fair enough. Look at different spots, and then somebody who’s going to be able to participate in your culture. Are you going to need somebody who’s going to be in the office? You might have to lower your standards or raise your standards, whatever it would be. People that can hybrid sell, like we’re doing right now or be face to face. That’s where it’s gotten harder. What are we looking for? Agile, adaptable. They would be the things that I would suggest.
Fred Diamond: Before I ask you for your final action step, we’ve interviewed a couple of VPs of sales at Merck, the large pharmaceutical company, actually not too far from Philly. One of the key messages was that they are shifting who they’re looking to bring into sales. It used to be certain type of criteria. You mentioned college, a certain type of university they had to go to. Now they’re looking to bring a different type of demo. One of the key things Lance, DEI is something that we’re big into at The Institute for Excellence in Sales. People are saying because they want and they need to have people who sell to who their customer is. That continues to grow, morph and shift.
Again, congratulations on the new book, it’s a great read. I applaud you, look forward to number four, whenever that’s going to come out. Keep on doing the great work. You’ve helped so many sales organizations navigate through interesting and challenging times, not just the last two years, but over the last 25 years that you’ve been working with so many great organizations. It’s great to have your insights on The Sales Game Changers podcast. Give us your final action step. You’ve given us so many great ideas, give us one more thing specific that people should do right now to take their sales career to the next level.
Lance Tyson: I mentioned this before, but it seems to get a lot of traction right now. I would pick up the book Green Eggs and Ham. I’d look at the book real quick and I would discover how many objections that that person had to deal with. Then I’d ask yourself this. What was the objection in the book? Most people say, “The book was all about I don’t like green eggs and ham.” But the very first objection that book is, and I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’ll do it again. The very first objection in the book is, “I don’t like Sam-I-Am.” The very first objection was the objection of the likability or poor factor of the salesperson. I would look in the mirror and say, “Are you the issue?”
Fred Diamond: The one commonality in all of your relationships that do or don’t go well is you.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo