EPISODE 522: High-Energy and Positive Flow Virtual Selling with Steve Brossman

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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 27, 2022, featuring Steve Brossman. He’s the author of 9 books including The Art and Science of Virtual Selling.

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STEVE’S TIP: “What is the experience from the minute somebody sees you, whether it’s on social media, whether it’s on LinkedIn, what is the experience that somebody is going to get when they have their first contact with you to the minute they actually invest and then after that? There was a great study from one of the Chicago universities that actually said, “People don’t buy what you do or do for them, they buy how you make them feel before, during, and after doing business.”


Fred Diamond: Steve, it’s great to see you. I’m broadcasting today’s show from just outside of Washington, D.C. and you’re down in Sydney. You’ve written nine books including recently The Art and Science of Virtual Selling. You’ve done a lot of work on TV as a presenter. You’re a nine-times Amazon Best-Selling Author in marketing and sales. I’m sure you’re going to give us some great value today. It’s great to see you.

Steve Brossman: It’s great to be here and talking of the future, it is the future here. It’s the next day to where you are, so the future is looking bright for you guys.

Fred Diamond: Yeah, the future is now. Let’s get started here. There’s a lot going on here. We’re broadcasting the show in the spring of 2022 and a lot has changed. We’re coming out very quickly, hopefully, from this pandemic, and people are out and about and people are beginning to start meeting and they’re starting to do some of the things that they might have been doing pre-COVID but that isn’t going to work, right?

Things have changed so much that we’re not going to get back to what we were doing “pre-COVID”. Talk a little bit about some of your thoughts on how sales has changed over the last year but specifically, what do you think is still going to be part of the sales process moving forward, at least for the foreseeable future? We don’t know how things are really going to change. But I’m really interested in what you think is critical right now that we used to do that we started doing differently.

Steve Brossman: Look, there are so many pieces to the jigsaw. When people were told to pivot and go online, you couldn’t have the face-to-face meeting, there was a lot of people that were floundering. It’s like, well, I’m used to getting belly to belly, handshake to handshake, I just can’t do that anymore. I did write the back pocket guide to The Art and Science of Virtual Selling because I do have a strong background in film, television, and videos. But it’s also how do you use the technology and how do you become comfortable with technology to be able to bridge the gap?

A lot of people were struggling with it. First of all, to be able to connect through the lens. To be able to really engage with the people instead of talking at the screen and just delivering the same presentation. It just didn’t work because as it worked out, over 64% of people on any Zoom call were already multitasking. The task was becoming heavier and heavier. Not being able to just read the person and create that energy in the room, what do I do?

One of the key things that got here for discussion today is what I call the buying energy. How do we increase the buying energy before the sale? Because there’s a simple process, there’s a connection, then there’s the qualify, then booking for that dreaded discovery call and then the call itself. Now, the buying energy is quite flat. If you’re somebody that’s just a salesperson that’s representing a company, quite often you’re what’s called the brown box. You’re the same as everybody else that’s out there and it’s not until they actually unwrap the box.

Creating that unique authority position, which is what we work on first, elevates the buying energy. Wow, I’m talking to this person, so the energy goes up. Now, instead of qualifying which basically says you are the right person for me to sell to, I talk about cultivate. How can I cultivate, water, fertilize, but also prune? How can I give you a taste of me, the personality, my company? How can I take you behind the scenes to get to know, like, and trust, instead of just dumping a lot of information about us on you?

Then the call generally should be a perceived high value call, what is it we’re going to do on the call? The discovery call, the science behind that is calling a discovery call a strategy call generally reduces buying energy 37%. Because you might as well call it a sales call because everybody knows it’s going to be a sales call. That’s the process. But the last piece, which a lot of the companies that I’m working with and the sales professionals and even the business owners right now are using is the pre-call video.

It could be just as simple as if we’re having a good one on one and you’re going to be a one on one clients, I’ll just say, “Hi, Fred, great to see you book in for a call. Really looking forward to it. Had a look at your website, had a look at your LinkedIn profile, got some great ideas for you, can’t wait to share them with you”, or whatever the appropriate information is going to be. Now, that’s put the buying energy through the roof. That’s the first part that I see that people can still use even if you’re going face to face. We’ve been teaching that since 08, how to use those pre-meeting videos before an actual call or a meeting to actually increase the buying energy before you actually get in the room or on a virtual call.

Fred Diamond: Let me ask you a question, Steve. Why do we have to talk to sales professionals about buying energy? It’s such a critical piece of the equation. We’ve done over 500 episodes of the Sales Game Changers podcast and we talk a lot about the scientific side of sales, but we also talk about things like passion.

I’ll ask sales leaders, “What’s the number one thing you would suggest with salespeople?” They’ll say, “You got to be passionate about your customer. You got to be passionate about your product and your solution. You got to show up with the energy.” Why do you think we still need to talk about that to sales professionals? We have thousands of them listening today. We give them a high energy show every time we do it, and you’re a high energy guy, I’m a high energy guy. People are listening to this, maybe as they’re driving home or walking the dog or whatever it might be. Why do you think we still need to talk about it?

Steve Brossman: Well, it has to be, you put some words around it, synchronicity and congruency. If I’ll have a salesperson show up, and they’re just a cookie cutter salesperson, if I deliver you the information, then you’re going to buy. Over the last three years, I’ve really been immersing in the cognitive neuroscience and the buying behaviors. Not studying how to sell better, but understanding better the buying behaviors and what goes on in the brain when they’re connecting, engaging and then what leads them to the conclusion.

I’ve come up with that there are three levels of influence in buying. There’s the imposed influence which is, if I give you enough information, if I do the dreaded old school present-and-pitch, I’m going to dump all this information on you and if you get enough information, you’ll make an informed buying decision. That’s gone out. The next level is collaborative. When we can work together on a collaborative solution and deliver – and listen to this – quantifiable, implementable value.

Now, most people talk and they try and sell the box value. This is the value of what I’m about to sell you. If you go the other way, I’m looking at what value is it going to mean to me and/or my business? What is the implementable value that I’m really buying? I don’t care how many hours it takes you to do something. I care the result, the outcome. If you can collaborate and quantify and then confirm, those things there are so powerful. I’ve developed a script framework, data, narrative, quantify, qualify.

That if you go through that process and you’re collaborating, and when I say collaborating, the rule is when they’re involved, they invest. Instead of being pitched at I’m working with you, “Yes, this is the solution.” That is more value than I’m expecting to pay. Quite often they’ll actually go to the next level themselves which is self-influence. Fred, this looks fantastic. How do I get started? We have that happen over and over again when the process and the formula is taken off, “This is the box that I’m going to sell. However, here is the bankable value that we’re going to deliver.”

Fred Diamond: That’s pretty powerful. Today’s title is actually How to Have Your Prospects Ask to Buy. We’ve all heard the term bluebird and things like that, and deals that fall out of the sky, and they really rarely happen. Even the top selling performers, they want the customer to come to you and say, “Okay, I’m ready to go.” It’s actually funny. I’m reminded of a story, where I actually purchased some consulting services for the Institute for Excellence in Sales, and I needed this particular financial piece of the business addressed.

I met a guy and I asked him to tell me about his services and he did. I said, “You know what? Okay, good, let’s get started, I’m ready.” He said, “Well, is there anything that’s going to prohibit you from starting?” There was two of his people on the Zoom call and I said, “I just told you I’m ready to buy, why would you possibly ask me that question?” One of his guys, he went, ash and pale, and he was like, “Okay, good.” Like, you got to that point.

It’s such a simple question for you. You addressed it before. If you think about it, it’s very hard to sell today because customers are in charge. The reality is, the customer knows more about you. They can find information they want on the internet. We talked about this many, many times. Let’s talk about that concept of getting to that point, accepting the fact that the customer wants to buy and how we can get there.

Steve Brossman: It does all start right back at the beginning as, are you a brown box or are you perceived as somebody that’s above that? The energy there is like, wow. I get to talk to Fred. He’s the host of a podcast. He’s an authority on talking to really cool people about this. He’s got his authority positioning. I’m excited to talk, not just I’m going to have a conversation with a salesperson. Once you’ve got that energy going, and you get that excitement level, then you turn it around and you’re doing the collaborative.

We have what’s called the client conversion blueprint. It’s a schematic of how the results are going to be delivered, not how my job, my service works. Then you’re annotating. I’ll just take a quick sidestep to give your people a great tip. If you’re doing a presentation, it might be to a group, a virtual presentation, it might be the same slides, the thing that you can do to increase engagement is to annotate, to write, to draw, to tick, to circle. Where movement goes, the eyes follow. It’s our limbic brain. Oh, is that going to kill me or eat me? I have to look at it.

If you’re doing, it could be the same presentation you’ve done a thousand times, but the minute that you’re writing on it, if it’s a presentation to a group, it then becomes personalized. Their attention and retention goes up 60%. Action at the end, because they believe it’s personalized, goes up three times. Now, when you have got the flow of the right blueprint constructed the right way, and you’re collaborating, and say, look, Fred, if we just did this here, and you stood out more, and you attracted a better client, and this happened, generally, that’s around about 10% to 15% increase in monthly fees. Could you see that happening here? What does that mean to you in monthly? You write down X thousand dollars and you collaborate.

There’s another little formula we talk about that’s like, well, here’s some information, turn that into a narrative which is either a case study, quantify the value, and then confirm, is that a high priority of yours? Here’s a little thing that we can do in your business. That reminds me, when we did this for this company here, they generated an extra 100,000 per month. Can you see that working for you? What would it mean if we did that in your business? Oh, that’s 65,000 a month. That’s great. Confirm. Is that a high priority of yours right now? Yeah, tick, move on.

That whole little process takes little 60 seconds throughout the presentation. Then at the end, you add it all up. Fred, by the look of it, if we put this system into your business software, coaching or whatever it is, from what you’ve said, that’s going to generate X amount of this, save this, take the stress off here. Does that make sense we get started sooner rather than later? Or they’ll get partway through, and they’ve looked at the numbers visually adding up in front of them and they’ll get to a point. “They can’t possibly charge me anything near this.”

Like you said to that other person, “This looks great. How do we get started?” Now, you’ve got your imposed influence, you’ve got your self-collaborative influence and the last one is self-influence when they just say, I’ve got to have it. That starts back at the beginning and where I see so many professionals and companies and organizations spend all the time on the call, you want them salivating before they get on the call. As a sales professional, Fred, wouldn’t you love to speak to somebody who just can’t wait to talk to you?

Fred Diamond: Absolutely. Actually, there are so many things to it. Everybody is still, Steve Brossman, they’re still very distracted on how the pandemic has affected them, and how it’s affected their company. Now that we’re coming out of it, we hear things like mental health challenges, how women in sales have been affected. But here’s the thing, we always have been talking for years, for decades about, it’s all about the customer, obviously.

Steve, one thing that’s even come clearer is that it’s not just for me as a salesperson to think about the customer. I got to be thinking about the customers’ customer, and the customers customer’s customer because they’ve all been affected. I have a quick question for you. I’m curious, you’ve done a lot of work in TV and video and things. The process that you’re putting in place here is a classic process, it makes so much sense, it’s critical, especially as you’re selling important, high-ticket items. How important is the sales professional in selling themselves?

We talk a lot about personal branding. When people ask me for advice, “Fred Diamond, how can I take my sales career to the next level?” I always tell them, first and foremost, become an expert in an industry. Become an expert in government or entertainment or financial services, transportation, defense, whatever it might be. You become an expert in that industry and in theory, you could pretty much sell anything when you understand the needs and challenges. But talk a little bit about why it’s so hard for some. First of all, should they be selling themselves and if they should, why is it so hard to do that?

Steve Brossman: We hate selling ourselves. It’s personal. We take it personal. I work with a lot of very successful professionals who do sell their knowledge, their skills or their expertise. Now, the best thing to do is to systemize that and sell the system, not yourself. The next thing is, be that leader and an authority and everybody can. We all do something that’s slightly different. It might be your methodology, might be your background, might be a sporting or service background. Whatever it is, there is something different.

There is merit in breaking out of what I call the brown box syndrome. If you call yourself the same as everybody else, whether you’re an advisor, or a planner, or a coach, or consultant, or salesperson, you’re in a brown box. The excitement level of talking to a brown box is pretty poor. If you’re going to be going for a sales position, and you just call yourself a salesperson, you haven’t really stood out at all. Hey, listen, I’ve got my own methodology that I do, I work with this. You need to be comfortable and position yourself as that leader in that particular area.

The other thing that is crucial, if you’re going face to face, and there are times that you still must be doing virtual even before you get to a major presentation, lack of camera confidence is perceived as lack of product confidence. Now, there is a necessity to be comfortable with the camera. There are just some small things, the positioning. I very quickly rearranged knowing that I didn’t have my virtual background and there are some things that I’ve got there, some things that I probably would have changed.

But the fact that I’m looking through the lens, my hands are inside the box, they’re not out here or I’m not just sitting here and I’m looking at you, whereas I know you’re actually over here. So many times that I see somebody that are either talking to themselves or talking to the other persons I say, “Hang on, don’t look at my ear. I’m back here.” There are some little things that show you as a true professional.

Now, we can talk about mental health as well. Being a salesperson talking to people who are very cold, you’re virtually giving them CPR before you get them on the call and you got to resurrect any sort of energy before you start talking to them, and then getting into it. That’s a tough gig. But by spending the right time and the energy beforehand, the beautiful thing is these days is cultivating has watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Now, there are spots in my process where people just drop out. They can watch some videos, and they think, “That guy is an absolute idiot.” Great. I don’t have to talk to you and I don’t have to try and convince you. The people I get to talk to are excited. Now, what does that do for your mental health?

Fred Diamond: I tell you, man, there’s nothing better than having a transaction to improve your mental health. We like to say, nothing better as a sales professional than closing a deal. The journey is the reward. The sales process, as we know, the close isn’t the big deal. It’s moving through. It’s also knowing that you’re of service to your customers. All the great sales professionals, we’ve had this conversation many, many times.

We’ve spoken so many times about just a win, just getting to the next stage, getting the appointment, following up, getting something scheduled where you’re going to bring in tech resource or wherever it might be. Those are the wins that we really need to focus on. Talk a little bit about collaboration with the customer. I’m curious on your thoughts on this. We talked about how we want the customer to ask to buy. The great sales stories that we’ve heard have been the customer and the sales professional, or the sales team working together to solve a problem.

That has come up so many times. We say this all the time, Steve Brossman, you have to bring the solution to the customer because you need to know what they’re going through and there’s no excuse right now in not knowing what your customer is going through because the whole world has gone through it. Talk a little bit about some of your insights on collaboration and how sales professionals should be thinking about that.

Steve Brossman: You’ve opened up two beautiful cans of worms right there. Now, the first thing that I’ll very quickly go through, because this is a little bit of teaching. I talk about what’s called the emotive sales pendulum. Picture a pendulum hanging straight down. Now to one side you’ve got pain and the other side you got payoff. Down in the middle is what I call the red zone of death. That’s just the need. Somebody says, “I’ve got a need.” You say, “I can solve it”, you’re a commodity. The next person, the next person, the next person, the next person will say, “I can solve it.”

They will walk in with a solution, let me give it to you and I’ll impose my knowledge, my influence and pitch to you. The thing that you need to do is what I call swing the pendulum. I work with my people all the time, they start talking about needs, I can solve that. Great. That’s the redzone, swing the pendulum. The next thing is, I’ve got a need. How is that affecting your business? What does it mean to your business or your life if this happens? You get them to quantify it, and talk that little bit more.

Then you take that next little step. It’s like, “Well, how’s that making you feel?” It could be the CEO, it could be the CFO, it could be anything. Could be frustrated that their company is not getting to the level because of this problem here. That’s really understanding at a deeper level what the problem is, how’s that affecting, how’s it making them feel? Because the biggest thing particularly in this world of disengagement is when they understand that you understand them, half the sale is done. “Wow, finally, somebody who gets me.”

Then you let the pendulum go. You let it swing straight through the middle and say, “We got a system, we got a blueprint that we can work through to deliver this.” How would it affect your business if we delivered these results? Everybody knows about future pacing and quantifying. Then how would it make you feel knowing that the company is going to get to where it is, you’re going to get home at nighttime, have dinner with your family and not miss at your kids soccer matches? You swing the pendulum.

I say, the bigger the swing, the bigger the payoff to them, the bigger the pay day to you. That’s the first part of what you just said. It’s like, “Well, yeah, what do we do here? How do we get them?” First and foremost, when they understand that you understand, that’s the first level. Then to be able to collaborate. I’ll ask you a real quick question. I know it’s going to go down a mini rabbit hole. What’s the best way to get somebody on the same page as you?

Fred Diamond: There’s a couple different ways I can answer that question, but I’ll be honest with you. It’s one thing I learned a long time ago in running the Institute for Excellence in Sales, is when people discover things on their own versus being told. It’s almost like wanting the customer to ask for the buy. You want to get to the point where the customer makes the discovery that they need to work with you, right? Because they’ve come up with it as compared to me saying, “Steve, I really think you need to do this.”

We have a guest coming up. Her name is Liz Wendling. She talks about things you shouldn’t say like, “Steve, I would love to have you as a customer.” Who cares what you would love? I find myself sometimes too – we’ve had Liz on the show a couple of times – “I’ll tell you, I would love to have you sponsor…” I’m like, “Well, why would they care what I would love?” Even if they love me, it’s like they weren’t to be able to discover, I think it’s called function one versus function two thinking, but nonetheless.

Steve Brossman: Like video scripting. “In this video, I would love to share this with you,” and I just hammer my people. I don’t care what you love. The minute you say that, I’m out of here. Back to the first question. The best way to get somebody on the same page as you is to have a page to get on. When we have our visual blueprint and we’re collaborating and annotating on the system, we’re working out, as I look, here is the blueprint for your success. This is how we’re going to deliver it. You said that you needed this here. We stop and we do what I call a value pitstop, quantify, and then confirm that yes, this would work. Yes, here are my results.

As they go around and they’re collaborating, they’re actually giving you the results. When you get to the end of it and you say, “Well, Fred, by the look of it, if we put this system/software/coaching into your business or life, whatever it is, it looks like from what you have said, it’s going to generate this.” Then whatever your closing line would be or opening line, I never close a deal, it’s opening a relationship. Whatever that is, it’s like, does it make sense we get started sooner rather than later or could you do without that 60,000 a month in your bank account?

The golden rule, when they’re involved, they invest. It’s hard for them to say no. That’s the collaborative influence, that’s the power of them. When you have your visual tool, and 84% of all information goes through the retina. When we stop just doing a presentation and we’re working together, that’s a different feel. It’s you coming around the other side of the table, could be virtually, and working together. That’s how you want to start a relationship.

Fred Diamond: Steve Brossman, I got one follow up question and then we’re going to ask you for your final action step. You just talked about how when you see some of your people talk about things that they would love to accomplish, but how that’s the wrong way to go. What are some of the things that you see salespeople doing wrong? Again, we’re doing today’s show in April of 2022.

It’s an interesting time. I think we’re quickly shifting out of the pandemic, but we’re still doing a lot of virtual, still doing a lot of Zoom. Customers don’t necessarily want to meet and a lot of people still like working out of their house. They can still knock out five or six zooms that you might be able to do if you had to do two or three calls, if you will. What are you seeing people do wrong?

Steve Brossman: I’m going to break it down and give another concept. You can see where people are just going a flat way. I personally believe that people make three investments with you when they make a buying decision. The first investment is an emotive investment. In the first few seconds of a presentation or of a sales copy or of something, they’re making an emotive investment. You attach them and say, “Yeah, I need to read on. Yeah, this is the right person to listen to.” They’ve made that emotive investment.

Then the next investment is time. I’ve read the headline, I’ve read the copy, I’m going to read on. I’ve watched the first 7 to 10 seconds, I’m sold on the next 7 to 10 seconds or 50 seconds, I’m investing some time. As they invest more time, they’ll invest more emotion, then they’ll now invest more time. The last M, ETM is money, some sort of financial investment. I always say that if you get your ETM right it’ll turn into an ATM. That’s your automatic teller machine.

The thing that I encourage people to think of is, what do I want them to feel right now? At any part of the sales journey, at any part of the marketing journey, and any part of that conversation, what is it that they’re feeling right now? The interesting thing is when they actually know how to do the emotive pendulum right, you’re not going from emotion to logic to emotion to logic, you’re actually intertwining the two together in the same sentence and conversation which is much more powerful. But if all they can think of is, if I’m sending this email out, what do I want them to feel when they’re reading it? If they’re landing on a landing page? When was the last time your web developer said to you, “Hey, Fred, what do you want them to feel when they land on this page?”

Fred Diamond: A lot of things to think about here. We covered a lot, Steve. I want to acknowledge you again. You’re the author of nine best-selling books. You’ve provided so much value with your lessons across the world. We’ve had over 500 shows, I get 40 inquiries per week, Steve, from people who want to be on the Sales Game Changers podcast. We’re very, very selective, but a number of people reached out to us and said, “You need to have this guy, Steve Brossman.”

It was a very thought-provoking conversation. We went down a lot of different paths, if you will. What’s really valid is, it’s a really interesting time in sales. A lot of people have rethought if they want to be in sales. Over the last few years, it was hard. Everything was hard. But it was really hard in sales, and a lot of people struggled with how to be in the virtual setting. Now as we come back out of it, is the market ready for this? Do you still need to do that?

Steve, two years in, we still get people who suck at Zoom. One of the jokes is, the biggest statement of 2022 in sales is “you’re on mute.” Anyway, Steve Brossman, thank you so much. Congratulations for all your success. Give us one final action step. You’ve given us about 15, 20 great ideas. Give us one specific action step that people should do right now after listening to today’s Sales Game Changers podcast to take their sales career to the next level.

Steve Brossman: Well, the first thing is, it’s the flow. What is the experience from the minute somebody sees you, whether it’s on social media, whether it’s on LinkedIn, what is the experience that somebody is going to get when they have their first contact with you to the minute they actually invest and then after that? There was a great study from one of the Chicago universities that actually said, “People don’t buy what you do or do for them, they buy how you make them feel before, during, and after doing business.”

If you want to grow your business by increasing your sales and referrals, then the buying experience all the way through needs to be a high priority. That means, whatever you’re putting out there, whether it’s social media, communication, and the first part of information, what is the experience that they’re going to feel through the whole process? If they get excited about the buying experience, then they’re going to buy big and tell others.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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