How To Get Through To A Sceptical Buyer With Andrew Grant

Andrew Grant is the CEO of Tirian International Consultancy and co-author of the book The Innovation Race: How to change a culture to change the game. On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, we discuss how to sell innovation and what to do when faced with a skeptical buyer.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Andrew Grant
Best-selling Author

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Are the people that you're trying to sell to super sceptical and do you struggle to break through that barrier? On today's show, you're going to learn how to smash through it.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales station, and welcome to today's episode of The Salesman Podcast. On today's show, we have Andrew Grant. He is the author of The Innovation Race. You can find the book and a free personality test, which we talk about in the show itself over at the-innovation-race.com. On today's show, we're diving into how, when you come up against a really sceptical potential buyer within an account, how you can break through that scepticism, get them on your side, make them essentially friends with you by communicating with them the right way, and how make them buy from you. With all that said, let's jump straight in.

 

Will Barron:

Andrew, welcome to The Salesman Podcast.

 

Andrew Grant:

It's great to be here.

 

Sales is Not About Selling a Product o Service, It’s About Selling Change · [01:00] 

 

Will Barron:

I'm glad. So, we're going to dive into selling sceptics within your organisation. We'll define what that means in a minute, I'm sure. But, we're going to talk about selling them on chains, innovation, but before that I want to frame up today's conversation with, and I think I know where you're going to go with this one, in a query, which hopefully will set the scene here of, if you've got a hundred… Well, it could be any number, but a round number, a hundred sales people, perhaps B2B salespeople that listen to this kind of conversation, you've got them in a room. How many of them are selling an innovative product? How many of them need to create change in an organisation to sell their product? Out of the hundred, how many? What kind of percentage are we looking at here?

 

“If you boil down what selling is, you are actually selling something new to a client. You're selling something that they don't have, creating the need for them to feel they want that product. And therefore effectively you are selling innovation, you are selling change.” Andrew Grant · [01:35] 

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, I'm going to say a hundred. I'm going to go right for the top, because I would say that if you boil down what selling is, you are actually selling something new to a client. You're selling something that they don't have. You are creating the need for them to feel they want that product. And therefore effectively you are selling innovation, you are selling change. You're asking them to do something that they haven't done before, and you amazingly have the solution for that. So, I'm going for a hundred right off the top.

 

Understand That Sales is About Educating the Buyer · [02:02]

 

Will Barron:

Nice. And I want to ask a question here that is going to seem a bit perhaps counterintuitive and backwards for a sales podcast. Again, this might be a percentage of salesperson versus the organisation, but who has the burden to force the change here? Is it all on the shoulders of the sales professional in that, they want to close a deal, get commission and buy a yacht somewhere in 20 years time? Or is some of the burden on the organisation to see the opportunities for change and to take what the salesperson is saying and run with it and reinvest back into their company?

 

Andrew Grant:

Look, I think a lot of sales people and maybe there's another sort of people that I want to talk to that just want to buy yacht tomorrow and whack off that commission. And I really think, salespeople's job is to educate and that's got to be part of the process for a good salesperson. We're not here to sell snake oil and then run a hundred miles or jump in our yard. We're trying to genuinely, and I want to talk to the people that genuinely want to bring some change to an organisation and feel they've got the right tools to do it, whether it's technological tools or other type of tools. So, I would say that the challenge of the salesperson is really to see that right through and educate people. And you wanted to talk about how do we sell to the sceptics?

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, we'll get to that, but the most important thing is that we do understand who the sceptics are. And most importantly, why are they sceptics? We have a model that will take you through later on in the session. So, it's critical that it's an educational process. It's not just a quick sale and off you go, therefore, I think the salesperson's job is to see it right through. And not just to the people that want to buy the product, but again, to those sceptics that are the gatekeepers that are saying, “Do we really need this?” That's what makes a great salesperson.

 

Will Barron:

So, you picked up on that, and obviously I used the negative stereotype of the salesperson to tea up that question, but I think and tell me if I'm wrong, tell me if I'm putting words in your mouth here, but I feel like the responsibility is on the salesperson for a lot of this. And it's of course sales podcast, it's empowering for the salesperson to want to have that responsibility, because I feel as soon as you say, “Well, my product's great for this particular customer, but they're not taking it on board. They're not listening.”

 

The Definition of Change Within an Organisation From a Sales Perspective · [04:26] 

 

Will Barron:

You're giving your power away and you're inducing stress into your life because it's something that's uncontrollable versus even if it is somewhat uncontrollable, if you take responsibility for it, you've got more opportunities like, oh, you've got more resources, I find internally to find opportunities within that account. So, let's define a few things here. Is there a definition of change within an organisation? Is it as small as you need to buy this, instal this plugin and you can have better effects on from whatever it's trying to achieve or does change only occur a certain critical mass within an organisation?

 

“Sales is good communication and there's a great quote I've used for years. I can't remember who it was from, but it said, “Communication only takes place when the listener actually does something with your message.” So, to just pitch something and then expect magic to happen is not going to happen. You have to communicate it in a way that that person actually does something with that message.” Andrew Grant · [04:54] 

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, let me go back to one of the statements you just said earlier on about a salesperson selling and then making a run for it. I would say, sales is good communication and there's a great quote I've used for years. I can't remember who it was from, but it said, “Communication only takes place when the listener actually does something with your message.” So, to just pitch something and then expect magic to happen is not going to happen. You have to communicate it in a way that that person actually does something with that message. So, let's go back to then your main question that is, what is change? The research and all the papers show that there's anything from teeny-weeny little incremental change through to massive changes. The big word being thrown around at the moment is disruptive innovation.

 

Andrew Grant:

And we'll talk about it at a later stage why sceptics struggle with that and why sceptics tend to bury their head in the sand and the danger of what disruptive innovation does? Hence, why we've called our book, The Innovation Race, because we are wanting to show that no one's a passive viewer. You can't sit back and watch this game happen like we love to watch a reality TV show. We actually want to show that in this innovation race, in where we're at the moment, no company, no individual can afford to sit back on their armchair and make comments. Everyone's in it. Everyone's got to be part of it. And therefore everyone has to embrace change. You can't sit back and say, “We were good.” We worked with a hotel, that number one in the world on Conde Nast, three years in a row.

 

Andrew Grant:

It's one of the biggest brands hotels in the world. Three years in a row, they won number one and it was really interesting working with the general manager during that time. He said, “Getting to number one was easy, relative to staying at number one.” Because there was a complacency once people got to number one that they didn't need to do anything else. They worked really, really hard to get to number one and then he said the danger was the staff felt they could sit back and say, “We've made it.” And that's where people stopped making changes and they stopped doing incremental things and they stopped moving forward and they stopped trying to be better every time. I remember this general manager always used to start his meetings. Most GMs at a hotel will start their 9 o'clock briefing looking at the numbers and the sales figures and the occupancy rates, which tends to make you an emotional roller coaster.

 

Andrew Grant:

If the occupancy rates are great, everyone's happy. If the occupancy rates are low, everyone's not very happy. But he would always start the meetings by saying, “What did we do better today than we did yesterday?” Constant state of improvement, constant state of change. Every minute of the day, he was asking his staff to do something better than they did yesterday. And that's how you get to number one. But his challenge was when they got to number one, how do you then stay at number one? Because, now they thought we've made it. So, the answer is everyone needs to be involved in that change. As soon as we sit back for a second, we will be overtaken because that disruptive innovation, that incremental innovation is happening so fast at the moment, it is like a race.

 

The Dangers of Complacency in Sales · [07:46] 

 

Will Barron:

So, it's one thing to align your product up with some kind of pitch or presentation that aligns it up with the organization's goals of innovation from that perspective. But as you say that, the fault that comes most clear in my mind is the sales professional who is comfortable, who's been doing the same routine for five years, who's been in that top 5% of the leader board within their organisation. The one that's always just hit target or just kind of surpassed it, or maybe five years ago they crushed it and then every year it's just getting decent over time. And this leads to things like cold calling, which worked 20 years ago. Maybe it works now, who knows? That perhaps there are better scenarios than sitting on a phone and making $500 a day. But as you say, is there any data that shows this cliche to be true of, if you stand still, you are actually moving backwards? If that makes sense. Is there any actual research that shows that other than anecdotes?

 

Andrew Grant:

I think the data is that every company is moving forward. What we're seeing in the data and Professor Jeffrey West from the Santa Fe Institute has really been talking about the exponential rate of growth is that innovations that would take a hundred years, soon took 10 years and are now taking one year and maybe will soon take 10 weeks and possibly even 10 minutes or 10 seconds as artificial intelligence comes in. So, the problem we see here is that salesperson that was really, really good 10 years ago might have been okay a year ago and now wakes up this morning and says, “I'm doing the same thing that I've always done. What's happened?” Well, he or she might not have changed their methods. They might be still doing what they think is effective, but the companies have moved on. The organisations have moved on.

 

Andrew Grant:

I mean, you said yourself, there was a time when cold calling works. I got a cold call from my real estate agent today and he got a piece of my mind because I never give out my mobile phone number. And if I'm overseas, there's nothing worse than being woken up by 3 o'clock in the morning by a real estate agent. So, I will never go to that real estate agent. He did more damage than he possibly could have imagined calling me. But, 10 years ago, that worked.

 

Andrew Grant:

But, we've all moved on since then. So, I think there's the danger for the older, more experienced salesperson that what worked 10 years ago, doesn't work now. And because the research is on the exponential pace of growth and the exponential pace of innovation, we have to actually run faster and faster just to keep up. So, Jeffrey West talks about there's a clock that's getting faster and faster. It's not spinning at the same time. That clock is actually exponentially getting faster and faster. So, we have to get faster and faster just to stay in the race. To get ahead of the race is another different area and perhaps we'll talk about that as the hour goes on.

 

Will Barron:

Are we talking brain implants and things like that in the next five years to keep the process moving forward?

 

Andrew Grant:

I just saw an article on that this morning, which was very, very scary that for corporate people to be super successful, they're going to have to get all sorts of implants. Now, already, I heard a guy from Google talk about, “We already are part cyborg. I mean, look at us talking to us each other across the world. Try and explain that to your grandmother.” But boy, yeah, the next step of what we have to do in order to beat performance and how companies could possibly measure our heart rate, our pulse, our emotional sweat, everything we do is a very, very scary thought. And I don't know if that's a world that I want to be selling in, but who knows? I mean, I might be very relevant today and my talk will be completely irrelevant in a year's time.

 

Will Barron:

Well, I think if you said to anyone 20 years ago, that there'd be this little thing in your pocket that give you every answer you could ever possibly imagine, but you're going to spend seven hours a day staring at it and not speaking to anyone face-to-face. Most people would've gone, “I don't think I'll bother.” But then even my dad now has an iPhone and looks up the football results and stuff on it. And we all take the mick out of him because three or four years ago, we'd be sat in the living room, TV or film on, chilling on Facebook or on YouTube or consuming multiple streams of data at once, and he'd look at us like we were just crazy people and now he's doing it himself.

 

“Rather than trying to predict change, I think we need to take a step back and ask, “Are we ready for the changes?” So stop trying to predict the future and be ready to explore that future wherever it goes.” Andrew Grant · [12:33] 

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, that's right. I mean, I think, we'll be laughing at what we are doing now. But look, I often get asked to speak on, give keynote talks, say, I'm not a futurist. And I'm not sure how many people are, because the irony is only 50% of people can even predict the stock market, the other 50% get it wrong. It's a zero sum game. So, I'm not a futurist and I don't know, many people that really are, but often companies, they desperately want a futurist to come and speak at their conference. They want to be told what the golden egg is that's going to get them into the next generation. And they desperately ask what's going to happen in the next tech. I think we need to take a step back and ask, “Are we ready for the changes?” Rather than trying to predict them.

 

Andrew Grant:

And as I said, we'll get so many of them wrong and we'll get so many of them right. But survivorship bias will always surface the Bill Gates and the Steve Jobs. They won't surface all the other ones that didn't work. And then we cling onto them. I mean, someone told me the other day from Silicon Valley when Steve Jobs's book came out, everyone was walking around in skivvies. I mean, it's not as simple as that. So, I think we need to take a step back from these futurists that do predict the future. I mean, we've all seen Derren Brown's amazing trick of cold calling 5,000 people on the gambling of the horse races and keep cutting in by 50% until 10 people believe he's actually can read the future. That's the danger of survivorship bias. I'd like to think that we step back and stop trying to predict the future and be ready for it and create a culture within our company, create a mindset within our minds that we are ready to explore that future wherever it goes.

 

Andrew Grant:

It's almost the preserving people, the conservative people want to hear a futurist predict the future so they can feel comfortable about it, but that's just not going to happen because we just can't predict it. We can watch and read and keep up-to-date. But at the end of the day, I think we need to take a step back and look at the culture and our mindset is, “Are we ready to embrace the future, whatever it is? Are we ready to embrace change? Are we ready to explore? Or are we going to hold back and be a preserver?”

 

Stop Trying to Predict the Future. It’s a Waste of Time · [14:00]

 

Will Barron:

Interesting. It's almost philosophical discussion then of being okay with the future, rather than trying to align yourself with it too early, perhaps?

 

Andrew Grant:

It's accepting the ambiguity. I mean, before our book, The Innovation Race, we wrote a book on creativity called Who Killed Creativity. And one of the things that kill creativity is people's resistance to premature closure. It's part of the tolerance test that people have to close everything off all the time. They're not prepared to let it sit open and resist it. And so creative people can accept that ambiguity, whatever it is, and sit back and go along with the ride, not knowing where the outcome was.

 

Andrew Grant:

I mean, it's famous that Google spent many, many times doing strategies that failed until they finally stumbled upon the right one. And then we hear all about the right one, but we don't hear about all the failures. And I think learning about the failures are just as important about learning about the successes. So, a truly creative person is comfortable with the ambiguity. They're comfortable with the paradoxes that innovation throws up, and maybe it is more the conservative preserving people that actually desperately want to employ those futurists to come and tell them what their company's going to look like in one day, one week or one year's time, so they can feel more comfortable. But that's the wrong mindset, we need a mindset that embraces the ambiguity.

 

How to Combat Skepticism and Increase Sales · [15:17] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Okay. So, I'm going to bring us back on track here for a second. So, we started off defining change. I want you to help us define a sceptic now. Is there a difference between someone who is asking questions of us, who is bringing up objections, because they're essentially buying signals to us as sales professionals? Is that different to someone who is just being sceptical?

 

Andrew Grant:

Look, I think, let's take the benefit of the doubt and assume that no one's really that horrible. I mean, of course, they do come across from time-to-time and we see them in the media, but let's take your average sceptic, not the person that's had a terrible upbringing and is just out to destroy everyone and has no faith in anyone. Let's take your average sceptic that is a bit suspicious of all this change. And if I could then maybe perhaps jump into our model, it'll help explain what that's going to look like. So, around 60 years ago, researchers identified what made a creative ogenic company. A company that was able to embrace change in innovation. And they came up with four main principles and I'm going to distil them down just to one at the moment, I'll get to the four maybe later on.

 

Andrew Grant:

But those four main principles really were around what we are calling an exploring mindset. And people that had an exploring mindset were open to change, they were open to innovation, they wanted new things and they wanted new ideas. But also they realised that the maybe not so creative cultures were more of what we call a preserving mindset. One that wanted to hold onto the status quo and ensure that there was stability in a firm foundation. Now, the paradox theory that my wife is studying at university actually says that we need both. We need the explorers and the preservers, and we'll get to that in a minute. But to answer your question, what typically happens, and if people are able to go online and do our innovative climate leadership indicator, I would imagine most sales people are explorers. They will track down what we call the exploring side of the road, where they want to move ahead, breakthrough ideas, they want to solve problems.

 

Andrew Grant:

And they've been drawn into that. They're very optimistic. They've been drawn into that sales mindset because they do want to believe they can bring change to people. So, typically when a salesperson let's say, if they do have that exploring mindset is selling to another person in the company, I would say most people that they're selling to might also be explorers within the company, the ones that are coming and building that relationship and saying, “We want to change. We want to do something different.” The sceptics come in when there are the preservers in the company or a preserving company culture that is more conservative and they often become the gatekeeper. So, they may not be the actual person that the salesperson speaks to because I would imagine that terrible stereotypical, jolly salesperson, that's very extrovert is probably going to attract more of his or her type of personality teams herself.

 

Andrew Grant:

But the person lurking in the wings is what I would call the preserving person, the person that wants to ensure that their company's not going to be sold something rubbish, that now this is the way we've always done it. This is the way that succeeds. And therefore, I think if a salesperson needs to do a really good sales job, they need to be able to sell to the preservers as much as they need to sell to the explorers. And they need to recognise that all companies are made up of explorers and preservers. The startup companies are definitely going to be more on the exploring side. The more bureaucratic companies that have been around are going to be in the preserving side, and we've watched companies in our last 20 years cycle through that, which comes back to our earlier question. Why did a sales technique work for a couple of years and then it stopped working?

 

Andrew Grant:

It might be that the company moved from that exploring phase into a preserving phase and then started putting up the walls and the boundaries saying, “Hang on. We just can't take everything we need.” So, a really good salesperson actually has to understand what's going on in the sceptics mind. And as I said, let's put aside really the people that have had a tough upbringing and just want to rip down everything and the genuine sceptics that genuinely want to protect the company and genuinely want to make sure that the company's not going to race off the rails, because what the research shows in the paradox theory is that those that were pure explorers, that just raced down what we call the left hand side of the track, if they didn't have the preservers in that company, those companies go off the deep end.

 

Andrew Grant:

And this is exactly what we're seeing happen to Uber at the moment. These great startups that everyone reads about are explorer, explorer, explorer. And later on, maybe we'll go through the four side, the four attributes on that side of the road, but if they don't have the balance and the paradox of being able to embrace both the preservation and the exploration, they'll go off the rails. And so a good company will have both and a good salesperson will need to sell to both mindsets. I bet the good salesperson is naturally good at selling to an explorer because they love new ideas, they're optimistic, they're free. They work together. How does a good salesperson sell to the more sceptic and what I would call the preserving type of person?

 

The Two Types of Buyers in Sales: The Explorer and the Preserver · [20:18] 

 

Will Barron:

Let me just jump in here and unpack some of this before we jump into the specifics, because I feel like there's a whole, probably five hour conversation to have of communicating to either group here. And if there's any more that we need to pile on top of this, we can do that in a second. But, is there a definition here? Is there a defining moment here of that we are selling to the individual, so we've got to be conscious of where they lie? And obviously this is a sliding scale, I imagine, as opposed to black and white, but do we also need to bear in mind company culture on a higher level here and align the conversation on two fronts with the individual and perhaps what their intrinsic personality is and then layering on top of that the company culture and what is going to make them look good in front of their boss? Is that correct?

 

Andrew Grant:

Absolutely. And that's where the challenge might come. So, let's fork off into two areas here. Let's be very stereotypical and take more of a startup. A startup is going to be, as we can map individuals on our assessment and we can also map companies on the assessment. So, if we take a startup company, they are much more likely to track down the exploring side of the road, which is freedom, openness, collaboration, flexibility. And therefore selling into that company and possibly the individual in that company, they're going to be looking for new ideas. It's more about you will need to prove that your product is better than your competitors, but those type of companies are out there saying, “We need new ideas. We have to innovate. We know disruptive innovation is coming.” But, companies, also the culture of companies, as I said, the good companies that last will have a blend of explorers and preservers because the purely exploring companies that start up as we're seeing happen over and over again, they will.

 

“If you've got too much freedom, it leads to chaos. If you've got too much openness, it leads to no clear direction. If you've got too much group engagement, it leads to groupthink. If you've got too much flexibility, it leads to lots of ideation and no outcomes. A really good company will have the freedom, the control along with focus.” Andrew Grant · [22:11] 

 

Andrew Grant:

If we think of it as a racing car, what they call a racing line, those are tracked down the left hand side of the road can just go off the edge because if you've got too much freedom, it leads to chaos. If you've got too much openness, it leads to no clear direction. If you've got too much group engagement, it leads to group think. If you've got too much flexibility, it leads to just lots of ideation and no outcomes. So, a really good company will have the other side. Along with the freedom, they'll have control. Along with focus, they'll have individualism. So, a really good company has both and therefore a salesperson must sell to both.

 

How to Sell to a Well-Structured Company · [22:41] 

 

Will Barron:

How do we know, Andrew, whether a company that we're dealing with is a really good company? Because clearly, if that's beyond our control, who is in the market, who we've got access to, who is the low hanging fruit, who needs our product or wants immediately? How do we decipher this before we go in there?

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, I think as I said, there is a scale that we've got and it's not just ours. I mean, companies that go from, as I said, through startup, through dematuration. So, it would be a matter of trying to work out when you are selling. If you're serious about selling, where is the company on that continuum? I mean, a good company will track backwards and forwards between the exploration preservation as they go through different stages in their life, in their lifestyle. So, a really good salesperson will understand exactly where that company's at.

 

How to Get Companies to Invest in New Opportunities and Perspectives · [23:28] 

 

Will Barron:

Let me ask you this, Andrew. When does a company have more opportunity for budget to invest into new products from our perspective? If we were tracking a marketplace, if we had a hundred potential customers, who has or what stage between this back and forth, are they more likely to wanting to reinvest into themselves?

 

Andrew Grant:

Look, I mean, the irony is when we used to do a lot of work with hotels, when they had no one coming into the hotels, they cried poor and said they had no money. And then when they had lots of people in the hotels, they said they were too busy. And so again, some of the not so good hotels just never got around to any development of their staff. The good hotels just said, “Look, we have to develop our staff, whether it's a financial crisis or whether we are busy, it has to be a priority.” So, again, they're the good companies, but I would say that definitely the companies down the more exploring side are going to be the ones that are going to be more open to ideas, because they're going to be looking for ideas. They're going to be desperate to say, “How can we get ahead of our competition?”

 

“At the end of the day, people fail to buy something because they either don't think they need it or they're afraid of the change that it'll bring or won't bring.” Andrew Grant · [24:47] 

 

Andrew Grant:

Whereas the companies on the preservation side are systemizing, they're aligning, they're building establishment, they're using bureaucracy to become stronger. They will probably be the more sceptical, if we're now talking company culture, as opposed to an individual, they will be the more sceptical ones that you are really going to have to sell in hard to. But there is a language and we can get to this later on, there is a language you can use to make those people's fears go away because at the end of the day, people don't buy something because they don't think they need it or they're afraid of the change that it'll bring or won't bring.

 

Tips on Closing Deals with Skeptical Customers · [26:55] 

 

Will Barron:

Well, let's dive into the language because I think this is the real crux of the conversation now. I think, you've alluded to it of, if you are a explorer as a salesperson, you're dealing with an explorer in a company. And as long as there is a genuine match and fit, a lot of deals, I know from my days of medical advices, if I'm dealing with a surgeon or if I'm dealing with a new team that are looking to innovate, I could go in, sell a hundred thousand dollars, pounds worth of medical equipment and they'd lap it up. There'd be no weird clothes, it'd just be seamless and everyone would be happy. It was more so when you'd have the surgeon who would have used a… How to describe it without… They would use a piece of equipment or they would use a procedure which is aligned.

 

Will Barron:

The equipment is very specific for the procedure that is now outdated, but because they were so used to doing it, they didn't want to retrain. Perhaps they were only going to be performing surgery for next three or four years. It wasn't worth six months and then becoming somewhat amateurish and then having to teach in an amateur state in this new technology, a new technique, new way of doing things, they put it off, even though there was crazy strong evidence that not from us as the product provider, but from the wider medical establishment that the new way of doing things was better for patients, which clearly what they should be aligned to the whole way.

 

Will Barron:

And there was ego involved in this, there was power involved in this, there was the fact that the registrars were coming up and being taught the old ways of doing things versus the correct, modern way of doing things. And this is something that came up relatively frequently against. And so, first off, is that who we're kind of looking at as a sceptic in this? Would that be a sceptic or is that just someone that we shouldn't even attempt to deal with?

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, look, I mean, it certainly gives you a blue ocean because if you can crack someone like that, no one else can. And I think that's probably what this podcast is about. I remember one of my first, when I went in to sell to a German chemical company and I thought the lady had asked me to come and talk to her about what we do as a company and how we can bring about change. And what I didn't realise is my salesperson had set it up. So, when we arrived at the meeting, she said, “What do you want?” And I said, “Well, I thought you wanted me to be here.” She said, “No, I didn't set it up.” And I said, “Oh, this is not going well. And I'm fairly confident, but I just climbed back into my shell.”

 

Andrew Grant:

And then I just started to describe her, that's a very famous disc model. I don't know, I'm sure a lot of people know the disc model. It's like Myers–Briggs. And I started to describe it to her and she said, “Yeah, I know it. Everyone knows that. Tell me something I don't know.” And I thought, “Well, I've got nothing to lose here.” She was out to absolutely kill me. And I said, “Well, let me explain what happened. I came into this meeting feeling very confident and you shut me down because you were super dominant. And as a result, I became really conscientious.” And I actually explained the whole meeting through the disc model, and they became one of my biggest clients because I cracked someone that no one else could talk to. She was referred to, as I got to know the client as the dragon lady, no one could believe that I had a one hour meeting with her. I was terribly scared when the whole meeting was going south, but I just thought I've got nothing to lose.

 

“We need sceptics in the world, otherwise we'll fall for anyone.” Andrew Grant · [28:15] 

 

Andrew Grant:

So, when you do get through these type of people, they're human beings. They become your best friends. We need sceptics in the world, otherwise we'll fall for or vote for anyone. So, I think, I wouldn't be writing them off, but I think we have to understand therefore what disruptive innovation is. And I'm just going to read a quote to you by one of your authors in the UK, Tim Harford, who wrote the book, The Undercover Economist. And he said that, “New technology or innovation doesn't appeal to traditional customers. So, market leaders lack the will to innovate. It confounds existing players, because the technology itself is so radically different. Disruptive innovation bypasses almost everyone who matters at a company. Everyone who counts in a company will lose status if the disruptive innovation catches on inside that company. And therefore the key people will make sure that it doesn't happen.”

 

Andrew Grant:

So, the danger there is the very people that need the disruptive innovation politically will block it. And so I think a good salesperson has to help them understand how, back to education, has to help them understand how to work with that disruptive innovation, has to educate them on the disruptive innovation. So, I think that's really, really important. The other area from HRB, Harford Business Review said that, “A company that occupies a premium market position is insulated against its other competitors.” So, by being really good at what you do like that hotel, that was number one, they almost become insulated against their competitors before they know it. That premium position in the marketplace, what that was their greatest strength, becomes their greatest weakness and they get bypassed.

 

Andrew Grant:

Hence, why we call it the innovation race. You're out in front, it's a classic tortoise and the hare is that you're out in front, you sit back and think it's okay. So, how do we sell to those people? I think we have to help them understand and educate them on disruptive innovation. We have to explain that what worked yesterday won't necessarily work today. And we have to be very careful of the politics that's happening so they don't feel like… In Asia, we talk a lot about loss of face.

 

Andrew Grant:

So, that's right. You go and sell to Janet. And then when she goes and sells it to her boss, her boss looks really, really… He or she's the preserver and they're the ones that shut it down. You've got a great relationship with Janet. Your job is to educate Janet, to help Janet get it past her boss and his boss and his boss's boss. And like it's a classic 101 of sales, who's really buying? And you might find it, it's the preservers that are buying, or who's really blocking the sales process. You might find it's the preservers that are blocking the sales process. So, anyone can get through to an explorer. How do you get through to a preserver, the conservative person that loves the bureaucracy?

 

The Key to Forming Long-lasting Sales Relationships · [32:03] 

 

Will Barron:

I think, there's two things here and I'm going to put two and two together, which might seem like a weird way to frame this up, but hopefully it'll make sense. So, I interviewed a pickup artist on the show recently, and it was a bit of a weird conversation. And the pickup artist, he trains men on, he would frame it, on how to communicate better with women, but essentially how to pick up women. That's what his business is about. And it wasn't weird a slimy and the kind of examples that he'd give were of blokes who struggled to speak to women, and that was holding them back in relationships and everything outside of the world of sales and business. And it was a good conversation, but he brought up two things, which I think you've essentially just described here.

 

Will Barron:

And so, I want to drill into these and we'll wrap up the show with this. So, one thing he discussed was what he calls is a shit test. And he says, women will be either emotional and so this is necessarily men and women, as he described in that episode of the show, it's a masculine and feminine kind of energy. And so people can be on a sliding scale across both of them, and obviously there's different relationships, different couples, but to simplify it, to use male and female as the terminology here for a second, he said that women would shit test men to check on the status. So, if a woman said something, asked something and the man just immediately did it, she didn't actually want him to do it, she was testing his status as kind of the alpha in the relationship, the alpha in the room.

 

Will Barron:

However, that kind of looks, whether you're in a bar chatting to women, whether you're just in a bookshop chatting to women, and it's an opportunity for a man or the masculine to shine and show that kind of side of themselves. Taking that out of the equation that was, yourself as a man speaking to this lady in that conversation was almost, and I've experienced this with surgeons. They almost have shit tested me just to put me off guard to make me feel uncomfortable and then they almost want you to succeed. They want you to get through that because then you are on either the same level as them, or there's a change in the priority of energy there. And you can communicate with them on a deeper level than someone who's just sucking up to them, which if someone is known as the dragon lady, that's probably what she's used to all day. And that's not what she really wants, I imagine?

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, that's right. And so she was really excited. And really, before we do finish, I want to get through the four ways that we can talk to these people. But really it is about understanding where they're at, why they are like that and then using… It's just basic communication, it's not just selling, using the right language to help them overcome their fears. I mean, when we wrote our book Who Killed Creativity, what we really were addressing were all the fears that people had as to why they couldn't be creative. There were so many books out there on creativity, but no one had actually written a book about what blocks the creativity. So, we turn it into a crime scene and address people's fears. And now when we run our seminars, whenever we do any sort of design thinking, we must preload it with the fears that people have as they come to our workshops saying, “I don't want to be creative. That's not my job. That's someone else's department.”

 

“If we can overcome people's fears and make them feel comfortable, then they're much more likely to buy from us.” Andrew Grant · [34:04] 

 

Andrew Grant:

If we can overcome people's fears and make them feel comfortable, then they're much more likely to buy from us. We are much better at communicating to them. And so when we've created this innovative leadership climate index and got the two sides of the road, as I mentioned, sales people are going to naturally be good at talking to explorers, but how do you talk to a preserver? And so, what I just might quickly do is just four sentences down the preserving side, which we need. Remember, we need both to fuel innovation. You've got control. And so to talk to someone that feels they need to have a control, they must feel comfortable that they won't lose control if your product or your innovation is brought into the industry. So, you have to help them understand that maybe they'll get more control.

 

“To talk to someone that feels they need to have control, you must make them feel comfortable that they won't lose control if your product or your innovation is brought into the industry.” Andrew Grant · [34:36] 

 

Andrew Grant:

Someone who's feeling very, very focused, so on the opposite side to openness, bordering on insulation, they must feel that this new product is not going to open up so many new ideas and so many crazy things that they'll lose their focus. And so therefore your job is to keep them grounded. Then you've got the individualistic mindset that balances out the group engagement. And these people can tend to become very disengaged if they're left out of the group buzz. They are much more the introverts, the conscientious people in disc, and they'll come back and sabotage it if you're not careful. And so it's really, really important to include them in the process. They're going to be the ones that are going to be standing back during a brainstorming or ideation session going, “This is just a lot of crap.” And you have to explain to them that we only need one good idea.

 

Andrew Grant:

Yes, 99% of these ideation ideas are not going to work, but we've got to keep them on site. And then finally, you've got flexibility on the exploring side of the road, but on the preserving side of the road, you've got people that are very big on a stable mindset. And that can border on fatalism and pessimism, but they really can't stand all the ideation and rubbishy ideas. And therefore the only way to communicate to them is give them facts, give them case studies and the typical change management 101, just one tiny step at a time because they just look at all these crazy ideas and think, “Oh, you people are just off the deep end.”

 

Andrew Grant:

And it's even worth now when we work with companies, when we work with top management teams that are struggling with this paradox of exploration preservation, that we'll sit them in a meeting and we'll say, “Look, if we're going to talk sales, do you mind if we all have permission to go down the exploration side of the road? But if we're going to talk finance, do you mind if we all have permission to go down the preserving side of the road?” And that way, the poor preservers that are feeling they're just getting dragged along and sold something they don't need are going to say, “Okay, I'll come over to your side of the road for sales, because sales is about optimism and ideation and lots of ideas and seeing a positive future. But you need to come back to my side of the road when we are going to be grounded and talk about finance.”

 

Andrew Grant:

And that give and take is really valuable. I remember working with one company where the sales manager and the finance person hated each other. I walked into their boardroom meeting and they couldn't have been sitting further apart on the table. And you could just cut the air with a knife. And after doing this innovation climate leadership index with them, we actually got them to recognise each other's strengths and go out and sell together. Because what happened is the finance guy that said the sales guy was just all froth and bubble, his optimism drove him nuts. And the sales guy said that the finance guy was so conscientious and so preserving and so anal that he just shut down everything.

 

Andrew Grant:

And I said, “Well, what about if we go together?” And they started selling to a client together, and the sales guy that got up and did all the jovial joking and made people feel comfortable, then the finance guy got up and hit everyone with the facts. And that combination of those two people working together was so powerful compared to what it used to be when they worked apart. And so what we are trying to show is that with the paradox theory and The Innovation Race, it's when you are able to embrace both the exploration and the preservation side, you are able to fuel innovation. If you don't do it well, it will rip the company apart. So, the salesperson's job is to understand that model and educate people, and then work out who to sell to when and where they are on that side of the road?

 

What to Do in the First Five Minutes of Giving a Sales Presentation · [38:17] 

 

Will Barron:

One practical tip here, Andrew, for the audience who is listening now. So, they can take away from this episode and they can implement it into the next presentation, perhaps the drive to a presentation right now. Should the presentation, at least at the beginning, before they can kind of sauce out who's in the room? But should the presentation flip back and forth between the two and perhaps then should they be trying to make note of who's actually paying attention? Whose eyes are lighting up and things like that?

 

“Whether it's a keynote talk or a sales pitch, the mistake most people make is we think the audience is as passionate about the topic as we are.” Andrew Grant · [39:20] 

 

Andrew Grant:

I do a lot of training for keynote speakers and facilitators. I was just in a country last week, spending 7 days with 15 facilitators. And I said, in that first two minutes of opening your workshop or your keynote talk, you have to capture the preservers and the explorers, or if you're using disc, you have to capture the DISCs. If you're using Myers–Briggs, you have to capture all of them. You need to make sure in a shortest time as possible, you've got some facts, you've got some stories, you've got some narrative, you've got some abstraction. In as quicker time as possible, whether it's a keynote talk or a sales pitch to make sure everyone's comfortable, because what we tend to do is the mistake we make is we think the audience is as passionate about the topic as we are.

 

Andrew Grant:

And therefore we go in there all excited about what we are selling or in my case, a keynote talk or facilitation. If I think the audience is as passionate about creativity and innovation as I am, that's the greatest mistake I could ever make in my selling to them. I have to convince the sceptics in the audience that my topic is important rather than going there. And the dangerous thing, exactly what you said, you're sitting presenting to whether it's a board group of five, or in my case, a couple of thousand people and all the junkies sit down the front and they nod and they give you that really positive affirmation and all the sceptics sit up the back with their arms closed. It's very easy to just create a bro mentality with all the great people down the front, giving you those vibes, but you know what, they're the junkies.

 

Andrew Grant:

They love you. They love what you're talking about anyway. I want to get to the sceptics. I mean, in my case, I want the sceptics to understand that innovation is critical, that creative thinking is critical for them. I mean, our biggest clients are banks. I love going into the banks and saying, “Why did you come?” And they all said, “Because my boss sent me.” And most people that had depressed them and I go, “Great.”

 

Andrew Grant:

So, the first part of my session on creative thinking and innovation is to convince you that the day you are going to spend with me is worth it because your emails are piling up, your stock market's going crazy, you're desperate to get on your phones. I've got to convince the most sceptical people in my audience. And often they are sent by their boss. Oh, I'd love to have an audience where if I'm signed up to come, but I get corporates. And so they just get told they have to come because their boss says, this is important. And I love talking to the sceptics because it really is about how do you win them over? I believe they're nice people. I believe they're genuine people. I just believe that they haven't seen value yet. And that's my job in my sessions or salesperson's job is to show the value of what they've got.

 

Andrew’s Advice to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [41:15] 

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. That makes total sense. And I think that's really appropriate and practical for the audience. So, I appreciate that, Andrew. And with that, I've got one final question to 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 tell him to help him become better at selling?

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, I think my younger self is extremely… My older self is still passionate, but my younger self was ignorantly passionate. So, I think that's the thing I learned that the greatest mistake a presenter or a sales is as passionate about the topic as they are. So, I would go in very excited about what I wanted to sell or what I wanted to talk to people about and assume that they were also there as invested as me.

 

Andrew Grant:

And what I've learned over the years, as I said is, “Don't look at the front row, look at the back row.” And in my case with keynote talks or workshops in a sales case, look for the person who's the most sceptical in the room. Sure. Get those lovely vibes off the people that are making you feel warm and gooey. But my advice to me as younger as if I could go back, I would've spent more time looking at the sceptics, but that's been the wisdom of 30 or 40 years doing it. And I don't know if I want to go back. That's too scary to go back to that age.

 

Parting Thoughts · [42:23] 

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. I look back at two months and I realise how much of an idiot I was then. So, going back any further than that scares me as well, Andrew. And with that mate, you touched on the book. So, tell us a little bit more about it and where we can find it.

 

Andrew Grant:

Well, the new book's called The Innovation Race and what we have done is we like to have a creative theme in our books, haven't helped us for writing a book on creativity and innovation, and not being creative. Our first book Who Killed Creativity was a crime scene. This book's called The Innovation Race, and we are looking at yeah, without making it too cheesy, the race around the world, the amazing race, the reality TV, as it's now all blended together. But, what we're looking at is part of my wife's PhD research at Sydney University is companies and cultures that have been innovative and why they've been innovative. We don't want to just take single case studies of people, we've gone back as far as ancient Egypt and anchor what? That where in their time, the most innovative countries in the world and cultures.

 

Andrew Grant:

And we are trying to take out what was it that made some companies and cultures successful and others that bowed out of the race. And so what this book is about is it takes people around the world to countries and cultures, to look at, the tagline is who wins, who loses, who gets eliminated. I don't want to dumb down a PhD, but it is kind of cute because that's what reality TV we love to get glued to. So, you can take the reality TV version, who wins, who loses, who gets eliminated, or the PhD, how to change a culture to communicate and innovate better with people?

 

Andrew Grant:

So, that's the book. And then we've also got this ICLI which is the innovative climate leadership indicator, which at the moment is free. It's a validated assessment that my wife's been working on at university to really help people understand, it'll take you five minutes to do on the front page of our website to go through that innovative climate indicator. And I would be interested to see, Will, if your audience are much more tracking down the exploring side. Who listens to your podcast? Is it the explorers or is it the preservers? And maybe we can publish the results. If we do have a bias towards people that are explorers on your podcast, then they're really going to have to think about how will they sell to those preservers? So, there's the book and the workshop and the innovation climate indicator, plus we do workshops facilitation and keynote talks.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. I'll link to all that in the show notes to this episode.

 

Andrew Grant:

How was that for a sales pitch?

 

Will Barron:

Not bad. Not bad at all, Andrew. And with that, mate, I want to thank you for your time, your insights and all the hard work on this clearly that goes into these books, the research and everything else. And I want to thank you for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Andrew Grant:

Wonderful. Well, thank you very much for having me.

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