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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Sales Game Changers virtual learning session sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on March 22, 2022, featuring Liz Wendling, author of “The Heart of Authentic Selling” and “Selling Without Selling Your Soul.” Find both here.
Find Liz on LinkedIn.
LIZ’S TIP: “It will take some time to shift what’s coming out of your mouth. The more you start to do this in little subtle ways, before you know it, you drop that “I would love” language, and you start sounding completely different. The best part is you could actually watch people feel a compliment or feel something you’re saying, because it’s collaborative. You’re not landing a bomb on them and just saying, I love working here. You’re making it about them as well, and watch what happens to the relationship and the way that communication continues on.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: Liz, it’s great to see you. We’re going to be talking today about the L word, we’re going to be talking about the F word – ladies and gentlemen, not that F word, but a different one that’s even more pertinent in sales. Liz, there’s been over 500 shows that we’ve done, all of them have been great. We’ve been fortunate to have so many great sales leaders and authors and thought leaders like you on the show. I could probably remember them all if I put my mind to it. There’s been a couple of statements over the course of the shows that have really stuck with me.
One of them, for example, I mention this all the time, we had a guy named Gary Milwit. He is a sales leader at JG Wentworth, they buy settlements. His final action step, which I’ll ask you for in about 25 minutes, he said, “Make everybody you’re talking to feel important.” He said, “In sales, in life, if you are talking to a prospect, to a customer, look at them straight on and do your best to make them feel important.” That’s such a pertinent thing. You said something on your previous show that had such an impact on me. We see this all the time, it’s the L word. People say, “I would love for you to be a customer, I would love for you to come to my event, I would love for you to buy my products.”
Liz Wendling: “I would love 20 minutes of your time, I’d love to get on your calendar, I’d love to find out more about what you do.” It’s all about, I, I, I, and what we want to do versus the other person. We’re making a command, not a request. That’s the big difference. When you say, “I would love to get on your calendar,” you sound like you’re demanding that. I know that’s not their intention, I know that. But think about how that comes out of your mouth and how it lands on someone else. Every time you say to someone, “I would love 20 minutes of your time,” then you have to send another email that says, “I would love only 20 minutes of your time.” Every time you do that, you push someone away, because it’s all about you. It’s very self-serving.
Fred Diamond: Let’s get deep into that. First, I want to acknowledge you’ve written six books, your two most recent are The Heart of Authentic Selling and Sell Without Selling your Soul. Congratulations on that. I read them both and they’re excellent. I highly recommend them. We’ll put links to those in the show notes.
First of all, why do salespeople say that?” I would love… Then why do the people that you’re talking to, why do they have such a visceral response to it? It’s interesting, they’re not going to write to say back to you I hate you because they said that. They’re probably just going to think like, “Well, this guy’s pretty selfish.” Or “I understand why you would love, but I wouldn’t love to meet with you until we get further down the path.”
Liz Wendling: Two things get in the way. One is, it’s a language pattern that people get into that they don’t realize it’s habitual. Is that language pattern actually working? It’s the typical go to, I would love to set up a time with you, I’d love to chat with you. Half the planet or maybe more is using that same sentence. They see it in emails coming to them. They hear people using that same language so they think, ” Oh, it must work, so I’ll say that.”
But they don’t spend enough time looking at the language and ask asking themselves, is that going to land right? How is that going to make someone feel? How is it going to be perceived when someone opens up an email and it says, “I would love to get on your calendar”? In my head, I think, of course you’d love to get on my calendar because you want to sell me something. You’d love 20 minutes of my time, because I know you’re going to make it all about you. That’s what the client is seeing.
I don’t care how nice you say it, I don’t care how you think you’re coming across. It doesn’t matter. It’s how it’s perceived, it’s how it lands on the other person. If you’re saying that you think you’re just being nice and you’re asking for a meeting, think about what it’s doing to the other person and why it’s causing them to back away and not lean in. Why it’s causing someone to think, “Well, another self-serving salesperson, oh, my gosh, this person is super desperate too.” That’s what they’re thinking. Maybe not consciously, but they’re saying to themselves, “Boy, this person’s a little too excited for me. Yeah, I know, you’d love to get on my calendar, guess what? Delete.”
Then you’ve got nowhere. You’ve sent an email or a prospecting message and you said, “I would love to do this to you,” but you haven’t gotten anywhere. That activity now just negates everything you’ve done, you haven’t moved the needle. I teach people that if you don’t change your language, you can’t change your results. If you don’t change what you’re saying, if it isn’t eliciting the response that you want, it means you’re not saying something that’s grabbing the reader’s attention.
Fred Diamond: We have a question here that comes in. Len says, “What if I really would love to talk to them?” Then it has a two-part question. It says here, “What are some alternatives?” That’s an interesting point Len, thanks. A lot of times we talk about passion, and we talk about service. Liz Wendling, a lot of cases we would love, and not love to meet my goals, but because we feel so passionate about we would be able to help them achieve their goals. We talk about that all the time on Sales Game Changers Podcast, you need to approach your customers with so much value because of the state of the world, and the fact that they can get whatever information they want on their own without you. Back to Len’s question. What if we love it from a loving perspective as compared to a selfish perspective?
Liz Wendling: Excellent question. If it’s coming from that loving place, then I say make it about the other person. If you really would love to meet with them, make it about them, not you. I’m a real stickler with language, because I understand what Len’s saying that I would really love to meet with them. But that isn’t going to be conveyed to them.
Don’t you want them to be able to pick up on that and to go, “You know what? I really want to spend 20 minutes with this guy, he sounds like a nice person”? When you’re making a demand versus a request, it doesn’t happen. No matter how much love you put into that sentence and how much you’d love to meet with someone, it doesn’t get the response.
If you can’t get at someone’s attention, then you’re never going to get their business. If it doesn’t get a response, it means that the way that it’s coming across isn’t landing well on the other person. Now, if you made it about them, and you took yourself out of it, what you would love to do and how much you would love to meet them and turned it around and said, “How do you feel about setting up a time for a conversation? What are your thoughts on needing to discuss X, Y, Z? How do you feel about setting up a time to grab some coffee? How does it sound to you to do X?” It’s you, you, you. That request now lands on me, how do I feel? Do you have some time in your schedule to set up some time so we can do X, Y and Z?
That’s collaborative. When you say, “I would love to.” You might as well walk up to them and slap them in the face because that’s what it feels like. Alright, maybe that was a little dramatic, but that’s how it lands [laughs].
Fred Diamond: We’re not going to be talking about slapping people in the face [laughs]. No, but seriously, I like what you just said. How would you like something? Really turn it back on them. Does it work the same way in electronic communications as it does verbally? We talk a lot about one of the key secrets to being successful in sales is picking up the phone. Now it’s very easy to dismiss emails. Is it the same thing? If I get somebody on the phone, do I still need to be conscious not to say, “Hey Liz, I would love to be able to tell you more about our product”? Do I still want to use the approach that you’re talking about?
Liz Wendling: Yes, Fred, and the reason why is – this is me – I don’t think love is a professional word. I don’t think it belongs in the business sense in this particular situation, especially when you attach it to what you would love to do. When you’re on the phone with someone sending a prospecting message at a networking event and you want to stay in touch with someone, or you will be calling that person, you want to make sure that there’s two parties involved here, not what just one person wants to do. There are two parties.
What I teach my clients is, let’s say you’re at a networking event, and you would love to set up a time to meet with that person, you get their business information, and you say, “How about I contact you or I reconnect with you after this is over and you and I could figure out the best time to get together, set up some time and get to know each other?” Versus saying, “I have your information, I’ll send you an email, I’d love to get together with you.” Then you say it again, in an email and before you know, it’s all that self-serving syrupy stuff that just doesn’t go anywhere.
We have to also add value prior to saying to someone, “I would love to meet with you.” No one is going to meet with you no matter how much you would love to do it, if there isn’t any value in meeting you first. It’s a much bigger conversation. It’s not just ending with “I would love to,” it’s what do you say before that shows that you’re in it to be collaborative, that you bring value to the table, you have some insights that you can share with them. Without any of that you’re just someone else trying to get in their inbox, trying to get on their calendar, trying to sell them something.
Fred Diamond: Are there any other words or phrases that trigger that besides the L word? I like what you said, that love is not a word that maybe you want to say in this context. Are there other things that you’ve studied, that you see sales professionals saying time and time again that also cause that type of negative response in prospects and customers?
Liz Wendling: When it comes to asking for a meeting, or any other language?
Fred Diamond: Yes, any other sales process.
Liz Wendling: One more thing about love for people to understand this, even to pound it in a little bit more. When you say to someone, “I loved your book, I love your hair, I love your tie, Fred.” You hear how that is also about me? I’m making that about me, instead of me saying, “Your book was great. Your tie looks fabulous with that jacket.”
Give that compliment to someone else. We even want to make compliments about ourselves. It lands with so much more impact if I looked you in the eye and I said, you were so amazing today interviewing me, or Fred, you did such a good job, the way that you kept the conversation going. Versus me ending and saying, I loved our time together today. It is subtle, but it is powerful. Make it about the other person. If so many people say they’re all about the customer, “I do everything for the customer, I’m so customer focused,” but yet you don’t sound like it, then you’re not congruent. Why not be congruent with what comes out of your mouth and the way it lands on someone else?
Fred Diamond: That’s actually a powerful point. I say it a lot too when I read someone’s book, I loved your book, or I loved your presentation or something like that. Now that I think about it, it just constricts the relationship to me and them. It’s not about, “Hey, Liz, you brought so much value on my show today. Thank you so much.” As compared to, “I loved the time that we spent together.” Which puts some limitations on the conversation.
We have a comment here that’s coming in from Rich, “Is this something that I can control, or is it a skill I need to learn?” Thanks, Rich, for the question. Talk about that for a little bit. You’ve made a living, you’ve written books on this particular topic. You’re the only person that I interview on this particular topic, and I do a podcast every single day. We talk a lot about sales professionals being professional, and you need to understand how to do things.
Our good friend, Julie Hansen, teaches people how to look on camera and be on time and all those types of things. That’s a skill you need to develop. Is this also a skill that people can practice and hone to get really good at?
Liz Wendling: Absolutely is, but first, it’s an awareness. It’s an awareness of, “Oh my gosh, I just checked 21 of my past emails, and I’m dropping L bombs constantly.” Or, “I say the love word all day long in the wrong context.” First is an awareness to say, “Oh, boy, I am doing that.”
Then it becomes a skill for you to challenge yourself at the end of a voicemail or an email or a text or a prospecting message to change your language. Invite someone to what you would like, versus telling them what you would like. Invite them and tell them. You just have a shift in your language, you type out something different than I would love to do X. It becomes an unlearning of the L word and a relearning of something else.
Fred Diamond: We have a comment that comes in from Ben. Ben says, “Can I also apply this internally, such as telling my boss that I love working for him?” Interesting question there. In theory, you’re trying to sell yourself wherever you go, because there’s things that you want. As you grow your career, you want to get higher compensation, you want to get more titles. You also want to make people feel good about that. How about what Ben just said there? I’m not going to get there from a sexist perspective, you want to be careful what you say, obviously, to be politically correct. Let’s say to a boss, or to the CEO, I love working for your company, or I love the fact that my career has been spent here. Touch on that for a second or two.
Liz Wendling: Excellent question, Ben. Even what you said about, I love working here, make it about the job, not you. You can say, “Working here has been instrumental in my ability for self-growth.” Or, “This company, has completely changed the way I see X, Y, and Z. Working for you, Bob, has been such a joy for the last six months.”
Whatever it is, try to get ourself out of it and make it about the whole. That’s how it starts to land. When you just say, “I love working here,” Like Fred said, there’s really nowhere to go with that. But when you say to someone, “Working here has been eye-opening in the sense of this.” Or, “I feel like I’m learning so much because of how you’re teaching me something different.” Or, “The way that our organization does this, it’s really shown me there’s another way to do it, not just now going down that same path.”
It will take some time to shift what’s coming out of your mouth. The more you start to do this in little subtle ways, before you know it, you drop that “I would love” language, and you start sounding completely different. The best part is you could actually watch people feel a compliment or feel something you’re saying, because it’s collaborative. You’re not landing a bomb on them and just saying, I love working here. You’re making it about them as well, and watch what happens to the relationship and the way that communication continues on.
Fred Diamond: We have a comment here from Denny. Denny says, “It should always be about them.” and he has THEM in capital letters. That’s great. Liz Wendling, you’re communicating ways that we get that across. As I’m thinking about the shows that we do every single day, one of the things that we talk about all the time is the fact that it’s not about you, it’s not about you hitting your quota or what you need, it really is about them. These are some good skills to put into play so that you make it about them.
One of the great lessons we learned from the great Tom Snyder is people learn or get more value out of what they discover, as compared to what they’re told. If I say something like, you’ve been a big supporter, or you’ve been the best boss I’ve ever had, or something like that, they could build something around that as compared to, I love working for you because you’ve been such a great boss. It’s a unique distinction, but it’s definitely one that’s very powerful.
Liz Wendling: You give someone a gift too Fred. You gave the boss a gift by saying, “You have made this work, my job in this workplace incredible.” If you just say, ” I love working here,” there’s no gift exchange, there’s nothing that you landed on the other person that has any value whatsoever. This is a much bigger conversation.
When I’m working with teams, we get in there and we shift this language. When someone opens up an email from you, it’s written in a completely different tone. It lands different, it gets people to take action, because otherwise it just screams self-serving, or “I don’t need to address this right now” and it falls down in the email list and then eventually gets deleted. Emails written to someone – not at someone – get opened, they get read and they get responded to.
Fred Diamond: That’s pretty powerful. Let’s talk about the F word. We talked about the L word, love, and let’s now shift to the F word. Not that F word, but what is the F word? Let’s start talking about that for a little bit.
Liz Wendling: It’s the other F word. This F word, follow up, has some counterparts to it and that is touching base, reaching out, and checking in. Here they are, following up, touching base, reaching out, and checking in. I’ve been talking about this for years. There’s an old phrase that’s been in sales probably four to five decades that says, the fortune’s in the follow up. That’s a little old school.
Now I say, fortune is in the follow up, but it’s also how you follow up. When we use the phrase, I’m just following up, touching base, reaching out, checking in, first of all, it’s been used for decades, and it’s behind the times. Nothing screams, the 1980s and 90s quite like using those four sentences. I’ll give you a few examples, you might type out an email that says, “Hi Marie, I wanted to follow up to see if you had any more questions regarding the proposal I sent.” “Hi, Mark, here’s a friendly follow up to see if you’re ready to get started on your coaching program.” “Hey, Jason, I’m touching base to see if you’re still interested in working together.”
They go on and on and on. Just quick follow ups and just touching base, I know you wanted me to get back to you, so I thought I would reach out. Again, here we go. It’s self-serving. It comes across as what I want to do. That’s the first mistake with, I’m just following up. Taking the I out of it. Here’s the other part. Why you have to announce that you’re following up when you’re actually following up? You’re doing the activity, I don’t say, “Hey, Fred, I just took a deep breath.” Or, “I just took a bite of my sandwich.”
I’m just following up, you’re doing the activity, just do it. Sending your follow up messages that way or your connection messages that way, they’re valueless. They come across a little needy, they fall flat. The worst part is they fail to engage because you’re using the same language as everyone else on the planet. I work with people in the UK, I work with people in Australia, everybody is using the F bomb, touching base, reaching out and checking in. Everyone’s using it. How can you distinguish yourself in someone’s inbox if you’re saying, I’m just following up, touching base, reaching out, and checking in?
Fred Diamond: We talk about extraneous language. We transcribe every show, as you know. Many times I see things like people would respond to a question with, “Well, I think…” I always delete “I think,” because as you read it, it’s like, “Well, you just said it,” type of thing. We have a comment here that comes in from Lora, “This is really hard.” I presume what she means by this is really hard is making the shift. I don’t know if this is a man-versus-woman thing.
Maybe you can give us some insights if you see “I would love to talk to you” as more of a male or female thing or if it’s non sex discriminatory. Why do we think this is so hard? Is this the kind of thing that we can get excellent in at some point? Or is it something that is going to take us reading 10 books and five years to get there?
Liz Wendling: It can happen as quickly as after this podcast is over, and you start writing emails differently. It can happen as quickly as you want it to happen. You just have to be aware of how much you’re using it. I get emails constantly from people who say, “Every time I’ve got to say the L Word or type out the L word I think of you.”
It forces them to pause and create an opportunity to say something different, is to shift the language just a little. Lora, it’s not difficult. It’s a matter of how much do you want your messages to have an impact? It’s taking a few extra seconds before you type out an email and say, “What do I want to convey? How do I want this person to respond to me?” It takes a little work in the beginning. It could be something that you can unravel quickly. I had one of my clients said it was easier to give birth to triplets than to stop using the F word because she was using it all the time.
She used it so much she put it in the subject line. She announced in the subject line she was following up, and then her first line was following up. Sometimes in her messaging, she would say, “I’m just following up and thought I would reach out and touch base with you.” She was using sometimes many of these words in her first sentence. I’d get in there and we’d scrub that message and get rid of that. Hear this, there’s nothing wrong with the act of following up. Everyone needs to follow up and if you’re not following up, you are leaving money on the table, but there’s something wrong with following up that screams, I have no respect for your time or your inbox.
That is what’s wrong with follow up. When you follow up with, I’m just following up, touching base to see if you’re ready, and you add no value to that message, then you’re saying I have no respect for your inbox. I’m just trying to jam my message into your inbox so you remember that you’re supposed to get back to me.
Fred Diamond: We have a question here that comes in from Denise. “What would you write instead of, ‘Do you have any questions on the proposal?’ That’s really what I want to know, any questions if they decide to proceed.” Let’s talk about very simple direct type of questions. We send a proposal, we try to invite them to an event. That type of follow up, if you will. Just a very simple thing. Did you have any questions? Are you free to talk today at three? How does this play into this?
Liz Wendling: Denise, you’re right. That question, which is the question heard around the world, when someone sends a proposal and nothing happens. You send a message that says, “Did you have any questions?” Now, the person receiving that is thinking, “If I did, I would get back to you.” Or, “Seriously?” That isn’t enough to move anybody. I know that if I have questions I could reach out to you, touch base, check in, and follow up. I can get back to you. That’s a waste of an email, it’s a waste of a message if you’re saying, “I’m just following up to see if you had any questions.” Really, that other person is thinking, “No, I’m good right now.” You don’t move the needle anywhere.
What I like to teach is, when you’re in a conversation with someone, when you’re talking to someone, when you’re telling them that you’re going to put a proposal together, when you’re in the conversation that is creating the need for the proposal, you have a conversation about how you’re going to stay in touch. What happens after I deliver the proposal? What’s the next step once that proposal lands in your inbox? What am I going to do? How are we going to go over those questions? What is the process for me receiving that proposal? What should I do when I receive it? Do I write my questions down? Do you and I set up another appointment?
Unless you do that, then you have no choice than to send a valueless email that says, “Do you have any questions?” We’re not front loading all that work that can help us get to that proposal stage where we don’t have to send those emails that are annoying and valueless. We can have that upfront conversation, and I might say, “Fred, two weeks ago, in our conversation, when we put together the proposal regarding X, Y and Z, I know you mentioned that your timeline was to get started by June first. Time is ticking away and we have a couple of things that we should discuss prior to that time frame. My suggestion would be to get on each other’s calendars, discuss the proposal.”
Now you’re talking like an equal, not someone saying, “Did you have any questions?” That’s not to you personally, it’s for everyone who uses that sentence. Now you’ve just lowered your status by saying, “Do you have any questions?” Versus saying, “You and I spoke about last week when we talked about that proposal. You and I said that we would reconnect this week to go through some of the parts and pieces of the proposal that will likely have some questions. What’s your schedule like? Should we book that time now?”
Now, all of a sudden, you’re not lowering yourself. This person is saying to themselves, “I like this person, this person is spot on. I like the way they do business. I like the way they’re communicating with me. They’re not wasting my time, and they’re not sending me emails that have no value.”Fred Diamond: Liz, I would like to say I’ve loved talking to you, but I’m not going to use the word love ever again in any context – that’s not true [laughs]. If you’re listening to this, we’re not saying don’t use the word love. Tell your children you love them, tell your spouse, tell your parents.Liz Wendling: Love the planet, yes, but keep it out of the business [laughs].
Fred Diamond: It’s not bad to tell your close partners too. There are some people that I work very closely with and I’ve said to them that I love them, and the relationship is at the place.
Liz Wendling: Totally.
Fred Diamond: It’s not like, I’m talking to someone I just met who just wrote a book. We love love, but there’s better ways to make impact with the customers that you’re talking to. I just want to acknowledge you. You’ve written six books, this is your second time being on our Sales Game Changers Podcast. I want to acknowledge you for the value you’re bringing. I know you do a lot of work with entrepreneurs, you do a lot of work with law firms, helping them get past some of the challenges that they may have that are slowing them down and blocking them from developing business and from engaging with their prospects. Good for you, and congratulations on your continued success.
As we like to end every Sales Game Changers Podcast you’ve given us so many great ideas, give us one specific action step people should take right now, Liz Wendling, to take their sales career to the next level.Liz Wendling: Because I see this every day, I am going to tell everyone to challenge yourself and take yourself off auto pilot and engage in a different and noticeable way. This will force you to make sure that you articulate why it’s in the receiver’s interest to get back to you, to stay in touch with you, to communicate with you. Make it easy to keep that verbal volley going on. You log out an email and it should come back. You leave a voicemail and they pick it up. But the only way you can do that is if you change your language, then you can change your results.
Fred Diamond: That is very, very powerful. As a matter of fact, I am thinking right now of a particular company that is a member of The Institute for Excellence in Sales. The Institute for Excellence in Sales, we are a member organization. Our mission is to help sales leaders like Amazon, and Salesforce and Red Hat attract, retain, motivate, and elevate top-tier talent.
I have been pinging this particular company to renew. It’s their time to renew. “Hi, it’s time to renew, let’s chat about renewing.” I know that they know there’s value, I just haven’t perfectly communicated it to them. I love that last bit of advice, everybody who is listening to The Sales Game Changers Podcast today, go about it in a different way. One more time, thank you to everybody who listened today to Liz Wendling. Thank you, Liz Wendling. My name is Fred Diamond. This is The Sales Game Changers Podcast.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo