How To Change Peoples Minds (Needs, Beliefs, Evolution And More)

David Straker is one of the worlds leading experts on changing minds. On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, we dive deep into how we make decisions and the process of unravelling them so they can be changed.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - David Straker
Leading Expert on Changing Minds

Resources:

Transcript 

David Straker:

Simply, the conscious mind, there's a deep question about what's the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness, and why do we have consciousness in the first place? So famous experiments which prove even in decision-making the subconscious mind is working before we consciously think we are making the decision.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, [Sales Nation 00:00:26], and welcome to today's episode of The Salesman Podcast. On today's show we have David Straker, who is an author and consultant on the skillset of changing people's minds. And that's really what we're diving into on today's show. We're diving into the motivations that lead to the ability and the skillset to change people's minds. We find out more about David over at changingminds.org. His book, Changing Minds, is available on Amazon. And all that said, let's jump into today's episode. Hey, Dave, and welcome to The Salesman Podcast.

 

David Straker:

Thank you very much. Hi, Will. And good to be here.

 

Understanding People’s Needs as a Salesperson · [01:05] 

 

Will Barron:

I'm excited to have you on, mate. I've devoured your book, Changing Minds. We were just talking about them before we clicked record, so we'll link to that in the show notes. And I want to start, really, in hindsight, this is where the book starts as well. And I want to start by talking about… And the whole show's going to be about the motivations of change or the motivations of influence. Because I love these episodes when they go beyond the process of closing the deal, or how to do a profit and loss, or all the business stuff. And I think our conversation is just going to allow the audience, and myself as well, to understand people that they're communicating with better.

 

Will Barron:

And there's so much depth to this that clearly we're not going to cover it all in one episode, but we'll do our very best. I want to talk about needs, emotions, beliefs, models, preferences, rules, and goals. And we'll see where we get through with these. But let's start on needs, because this to me seems like the bottom, the most base level. The things that can't be changed, or not very easily changed or manipulated. What are people's needs, for a start? That's the best way to start. And then we'll move on to, how can we uncover them for the specific individual that we're try and communicate with?

 

David Straker:

Right. Okay. Needs are, in the way I think of them, it's not like I need a beer. Although, sometimes I do it. Deep programme needs, and it comes from evolution. You can track back through evolution about how things have sorted out. A way to look at evolution is there are three survivals that we have to cope, we have to survive in three ways. The first is the survival of the fittest, which is the most well-known. Which may mean being able to run faster than the guy next to you when the lion's chasing. It means being able to cope with nature, and so on. It means to be able to hunt down your food, and not be sick, and generally survive all the things that the world throws at you. It's fairly much a, when it comes to other people, a win-lose type of situation, because it's [inaudible 00:03:12] the fittest. Fittest is a comparative word.

 

David Straker:

So you're fitter than other people. And it is very much those who are fitter, and also fit in terms of suitable for the environment. You get the girl, you get the food, you get to be boss, and so on. So that basic capability, but that's driven by some underlying needs. Second survival is survival of the genes, this is like genetic survival. We've been described as gene machines, we are here to propagate our genes. The genes are in charge. Hence, put a woman in front of a man, the man will assess her as a potential mate. And all those things that we look at a woman go, “Hey, big boobs.” But why is that? Is to feed our babies, that's why we like them. It's nice clear skin, because she's healthy, she's going to survive. And it can be all tracked, things we call beauty are all about evolution.

 

David Straker:

This is why we have kith and kin. Kin are those closest to us, so our family, those of the highest priority. Particular children, because those are the ones that are going to propagate the genes. But if we don't have children, then we also want to propagate the genes through things like our cousins, and our nephews and nieces and so on. So the closest the genes are to us, they're going to drive us more. The whole thing, blood is thick than water. But also, kith is our friends, our tribal mates. We grew up from thousands of years in tribes, so it's about looking after that tribe. Because the tribe is a survival mechanism in itself, but you want to the tribe to survive because they will look after you, look after your children. And also, after many thousands of years, they've got a lot of the same genes. So you've got gene survival. If it's not exactly your genes, it's pretty close, because it'd be very much closer gene pool.

 

David Straker:

So you have survival or the fittest, survival of the genes. The third survival is survival of the species. And this is where things like altruism comes in. Why do you want to help a stranger? It's because in terms of nature, for evolution it's particularly interested in whether or not evolution… Evolution is doing constant experiments. So we are still an experiment, but we will more likely survive as a species if we help one another. So you've got that third layer. The deeper layers, the survival of the fittest is the ones that push on us most immediately in the short-term, others become more long-term. But those forces upon us and they shape our behaviours.

 

Can Humans Live a Life Free of Primal Needs? · [06:01] 

 

Will Barron:

Is this the same for every human then? Does every human want… Clearly, maybe not clearly, because… Let me ask you this, and I'll give a very specific example. Not everybody wants to have kids. So even though you are driven perhaps through your genes, through your internal programming, through your body and your hormones to have sex. Without the technology of birth control, that would force you to have kids. All that wrapped up in that little bubble. Some people just choose not to have kids. Can you make a conscious decision on a higher level than your needs, and is that sustainable over the long-term as well?

 

David Straker:

The types of needs can overwhelm one another, and this is where we're going to come onto needs, which will come out. Classic example at the moment, about having children, is Japan. There's been a number of things talked about in Japan where kids are just losing interest in sex, they're more interested in their careers. And they're not even getting married, they're not having kids. It's related to some extent to the culture, but nevertheless, that deep human driver to have sex, have kids, propagate the genes, seems to be not there. It's not necessarily that it's not there, but it's being overwhelmed by other things. Sometimes things in ourselves, we have a complex set of motivators, sometimes one set of motivators and one motor will overwhelm others and become so dominant that the other one really just doesn't peep through.

 

Why It’s Almost Impossible to Change a Person’s Needs · [07:40] 

 

Will Barron:

I'm going all over the place with this, because there's so much to grab. But take this now to the level of, for a second we'll come back down, but take this to the level of doing business. Should we be trying to help change people's perceptions of these needs and these motivators on this super deep level, or are they out of bounds for us when we're negotiating, when we're trying to influence? Should we be trying to affect these, or should we be accepting them and then trying to change perceptions of things higher up the food chain?

 

“One of the things about needs is you don't change the needs, you only change how they are satisfied.” – David Straker · [08:09] 

 

David Straker:

One of the things about needs, is you don't change the needs, you only change how they are satisfied. The key thing in business in sales is to look at other people, understand needs at a deep level. You understand a deep level and see how those needs are being satisfied by the people, the approaches they are taking. And this is where things like reframing can come in. Is if you know that you're effectually saying, yes, you have these needs and this is what you're doing for it. Here's another way to satisfy their needs. And oh, this other way will satisfy those needs even more. Maybe not with that language, but that's what effectively you're doing.

 

A Practical Example of Solving People’s Needs Through Greater Satisfaction · [09:06] 

 

Will Barron:

And what would be a real practical example of that? And again, I appreciate that needs might not be the best place to… It might be the best place to understand and comprehend, but it might not be the best place to go out from an influence perspective. What would be an example of greater satisfying a need versus where they are currently?

 

David Straker:

Well, if you take from that evolutionary perspective, the tribal thing. Where if you bring in the tribe, if it works. But if people are focused on their own issues, and so on, the survival of the fittest, if you can escalate that to the survival of the species, where the species is their particular company. You can show company information, other companies against this. Well, you've got to think about this, because your tribe is the place in which you live. So if your tribe dies, you're going to die as well.

 

How Humans Unconsciously Think About Satisfaction · [09:44] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Okay. Obviously, people aren't consciously thinking this. They're not thinking if their competitor comes along and takes us over, I'm not going to be able to pass on my genes and I'm not going to be able to keep my genes. Because clearly within the company it's not your genes, it's just a tribe that's going to help you grow and protect you and your family perhaps. But is this subconsciously being processed? Is it deeper level than that? Is it just ingrained into us? How is all this computation and comparison, and going from being satisfied to a different type of satisfacation… That's not a word.

 

David Straker:

Satisfaction.

 

Will Barron:

Satisfaction. Being further satisfied. How is all this being processed in our brains?

 

“There's a deep question about what's the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness, and why do we have consciousness in the first place? And there's been famous experiments, which proved that, even in decision-making, the subconscious mind is working before we consciously think we are making the decision. Which is alarming, really.” – David Straker · [10:30]

 

David Straker:

A lot of it's in the unconscious. Simply, the conscious mind, there's a deep question about what's the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness, and why do we have consciousness in the first place? And there's been famous experiments, which proved even in decision-making the subconscious mind is working before we consciously think we are making the decision. Which is alarming, really. If the subconscious is making decision and we think we are, but we're not. We're the us, because that's about the [inaudible 00:11:02] to needs. But the consciousness is where a lot of the identity is of who exactly we are. So that me, that's doing all the deciding, we think it's the conscious bit. But consciousness is linear. It's very difficult to think of more than… You can multitask by switching between things, but consciousness is pretty linear. Whereas unconscious is massively parallel. There's no competition really.

 

How to Work Out a Person’s True Needs · [11:31]

 

Will Barron:

Right. We'll skirt around that for another time, because I love this conversation of what the sober unconscious is. And so we'll have you back on to dive into that further, because that's a whole conversation itself. To keep on needs for a second, and then we're going to move up to emotions. How do we work out what somebody's needs are, very specifically? And using your example of a tribe versus a company. I know plenty of people who are super passionate and are super dedicated to the companies they work for. And I know a bunch of other people who they just treat it like a job, and they're not wrapped into the corporate culture. They're not wrapped into that they're a team. How do we go about dissecting some of these needs up so that we can then give them content and conversation to target and to align with them on those fronts?

 

David Straker:

Yeah. First of all, when you're thinking about needs, you need a model of art that says this is what needs are. The most common one is Maslow, and it's certainly valid as a useful one. But I've been chewing through needs models, I've come to about 22 I think so far. From all kinds of areas, some from psychology, but some from areas like fortune tellers, they work on certain particular types of needs. There's things like international, not politics, but people who are working on the rights of people around the world, like the need for freedom and things like that, and clean water. That kind of level. In the Western world, we make assumptions about things that we're going to could keep on having, so we don't worry about water or food, or things like that.

 

David Straker:

But in many places, just the ability to meet and you have freedom to assemble and things like that, which are affected. So by and large, you need to start off with a model. And the more models you have, the better. Because also, in understanding models, my favourite quote is from George Box, who said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” So, know when you're using a model, know that it's imperfection. Know it's a lens, it's a way of helping you understand thing. Maslow, of the needs model fame, also said, “For a man with a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.” In other words, you've got one model of needs and you look through that model, all you'll see is what it shows you. It's one light. If you could look at it through other lenses, then you can see different things and understand needs in different ways.

 

How to Uncover Your Prospect’s Most Important Needs · [14:14]

 

Will Barron:

Well, let's look at it through the lens of a B2B deal when a new salesperson, perhaps that know, like, and trust isn't quite there yet. But the prospect is happy to meet with them. We're not cold calling, we're not doing anything like that. There's a meeting that's been set up. What should the B2B salesperson on the needs front be prodding or poking to find out which need is most important to the person that they're sat opposite?

 

David Straker:

Well, there are two levels of needs which can affect people in that situation. There are the needs related to, if you like, the survival type needs. The lower level of needs that I need to meet my sales targets, and things like that. That's basic stuff. And sometimes people focus only on those things, but there are other needs which happen as well, because you have social needs. The human side of things. And the human side is massive, absolutely massive. We grossly underestimate the human side of things very, very often. Often when we're focusing on the minutiae of things. In any sales situation, whether or not you're focusing on it, there is a relationship between you and the other person. As good sales people know. But in organisations there are also needs.

 

David Straker:

When you are focusing into a B2B type situation as well, you're not just selling to the person in front of you, you're selling to the system. Which is the whole system of people and how they work, and so on. And there's a whole bunch of needs behind the person in front. It may not be their needs, and they may be representing the needs of others. But they're going to have to go, if they like what you're selling, they're going to have to go and persuade others. Maybe get to the technical people to get approval for this, and the financial people to make sure it's in the budget, and all those things. So you got to understand that system and what those deep drivers of the rest of the system are, not just the person in front of you.

 

Will Barron:

What I'm gathering here, it's our responsibility to know and to have the business acumen to understand the company, to have done our research enough to have a good guess at the needs. As opposed to sit there and ask someone, what's your greatest priority? Which is obviously a value sucking question from a conversation.

 

David Straker:

Yeah. Yeah, it is. And if you ask for what's your greatest, you'll get top of mind, but it's not necessarily the most important.

 

Why You Need to Ask Questions That Make Your Prospects Think · [16:46]

 

Will Barron:

Okay. Let me ask you this then, and we might be going totally off topic here on a how-to question, and how to build rapport. But how do you get these deeper level questions? And this is useful for the audience listening from a sales per perspective, it's useful for me listening, and going back and forth with you, Dave, from an interviewer perspective. How do we get past the first answer that's just come straight out of an individual, that's surface level, that they've not really thought of? It's probably come from the subconscious. They've been asked that question before, and they're just replaying the answer. How do we get them to think and then respond?

 

David Straker:

If you're talking to a buyer in an organisation who regularly has conversations with sales people, then they will have a standard set of questions they are familiar with, and they'll have familiar answers to trot back. So you've got to ask them something that's going to make them think, and it might be some sort of comment. So you might be not necessarily asking a question, but making a point. Did you know even, type thing, that makes them go, oh, what's that? It's got to be novel, which means each situation you define those sorts of things. What are the real things here? Did you know your opposition here is doing this? Or, there was a report that came out of the industry. This is stuff from that… What's the name of the book? The Challenger Sale. It's probably well-known to a lot of people, The Challenger Sale. Quite popular now, taken over in some ways from spin selling.

 

How to Lead With Intriguing Insights in Sales Conversations · [18:25] 

 

Will Barron:

So it's leading with insight to-

 

David Straker:

Yes.

 

Will Barron:

… to knock people out of the… There's probably a better way to describe it, but the routine of the questions that they're usually used to responding to.

 

“The difficult part of selling is getting out of your own head and into your prospect’s head, which is where things like understanding needs can come in.” – David Straker · [19:20] 

 

David Straker:

Yes, that's right. And it's something you lead to. It's like chatting up a person of the opposite sex, you don't start off with, what do you like for breakfast sort of thing? That gets a bit cheesy. You don't want to go in for the cheesy stuff, but you want to start off by showing that you are concerned about them. The usual, against the classic sales stuff. And showing that you're interested in them. A lot of it's getting out of your own head. If you go in with a sales script then, I don't know, sometimes it can be useful, but a lot of times it can trap. So you've got to get into their head. Now that's part of the difficulty is getting out of your own head and into theirs, which is where things like understanding needs can come in.

 

The Difference Between a Need and an Emotion · [20:43]

 

Will Barron:

Definitely, definitely. We talk about this all the time of just physically being present for someone. Just sitting opposite them and genuinely, just for 10, 15 minutes, it doesn't matter that… You're not going to marry them, you may never speak them ever again. But just spend that little bit of time in front of them and getting to know them, and having that conversation, and then bringing it to business or bringing it to… Obviously, there's got to be some kind of agenda that you're working towards to move things forward or to disqualify them, or whatever it is. I think that is, in the age of people going for meals and sitting around with their phones out, with what I have when I go home of the TV's on. And even my dad now is on his iPhone playing games, or he's usually looking at the Liverpool football results and things of that nature when we're all sat around.

 

Will Barron:

In a world where that is now just common, it's commonplace, it's never going to change. That is it for forever, and it's only going to continue to go down that route. Just sitting opposite someone having a conversation, I think even if it leads to nothing, adds value to the individual. And I think that can lead to other opportunities as well. I appreciate you came up with that, Dave. Okay, let's move one step up into emotions because we're going to run out of time, like I predicted. Because clearly all of this is so deep. What's the difference between a need and an emotion? And I'm guessing emotions are more malleable by both us and the individual that we're sat in front of as well.

 

David Straker:

Emotions often tell you that your needs have been prodded in some way. Like fear, fear tells you that you need to be safe. The fight or flight emotion, response, tells you that you are in danger. And we're programmed with these things. And we're not that long out of the jungle, and emotions are designed to keep us safe in the jungle. Which is why we end up being stressed, because we can't let them out. Our culture tells us to, particularly British culture tells us, you've got to keep a stiff upper lip and swallow back your emotions. It's very difficult to hide emotions. There's around 50 muscles in your face, and most of those are about showing emotions, so it's very difficult to hide. But emotions are driven very much by the needs.

 

How to Read Your Prospect’s Emotions · [21:49] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there a key number of emotions that we should learn verbatim? Whether there's six or 10. Obviously, I'm sure there's 50 or 500 emotions in the grand scheme of things. But is there any key ones that… And I don't want to dumb down the conversation of you should know when someone's sad. But I think understanding when someone really is sad versus when someone is, they just don't want to speak to you kind of thing. I think there's real value in going into that in a bit more detail.

 

David Straker:

Yeah, absolutely. It depends upon the person, but there are about six emotions which are commonly used by psychologists. Although each emotion has a linear scale, and there various words along it. So happiness can range from contented to ecstatic. Sadness can range from a bit fed up to being completely devastated. They're fairly well-known. There's happiness, sadness, there's fear, there's anger. Anger includes ranges up to hate. What else is there? I think, without looking it up, it's something like disgust and surprise. But there are many others. I mean, we all know emotions because we all feel them. And when we empathise with others, we feel the emotions of other people. And the ability to empathise is a very important skill.

 

What To Do When Selling to an Angry Buyer · [23:33] 

 

Will Barron:

Let me ask you this, very practically for the audience who they might be listening to this driving to a sales meeting. If you turn up and someone is angry, they're not angry at you, they're angry at someone else. Someone else who's just screwed up and you've walked into the middle of this shit storm of people arguing. And you're told to wait outside five minutes and then they welcome you in. And they've got a smile on their face, but you know they're not quite right. Again, you can empathise with it. You can put yourself in their situation and you get why they're annoyed. As a sales professional, B2B sales professional in this position, should you be trying to get your way out of that meeting, get rearranged for another occasion? Or, should you be trying to turn their emotion around within the first five minutes of conversation and get them in a happy place so that they're more receptive to having a… Not selling anything to them, but just more receptive to have a conversation with you.

 

Will Barron:

Should we eject? Or is the skill level, not that my audience isn't capable of any of this, but is the skill level low enough to change someone's emotion that we should all be having to go at that?

 

David Straker:

Well, it is very much theory. Conversation's like jazz, you've got the basic rules, you jazz along. Occasionally, there's a train wreck and you pick up and carry on. So with emotions, it's very much reading the situation. Sometimes, yes, absolutely. And it can be quite hard to do as a salesperson, you've got a meeting set up and the person at the other end, you're going, this person is not in emotional state to cope with what I want to talk about today. And they don't look like it. Because you could look at two things in terms of emotion. One is the overall mood, which is going to be a long-term thing. You can bring them down, it's that level, but they may be in an agitated mood and you might assess that they are going to continue in that mood for a while.

 

David Straker:

And the other is the more temporary emotion, which goes up and down. And then you could assess, can I bring this person down? It depends upon the experience of it. And it is a skillful thing to manage the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence, it's one of the things in there, which also includes managing your own emotions. Yeah, if somebody is going to be angry, you're going to look at it. You can say, can I use that anger? Can I redirect it somewhere? Can I turn that, talk about something that's happening in the industry, or their competitors? And they get angry at the competitors, and you can join in. You can do the pace and lead thing. You can look to see if you can pull things down a bit by maybe talking about some of the small stuff first. But again, watch for the facial signals, the micro-expressions and so on.

 

David Straker:

And you might even get to a point, even if you're talking with them like this and going, I still don't think… So you might finish the interview early, you might leave them with something. I'm going to give them something here, but I'm going to put off what I wanted to cover until the next time. So you give them enough so that they want you to come back next time. And even if you can show empathy on things, if they look busy, if they look distracted, you can say, “I can see you've clearly got a lot in your mind at the moment, I think it's probably a good idea if I come back another time.” And they may say, “Yes, thank you very much.” And you've you scored a hit, you do that.

 

Tips on How to Channel Your Anger to Something Else · [26:58] 

 

Will Barron:

Well, your level of rapport then has just gone four steps deeper than any other salesperson that's gone in there and just thrown their pitch down the person's throat. I think that's really valuable. And so you mentioned then, Dave, that no one's ever explained this to me, but I think I do it naturally. Not trying to blow my own trumpet with my own emotional intelligence, but I think this it's probably a coping mechanism from being bullied or verbally abused at some point in my life by someone. So it's probably a learned response. But I do this, what you described. If someone's mad, I will direct the anger towards something else. Because you can only be mad for so long, most of the time. It dissipates because it takes a lot of energy to be super angry about something.

 

Will Barron:

I find it just drains, so I'll get them super mad. Obviously, you're in Wales and I'm here in England. If the person is into football or into rugby, I'll just bring up some crazy player getting bought, or some goal, or whatever it is. And I'm very consciously aware that I'm doing this, so it must have been something learned as opposed to something that was inbuilt. So that's really interesting, I've never really thought about it. How to describe it? I just assumed everyone would do it, but now you've put it in that context, it's probably something that we can look out for and very practically implement.

 

David Straker:

This is exactly the jazz. The saxophonist decides to go off on one. So there they are tooting away on their piece. And you're the guitarist, what do you do? Do you fight and try and bring them back? No, you go along with them. You put some backing down on to be able to fit the thing, and they come down, then he lets you go off because you've started a reciprocity. You'll get more.

 

The Best Emotional State You Could Ever Find a Buyer In · [28:32] 

 

Will Barron:

We're not going to get any further than emotions here, because we'll have to wrap up in a minute. but what I want to end the show on is, Dave, is there an emotional state where if you've got a meeting arranged, again, you're not cold calling. You're not doing anything to suck time from the prospect. You've got a meeting arranged, whether it's on phone, or whether it's going back and forth in emails, or if it's in person, whatever it is. You know other sales professional, that your product is a great fit for that individual. So the stars are aligning. What is the perfect emotional state of the prospect? What state should they be in for them to be most receptive for you to communicate all this with them?

 

David Straker:

If you think of emotion, rather than as emotion as being arousal or activation. So you are emotion, you're activated up. And the best feeling there is one of interest. You don't often think of interest as being an emotion, but it is a feeling. We feel interested, and we are attentive. There's something in here for me. I've got enough of a hook into it that there's something here of value. So once you got their interest, then you can lead them.

 

Exciting Insights That Peak Your Buyer’s Interests · [29:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. This leads to obviously the crux of the conversation here then, does that go back to what we described earlier on of leading with insights? And talking about not just sales, talk about life in general here, and just to communicate with anyone. Whether it's a family member, someone we've just met, should we always be trying to peak interest through insights and then probably leave a little bit of a pause and just let them process it, and then come back to us with a question? Is that the best way to go about this?

 

“To be effective with insights, people must be ready for it. You can say something of the most profound depth, world-changing philosophy, but if the listener is not ready to hear it, then they won't.” – David Straker · [30:12] 

 

David Straker:

No, I'd say insight is still jazz. Again, people are going to be ready for it. You can say something of the most profound depth, world changing philosophy, but if the listener is not ready to hear it, then they won't.

 

Will Barron:

I've got an example of this. I love quotes. I love overthinking them. I love the philosophy behind a lot of them. And I've done this so many times now that I have to tell myself off for doing it. Because my girlfriend, she's a doctor. She'll come home from work, she'll be super tired from a 12 hour shift, whatever she's doing. And I'll throw some quotes at her that I think, oh, the debt for this, this is incredible. And when she's tired from work she does not want to think, hear, or be excited about the apparent depth of this business or entrepreneurship quote. So she throws it back in my face every single time.

 

Will Barron:

But on a Saturday morning she's super open to discussing all of this. Yeah, that just intrigued me then as that's-

 

David Straker:

Absolutely.

 

Timing and Context of When to Use Insights · [31:12] 

 

Will Barron:

That's literally a non-business example of something that I do very often and have to catch myself doing it now, because clearly two different shifts in our life of she comes in from work shattered from helping people a lot of the times that don't want to be helped. Whereas I'm speaking to people like you, having these awesome conversations all day. So at the end of the day I might be physically drained, but mentally I'm switched on, so I want to dive into all of this.

 

David Straker:

Yep. Yeah. It's like with parenting. With children, you talk about getting the children in a teachable moment, you're teachers as well. That they are receptive at that point where they're ready to learn something. And you can take them to that point by various means. But-

 

Will Barron:

What other ways can we implement that then? Because I feel like this is sales. If you can get someone to a point where they are interested, and then if everything is right from the business side of things and you can deliver what we discussed earlier on, of the needs for them and the needs of the business that they're working for, you've won, you've done it.

 

David Straker:

Well, one of the ways, one of the classic approaches in sales can be described as hurt and rescue. Spin selling does that, for example. Where you cause a certain amount of tension around, I've not got something and I want it. Or, there's this bad thing happening to me. And so you hurt them where they feel a certain amount of discomfort, a certain amount of tension. It can be with children through, for example, in fair, you can pick up on things which are already happening. Something bad has happened, so if you reframe that into a learning thing, a benefit thing. Like, so what, so this has happened. So what can we do about it? What are the possible answers to this? And as in the spin approach, if you set it up right you don't have to sell, you just have to show them what you got and they bite your hand off.

 

Sales is About Managing Asymmetry · [33:10] 


Will Barron:

I love this. This goes on to the idea of trigger events, and this is happening all the time within businesses. And this is what I love about sales. And we'll wrap up with this, Dave. You've got the science of sales, we know if you send so many emails or so many different subject lines, certain percentage will open. And more than likely, at the event of the funnel you can have so many respondents and deals close, and all that kind of thing. Which, my background in chemistry and science, that all appeals to me. But I love the art side of sales. And this is how I define the both of, it's very difficult to come up with a process. You can perhaps have a process to uncover trigger events, but when you then see them, you've literally got 10 minutes, an hour, a day to respond to them.

 

Will Barron:

And that's where the art comes in, because it has to be done in real time. There's very little prep. There's very little bringing in over people for advice, unless it's a huge corporate deal or merger or problem. In which case, there might be a team built around it in that immediate one, two day period. But that's what I love about sales, I love that it's conversations, it's dynamic. And that's why I'm so bullish on the fact that salespeople in a whole bunch of industries are never going to go anywhere. They can't be automated. There's no software that can take that out of the marketplace. Until AI takes over, and then we're all knackered anywhere at that point when they can do legitimate job of the salesperson, of being dynamic and having these conversations. That's why it's The Salesman Podcast and not the business show, if I was scared that salespeople wouldn't exist anymore.

 

David Straker:

And any negotiation, which sales has a lot of, is based on asymmetry. When you have an asymmetrical knowledge and understanding, then in fact there's a source of power. You don't have interpersonal power without asymmetry. And it's that managing that asymmetry. And part of the difficulty is because when you give something away, you're levelling it off, you're reducing the difference between you. But in doing so you gain goodwill and so on. So it's managing asymmetry as perhaps a way of describing sales.

 

David’s Go-To Self-Improvement Resources · [35:55] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. I love it. Right, Dave, we've got a couple questions bit, ask everyone that comes on the show. First one, what is one book or resource, other than your own, which we'll come onto to in a minute, that you'd recommend to the sales and podcast audience?

 

David Straker:

I've got two books. First of all, I'll show you one that I'm reading, which is really good, but then what I would recommend the most. This one, it's actually very, very good. Can you see that one there, that says that is The Dictator's Handbook. It's very relevant in today's politics. It's like a modern day Machiavelli. And it's actually relevant in business as well. It's how dictators work, but also how democracies work. And it's all about the size of the coalition. It was a very interesting book anyway, lots of really relevant, recent examples in it. But also, if you look at that from the sales eyes, that's might actually shed some interesting light on it. The one I'd recommend in particular, which is more directly one, this one called, Compelling People. And Compelling People is mostly about charisma, it's about to how to be compelling yourself.

 

David Straker:

And there are two particular things that you need to be compelling, one is strength, and the other is warmth. And you need the right balance of those. Because it's easy to be strong. Men, in particular, will do the strong stuff, but can miss off the warmth stuff. Women can do the warmth stuff and not do enough strength. For women, it can be particularly difficult because if they have too much strength compared to the warmth, they seem cold. Whereas men are just seems being human. So it is different, there are gender differences. But yes, definitely. Here we go, Compelling People. I would recommend that to any salesperson.

 

Dave’s Advice to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [36:57] 

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. I will link to both of them in the show notes to this episode over at salesmanpodcast.com. And with that, I've got one final question I ask everyone that comes on the show. And that is, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you'd give him to help him become better at selling?

 

“Plan to live forever, but do your best and live for today. Don't live in the future, don't live in the past, live in today, but understand the future.” – David Straker · [37:40] 

 

David Straker:

Don't worry. When I was about 30, I had occasional panicky things going, oh my God, life's so tough. And now I'm really come to be retired, I would say to myself, “Don't worry, it's all going to work out. Just keep going.” And that's all you can do. Every day, just get up, do your best. Go to bed think, I did my best today. Don't worry about the future too much. It's one of these things, you plan to live forever, but do your best. Just live in today. Don't live in the future, don't live in the past, live in today, but understand the future. The past is gone. Don't regret things, they're gone. Waste of time, regret.

 

Will Barron:

I love it. What you've just described is a common thread on the show at the moment, for whatever reason. And maybe it's something that I'm looking out for, so I'm asking questions that lead to this. But this idea of, it's just going to be okay. Especially when we're talking about sales and business, and we're not talking about people's health or anything on those lines. 9% of the time, especially my audience. If you are listening, if you're in sales and you're seeking out a show like this to improve yourself, you're going to win. Over the long-term, net-net, you're going to win if you keep up with this. With personal development, with taking risks, and calculated risk, and moving forward with things. And you may not end up in sales, you may end up in management. You may end up as an entrepreneur, whatever it is.

 

Will Barron:

But I appreciate that because it's something that's on my mind a lot as we are doing loads of changes with The Salesman Podcast, as we're going, doing the show live as well. I'm travelling all over the world, doing all these separate things. Just knowing that it's going to be okay. And the worst case scenario is, I've said this since I first started the show when I left my sales job. The worst case scenario for me is that I either move in with my girlfriend or I move in with my dad and I get another sales job. That's the worst case scenario. It would be great to do either of them. It'd be a laugh to move back in with me dad and spend some time with him.

 

Parting Thoughts · [39:15] 

 

Will Barron:

So when the biggest risk is that, then I think it's fine to have the idea and the conversation behind everything that you do in life of, it's going to be okay. I appreciate that. And Dave, tell us a little bit about the book, Changing Minds. And then obviously your website as well, which gets crazy traffic. There's crazy amount of content in there. There's genuinely a lifetimes worth of content on Negotiation, on Changing Minds at this point. So tell us a little bit about both of them.

 

David Straker:

Yeah. Okay. The website, it goes back to the 1980s, I started writing books. And I'd write about whatever I was doing at the time, and they did okay. But by and large, when you write books, the publishers and the book sellers get most of what… You get a little bit. The web came along, I thought let's write to the web, what do I want to do? And I was working in a sales and management organisation in Hewlett-Packard at the time. And I was particularly working in some change management work, which is quite interesting with salespeople, it's like chasing them.

 

Will Barron:

You sound like me, I did a whole show on it.

 

“When looking for a reason to pick something, don't pick something you're great at already, pick up something you're interested in. That’s far more important.” – David Straker · [40:40] 

 

David Straker:

Anyway, I was going to write a book on change. And I thought, well, what's a more broad thing? What does everybody want? Everybody wants to change minds. And as I look back at what I've done, and I've done various things. I've been a teacher, I've been in marketing and worked in the organisations, management stuff and so on. And it's like, well, a lot of it is about what I've been doing is about changing minds. And I've always read, and keep reading now. And it's just a fascinating area. So I picked on something that I really found fascinating. I wasn't great at it, and that's another reason to pick up something. Don't pick up something you're great at already, pick up something you're interested in. Far more important.

 

David Straker:

And so I started writing the website 2002, September was the first time I published it. And I just kept going every week, add more things. Then about 7,000 pages in of things, it's just one foot in front of the other and you get up the mountain, and then you keep going. And along the way so many people kept saying, “Can you write a book about this, please? The website's got so much stuff, I'd like something a bit more coherent that's leads through things.” So I took a year out, I was middle of doing a master's in psychology at the time. I took a year out from that and wrote the book. And within the book there are models in there that aren't really covered in there. It's all written directly, I haven't just cut and pasted his stuff from the web, so it is unique.

 

David Straker:

And there is my own thinking in there, and my own models in there, so it's not just copying stuff. So I hope I add value. It is dense. Big warning, there is a lot in there. Because it's how I think, I work like that. I work dense. I don't like rubbish. My daughter's like this, she's a consultant, she doesn't do small talk. You have a good conversation with your daughter, you end up exhausted. But it's all practical. It's in time to be practical. I like studying stuff, but in the end I'm an engineer. I start it engineering, and that's about find the details, but you got to make stuff work. My original was electronic engineering. You're going to design the circuit, theories of atoms and whatever, but you've got to build an electronic thing that works. If it doesn't work, you ain't an engineer.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing. We'll link to the book, we'll link to the website, in the show notes of this episode of Salesman podcast. And with that, Dave, mate, you are more than welcome. This is a genuine invitation to come back on whenever your schedule fits, mate. Because we've only covered two out of, I think, seven or eight steps here, which is step one out of the 15 steps in the book of Influence and Changing People's Minds. And what I like about this, and I just stroke your ego before we wrap up. I asked you a whole series of questions on a whole series of both verticals and horizontal topics here, and you never hesitated once. So that just shows the depth of your knowledge in this. You're the real deal. And I appreciate that, mate. And with that, I want to thank you for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

David Straker:

You're very kind. Thank you. And you are a very good interviewer.

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