Why Quota Crushers Do The OPPOSITE Of What Sales Trainers Tell Them…

Todd Caponi is the author of The Transparency Sale and is an expert in leveraging unexpected honesty and the buyer’s brain to win new business.

In this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Todd explains the science behind sales success and why you should do the opposite of what traditional sales trainers tell you to if you want to crush your B2B sales quota.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Todd Caponi
Author of the Transparency Sale

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today's episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Todd Caponi:

What has changed today is what I call a non-obvious evolution in the world of selling, and it's this idea that now there's reviews and feedback on everything we interact with, not only the shows we watch on Netflix, and the apps we download, and the hotels that we choose. But now, it's moved onto everything we buy.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation, I'm Will Barron, host of the Salesman Podcast, the world's most downloaded and listened to B2B sales show. If you haven't already, make sure to click subscribe, and let's meet today's guest.

 

Todd Caponi:

Hi, I'm Todd Caponi, I am an author, which is the weirdest thing in the world to say. Just wrote The Transparency Sale. Former sales executive with a number of tech companies here in the United States, namely in Chicago. The book, The Transparency Sale, can be found wherever books are sold. And, you can sign up for my blog at transparencysale.com.

 

Will Barron:

On this episode of the show, with Todd, we're diving into why you should perhaps do, essentially, the very literal opposite of what you've been taught to do in sales to have success. Why you should be vulnerable, and the neuroscience and neurochemistry of success with building rapport, with building relationships, and a whole lot more. So, let's jump right in.

 

What Sellers Need to Do to Break Through the Noise In a World Where Buyers Have Their Guards Up · [01:20] 

 

Will Barron:

To jump straight into this, in a world where buyers are seemingly more and more sceptical every five minutes that we start communicating with them, in a world where they've all got their guards up, what do we, as sellers, need to do to… I don't know whether we need to make them drop their guards, or whether we just need to take a totally different approach all together, but do we, as sellers, need to do to break through the noise?

 

“As human beings, we're wired to resist being influenced from the beginning of time. What has changed today is what I call a non-obvious evolution in the world of selling, and it's this idea that now there's reviews and feedback on everything we interact with, not only the shows we watch on Netflix, and the apps we download, and the hotels that we choose. But now, it's moved onto everything we buy, from technology, from products, from services.” – Todd Caponi · [02:09] 

 

Todd Caponi:

Well, I will inject the wisdom of, believe it or not, Tyra Banks. She coined a term called flawsome, being flawsome, which is to embrace your flaws but know that you are still awesome. Your question around buyers seemingly more sceptical, they only seem more sceptical than they actually are. As human beings, we're wired to resist being influenced from the beginning of time. What has changed today is what I call a non-obvious evolution in the world of selling, and it's this idea that now there's reviews and feedback on everything we interact with, not only the shows we watch on Netflix, and the apps we download, and the hotels that we choose. But now, it's moved onto everything we buy, from technology, from products, from services. And, as a result, buyers now have this infinite capacity to go predict what their experience is going to be like with you. And so, in this world where now there's this giant proliferation of reviews and feedback, if we're not embracing our, I guess, flawsomeness and leading with those flaws, we're actually eroding trust from the first conversation. So, the short answer is to embrace transparency and authenticity. Not only because we should, but scientifically and from a data perspective, it actually impacts every metric that you care about as a sales professional.

 

How Do Reviews Influence B2B Buyers? · [03:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So, I love episodes like this, Todd, we're already into it here, where it's something that seemingly counterintuitive. So, with that said, go as deep or as shallow here into the weeds of brain science, neuroscience as you like, but what's going on inside the brain of a potential buyer when perhaps they're leveraging a anonymous random review over an actual person, a sales professional, that they can go back and forth and communicate with? What's going on in their brains, that they go, “I'm going to trust this random two-star review that has no data or social proof around it whatsoever, rather than perhaps engaging with this individual who's trying to sell me, but start a conversation as well,”?

 

“At PowerReviews we did a study that looked at reviews, and it showed that consumers are more willing to buy a product that has a review score of a 4.2 to a 4.5 than a perfect 5. So again, a 4.2 sells better than a 5. So, I looked at that and thought, “All right, perfection is actually pushing people away, imperfection is grabbing people, where's that coming from?” – Todd Caponi · [04:33] 

 

Todd Caponi:

The data behind it, let me start there for a second, because that's what changed my whole world. So, I was the Chief Revenue Officer of a company in Chicago called PowerReviews, and what PowerReviews does is it helps retailers and brands collect and display ratings and reviews on their website. So, think about any company, like Tesco, Boots, they're all collecting reviews and them showing them right next to the product. At PowerReviews we did a study that looked at reviews, and it showed that consumers are more willing to buy a product that has a review score of a 4.2 to a 4.5 than a perfect 5. So again, a 4.2 sells better than a 5. So, I looked at that and thought, “All right, perfection is actually pushing people away, imperfection is grabbing people, where's that coming from?” So, that's when, Will, I went into the neuroscience and started looking at, “What's really happening?”

 

“We're now in an environment where 95% of people, when they buy something online, look at a review first. And, 82% of people specifically seek out the negative reviews before making a purchase.” – Todd Caponi · [05:13] 

 

Todd Caponi:

From the beginning of time, first of all, we make decisions with feeling and emotion, and we back that up with logic. But, one of those feelings and emotions is this idea of we want quick paths to rewards, and we want to avoid risk wherever we can. We're willing to trust an individual that we don't know who might be revealing a potential risk. We would rather know about potential risks than not know anything. And so, where that goes is, we're now in an environment where 95% of people, when they buy something online, look at a review first. And, 82% of people specifically seek out the negative reviews before making a purchase. If that's happening when a website is acting as a sales person, what I found in my travails as a sales leader is it actually works exactly the same way in business-to-business sales, or even business-to-consumer sales. Where, our buyers are specifically seeking out feedback, wanting to be aware of what potential risks are, and wanting to know what the potential negatives are before making a purchase, otherwise they just don't get that comfort level to make a purchase.  

 

Flawsome: Why Salespeople Need to Start Embracing The Flaws and Vulnerabilities in Their Products or Services · [06:25]

 

Will Barron:

I very literally do what you just described there, Todd, when I buy something on Amazon. I will go on the reviews, I'll click, maybe not the one-star because that's typically someone who didn't understand the product, there was some other kerfuffle, there was a customer service issue, I ignore the one-stars. But, I'll go to the two-stars and see what all the negative things are, and then I'll weigh that against the serotonin and dopamine that's swelling up inside me to press that “buy now” button. Hopefully, that kind of blunts it and makes me make a more rational decision. But, I do very literally what you describe. So, with all this in mind then, for the B2B sales professional who rings up, maybe it's a cold call, maybe it's a call that's further down the cadence of a B2B sale, should we be just throwing out all our flaws upfront? Or, is there a strategy to doing this without turning the other person completely off before we've even given them any of the positives to potentially working with us?

 

Todd Caponi:

That's where the word flawsome comes from. You do run the risk, when you start teaching this, that people are going to go out to all of their prospects and say, “Hey, this is why we suck.” That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about embracing our flaws and our vulnerabilities early. And so, why don't I tell you a quick story of how this worked? I was in New York on company business, I was the CRO, I had a VP of Sales who texted me saying that, “A big apparel manufacturer in New York just came in through our inbound line, and I want to start an evaluation.” I told him, “Wow, I'm in New York right now, can you ping them and just say, “Hey,” if they're available I'll go grab coffee?”

 

Todd Caponi:

So, they did, and the guy actually accepted, which is a surprise in its own right. I went to their office, went up, went into his office, and this individual was very New York in the best way possible, meaning very direct, get to the point. But, he brings me into his office, it's clear we're not having coffee, he brings his whole team in, so there's seven people wedged into a tiny Manhattan office. And, he starts by saying, “All right, Todd, we've looked at your competitor, we're looking at you, why are you better?” Instead of doing that, I said, I'm looking around at all of these people, “Why don't I start with something they're working on that's not even on our roadmap? Because, if it's going to be important to you at some point during the sales process, I would like to get that out of the way now.” And, they all exhaled like, “Ah, no sales pitch.”

 

Todd Caponi:

I went in, I talked about it, they laughed, they thought that what that other organisation was working on was interesting, but not interesting for them. We then talked about what was great about what we were working on and why we weren't going to invest in that. It was to make an investment in our core, to be really good at what we're good at. And, 20 minutes in, he literally kicked everybody out of his office, grabbed a folder from a credenza, open it up, and it literally said his budget on it. I had never had a customer show me their actual budget, and he said, “Can you hit this?” Now normally, with this large of an apparel manufacturer, it would be a six month sales process. We closed this in six weeks. They made the determination in two weeks, and then the last four was contracts. I thought, “All right, there's something here.” I kept trying it, and kept trying it, and every single time cycles shrank, win rates went up, we qualified deals in faster, we qualified deals out faster that we probably have lost anyway. And, we made it really, really difficult for our competitors to compete against us.

 

“I believe that we need to stop overtly selling in our prospecting efforts, and instead be just looking to provide personalised, valuable information to our potential buyers, because everything else is white noise.” – Todd Caponi · [10:13] 

 

Todd Caponi:

And so, that's where this all started. It impacts the way you prospect, of course. I believe that we need to stop overtly selling in our prospecting efforts, and instead be just looking to provide personalised, valuable information to our potential buyers, because everything else is white noise. But then, just like I said, you can work in that leading with transparency and your vulnerabilities, in the way that you position, in the way you present, and then all the way to negotiations. I've always looked at negotiations as this kind of poker tournament, where we hide our tails, and we start at opposite ends in a field and we hope we end up in the middle. I think there's a really strong case to be made for playing your cards face up in a negotiation, and building trust through signature instead of having a road right at the goal line.

 

Todd Explains How Embracing Your Flaws and Vulnerabilities Works When Negotiating with a Controlling and Manipulative Buyer · [11:01] 

 

Will Barron:

How does this work? Because, this worked clearly when you're dealing with someone who wants to solve a problem, who wants to work with someone and hopefully you're that individual. Clearly we build trust by building commonality and the rapport, we'll come on to that in a second because I think that's something to look deeper into, of how we can build trust and rapport quicker, which is the basis of what we're talking about here. But, how does all of this work in a negotiation, particularly, if you were dealing with Donald Trump? If you were dealing with someone like that who's going to walk into the room, squeeze your hand or do some kind of weird handshake where they're grabbing at you, does it work in that scenario to be open, honest, and put your cards on the table? Because, it seems like you're giving up a lot of leverage that could be better used to negotiate further down the line, if it's more than just a quick yes or no scenario and decision.

 

Todd Caponi:

Most of the concepts that I talk about in the book started from a story, where I was in an ominous situation and I tried something, and it worked like magic so I kept testing it. This was 10 years ago, I was in a negotiation where I walked in the room, it was a big oil services company, they had five procurement people in the room waiting to… I think they were drooling. I may have misremembered that, but they could not wait to tear into me, as a VP of Sales of a company who they were about to buy, a one and a half million dollar solution.

 

Todd Caponi:

The way it worked, so we were selling SAS technology, so what I did was I walked up to the whiteboard and I said, “Listen, I know where this is going, so can I just write up the four things we care about on the board?” And, they looked at me like I was crazy. I said, “We care about how much you buy, so volume. How fast you pay, so the timing of cash. How long you commit, so the length of commitment. And, when you sign. Those are the four things. And, those are the four things that we're going to pay you for in the form of a discount. So, when you ask me that you want 30% off, these are the four things that we're going to be able to exchange in exchange for that discount that you're wanting.”

 

Todd Caponi:

And, it became a collaborative discussion, where they just knew that, “What we care about are these four things, what you care about is getting your price down, so commit longer, pay faster, sign in a time that we can forecast, or commit to more technology. Those are the four things, and we can help you out.” It's amazing how that works. You end up with more valuable deals, and you end up in a situation where you're not a charitable organisation, you're paying for something in the form of a discount across the board. It's amazing how that works.

 

Will Barron:

So, there seems to be two levels here. There's one, trust building, sharing flaws, which then inadvertently, or counterintuitively, if people haven't done this in the past, can reduce the number of objections and things further down the line. So, there seems to be that level, which we'll cover now, which is the relationship building. There seems to be another level, which is being logical about negotiations, which takes the emotion out of it, which takes people taking sides out of it, which takes the politics out of it. If you can get everyone to agree on logical steps for negotiation it makes the whole process a lot easier. So, we'll cover that towards the end of the show.

 

Todd’s Thoughts on Why Prospects are More Willing to Buy When They Understand the Flaws and Vulnerabilities of a Product or Service Upfront · [14:33] 

 

Will Barron:

But, on the rapport building side of things, what's going on in the buyer's brain when we share a flaw, and why does that make them want to like us, even if they holdback, even if they're trying to push off because they're trying to have leverage by not being emotional and rationalising after the fact, perhaps they're trying to be logical? Why is it humbling for someone to have a story shared to them that shows our flaws, that shows that we are truly human?

 

“Your limbic filter is this resistance to being sold to. It's like in the old door-to-door selling world, you look out your window and you see two people with a clipboard walking up your driveway, you close the drapes and hide like the government's coming to take your provisions. That's a resistance mechanism. And so, the minute that we start to feel like we are not being sold to, the limbic filter drops really, really quickly.” – Todd Caponi · [15:30]

 

Todd Caponi:

I think we could go really nerdy in the brain science around this. Our brain has three core areas. The middle one is the limbic system, which is where your emotions and your feeling are. That's surrounded by this neocortex, which does all the logic and all the data processing. And then, of course, down near your spinal cord is the reptilian brain, which is the, “Ooh, that's hot,” that stuff that happens subconsciously. There is a connection there between your limbic and your neocortex. There's an author, Jeremy Bloomfield, I believe, that calls it your limbic filter, that is this resistance to being sold to. It's like in the old door-to-door selling world, you look out your window and you see two people with a clipboard walking up your driveway, you close the drapes and hide like the government's coming to take your provisions. That's a resistance mechanism. And so, the minute that we start to feel like we are not being sold to, the limbic filter drops really, really quickly.

 

“As sales professionals, we've always been taught to sell as though we're perfect. So, if you look at, I think it's Gallup that does a study every year of the most and least trusted professions, at the bottom is sales and politicians. It's because we're trying to push, “Our idea's perfect.” So, humans are wired to resist that.” – Todd Caponi · [16:05] 

 

Todd Caponi:

Again, as sales professionals, we've always been taught to sell as though we're perfect. So, if you look at, I think it's Gallup that does a study every year of the most and least trusted professions, and at the bottom is sales and politicians. It's because we're trying to push our ideas, push, “Our idea's perfect.” So, we're wired to resist that. The second that we show that we're not in that category that limbic filter drops, and the flow between the limbic and the neocortex starts to happen with less stuff getting in the way.

 

Why Do People Buy But Hate Being Sold to? · [16:41] 

 

Will Barron:

I'll hazard a guess at this, but why is it that people don't want to be sold to? Is it as simple as they, myself and probably yourself included, don't want to feel out of control? Is that the underlying trait or psychology that we're getting at here?

 

“Our brains want to predict what our experience is going to be like. And, if all we hear is perfect, our brains are wired to believe that nothing is perfect. And as a result, we need to find the imperfections, whether it's from you as the sales professional or, in today's world, we're going to find it somewhere else. It's easy to find. Do you want them to find it from you, or do you want them to go find it randomly on the corners of Google.” – Todd Caponi · [17:35] 

 

Todd Caponi:

Yeah, I believe that there's elements of that. I think the way that we were evolved as human beings is to be sceptical and take the path of least resistance to everything we do. We believe that we're in control. Control is one of the main feelings that leads to the decisions that we make. There's other ones, like the element of something being fair. Obviously, there's that control and confidence. There's this feeling of fitting in and being a part of something. And, just inherently, the way we've been wired is our brains want to predict what our experience is going to be like. And, if all we hear is perfect, our brains are wired to believe that nothing is perfect. And as a result, we need to find the imperfections, whether it's from you as the sales professional, or, in today's world, we're going to find it somewhere else. It's easy to find. Do you want them to find it from you, or do you want them to go find it randomly on the corners of Google, or in some G2 crowd, or TrustRadius, or even Glassdoor website? Is that where you want them to find it?

 

Defining the “Path of Least Resistance” From the Buyer’s Perspective · [18:05] 

 

Will Barron:

So, you've said the path of least resistance a few times already, Todd, when you described that, is that someone saying, “The least resistance is for me to close the curtains and hide from the sales person who's trying to sell me knives or whatever the door-to-door sales person is selling? And, doing that is less painful than dealing, perhaps, with the pain that we've got.” Is that what we're talking about here?

 

Todd Caponi:

Yeah, essentially in any decision that we make though, what we're looking for… The way we're wired is we look for short-term rewards over the avoidance of long-term pain. There's an amazing study that Martin Lindstrom did. If you've ever heard of Martin Lindstrom, he did a study that… This is almost like a sidetrack, but he brought in 2080 smokers into a lab and showed them cigarette warning labels, and they immediately were like, “Oh, gosh, I got to quit smoking, this is terrible. That really teaches me something.” And then, he put them into an fMRI machine, which is one of those machines that analyses what's going on in the brain as decisions are being made. Showed them another cigarette warning label, and in almost 100% of the cases the human's craving centre went off. Essentially, their brain is looking at cigarette warning labels saying, “Huh, cigarette would be really great right about now.”

 

Todd Caponi:

And so, again, when we think about those subconscious biases that go on in our brains, again, we're trying to make decisions that give us short-term rewards over those long-term potential avoidance of pain. We are wired to want to predict what that experience is going to be like. I know, and if I was a smoker, having one right now would solve my craving, and I'm not going to worry about that thing long-term. That has so many implications for the way we sell too.

 

Why Salespeople Need to Highlight the Path to Short-term Rewards Rather than Help the Buyer Solve Long-term Pain · [19:57]  

 

Will Barron:

If we do this, because it could seem super condescending to be logical and down the line about this, how do we explain to a buyer, and we know this logically, that making short-term decisions is typically not the best way to go about things, and long-term decisions, whether it's a year, five years, especially in the business world, may be the best way to go about it? Because, that's the logical side of things. Most of the time people would potentially agree with that. But, I guess what we're talking about here with cravings is emotions. I drive past KFC, Burger King, and I go, “Ah, I could treat myself. I've trained hard at Jujitsu this week. I've recorded so many episodes of the show. I've done so many hours.” That's not a logical decision, I'm not thinking, “I've burnt off so many calories by sparing that I need to have a bucket of chicken.” It's an emotional decision of, “Ah, all of these sugars and salts, and whatever the heck else is in there which makes it taste so fantastic, even though I know logically it's going to be terrible for me, I'm going to embrace and shove down my throat.”

 

Will Barron:

So, what I'm getting at, it's an emotional thing that we're talking about, as opposed to logical. How do we convey that to a potential buyer, that, “Look, you're making a short-term decision here, we know if we work together on long-term project that this is going to be more successful,”? How do we say it without saying it?

 

Todd Caponi:

I think you need to prioritise those short-term rewards in your pitch over the long-term avoidance. But, you're going to need to do both because, again, what you're looking for is that trigger that their feeling centre is going to say, “I want to do this now. I need to be able to justify this when I go to my boss or I ask for this budget money.” So, they need both. But, again, when you think about your presentation choreography and the way that you choreograph your positioning, prioritise those short-term rewards. Again, they're looking for easy too. Any massive project is painful for the human brain. It shows itself, and I'm sure you're probably aware of this, when you open an email and your email reads like War and Peace. Whatever it is, it's just all words, your brain cries on the inside. It's just like, “Ah, this is work, I want it easy, I want it quick. Get to the point.” That happens at an email level, but it happens all the way to thinking about projects and any decisions that we make along our path. We need to create the perception that there's an easy path to a short-term reward. Prioritise that, and then get into the long-term stuff.

 

Will Barron:

That happens, Todd, when I just open my email client, I go, “Oh, 150 emails, close email client, I'll do something else instead of [inaudible 00:22:48] through these.” So, it kind of happens on multiple layers. Practically, because it's one thing to say, as perhaps an entrepreneur, founder of an organisation, “We can engineer some of this into the product.” So for example, “With the new version of our product, our sales development platform for sales people, as soon as you jump in there is a personality test and a sales DNA test. And, it tells you loads of fascinating traits about you that you probably already know, but it puts them down on paper. It's a huge win for people who are testing it at the moment. They get in there and they go, ‘I knew all of this, but I wish I would have put it into practise.' For example, I'm a debater personality type, within our system, which means I like to take the opposite point, I like to play devil's advocate, I need to be counterintuitive. Sometimes, you just need to be on the same side as someone to win with them, you just need to agree. I always go to the opposite side, no matter it is. Even if I agree with the person, I'll always try and find the other point. So, long story short, I've engineered into our product an easy win.”

 

How to Highlight the Short-term Rewards of Using Your Product or Service and Differentiate Yourself from the Competition · [23:50] 

 

Will Barron:

But, for B2B sales people who are listening to this, who have to sell a product that someone else has designed, how do we implement some of these easy wins for individuals? Is this doing things like, “I'll go out of my way. I'll stay and do training. I'll do this, I'll do that, as an individual contributor on the sales front.” What I'm getting at here, Todd, with this long-winded question, what can we do, as individuals, to add extra value on top of everything that the company's doing, to make these shorter wins more applicable?

 

Todd Caponi:

It's all relative. If I'm buying a pen versus another pen, that's silly, but as we get into some of these complex sales… I'm sure some of your audience sell long sale cycle, heavy implementation type of solutions. We've got to know that our buyers are looking at both solutions. So, it's going to be relative, we can't lie because, again, it's easy for them to go find what an implementation or actually getting the actualization of this investment's going to mean. I think there's some things that subconsciously we can do during presale. One thing, which has been around since the beginning of history… There's a book that I have that's copyright in the 1960s, that talks about… I'm a sales historian nerd [inaudible 00:25:07]. That talks about this idea of creating buyer journeys with your customers. Where, you sit down with your customer at the beginning and you say, “Hey, listen, I've done this before, we've worked with companies like yours, here's typically the steps that they go through in order to make the right decision.” And then, you map it out with the potential client so that, again the project here is a long evaluation, you make it easier. You become like their Sherpa heading up the mountain with them. It's just subconscious little things like that, that you're making the journey easier for them, regardless how complex.

 

Todd Caponi:

There's other, obviously, elements that you do when you position your vulnerabilities and transparency, where you build trust. Where, again, at the beginning of a conversation, you and I chatted, there's trust there, and I feel like, “I'm going to run up the mountain of doing this podcast with Will because I trust him.” That eases that path and makes it look like an easier journey to a reward. It's just things like that. It starts from the first conversation.

 

Building Trust by Being Transparent, Honest, and Authentic · [26:15]

 

Will Barron:

What is the cadence of being transparent? What I mean by that is, is this something that we do at the beginning to build trust, and then we get our professional hats on and become, and I'm obviously overemphasising this, a corporate drone, and then just go back into what we were told to do in the 90s of super corporate emails, all that kind of stuff? Or, are we more real across the whole sales process and the relationship that we're building with these individual, hopefully, over the long-term? 

 

“I think we need to understand brain science and the fact that when you see you have 150 emails in your inbox you're going to shut it. Eventually, you're going to go back, and what you're going to find is you're going to look at the subject line, and then you're going to look at the little preview of 10 words that nobody seems to talk about in the sales world. It blows my mind. That, I can see a 10 word preview, and if I see the word “I” or “We” in it, meaning, “I've just reached out because I wanted to learn about your problems,” I can select all and delete those, because they're not about me.” – Todd Caponi · [27:16] 

 

Todd Caponi:

I think we all agree that we should, in our hearts, be authentic, and honest, and transparent. But, the data and the science tell us that it's not only a good thing to do, but it works. All the metrics that matter to sales people, it affects in a positive way. So, I don't believe you ever stop. So, let's talk about prospecting at the beginning. I'm prospecting, it doesn't mean that in your emails you say, “We're terrible at this, we're terrible at this,” that's not your emailing cadence. I think we need to understand brain science and the fact that when you see you have 150 emails in your inbox you're going to shut it. Eventually, you're going to go back, and what you're going to find is you're going to look at the subject line, and then you're going to look at the little preview of 10 words that nobody seems to talk about in the sales world. It blows my mind. That, I can see a 10 word preview, and if I see the word “I” or “We” in it, meaning, “I've just reached out because I wanted to learn about your problems,” I can select all and delete those, because they're not about me.

 

Todd Caponi:

And then, the ones that are about me, “Hey, Todd, you're a Chief Revenue Officer, here's a board deck template you can use.” Or, “You're hiring sales development reps in Chicago, here's a study on salaries for those individuals typically are making.” Those jump out at me. They're like magic in the white noise. So, that's the brain science piece, is, again, personalised and valuable.

 

Todd Caponi:

And then, with positioning next, so I have the opportunity, that's when you start with your flaws, present as those you're a 4.2 to a 4.5. And then, we get a formal presentation, we do it again. In the formal presentation we know more about their specifics, so we can lead with those. I often compare presentation choreography to reality makeover TV shows, in that they follow a cadence that is all about the participant, who knows they have a problem. But, they choreograph their shows so it not only tells a great story, but it shows the individual that their problem, or the reason that they wanted to be on the show, is bigger than they thought it was and more urgent. That's what you want to do in a presentation.

 

Todd Caponi:

And then, to negotiation, negotiation is playing your cards face up and saying, “Organizationally, these are the things we care about. Let's work together to find the right configuration so that you've got a transaction you can be happy with, and I've got one that I can be happy with.” It goes through the whole process, and there's no more corporate [inaudible 00:29:19] required.

 

Will Barron:

Good, because I'm totally against that, as I'm sure you are as well, with the data… Just anecdotal data of myself, I know when I'm more chilled on the phone or working with our big partners. They're more chilled with me, and we can have more of a candid conversation. You've touched on this…

 

Todd Caponi:

To that point…

 

Will Barron:

Sure, go on.

 

“It's amazing that when we're chill and we're just like, “Hey, listen.” I know it's hard for sales people when you've got a quota and you're stressed out that, “Gosh, if I don't get this deal… So, I got to hide everything that might risk this deal.” It's amazing that when we flip that on its head and say, “Win or lose here, we know that we're going to lose some deals, so let's just be chill, let's embrace why we might lose this deal and not worry about it as much,” you're going to be amazed at the results. It's crazy, psychologically, how that works.” – Todd Caponi · [30:08]

 

Todd Caponi:

… When I've been presenting this, it's inevitable that after every speech I give or training class that I give, somebody comes up to me and says, “Hey, Todd, there was a deal that we went into that we were definitely the underdog. We knew that our odds of winning this deal were 1 in 10. And, organizationally, we were all chill about it. We were like, ‘Let's just go try it, and let's just tell them why we don't think we've got a good shot of winning here but why we think there might be.'” And, almost in every case, they won those deals. It's amazing that when we're chill and we're just like, “Hey, listen.” I know it's hard for sales people when you've got a quota and you're stressed out that, “Gosh, if I don't get this deal… So, I got to hide everything that might risk this deal.” It's amazing that when we flip that on its head and say, “Win or lose here, we know that we're going to lose some deals, so let's just be chill, let's embrace why we might lose this deal and not worry about it as much,” you're going to be amazed at the results. It's crazy, psychologically, how that works.

 

The Power of Great Storytelling in Sales · [31:10]

 

Will Barron:

I've experienced this phenomenon of my pipeline is full because I've done a tonne of prospecting, and everything goes smoothly and I'm not bothered about losing this deal because I've got another one in the not too distant future coming in. And, that ended up coming in, and then the other one comes in. And, of course, what happens is I stop doing any prospecting then because I'm just closing deals, and then I have to start over six months down the line, which is a problem in itself. But, you touched on something here with going through the buyer's journey and explaining the different points where we can be transparent. That was the fact that clearly you're not saying that we should say, “Well, I guess to our competitor we're 10 times cheaper and we don't do this, and then we sit in silence and wait for a response.” It seems that we are telling stories here, am I right in thinking that?

 

Todd Caponi:

Yeah. I'm sure you've been to an IKEA before, right? IKEA doesn't hide the fact that you're going to walk through a labyrinth to find the product that you want. When you do, there'll be no sales person there to help you. You're going to write down the code, go down to the warehouse, pack it onto a cart yourself that doesn't have brakes, jam it into your car, get home, open it up, and have work constructions that have 100 products on it or pieces that have no words. Yet, IKEA is the largest retail of furniture in the world for eight years in a row, because they go out and tell the world, “Listen, these are the things we're not going to be good at so we can be incredibly good at providing modern, Scandinavian designed furniture that you're not going to pay a lot for.”

 

“Here's what we're not good at, here's why we might not be a fit, but the reason we're not going to be good at those things is so we can be really good at these things.” Framing it that way, it's amazing how well that resonates. It's proven in the corporate world, it's proven in e-commerce, and now it's starting to prove itself in the B2B world.” – Todd Caponi · [32:42] 

 

Todd Caponi:

That's what I'm proposing here in The Transparency Sale, is, “As an organisation, we know what we're not good at. And, when we tell these stories, we could tell them like IKEA or Progressive insurance. We're going to show you the prices of our competitors, or Southwest Airlines, or any of these places that go a little bit lower, to say, ‘Listen, these are the things that we're going to sacrifice so we can be really good at this core.'” That's how we're presenting it. It's, “Here's what we're not good at, here's why we might not be a fit, but the reason we're not going to be good at those things is so we can be really good at these things.” Framing it that way, it's amazing how well that resonates. It's proven in the corporate world, it's proven in e-commerce, and now it's starting to prove itself in the B2B world.

 

Todd’s Thoughts on Whether We’re Ever Going to Get to a Point Where Individual Sales Reps are Publicly Rated · [33:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. You've answered my next question there, of what's the structure to build that story? Because, clearly IKEA probably has some of the best marketing minds on the planet, and they've got different agencies working for them. So, it's one thing for a sales person to do this on their own versus an organisation like that, but that structure works perfectly. One final thing I want to wrap up here on, Todd, this is something that we've talked about on the show in the past, it's something that I feel is coming at some point in the future. And, as we're talking about reviews, being transparent, and being open and honest in the world of sales, I want to get your thoughts on it. Do you think we're ever going to get to a point where, just like plumbers, just like lawyers, just like organisations as a whole get rated, do you think we're going to get to a point where individuals will get rated, especially outward-facing individuals like B2B sales professionals? Whether that be on LinkedIn, clearly that you can leave a testimonial LinkedIn, you can rate people on their skills and services.

 

Will Barron:

But, whether it's another platform, whether it's on LinkedIn but it's anonymous so you don't go around and murder the person who's given you a bad review, do you think there's going to become a point where people will start to talk about you publicly, as a professional sales person, negatively or positively on that front? So, when you ring up someone, perhaps the first thing they do is actually go and Google you and there's opportunity to see your past work, from the perspective of the buyers from their side of things?

 

“Here in the United States, at least, we rate the Uber drivers, but they rate us. I always thought it was funny, as an icebreaker exercise we did in a meeting, everybody had to tell what their Uber score was. You could tell, the people that had the higher scores, miraculously were people that we really enjoyed being around and were great workers. And the people with the lower scores are the coworkers that are like, “Ugh, that person's a pain.” It's amazing how well they correlate.” – Todd Caponi · [34:38] 

 

Todd Caponi:

We're already starting to see that in certain industries. In the real estate industry you can go check out the individual scores of realtors, there's a couple of sites that are starting to do that. Here, in the United States at least, we rate the Uber drivers, but they rate us. I always thought it was funny, as an icebreaker exercise we did in a meeting, everybody had to tell what their Uber score was. You could tell, the people that had the higher scores, miraculously, were people that we really enjoyed being around and were great workers. And, the people with the lower scores are the coworkers that are like, “Ugh, that person's a pain.” It's amazing how well they correlate. But, I think we're starting to see that slowly ooze into the world of sales and just about anywhere. I think it's unavoidable. It's super scary, though.

 

Why The Prospect of Buyers Rating Sellers is Scary for Most People · [35:20]

 

Will Barron:

Is it scary? Because, if you're doing a good job, this is liberating, because immediately you're going to crush your competition if they're a bunch of assholes, right? I know you say it's scary, and I jumped in and interrupted you, but just to set the scene here, why is it scary and not super exciting?

 

Todd Caponi:

I think it's probably the geopolitical environment that we're in, where if somebody does something wrong the witch hunt starts, and people's entire careers can be crushed overnight. Again, that's political, that's media, that's those types of things. I think there would just need to be controls over that, to make sure that individual's lives aren't ruined over their review scores. That's the part that's scary. I think the part that's not scary though is, again, perfect fives push people away. And, I would expect, as an individual, that I would have a negative review about myself, and it's up to other people to look at that and see, “Hey, can I deal with that?”

 

Todd Caponi:

I'll give you one crazy, funny example. You think about dating sites, wouldn't it be funny for dating sites to start requiring people to list out the three things that are terrible about them? I thought that would be funny, that a potential mate looks at that and says, “Eh, I can deal with those, that's all right.” I think it's potentially coming. It probably isn't the worse thing in the world, we just need to be careful of not to jump on people and ruin them and ruin their whole reputation over one thing because of a witch hunt.

 

Todd’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [37:20]

 

Will Barron:

It's one thing to say, “I snore in bed, I pick my nose, and I do whatever else disgusting thing,” it'd be quite another to, labour the point here, have your ex-partner say not anonymously the three things that they didn't like about you, especially if you've had not the best breakup. So, yeah, that does give it context and adds a little bit of caution to my optimism, perhaps. Love it. With that Todd, mate, I've got one final question that 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?

 

Todd Caponi:

I think that to spend time reading and learning outside of sales. I found in this book writing journey that there's so much going on in the world around us. Specifically neuroscience, which who knew, that neuroscientists have figured out exactly how our brain makes decisions in the last 20 years, yet that's not made its way anywhere near sales. It has in a couple of small pockets. But, what I've also found is just go into the library and pick random subjects and read up on them, it's amazing how little things like those apply to everything I do, make me more intelligent in front of a buyer, make me more interesting. And, there's tips and techniques that you learn outside of sales that so many people never read because they're so focused on their 30 sales books that they need to read. The short answer is, get outside of your sales bubble and explore outside of that world, because it's amazing what you'll learn and how many non-obvious things you're going to find that will apply to your selling efforts.

 

Parting Thoughts · [38:40]

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. With that, we've touched on it, but tell us a little bit more about the book, and where we can find it, and where we can find more about you as well, Todd?

 

Todd Caponi:

Yeah, thank you. The book is called The Transparency Sale. The reviews have been fantastic. I've got 16 fives and then I got a couple of fours, so no ones or twos so far, so so far so good. They created the book with a transparent cover, so even if it sucks it will look great on your bookshelf. Again, The Transparency Sale is really all about giving the [inaudible 00:39:14] brain everything it needs to make a great decision, and your role in it through every step of the sales process. Again, I'm biassed, I've tried to create lots of tactical things, that when you read it, you're going to have 10, 15 things that you can put into action and be better at what you do. It can be found really anywhere you buy books. I've got a website, transparencysale.com, where there's more information. And, I've got a blog, and there's ordering options there. You can follow me on Twitter, @tcaponi, or connect with me on LinkedIn. Just tell me that you heard me on the Salesman Podcast. The blind ones are little hard to accept, but if I know where you're coming from I would love to have you be a part of my network.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. I'll link to all of that in the show notes of this episode over at salesman.org. I want to thank you for your time, your insights on this, Todd. I want to thank you for, very specifically, clearly diving into the science of it all and being able to answer my questions with science, and evidence, and data on the back of it. That means a lot to me, and I know that it means a lot to Sales Nation as well, because clearly there's people that I've had on the show in the past who are unable to do that and it sets you apart from them, so I appreciate that. I want to thank you for joining us on the show.

 

Todd Caponi:

That was fun, thank you, Will.

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