#74: Listen as Andy Paul, host of the “Sales Enablement Podcast” and author of the upcoming book, “Sell Without Selling Out,” discusses selling vs. selling out. He covers what makes a good seller, why buyers often resist certain approaches, and why a humanistic sales approach is best.
Listen to the episode by clicking play below OR search “the sales lift” wherever you get podcasts.
Check out the full transcript of this episode below:
The Sales Lift Podcast
How to Sell Without Selling Out (Part 1) w/ Andy Paul
Hosted by: Tyler Lindley
[00:00:00] Tyler Lindley: Hey, Sales Lift Nation it's your host, Tyler Lindley. Today, I have Andy Paul on the podcast. Hey Andy, how are you today, Tyler? I'm fine. Thank you for having me on the show. Thank you so much for joining. Andy is the host of the Sales Enablement podcast and the author of the soon to be released book "Sell Without Selling Out."
Andy, we're going to talk a lot about what that means to you? The title is "Sell Without Selling Out.". What does that mean? Why did
[00:00:26] Andy Paul: you title the book then am the book? It's a little bit of statement piece. If you will. It's very personal. We started this inflection point in my mind. I saw it on sales, as sweet as experience 10, 15, 20 years.
So of increasing automation and sales and the bottom line is we haven't gotten any better at sales. I look at the overall reports about how well sellers are doing individually in the field, where. Across many industries have dropped closed rates drop, but no decision rights are up sending a quote reps, attaining quota is dropped and you think, okay, we've got all this great technology.
A mantra is just fantastic. Why aren't we doing better? And this issue is not a technology what's happened is we've hadn't reset basic sales behaviors, which weren't great before the advent of technology. And what we've done is our automated said pad sales behaviors. So with the net result, It's still not very good at this business and say in the book, as Dan pink says to sell is human.
We need to get a lot better at selling to humans. And part of the problem is that yeah, as for so many sellers where they're socialized, they're trained, they're coached to behave in ways that buyers instinctively resist. It's the classics are salesy, pushy, sleazy, intellectually lazy and cure. Behaviors that I will start lumping this category of calling salesy behaviors.
Why are we still doing those? Because they don't work and the buyers instinctively resist them. And so I call that behavior selling out, why are we still selling out? You have a choice and the alternatives, but I've described in the book of selling in which is look, there's really a very small number of common attributes.
If you will. That you need to really master in order to become consistently good at selling. And whether you become great at selling just depends to the grade at which you decide to master these, but for somebody to become consistently good at it and to create a buying experience on the part of the buyers that says, yeah, this is.
I trust they have established credibility. They're really interested in what we're doing. They're delivering value to help us make a decision. And thus, we're more likely to buy from that person because the research has shown is that a majority of the purchase decision, the criteria in the mind of the buyer purchase decision are based on how they experienced you as a seller, not you as a company and the company you represent, but you as a seller, as an individual is hugely decisive.
It's still. Uh, despite many people not wanting that to be the case is the case. And you have to be very intentional about how you go about and create that type of buying experience that the buyers want. And so that's why describing the that's behaviors I call selling him and it really has four core attributes.
If you will, I call it connection, curiosity, understanding and generosity. They're your ticket to the level of success you want to achieve in the world. And I said, you can become good, or you can take the extra mile, become excellent, or you can become great early. Really depends how much you wanna invest in yourself to reach those levels.
[00:03:20] Tyler Lindley: sounds like you think most sellers out there right now. Are selling out. Do you think that more need to make this pivot from selling out to selling in? Is that what you see out of most sellers these days?
[00:03:31] Andy Paul: Yeah. This is how we train people. This is how people think that sales is supposed to take place.
Maybe it's some of we get through popular culture when we're watching movies and TV shows going glare again, Ross Wolf of wall street, blah, blah, blah. There's outliers. That's never all or nothing. There's some people maybe have had success doing that, but by and large, for most. Sellers it's not effective.
And for most buyers said it doesn't work. You can Badger somebody who in certain situations may have something transactional likes. I just saw the Wolf of wall street, Badger, somebody into buying something. They have no desire to buy. That's not really a victory for anybody. What I described as the alternative selling in with the connection, curiosity.
Generosity, our understanding of generosity. Those are innate human behaviors. We're all wired to want to connect with other people. We're all wired to be curious. And we use our curiosity on a daily basis to navigate the complexity of the worlds around us. We ask great questions to try to understand people.
Understanding of steel. Part of our empathy is understanding how other people feel and how we can help them. We're wired to be generative. As human beings that makes us feel good. There's no psychological rewards we reap from being generous, not to mention it triggers reciprocity as well. I found it curious how I've been in the business and written about this.
It's like, yeah, it really boils down to if we want to act more human than in the way that's more natural to us, then chances are better that we'll succeed in this business to the degree that we want to be like a salesy or not often, I suppose a question to the audience and I speak to them and say, okay, what's the one question.
A buyer will never ask you. And invariably, somebody says, well, I'll never ask you to raise your price. And I'll say, no, that's not true. I've had plenty of buyers asked me to raise my price. The one question I ask you, I still never say Tyler really love what you're selling, but I don't think we can buy from you because you're just not salesy enough.
No one's ever going to ask you that. And they're going to ask you right. Being more salesy is not the answer to. Problem the buyer has, and it's certainly never the answer to any sales challenge. So you have why we still do it. And that's really, the point is we can all stop this today. You as an individual can make the choices I'm going to do that anymore and choose an alternative way of acting.
[00:05:38] Tyler Lindley: you think is responsible then fewer to pivot to this selling and model and take on some of these core attributes, connection, curiosity, understanding. Is that on the sales leader to try to instill some of those things in their team, or is this on the individual seller to do this on their.
[00:05:55] Andy Paul: It's really both because if you're not getting it from above, you have to embrace it and grab it on your own.
I talk about in the book is that you may have to do what I've done throughout my entire career, which is saying I'm going to push back against the process because established process doesn't align with who I am. It doesn't align with my values. Doesn't align with how I see the world. I work with people.
I treat people in my life. And I think that is a source of discord that exists today on sellers. It's part of the reason that tributes to us high rates of burnout does says people are being forced to act in ways that just aren't aligned with who they are and their values and their character and their uniquely human strengths that we all have.
Sales leaders. I think one thing that's been lost as we've become more automated and a sales and a sales leaders lean into process and various other things. This automation is that there's many that take the easy way and they've lost sight of the fact that they succeed only to the degree, to which they help develop their individual sellers and help them succeed, help the individual sellers.
Achieve what they're trying to set out as individuals. And if you try to take a cookie cutter approach to selling, then we see what we see now in sales as the high level burnouts, which create high levels of churn among not just SDRs AEs. And we're certainly seeing some of that come home to roost now in the midst of the, whatever, the great resignation, whatever you want to call it.
I think the best term I've heard for it is the great reassessment. And you see it as people say, I don't want to come back to the office. This flexibility has been great. And I'm going to demand that I'd be able to retain. Well, that's a first step to retaining and reclaiming your humanity in sales as well.
It's the ticket forward. If you want a long career in sales, you're gonna have to learn a long career assumes that you're good at it. Not talking about becoming superstars and talking about just being good at what you do to enjoy what you do to find fulfillment in it, to be able to earn enough money to support your financial goals.
It requires that you learn how to create a buying experience for the buyer that is memorable, helps them achieve the things that are most important. And if you can do that, then you have a sustainable career. One thing
[00:07:54] Tyler Lindley: you brought up a couple of times is automation, and it sounds like you think that some sales teams or individuals selling.
I have, it sounds like lean on automation too much in their process. Now it sounds like that might be what you think is automation. Good in sales? What is good sales automation look like? What should you be automating? And then what shouldn't you be automating?
[00:08:16] Andy Paul: It's how you use it. If you want to carpet bomb your prospects with.
Lightly personalized emails. That's one thing, but you think, okay, we all know intuitively that's not good. And yet my inbox fills up with literally hundreds of emails a day between my regular email inboxes and my LinkedIn inbox. Of people that continue to believe that they can just send you a crap and hope that they'll take, they're just playing the odds.
Exactly. And that's the thing that's so much about selling these days. Certainly when people use automation, they use it in a way to play the odds. If I can put enough crap into the top of the funnel, I'll winnow down enough of it so that we're not going to have a very high win rate, but an aggregate we're going to be able to continue to grow.
Well, when something, well, when something, but I challenged sales leaders, and there's not universal agreement on this, but I know I'm right on. This is that if you're in a SAS business and you've got, let's say 20% win rate, meaning you're winning one out of every five of your qualified opportunities in your pipeline.
And that's average for any SAS companies, if practice makes perfect, what are you getting practiced doing at a 20%? The only thing you're practicing is losing.
[00:09:24] Tyler Lindley: Yeah. You're losing a lot. You're losing
[00:09:26] Andy Paul: a lot. You're getting a really good at losing. It. Doesn't need to be that way. If you're going to invest any time in a prospect and a buyer, why aren't you doing what you need to do in order to.
And this part again, it's just, as far as I'm concerned, it's just craziness. It's one thing. If you're selling into a market, which I call has infinite Tam, where you can afford to go through and burn through and turn through your available market with the serve tactics. But at some point that infinite Tam begins to diminish, right?
There's more competitive. And you have to learn how to sell actual sell, not play the odds sell. So if you're a sales person in this environment, you shouldn't let yourself be used this way. You need to take responsibility for some look, if I'm investing my time in this buyer, what do I need to do have let's say at least a 50% chance of winning the deal and what are those actions and what am I missing currently in how I'm doing it.
It boils down to, you have to think about it from the perspective. What is the experience of the buyer with me, with my company through this process, because their decision ultimately is a referendum on you. If you, as a seller account for the majority of the criteria they use to make the decision, then it's a referendum on you.
And it's personal, not as in, you're a bad person, but personalism, you just didn't give me a reason to buy.
[00:10:45] Tyler Lindley: So glad you brought up the infinite Tam, because I feel like a lot of sales organizations act as if they have an infinite. I feel like when you talk about the carpet bombing and the spraying and brang at the top of the funnel it's as if we can just do this forever in the math will always work out and the Tam will just always keep coming.
They'll just be more prospects that we can find new companies and all we know that's not the case. There's going to be more competition. The world's going to change. The industry is going to change. And the Tam, if anything, will always get smaller and more competitive, but it seems like a lot of organizations act the opposite way.
They act as if it will never end. If there's always be this infinite supply of prospects for us to try to put into the
[00:11:25] Andy Paul: top of the funnel. I think it's a little bit of an artifact of the tech world and the way companies are funded and the expectations of investors to find your product market fit and then scale quickly.
But the fact is for many investors, Their goals. Certainly don't align with those of the management. If the management is trying to build a sustainable organization that could be around for 10, 20 years, as opposed to having a three to five-year horizon for an exit where everybody leaves and the poor people left behind have to deal with the wreckage.
That's certainly plays into some of this, but you see it in many companies, many industries, it's not just tech. It is at the heart of the problem. It really, if you think about it and I write about this in the book is where you start to make a change is how you educate sellers about what their job actually is.
If you ask most sellers, I do, often I speak to groups is what's your job as a sales person? What's your. And the most common answer is something along the lines of my job is to go out and persuade somebody to buy my product or service. And my response is that's not your job at all. What's your job is, is to go out and listen, to understand what's the most important thing to your buyer, and then help them get that.
The job is not to persuade them to buy what you have it's to understand what's the most important thing to them and then help them get that. And if you think about that, I think my job is to go out and persuade somebody to buy. Then I'm going to take one set of actions. If I think my job is to listen, to really understand what's most important to my buyer and then help them get that I'm going to take a different set of actions.
And I think your job is to persuade. Then you immediately default into pitching shop buyer first. And again, I'm going to pitch you because my job has persuade you. And if I'm really focused on persuading you to buy my product, I'm not really that concerned about what's most important to you. You're going to buy my product, regardless of what's most important to you and it just cascades from there.
And I was just talking to someone yesterday on my show and authors are in a book talk to a lot of C-level buyers and just the refrain is just constant. These are new interviews with people. Is that 90% of the interactions that they recording just with salespeople, just valueless for them. Why is that the case?
So because I've got an agenda it's to pitch my product, not really curious about you as much as you think, buy him a superficial level, just to see whether you're going to buy my product. Right. And buyers are human beings. They senseless, they understand where you're not really interested. They understand if you're not really curious about learning about them and their business, that's back to this whole idea about how they experience you.
But if you go in leading with this ideas, I need to connect with this person. I need to establish the basic connection. Cause that's how. My credibility and trust with them. And then I'm going to use my curiosity to ask great questions, to really try to surface what's most important to them ask great follow-up questions to make sure that I really understand, truly understand what's most important to them and then give of my value to help them achieve the desired outcome.
And it's put it in that frame. It's just, it's different. And you're there not to persuade you there to influence the choices and the trade offs that they make about how to achieve what's most important to them.
[00:14:28] Tyler Lindley: And that's why one of your core attributes is not persuasion. No, because in fact, in sales, we're not really trying to persuade someone to do.
One thing or another, we're trying to, like you said, connect, pique, their curiosity, understanding their situation. And then if there's an opportunity for us to help, we help and then otherwise we move on or what do you recommend at that point? Sure. Disqualify
[00:14:48] Andy Paul: disqualify. The fact is on every opportunity.
There's always one thing that's more important than everything else. And a seller. Your job is to find that I call that the most important. Hm. What's the most important thing to the buyer. And who is it most important to? If you understand that, then you can say, okay, now I can shape the content and providing the way I'm working with the buyer to help them understand, okay, how can they solve this important problem?
How can they achieve their most important business outcome? And if you're laser focused on that, while your competitors are still trying to push across a broad front features and benefits, yeah. You're going to dramatically increase your odds of winning. Cause when you get to the end, you're saying, look, we're going to, co-create the story.
Of what success looks like for you. And I call this the vision of success. If you can, co-create this vision of success for the buyer. And there's been studies done on this. And I think Forrester did one about 10 years ago with enterprise it buyers is that if you can be the vendor, the seller whose vision of success is adopted by the buyer early, your odds of winning the deal go up substantially.
I was like 65% chance of winning the. That's the end goal of what you're trying to do with the buyers is work with them to create the story of what success will look like for them when they achieve their most important thing. That's what you're focused on. The sooner I can make that happen with the buyer, then the greater my odds of winning throughout
[00:16:07] Tyler Lindley: the sales process.
The first thing we should do is be trying to identify that most important thing. Do you think that should happen as early on in the process as
[00:16:13] Andy Paul: possible? It's the goal of discovery? The thing is. Again, as issue of how we train sellers. Oftentimes this, we say, look, either we had give sellers a list of questions that this is the questions you ask or through listening to your peers and the recordings.
And so on you serve, develop your own list of questions. We're good at gathering information, but what we're not good at is really understanding what's most important to the buyer. I've got a lot of information about you. I've just asked all my questions, but what do I really understand about what's most important to the buyer that's going to help us help.
Hmm. I talked about this in the book is we have to learn how to cross this gap. That exists between knowing something and understanding something. And it gets down to, we think about empathy is that our common use of empathy in sales is conventional, compassionate empathy. I can put myself in your shoes.
I can feel what you feel. Doesn't do you any good whatsoever? The only thing that does good. And so I understand why you feel the way you do. That's called cognitive empathy. That's what you want. It's not just, yeah. I feel your pain. It's I understand why you feel pain. And I want to get to that point of understanding.
Then I have a clear path to work with them to say, okay, now I understand.
[00:17:22] Tyler Lindley: And it seems like most sellers don't get to that point. It seems like most sellers stop it. And. But they don't get that. Why behind they don't get the cognitive empathy, they just stop it. Okay. I hear you. I think I understand. Do they truly understand why?
[00:17:34] Andy Paul: No. I use that example actually in the book is to say, when someone says, I hear you, but they're really saying is I hear it, but I'm not really
[00:17:40] Tyler Lindley: listening. I hear it. I wrote it down, but I don't really understand what you meant. And I don't know why I just wrote it down and now I can put that in the CRM and we can move on.
That's my exit criteria. Check it. I check the box. I've got that one. If I can move this one to the next
[00:17:52] Andy Paul: stage. Part of what happens is this idea. That discovery is this neatly contained thing that happens. We've got a stage for it. We got these entrance and exit criteria for it. And the fact is discover, it happens up until the moment you sign the contract.
So if you put it in this box, believe me, you're going to fall sharp too. A competitor that's understands that the really sell in and create this experience with a buyer I'm continually discovering and understanding and exploring further. I talk about the book, trying to reach the level of understanding of, so you've asked your questions and I lay out six different types of questions specifically, you can use.
And then understand, we talk about the up question. What are the followup questions you're asked to really get to a level of understanding? And Alec is the really simple ones that you can use for any occasional, something like that's interesting. And what else can you tell me about that? Or that's interesting.
Tell me more. And you can string those together. You can say that three times in a row, you could keep saying that you can keep saying it, but at some point you're going to reach the end of the rope, right? When you reached the end of the road, then you're going to summarize, and you're gonna reflect back to the buyer and say, okay, let me just reflect back to you.
This is what I understood. You said, and they say, yeah, That's exactly what we said. Here's what most sellers miss. Cause then they miss the really killer question that comes after that, which is okay. So what are we missing? We think we understand everything. We're all in agreement. We've got it. Okay. What are we missing?
And when you do that, suddenly it's like, oh, we're thinking about it. Even a deeper level. The buyer together with us, even a deeper level because our job as sellers in part is to help the buyer understand the problem. They're trying to solve the depth. And all the ramifications that come for solving it or leaving it unsolved or helping us big source of value for our buyers.
We got get to that level of understanding to really make sure we can do that. So a question like that it's yeah, we think we've got it all nailed. Most sellers leave said you stay and say, Hmm. Very powerful.
[00:19:39] Tyler Lindley: And I think that's one, probably that a lot of buyers probably aren't used to hearing. They're not, they'd probably be caught off guard by that question.
Just fantastic. Exactly. Which would cause them to think and maybe clarify that. Why clarify what is missing, clarify that it context in between that whoever you're competing against likely isn't, they've already checked the box they're moving on and you're still trying to understand what they mean, what they're saying.
What's missing from what we've
[00:20:04] Andy Paul: talked about, this is a great quote I have in the book from Clayton Christianson and I wrote a book called the innovator's dilemma, but first I passed away a year or so ago, and he said that paraphrasing, but questions are places in the brain where answers go. If you don't ask the questions, there's no room for the answer.
That's a great mind set for sellers to have his thing. There was no room for ANSYS. I don't ask the questions. I've got to ask the questions and I'll get more information that can fit in. So none of these things are hard learning how to connect with another human being. We're again, we're wired to do that.
We all has said, use the word, but I'll use it anyway as the basic way to connect with another human. I'll ask you, do you know how to make a friend? We're not trying to make the buyers be our friends, but it's the same motion years using it in the business context is yeah. He meets them in a social setting.
I'm interested in you. If you meet someone in a social setting at a back to school night or something as the first thing you try to. Let me put you in my friend funnel and I'll blast you some emails coming up.
[00:20:59] Tyler Lindley: I've got some automation I'm going to nurture this friendship for a little while.
[00:21:03] Andy Paul: Friendships email for awhile.
Of course not.
[00:21:07] Tyler Lindley: And that's that connection part in the book you're talking about, right. It's that connection, which like you said, is instinctual is us just being human beings, connecting with another human being. But I think that we say it's instinctual. We say that it should be natural, but I think sometimes in sales it becomes maybe the hardest step.
[00:21:23] Andy Paul: sure. We load it with all this weight.
[00:21:26] Tyler Lindley: Oh, there's so much pressure. Yeah, exactly.
[00:21:30] Andy Paul: Because first of all, as soon as I show up in the officer at home, I roll into my home office. I have to put my sales hat on. You start to put your human hat on
[00:21:39] Tyler Lindley: or keep it on. Rather keep it, keep it on. Right. You had that hat on and just keep it on,
[00:21:44] Andy Paul: keep it on and just lean them from there I have in the book, this exercise, you can practice to get better at this.
So if it's something that's natural for you, I call it, ask five, which is. Ask five questions. When you meet somebody new for the first time, can you ask them five questions about them before you have to say anything about. I would
[00:22:07] Tyler Lindley: imagine a lot of people would struggle with that. Yeah. They didn't have practice exactly.
But able would have great application to the beginning of a sales conversation or the beginning of a relationship. Absolutely.
[00:22:15] Andy Paul: And so you practice it in a social setting at works. That's where you gonna practice it. You're not gonna practice it. You can practice on your customers obviously, but.
[00:22:22] Tyler Lindley: There's a little bit more on the line.
[00:22:24] Andy Paul: if you want to get more aligned with it, practice it wherever you go. When you meet new people, it's social settings, weddings, banquets, whatever, and grant us. We're now starting to get back into those these days. Hopefully it's a great exercise and it's keeping you focused in. So what you're communicating to the other person is, yeah, I'm interested in you.
I'm sincerely interested in you. The way you make yourself. Interesting to another person is to be interested in them. And so it's true with your buyers as well as to make yourself interesting to your buyers, demonstrate an interest in them.
[00:22:55] Tyler Lindley: Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of the sales lift with Andy Paul. That was part one of our interview with Andy. We are going to be back on next week with part twos. If you want to check that out, come back next week to the sales lift to check out part two, as always the show notes are firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's the tag sales S a L E S. L I F t.com. And you can check out the show notes, transcriptions and more, and we will be back again next week for part two, with our interview, with Paul on sell, without selling out. So make sure you check us out next week. Hope you have a great rest of your day. Thanks so much.
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Don’t feel like listening? Read the Episode Cliff Notes instead below:
Buyer Resistance (0:22)
We need to get a lot better at selling to humans, and part of the problem is that for so many sellers where they’re socialized, trained, and coached to behave in ways that buyers instinctively resist.
They use pushy, sleazy, and intellectually lazy behaviors Andy lumps into as “salesy” behaviors. So why are we still doing those? They don’t work, and the buyers instinctively resist them.
Research shows a majority of the purchase decision, the criteria in the mind of the buyer purchase decision, are based on how they experience you as a seller. Not you as a company and the company you represent, but you as a seller, as an individual.
Connection, curiosity, understanding, and generosity are your ticket to the level of success you want to achieve in the world.
We’re all wired to want to connect with those innate human behaviors. Part of our empathy understands how other people feel and how we can help them.
Automation in Buyer Experience (5:38)
Push back against a process because the established process doesn’t align with who you are. It doesn’t align with your values or how I see the world.
As we’ve become more automated, many people take the easy way and lose sight that they succeed only to the degree to which they help develop their sellers.
If you want a long career in sales, you must learn how to create a memorable buying experience and help buyers achieve the most important things.
A Seller’s Job (10:45)
For many investors, their goals don’t align with those of the management.
If you ask most sellers, what’s your job? The most common answer is that their job is to go out and persuade somebody to buy their product or service.
The job is not to persuade them to buy what you have; it’s to understand the most important thing to them and then help them get that.
If you go in with the idea of needing to connect with a person and earn credibility and trust, you can use your curiosity to ask great questions and surface what’s most important to them.
Ask great follow-up questions to make sure that you understand what’s most important to them. Then, give value to help them achieve the desired outcome.
In sales, we’re not trying to persuade someone to do one thing or another.
We’re trying to connect, pique curiosity, understand their situation, and if there’s an opportunity to help, we help. Otherwise, we move on.
Nailing Down the Selling Process (16:17)
There’s an issue with how we train sellers. Often we give sellers a list of questions that you ask or through listening to your peers and the recordings.
We’re good at gathering information, but we’re not good at really understanding what’s most important to the buyer.
A competitor who understands that they sell and create this experience with a buyer, continually discovering, understanding, and exploring further will always beat you.
Most sellers miss the killer question that comes after: what are we missing?
We think we understand everything. We’re all in agreement. We’ve got it. Okay, but what are we missing?
You make yourself attractive to another person by being interested in them.
Andy’s hit “Accelerate Your Sales” podcast was acquired by ringDNA in 2020. Since re-named “Sales Enablement with Andy Paul”, the show continues to inspire thousands of sales professionals each week. Andy has also written two award-winning sales books, “Zero-Time Selling” and “Amp Up Your Sales”.
He is ranked #8 on LinkedIn’s list of Top 50 Global Sales Experts. And he has consulted with some of the biggest businesses in the world including Square, Philips, Grubhub and more, making him one of the leading voices in the sales industry today.