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To Buy is Human – Approaching Buyers the Way They Buy

People act on emotion and justify with logic. From complex to completely transactional, impulse purchases, emotions drive buying decisions. The examples are legion and science is stacking up one study after another that demonstrate how emotion influences the choices we make.

Daniel Pink says that to sell is human, likewise to buy is human. Though as humans we are certain that we’re making choices based on rational logic, our best interests, or organized facts, science says that we often don’t.

Emotion is why well-educated executives make multi-million dollar decisions with massive implications to their companies because they feel that one sales team cares about them more than another.

At a wine tasting party where researchers placed the price of the wine on the wine bottles, people exclaimed that wine with the higher price tag tasted better, even though every bottle was filled with the same low-cost wine.

In another study, German beer hall music lilted from the liquor store’s speakers on Tuesdays and French music on Wednesdays. Correspondingly German beer sales went up on Tuesdays with French wine sales increasing on Wednesdays.

On the sidewalk outside the store, researchers peered into brown bags and interviewed the patrons to learn why they purchased the beer or wine. Most shoppers gave logical reasons for the purchase: Saw it in a magazine, recommended by a friend, cooking steaks tonight, like the taste premium beer.

As humans, it is important that our self-image correlate with our decisions. So, we fall on logic to justify subconscious, emotional buying behavior – thus avoiding the pain of cognitive dissonance.

Despite all the tools, information, and data at their fingertips in our internet connected world, buyers continue to make irrational decisions. Am I saying that product features, quality, specs, delivery options and speed, service, technology, locations, price, and other tangible attributes of your offering don’t matter? Of course, not. These things absolutely matter – all are tickets to the game.

However, the sales profession inclusive of salespeople, sales trainers, sales leaders, and the marketing teams that support them are and have been, under the collective delusion that buyers make logical decisions that are in their own or their company’s best interest. That they weigh decisions rationally and choose options that make logical sense.

You Don’t Need to Look Far for Proof

Evidence upon evidence and data stacked on data refute this assumption. Frankly, you don’t need to look far for proof. I have no doubt that you’ve been frustrated with a prospect into which you’ve poured heart and soul. You’ve built the case why they should do business with you. You’ve analyzed their current situation and shown them how you can save them money, time, stress, and offer better service.

The case, the proof was irrefutable, and your references impeccable. There is even a compelling trigger event to drive urgency. Yet, instead of signing your agreement, they gave your competitor who’d taken them for granted, provided shoddy service, pissed them off, and overbilled them for the headache, a second chance. I know, I’ve been there and it’s maddening.

If we were to ask your buyer why he chose to remain with a vendor that was not working in his best interest, he would lead off with a number of what he felt like were logical, rational reasons. But refuting and arguing the facts would get you nowhere. The buyer would just dig in, unmovable.

What he would be unable to explain or unwilling to admit is his fear of making a mistake; or that there was just something about you that, at the sub-conscious level, he didn’t trust; or that because he avoids conflict, firing his current vendor would put him in an uncomfortable position. Layers of emotions – conscious and sub-conscious – driving his irrational choice. Yet he explains his decision in completely rational terms.

When All Things are Equal

As a sales professional understanding how emotions dominate and drive buying decisions is critical to supercharging your income and advancing your career.

When all things are equal, and in today’s marketplace there are rarely huge gaps or differences between competitors (at least from the prospect’s viewpoint), your ability to both influence the emotions of your prospects while regulating your own disruptive emotions, as you move deals through the sale pipe, gives you a distinct competitive edge.

Emotions are difficult to wrap our arms around and are sometimes hard to face. It’s so much easier to pitch the features of a widget than turn on empathy and tune into emotions. The brutal, inconvenient truth is you can pitch, challenge, teach, and offer insight to your heart’s content but it will not matter because, People buy for their reasons, not yours.

Approach Buyers the Way They Buy

Sales and buying are woven into the imperfect fabric of human emotions. No matter what you sell, your sales cycle, or the complexity of the sales and buying process, emotions play a crucial role in the outcomes of your sales conversations, interactions, and deals.

Sales EQ - Emotions Drive Buying Decisions

Most salespeople begin the sales process from a position of logic and over the course of the sales process shift towards emotion. On the other hand, buyers tend to begin the buying process at the emotional level and over time shift towards logic.

At the beginning of the sales process the buyer is asking a basic question about the salesperson: Do I like you?

In the same moment, the seller is delivering a pitch on product features they believe will generate interest from the buyer.

Few things make sellers more unlikable than pitching.

At the end of the sales process when the buyer is asking rational questions, putting objections on the table, and negotiating, the seller is reacting emotionally to perceived rejection, desperate not to lose the deal.

And so, it goes throughout the buying journey. At the emotional level, the parties are perpetually out of sync.

Of course, I’m not blind to the oversimplification of this example. Human interaction is complex and quite often non-linear. However, dealing with people in the context of sales conversations doesn’t need to be overly complex or overwhelming.

There are a handful of principles and frameworks that guide most human behavior most of the time. When you learn to master these simple frameworks, you’ll become a master of emotions and thus, influence and persuasion.

I’ve already shared with you one of the most cogent truths in sales. People buy for their reasons, not yours. It follows then that to be effective, you must approach people the way they buy rather than the way you sell.

Sales EQ: The New Psychology of Selling

Sales EQ Book Cover - by Jeb Blount Sales Specific Emotional IntelligenceLegions of salespeople and their leaders are coming face to face with a cold hard truth: what once gave salespeople a competitive edge—controlling the sales process, command of product knowledge, an arsenal of technology, and a great pitch—are no longer guarantees of success. Yet this is where the vast majority of the roughly $20 billion spent each year on sales training goes.  It’s no wonder many companies are seeing 50 percent or more of their salespeople miss quota.

Yet, in this new paradigm, an elite group of sales professionals are crushing it. In our age of technology where information is ubiquitous and buyer attention spans are fleeting, these superstars have learned how to leverage a new psychology of selling—Sales EQ—to keep prospects engaged, create true competitive differentiation, as well as shape and influence buying decisions. These top earners are acutely aware that the experience of buying from them is far more important than products, prices, features, and solutions.

Buy Today: Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Put Your Sales Goggles On

Madison left her appointment with Dr. Roberts, walked straight to her car (with me following), got in and drove away. “What about all of the other doctors in that complex? “Why didn’t we call of those too?” I asked.

Sales reps like Madison, walk out of appointments and right past what might be their next sale, without blinking an eye.  They usually mumble something about not having enough time or lunch or some other lame excuse. But the real truth is they are oblivious. They are myopic and unaware of the opportunities that are often right next door to their prospect.

That’s why you’ve got to put your “Sales Goggles” on so you can see those opportunities. This is how fanatical prospectors do it. They train themselves to be acutely aware of the opportunities around them. They are always on – looking around every corner, behind every bush, and in every window for their next prospect.

Look to the left, the right, and behind you every time you go into or come out of an appointment and make it a point to walk into those doors and gather information.

Likewise remain aware as you drive from place to place in your territory. New prospects and opportunities are everywhere. When you see a new business, new construction, or a company you’ve never noticed before, put your sales foot, on the sales brake, get out of your of your sales car, and walk through the door.

Look for the names of businesses on delivery trucks and signs. If the trucks are parked, stop and quiz the drivers. You’ll be amazed at how much information they will give you about the business, decision makers, buying windows, and your competitors.

Personally, I make it a practice to speak to every person I meet that is wearing a uniform or logoed shirt with the name of their company on it. I ask them about their company and who makes decisions there. They can almost always tell me who the decision makers are at their company and often know where my competitor is failing. I also talk to the person next to me in line, on trains, and airplanes. Over the past five years I’ve generated more than a half million dollars in business from these conversations.

Keep your eye out for business cards pinned to gas station and restaurant bulletin boards. When I see cards that match my sales vertical I grab them, call them, qualify, and add the information to my database.

If you don’t have time to stop and walk into a business or chat up a delivery driver use that amazing tool in your pocket called a smart phone. When you are driving down the road and you see the name of a potential prospect on a sign or truck just record a voice memo or note to yourself. You can also use your camera to take pictures of signs, new business locations, and the sides of trucks. When you get back to the office do a little bit of research, create a call list, and reach out to qualify or set an appointment.

Remain alert for businesses and people that are using a product or service similar to yours. Recently when working with a group a mobile device sales reps I asked the question:

“How many of you notice people using mobile phones in public?”

All the hands went up.

“How many of you notice people using outdated phones or phones with cracked and damaged screens?”

All the hands went up.

“How many of you think that most of these people would like an upgrade to the newest equipment or a phone screen that doesn’t look like a kaleidoscope and cut their fingertips?”

Most hands went up.

“How many of you hand those people your business card and let them know that you can get them a new phone for little of no cost?”

Not a single hand went up.

Final point. Awareness without action is useless. Be fanatical. Put on the sales brake, walk up to people, ask questions, and hand them your business card. Sure, some people might get irritated but most people will help you, talk to you, and give you a chance.


6 Secrets to Filling the Pipe and Crushing Your Number with More Effective Prospecting

Sales Prospecting Training Basics - Jeb BlountJoin me along with 5 of the world’s top experts on sales and leadership for a FREE ground-breaking, live broadcast on prospecting.

Whether you are in outside sales, inside sales, B2B, B2C, business services, software, medical device, pharmaceutical, capital equipment, professional services, financial services, real estate, a small business owner, entrepreneur leading a start-up sales manager, VP of Sales, CSO, or CEO, or any industry or position that needs new customers, the techniques you learn in this live sales trainingevent will give you the tools to open more sales conversations, fill your pipe, and crush your numbers.

Sales Prospecting and The Paradox of Basics

 Subscribe to my FREE Sales Podcast (#1 on iTunes)

I’ve been teaching salespeople how to prospect since I was in my twenties. Prospecting skills – interrupting the day of a prospect via phone, email, social, text, or in-person – are basic, foundational, competencies for sales hunters (inside and outside). These same skills are also fundamentals that inbound salespeople must master to become skilled at inbound lead follow up calls.

Over the past few years though I’ve noticed an alarming trend: More and more self-styled gurus popping up and pontificating to the sales profession that one form or another of prospecting is dead. They pander to the salespeople who are scared of, uncomfortable with, or simply don’t want to do the hard work of sales.

At the same time I’ve observed legions of sales leaders who have lost the managerial courage to lead high-performing teams of sales hunters. Instead, in the words of my good friend Anthony Iannarino, they are “creating vegetarian sales forces [made up of] salespeople who don’t know how to hunt, and some who refuse to hunt.”

Left behind are the millions of salespeople who are frustrated, failing, and earning far less than they should be because they don’t know how to prospect, have no guidance or structure for prospecting, and are confused by the endless stream of mixed messages.

There is a Direct Line Between the Failure to Prospect and the Failure to Sell

This unfortunate trend is killing sales cultures in organizations big and small. So much so that today, the number one issue facing salespeople, sales leaders, executives, and entire companies are anemic, and sometimes non-existent pipelines. It is the top complaint I get from C-level executives about their sales teams (from start-ups to SMBs to the Fortune 1000).

When my Sales Acceleration firm is called in to help companies fix broken sales teams, the root cause of their performance problem is almost always prospecting.

In fact, I’ve never worked with an organization that was missing its number in a big way where a straight line could not be drawn directly from the miss on the numbers to the miss on prospecting.Sadly, few organizations are able to see these issues on their own.

It’s The Paradox of Basics: An answer so blatantly obvious that it remains impossibly invisible.

So, instead of focusing time and attention on the root cause of their sales performance problems, many sales organizations spin their wheels on flavor-of-the-day patches that frustratingly never seem to make a difference. Because so many sales leaders don’t understand how to prospect or how to effectively coach prospecting activity, they willingly go along with these schemes and, all the while, the sales team spirals downward.

Hope and the YST Method are Not Prospecting Strategies

Meanwhile sales training programs rarely offer deep dive training on prospecting. It is as if salespeople are supposed to come to the job with the innate ability to open new doors, a comprehensive set of prospecting techniques, the know-how to interrupt prospects across multiple prospecting channels, and the mental toughness to sustain unrelenting rejection.

While sales leaders push hard on salespeople to build stronger pipes – in many cases with yelling, screaming, and threatening – salespeople across the globe respond with a collective “huh?” because they simply don’t know what to do and sadly most are unaware that prospecting is holding them back from building a stronger pipe and income.

The good news is, despite some of the hard to fix issues like hiring better talent, shifting organizational infrastructure, or changing the compensation model, it is relatively easy to accelerate prospecting and generate massive results.

For example, I was recently working with a cloud solutions start-up that was $10 Million behind its new account plan. They had multiple issues holding them back but the most obvious was the fact that their reps were busy doing anything other than prospecting. I worked with them for a week providing training, coaching, and motivation (a kick in the rear). We moved the activity needle in less than a week and when prospecting improved, sales followed.

Four months later they made their year-end number. The CEO told me it was a miracle. Actually I think he said the overnight improvement was “like magic.” I knew the truth though. There was no magic.

It was a back to the basics effort that gave his salespeople prospecting techniques that worked in the real world, a balanced approach, coaching to anchor their learning, an environment that fostered winning and mental toughness, and the managerial courage to create a structure of accountability.

There is No Easy Button and One Size Does Not Fit All

It’s time to tune out the pseudo experts who pander to the masses, just to peddle their “one-size-fits-all-easy-buttons,” and put prospecting back into sales.

We need to teach sales professionals and sales leaders tried and true balanced prospecting strategies (across all prospecting channels) with an eye towards actually delivering value rather than Buzzfeed worthy hyperbole.

Salespeople need to understand both the why and how behind the most important activity is sales with a drive to become both efficient and effective at opening sales conversations, filling the pipeline, and crushing their number.



Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount


It’s time to get off of the feast or famine roller coaster for good. My new book Fanatical Prospecting is the most comprehensive book ever written on prospecting. In it I teach you the techniques and secrets top earning salespeople leverage to keep their pipelines and bank accounts full. Check it out here.

Adopt a Balanced Prospecting Mindset

The very best salespeople have mastered balanced prospecting in the same manner that wealthy people have mastered balance in their investment portfolios.

Balance simply means that to get the best return from your prospecting time investment there should be measure of telephone, in-person, email, social selling, text messaging, referrals, networking, in-bound leads, trade shows, and cold calling. The relative distribution of your time investment in each prospecting methodology should be based on your unique situation.

There isn’t a one size fits all formula for balanced prospecting. Every territory, industry, product, service, and prospect base is different. As are the demands of the sales plan, economic drivers, and the strategy and direction of the business – all of which are certain to change over time. It’s also important to have a clear understanding of where you are against your goals because that may also determine the appropriate mix of channels.

When It Is Time to Go Home, Make One More Call

I don’t remember where I found the eleven words that changed my sales career. I think I may have stumbled on them in a newsletter or magazine I subscribed to back when newsletters were mailed rather than emailed. What I do remember is the words instantly resonated with me:

When it’s time to go home, make one more call.

I cut the blurb out of the newsletter and taped it over my desk where I would see it each day. It was always the last thing I looked at before I hit the streets to go on my sales calls.

Those words became my mantra. On days when I was dragging my ass because I’d had it handed to me by prospects I couldn’t close; or, it was hot, cold, raining, or snowing; or, I was tired, worn-out, burned-out, or, jonesing to go home early on a Friday afternoon; or when I was coming up with really good justifications to knock off early for the day, this mantra, “when it is time to go home, make one more call,” kept me going for one more call (and sometimes two, three, or four). It kept me focused on paying for my success, in advance, with hard work.

The impact of those extra calls was mind blowing. So many of my “one more calls” turned into sales. It was as if the universe was rewarding me for sticking to it. That final push paid off and kept paying off in my performance and my paycheck. Five more calls a week, resulted in 20 additional calls a month, resulted in 240 additional calls a year. At a 34% closing rate that produced an additional 82 deals a year, almost $2 million in incremental revenue, and, an extra $100k in my pocket – income I would never have generated if I had not developed the discipline to make one more call. That, by the way, is called Sales Gravy.

Over the years I’ve shared this mantra with the sales professionals who’ve worked for me and I continue to share it with the new generation of sales professionals I teach and coach. Some adopt it as their own, others . . . go home. I get hundreds of calls, text messages, and emails each year on Friday afternoons or near dark from top tier sales pros that say things like this:

“Hey Jeb, you are not going to believe this. I was about to give up but decided to make one last call and the guy bought from me right on the spot – can you believe that???”

This kind of sales serendipity happens every day across the globe to the sales pros that are fanatical about making one more call.

Of course there are those who will tell you that this is bunk. They’ll argue that working harder is stupid. “Why work harder when you can work smarter?” they somehow say with a straight face.

Here is a brutal truth: “Working smarter” is the hobgoblin of mediocre salespeople. Like all losers, they use “working smarter” as an excuse for their lack of achievement. Trust me on this, losers love company so they are happy to lure you into their “working smarter” camp with the Siren song of less effort for more results. Do not buy into this bull.

Top sales professionals have the self-discipline to do the hard things in sales. Do these top performers get tired, cold, hungry, burned out, and feel their resolve wavering and want to give up and go home? Of course they do. Do these top performers love prospecting or the other difficult activities required for success in sales? Of course not! They don’t enjoy these activities anymore than the salespeople who are failing.

What top performers in sales (and frankly all walks of life) understand is that to succeed at the highest level they’ve got to pay for their success in advance with hard work, sacrifice, doing things they hate, and making one last, final push over the finish line.

The salespeople on the bottom know this too but, instead of making one more call at the end of the day when it is time to go home, they make excuses.

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