April 5, 2023

#71 - My Single Most Important Sales Tip

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Email is great. Running ads is comfortable. Writing copy feels like work. But if you want to consistently make progress with your business, understand your customer, and drive revenue and growth, there’s ONE THING that is more important than anything else… especially when you’re in eary-stage startup mode.

And that’s the topic that we dive into today.

 

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Transcript

Hey, Bob, guess what? 

Oh, it's, it's time. 

It's another episode of Let's Chat Sales.

Let's Chat Sales! 

Yes, yes. 

So it's good to have you back. 

It's good to be back. 

And I thought that we'd spent a few minutes talking today about, 

since this is a podcast about sales, let's talk about the one thing that everyone should be doing in sales.

If you had to distill everything down to one fundamental core principle. 

Sending out spam. 

That is not it. No. 

Right. 

Everyone's fixated on, you know, how do you get down? 

Fixed on fittings? 

Yes, yes. 

No, again, but more like, first principles, like an Elon Musk sort of a thing. 

Okay. 

Like, what's the one thing you should be doing?

And, the thing you should be doing, the people should be doing more of is just talking to people.

Having meaningful, interactive conversations, not pitches, not sales calls. 

Not high pressure, but rather conversations to understand people and their requirements 

and what they're about and what they're trying to accomplish 

and what their obstacles are and, and being present and listening to them as they, talk to you.

If I had to boil down sales these days to something, 

Fundamental and core and primary, it would be that that's what you should be doing. 

You should be having as many individual conversations with people as you can, 

and that's hard to do because it's time consuming 

and it takes effort and you have to be vulnerable and you have to do some homework and it

doesn't scale.

Well, it can scale because when I have conversations with people, they tell other people that, 

Hey, you should talk to Bob. 

Cause he's, he didn't, he didn't pitch me. He didn't sell me. 

Yeah. 

But he'll 

Yeah 

he'll help you. 

He'll listen. 

Yeah.

And I think that's, so, it becomes a big spider web that's different than the, you know, one-to-one.

That's true. 

If you back 50 years in sales, it was like, okay, I talked to one person, I get one sale, I talked to

another person, get another sale. 

Yeah. 

We've all become way too sophisticated because of social media, because of being bombarded

with emails, with TV advertisements, with radio advertisements, you name it.

We've gotten to a place where a sales pitch just isn't gonna work for most situations. 

Right, right. 

And, so you are right. It does scale in the very long run, right?

Mm-hmm. 

You have to take a long-term perspective with this, but because in the beginning it doesn't scale.

You know, you have to have a conversation. 
You have to find time with someone. 

You have to put yourself in the right position where they're receptive to having a conversation. 

You know, you have to stop and listen. 

You have to allow for time. 

You have to, you know, all those sorts of things. 

It doesn't scale in the beginning, but it, it has an enormous impact, over time.

One of the things I like to tell people is that if you talk to five or six different people in the same

general area in a particular vertical, for example, or in a particular job description. 

What you're gonna find over time is after the fifth or sixth or seventh person you talk to, you're

gonna find out that there's a whole lot of commonality in those five or six or seven people.

I mean, they each have different issues and they have challenges and so forth in their various

companies, 

but you're gonna see a lot of commonality, generally speaking, and when you do, that's where

you're gonna find an opportunity. 

That's where you're gonna start to amass some knowledge around that thing.

You're gonna become an expert in a matter of five or seven conversations, or at least certainly

more expert than you were.

And you're gonna be able to have better answers to the questions, very better comments and more insight. 

You're speaking in their industry terms cuz you're picking up the industry parlance or what have

you, but 

you're also understanding them in a fundamental way, cuz you've heard it, 

you're familiar with it.

Now, it's not a surprise you can kind of anticipate. 

Now the important thing there is not to anticipate the answer.

Let them tell the answer. 

But then, and you're gonna find that over time. Nothing's gonna surprise you anymore. 

It becomes harder and harder to become surprised. 

And that is an indicator that you're starting to understand the market that you're in. 

And when you understand the market in a fundamental way through these direct interactions 

and all the anecdotes you're gonna come up with and the specific examples that you're gonna pick up, 

these sorts of things put you in a much better position.

And to me, that's the one thing.

One of the things I'd love to chat about is what's the resistance to doing that? 

So what do you think? 

Resistance, 

There are people that are uncomfortable with discussion. 

Yeah. 

I was trained as a journalist.

Yeah. 

I've. 

Probably by now, millions of discussions.

I've had some very hard discussions. 

When you're writing a newspaper article and you're saying to the person, we're writing a story tomorrow that says you're accused of this, what do you say? 

Yeah. 

And you do that and you get conditioned as a journalist, like, yep, this is just my job, so I'm very open. 

Yeah, but I mean like business people 

and that, but that's what most people don't have.

They're afraid to go into those places where, what if they tell me something I don't know how to answer? 

What if?

What if they ask me a question and I don't know what the answer is? 

What if I have to divulge who and what I am? 

Yeah. 

But what I find is in those discussions, the more I'm divulging and being open with a person, the better the discussion is 

and the more they start to know, like, and trust me, and then it moves to the business part.

By the way, Bob, basically, it's like, gee, Bob, you seem like a really nice guy. 

How can I help you today? 

Well, I'm looking for people to do this. 

Oh, you know, I have an uncle that does that. 

You should talk to my uncle. You're really funny. He would think that you're really funny. You guys would hit it off.

You can't have a hit it off unless you know enough about a person to know what might work or not work. 

Right? 

Yeah. 

But I guess what I'm getting at is what's the resistance to doing that and so. 

What's the resistance to investing time in those conversations? 

You have to be open. 

Yeah. 

I think it's effort. It takes more effort to find somebody and have that conversation than it is to

send an email or to post a Twitter because 

you know, you're right, you don't have to be as open, you don't have to be as vulnerable. You don't

have to, you know, it's just simpler, right?

To post an, to write an email to someone.

Hey, 

it's also predictable. 

Yeah. 

A discussion is not, I have no idea what you're gonna bring up in this discussion or what I, you

know, you don't know what I'm gonna bring up. 

We trust each other, do this. 

Yeah. 

But we don't script it line by line.

Yeah. 

And I've had people who have listened to me do calls.

I don't call 'em sales calls. I call 'em, conversation. 

Yeah.

I don't do sales calls because I just wanna talk to people. 

And someone was listening to me and they're like, I can't believe you talked about wine for 20

minutes. 

Yeah. 

But that was what that person was into when we started bonding over wine.

Yeah.

And we've continued to share wine suggestions to each other and then lets discussions around

business. 

Yeah.

But, I guess what I'm asking is what are the things that are the resistance. 

Not how are you overcoming it, but I mean, what are the obstacles to,

why do people tend to do something else other than have the have sales co sales conversations?

Well, for one, you contract the results, right? 

If I send out 50 emails and I get five customers, I can tell you how much that email got.

If I have conversations like, we're suggesting you may not get a sale for three years 

and you may not even know which conversation it tied to, if any. 

Yeah.

I go back to the fact that, first of all, you know, I think, I think there's an element.
It's difficult for lots of reasons. 

Mm-hmm. 

It's difficult cuz you have to schedule time. 

You have to find the people. That's number one.

It's difficult also because there's a fair amount of rejection that's gonna happen or you think there's

gonna be rejection.

Right. 

Right. 

And I think the thing that I like to do, so that's another kind of obstacle in the way. 

Mm-hmm. 

Another thing I think in the way is you have to be prepared, right? 

You have to have some level of preparation in place.

So you have some questions in place you have a certain goal, this is what I wanna learn, I wanna

learn more about this or that.

Mm-hmm.

That requires some amount of effort and I think ultimately it's the idea of like, you know, 

if I talk to that person, they're gonna tell me they don't like what I do. 

And I guess where I'd go with that is to address that, you'd have to say that you really almost

wanna look for the rejection, right.

If you can 

Mmm-mm 

 If you can embrace the possibility that, Hey, this is not gonna turn out well, or here's what my goal

should be in the conversation. 

It's not to sell anything. 

It's to learn more about what I'm up against. 

It's to find out what else is in the way for me.

I think part of the resistance is this possibility that you're gonna become rejected, that someone's

gonna not like your idea. 

But I think that's really the goal that you're trying to figure out is you almost want to validate your idea 

by figuring out what are all the reasons why it doesn't work, and then addressing those reasons.

And there's gonna be a point in time when you talk to enough people and have enough

conversations that there aren't that many obstacles to your idea 

and it's success and people start to start to get behind your idea. 

And until they do, I think you wanna have those conversations 

and kind of validate the things that are wrong with what you're trying to do, 

so you can figure out a way to address those. 

Figure out whether or not the things that are wrong with what you're trying to do are really

meaningful or not. 

And in many cases, they're not meaningful and you can just ignore them.

Oh, my product doesn't do this.

One thing that doesn't matter to customers. 

I've talked to 20 people and they, you know, only one of them cares that it doesn't do that one

thing. 

Obviously my product isn't for that one person, and you get to a certain point where it, you know,

if you have enough of these conversations, what ends up happening.

I think, is you start to develop a fair amount of confidence about what you're doing and in the long

term. 

It's these initial conversations and the confidence that comes from those, that's really gonna matter to you in the long haul.

Because being an Entrepreneur, being a founder of, of any kind of enterprise, it's not for the faint of heart. 

Right. 

It's, it's hard work, you know?

And so I guess that's kind of where I'm going with this.

This idea of if there's one thing to focus on, one thing it's try to have with a lot of open.

Interactive conversations with individuals and in some of these other episodes 

we kind of talk about how you prepare for those and how to anticipate questions and how to

respond and all that sort of stuff.

But for right now, I just thought it would be useful to just spend a minute just talk about why folks

ought to do the hard work of talking to people.

Well, the visual I get Brendan is of a target, you know, a bullseye. 

Yeah. 

And you throw the dart and you get to the outside and you get closer and closer to the middle as

you do it more. 

Yeah. 

And the middle is the clarity you have around what you're trying to do. 

Yeah. 

And each time you talk to someone, you're getting closer to that bullseye because they're telling you what works, 

what doesn't work, what they've gotta see, how it needs to be priced for it to work in their system.

And you can't know that upfront. 

We all have ideas of what we wanna do, but my idea of what I wanna do 

doesn't work if it doesn't fit in an existing ecosystem. 

And what happens also is when you start to figure out how to dial in on that bullseye. 

It's easier to find more and more customers that satisfy that are in that same space.

And so what you'll find over time is those early conversations will get you there. 

Mm-hmm. 

And then it becomes much easier to have the the next conversation with the right person.

And it resonates that much sooner.

Hey, I've talked to people like you in the same space, this is what we do.

And they go, oh yeah, I need that.

Mm-hmm. 

And if they're in the same space, chances are quite good. 

They're gonna have the same problems. 

Mm-hmm. 

You know, so, anyway, that's what I thought. 

Beat this around for a little bit. 

One technical difficulty there, but I think we, in the end, we'll fix it in post-production 

and alright. 

So Bob, we'll we should do this again, don't you think?

Yes. 

With better technology on my end. 

Alright, we'll see you man. 

Bye. 

See ya.

That was another episode of Let's Chat Sales a quick one, of course. 

And I hope it was helpful.

And if it was please like, and subscribe and more importantly, share it with your friends.

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