About The Guest
David Priemer never thought he’d end up in sales! He started his career tinkering with test tubes and differential equations as an award-winning research scientist before spending the next 20 years leading top-performing sales teams at high-growth technology companies including Salesforce, where he was the Vice President of Commercial Sales and creator of the Sales Leadership Academy program.
Today, as the Founder and Chief Sales Scientist of Cerebral Selling, David’s unique science and empathy-based approaches to driving revenue and talent growth have been published in the Harvard Business Review as well as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc. magazines. Often referred to as the “Sales Professor”, David is also the author of the Bestselling book, Sell The Way You Buy, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University and the London Business School.
- 03:02 — How did David end up in sales?
- 06:11 — The science behind sales & Dan Pink.
- 09:17 — David hates sales people.
- 11:02 — Lessons learnt from Salesforce.com
- 19:53 — The human component of sales.
- 22:15 — What is cerebral selling?
- 31:01 — Sales lessons & dating.
- 36:04 — The art of sales negotiation.
- 40:03 — How to properly learn & implement anything.
- 45:26 — The biggest misconceptions about sales.
- 47:21 — Lessons David would tell his younger self.
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.
Read The Transcript (Machine Generated)
sales, salesforce, people, cerebral, book, customer, reps, selling, life insurance, scott, tactics, create, career, messaging, training, david, podcast, negotiation, organization, human
Thanks again for joining me today I am sitting down with David Priemer, who is the founder and chief sales scientist of cerebral selling very interesting background, he started his career tinkering with test tubes and differential equations as an award winning Research Scientist before spending the next 20 years leading top performing sales teams at high growth tech companies including Salesforce, where he was vice president of commercial sales and creator of the sales leadership academy program. David’s unique science and empathy-based approaches to driving revenue and talent growth have been published in the Harvard Business Review, as well as Forbes entrepreneur and Inc. He is referred to as the sales professor. And he is the author of the best selling book sell the way you buy. He holds a BSc in chemistry and atmospheric science from York University and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto. David, thank you for sitting down and joining us today. Very interesting background. I love the story. I need to understand why the hell you decided to get into sales when you had such incredible academic credentials. Who hurt you?
I’ll tell you I was on an I was on another podcast and the host said, Were your parents ever upset with you that you went through all that education just to end up in sales? Yeah, like what do you just end up in sales?
Well, that’s the that’s, that’s what everybody thinks. Right. So who is it? Rob Jepsen? He’s, uh, he’s one of the first I heard him through. I can’t even name his podcast now. And that’s horrible. But I loved his podcast. And he has a line he says, accidentally, so accidentally in sales, and then oh, what he got accidentally in sales but purposefully successful or something along the lines like that, like nobody means to end up in sales. But once you get into it, no, yeah. Anyways, walk me through your story.
No, it’s like no one, everyone gets into sales by accident. Like, it’s one of the only professions you know, you know, one becomes a doctor or an accountant by accident. But with sales, one of the reasons why we get into it by accident, because we don’t teach it and a lot of schools and we don’t tell people like no guidance counselor says, Oh, you know what, maybe you should think about, like a proper career in sales. And look, I was no different. Like you said, I was a research scientist at the turn of the.com. Boom. And like, when you think about it, they’re like, for those of you who are trying to figure out what to do with your career, like, what is this? What does the scientists do? Right? Like, we love to learn, and we love to synthesize, so we’d love to kind of figure things out and explain them to other people. And we’d love to like experiment. And we’d love to ask why, like, why did this happen? Why does that happen? And I ended up getting into sales, around 1999 2000 ended up joining a start up as a sales engineer. So shout out to all the sales engineers out there. And and really, it was a very easily transferable skill, because I was doing a lot of demos and presentations and I was doing coding and all that kind of stuff. And I just fell in love with sales because when you think about it, like all of that new ones that you get in like the science and engineering fields, you get like tenfold in in sales, because I mean like science engineering, it changes quickly, but the world of buying has changed. So much Never mind in the last 510 years, in the last year and a half, the world of buying has changed quite a lot. So there’s so much nuance and beauty to sales that I just love. And then for the last 20 years love picking it apart. In my role is primarily at high growth technology startups where there’s a lot of stuff to figure out.
So one thing that, that I’ve noticed is you you probably take a very logical and like scientific approach to understanding why people buy how to sell how to position how to how to get people to, to, I would say, accept your messaging, like you said, an empathy based approach to driving revenue. What what is what is cerebral selling? Because that almost to me sounds like that almost to me sounds like a, like a psychological tactic, almost like a, like a neuroscience approach to sales. What explain what cerebral selling is? And was, I hate doing a two part question? Oh, good question. So what is what is cerebral selling? But also, how did it manifest from your role at Salesforce?
Yeah, so you know, I’m going to actually go back to Dan pink, I love Dan pink, in his book to sell as human. And, you know, he talks about, I’m going to horribly paraphrasing, but he talks about the fact that, you know, in a world where consumers are armed with so much information, they used to be like the sellers had all the information, right. And when you go buy a used car, and maybe it was a piece of crap, maybe it was good, but you would never know. Now, as buyers, we have tons of information, there are a million different solutions out there that all do the same thing as what we say we do. And we are busier and more distracted than ever before. And so what he says is in this kind of environment, sales is now a thinking person’s profession. And so if you don’t understand the way people buy, if you don’t understand the mechanisms by which human beings make decisions of any kind, if you don’t know how to align your sales and marketing motion like that, you will fail. And so cerebral selling is just I mean, what is the river mean? Cerebro means really understanding at a foundational level, like why the tactics you’re using from sales and marketing perspective work, why they don’t like what’s the pathway, because so much of sales over the course of time has been, you know, here’s what I did, Scott, like, here’s what you should do, right? And that’s how we get into trouble actually call it in my book, I call this the Cobra Kai paradox. I’m 40. I’m 46 years old. So when I was nine, in 1984, this is when the movie The Karate Kid came out. And so like when you think about it, like The Karate Kid, and now thank goodness, it had a revival. So everyone, Could anyone
relevant wrestling? The guy? Yes. It’s irrelevant reference.
So like you have these kids who were, you know, bullies and jerks. They weren’t bad kids. And it’s funny, you kind of see this now, in the new incarnation of the show, we’re like you have, you know, kind of the bad guys are actually like good kids that have been corrupted. And that’s what happens so much in sales is we learn how to do it the wrong way. It the old way, right. And so the idea behind cerebral selling is just being very curious about how the mechanics of a sales interaction work. And then, you know, again, being able to execute that the tactics that you learn, just kind of very effortlessly, and in a very human way. So that’s, that’s what Cerebro selling is. to your second question, like, how did this all manifest, you know, from from the Salesforce experience, so personally, I mean, I was at Salesforce for five years, I love, love, love my Salesforce experience, I ended up joining, because they ended up acquiring my third startup. So I kind of just came over with the ship, and ended up at the end of my sales career there running small business sales for the eastern US. And I love Salesforce, it’s a great company, great culture, very sales centric. And so it would be in these very busy sales periods, like the end of month and a quarter and the business had like a very, very big cadence to it, you know, a lot of a lot of hustle. And I would be going out there. And I would be telling my reps, you know, hey, look, tell the customers, I’ve never been a better time to buy, make the calls, make the calls, leave no revenue and turn. And then I would go back to my desk, and my phone would be ringing off the hook because I’m a VP at Salesforce, and people want to sell me stuff. And people are trying to blow up my LinkedIn, and I’m just ignoring them. And you want to know why, Scott? Why?
Because I realize I don’t like talking to salespeople. And, you know, I can be in a room with 1000 salespeople I say, you know, hit show hands, who here likes talking to salespeople? Very few will raise their hands. And so I realized, like, I had this kind of existential crisis where like, I was not selling the way I buy, I’m going to tell my reps like do this stuff, which by the way, was not unethical or and not categorically ineffective. But it was just stuff that was not working on me. I thought, Okay, well, this isn’t right, like, what would my reps have to do for the stuff that they’re doing to work on me and that was kind of the epiphany that led me to my current practice in the book.
It seems like Salesforce. Salesforce is an incredible organization, and a A lot of sales learnings and a lot of like leading sales. Individuals thoughts have come out of Salesforce. It’s interesting how that evolved. Because I another person who, you know, you’re, you were coming out of Salesforce and this is cerebral selling. Aaron Ross in Predictable Revenue, I’m pretty sure also came out of Salesforce I think like john barrows if, if I’m not mistaken, also a sales force that’s dumped, what are you teaching them or training them or consulting? I could be incorrect. But like, there’s a lot of really, really incredible leading sales individuals that have come out of Salesforce. I’m curious, do you have an idea of why that why that is why what I know it’s a sales centric organization. But it’s a lot of sales centric organizations. Salesforce is a cloud first organization, that’s how Benioff really, you know, created that category and dominated. But why was there such forward thinking, sales leadership in that org? Did they just recruit incredible people?
I think in part, yes, but also because like when you think about the growth trajectory of Salesforce, like Salesforce, when I started at Salesforce, there were 6000 employees, which was the biggest company I’ve ever worked for. And then when I left, five years later, it was 24,000 employees. And now it’s like it’s over 50,000 employees. And part of that is organic, but it’s a lot of acquisition. So Salesforce has had to reinvent itself and figure out, how are we going to grow revenue over the course of time with, you know, like, great, everyone knows we have this leading CRM product. But what else and so it’s really forced the organization to make, you know, changes on an ongoing basis to keep up.
with the time. So I think that’s key. I
was like, probably the number one thing I just it was interesting, when I when I saw that you came from Salesforce, it’s it’s, you know, it seems to be a breeding ground. So forever incredible for incredible sales, thought leadership. So sales leadership academy was that while you were still at Salesforce, because that’s something else you have on your resume here. Was that something you built within the company? Or was that after?
No, it was there. So you know, like, the interesting thing is, when you’re an entrepreneur, and you come in from the outside, like Salesforce loves it, when people come in from the outside, because they bring in those fresh ideas. And that’s actually another secret of their success is they they take the CEOs and the leaders from the companies they acquire, and it’s not like, oh, we’re just acquiring the technology, and then we’re going to connect Turkey to the curb, like no, they want those leaders to come in and bring those fresh ideas. And so one of the things they let me do while I was there, they said, you know, hey, David, would you like to write for the Salesforce blogs? I’m like, Yeah, sure. So I started, you know, crafting these articles, and so on, that’s ended. That’s how a lot of my content ended up getting picked up by like the Forbes entrepreneur. And in a way that kick started what I what I do today, so they level when people come in from the outside with those ideas. And and that’s one of the reasons why they’ve been so successful growing, but that that sales leadership academy and some of the programs we ran, you know, when I kind of came in, I said, Look, Salesforce is great. I have been a Salesforce customer a few times before, but I said like in terms of like the events and the content, like a lot of it is like a thinly veiled product pitch, you know, like, well, what if we just had events where, you know, we focused on like our customers business and the culture of our company, and leadership and these things, and look, and we some of these concepts were new like and you know, in all fairness, like Salesforce had grown to the point where it had with some amazing tactics and marketing. This was just another thing that we could add. And so for example, coming from the small business background, as I did, one of the things I started to do was I started to organize these customer dinners. And of course, you know, people are familiar with customer dinner. Oh, yeah, we’ll get Joe, we’ll get you know, we’ll get around the table, we’ll have some steak, and then eventually, we’ll sell you something. And I was kind of like, let’s not do that. How about this, I ended up buying the participants in these dinners, a copy of one of my favorite books at the time, which unites book that’s called the one thing, the surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results. And I love the book and and we just use it to catalyze a conversation saying, Hey, you know, what, you in your business, your your CEO, your C level, executive focus is really important. You’re probably, you know, working on a whole bunch of stuff, like, what’s the one thing that you think would be valuable to you to focus on and we would do this in a roundtable with like, 10 to 20 CEOs, and they would get so much value out of that interaction, we would not Pitch Anything, we would tell them not to talk about Salesforce. And those turned out to be the highest ROI events we did even bigger than dreamforce. Because we added so much value to our customers into their experience in and we never once asked for anything that we asked for things later, you know, signed the contract. Yeah, we want access to your organization. But that’s where, you know, a lot of these great programs and ideas came from it’s just this kind of this Renaissance that Salesforce was going through.
So that’s that’s the that’s the inception of, of cerebral selling. That’s that is now yours. Now. All the pieces that are coming them together because you’re understanding the the way that you would actually want to buy. And I’m assuming that’s what led to the sales leadership academy. Walk me through, walk me through the steps you took, maybe while you were finishing up at Salesforce into creating this program and what the first iteration of this cerebral selling program was the different components and whatnot.
Yeah, well look, you know, as because VP at Salesforce, I wouldn’t be training my reps. I mean, certainly, we invested in third party training, but it’s still on us, right? So I would teach my reps some of the concepts, you know, that I now talk about in my training in my book. And, and the nice thing was, you know, they would they would catch on not because they were so novel, and like, I’ve never heard of this before, but because they were so human feeling. And I was focused on small business. So a lot of my reps were younger, like they had just been BDR has just been promoted into their for sales role. And the problem is, when you have a younger sales rep, who’s trying to connect with an older, more experienced buyer, whose job they’ve never done, what can sometimes happen is a sense of fear manifests. It’s like, I have three kids. So like when one of my kids comes to me, and they’re about to hit me up for something like they’re about to ask me for something that they believe, I’m probably going to say no to. I can, I can feel it. Like I can feel it just by the way they approach me. And so what I would do is I would start listening to some of them, you know, my reps, phone calls, reps, who were, you know, hustling to no end but had no pipeline to show for it? And I would be like, you know, Scott, what’s going on, man? Like you’re making all these calls, like, Do you not have enough accounts like what and you’re like, no, I, you know, everything is going going good. Like I have accounts, I’m calling at the right time, I’m speaking to the right people, but there’s no productivity. And so when I would listen to their phone calls, and I would close my eyes, and they don’t even care about like the words that they’re speaking, the undertone of the call is such that it feels like they’re bothering the customer. That’s what it feels like, it feels like you’re afraid that you’re not going to add enough value. And so I can hear it and feel it in your voice the same way, when you get a call from a telemarketer, who’s about to pitch you on something, it probably takes you like a split second to tell, right that it’s a telemarketer about to read from a sales pitch. So people are very sensitive to being pitched. And that’s kind of you know, that those kinds of experiences, where, you know, we were driving like a high velocity sales machine, lots of reps, different geographies with different kinds of customers in each. You know, I was we were working through some of these tactics, and I was trying to continue to train them and impart whatever knowledge I could that not just the tactics themselves, but the empathy, like how to execute the tactic with the right tone, because I’ll tell you, we had tons of reps that were going out there with really good sales tactics, and getting completely blasted and shut down by customers. Because they weren’t, they weren’t approaching with the right to notice thing.
So that’s kind of where, you know, I did all that stuff. I ended up you know, continuing to write for the Salesforce blog. Even when I left Salesforce to be VP of sales and a fourth startup, I continued to write for the Salesforce blog. And eventually, you know, I, you know, when now my buddy Scott calls me up and says, you know, hey, David, I hear you got some great sales content, can you lay it on me? I was sending you like, links to like, all these sites, right? Like, that’s not good. That’s stupid. I need my own website to like, just keep all my stuff. So cerebral selling was born one night, remember, my wife came home from work, and I’m like, Hey, honey, I, I created my own website, it’s called cerebral selling. She’s like, Oh, that’s a good name, the URL was available, right. And so I just started to write about this stuff, and continue to concentrate that information and all my content there spun up a YouTube channel by the same name. And then, you know, a little while later, people started to subscribe and, and people were really picking it up. And I just said, this should be my job. And then
I love that can you know, it’s, it’s interesting, it’s a good it’s a good thing to know, a good point that regardless of the sales strategy, or or whatever you subscribe to, if it’s spin, or challenger or there’s a, there’s 1,000,001 different things that different organizations use. Miller Heiman, like a whole bunch of different types, right? This underlies all of them, this, this, this could or can be added on to because if it’s how to use tone, and how to, I would say be more human and more authentic in your approach and be more, I don’t know, more confident in your approach. And I’m sure that I’m using very general words, and you can probably go a little bit deeper on how this actually manifests and, and when a rep uses it. This can be implemented in line with any sales strategy because it’s it’s not it’s not a different strategy. It’s it’s something that you have to add on. Right?
Correct. It’s it’s very foundational, very human feeling. Now, there are a lot of tactics, we talked about messaging tactics, discovery tactics, you know, objects. nailing negotiation and so on. But like, for example, people are familiar with like band or medic, you know, people have these discovery methodologies where they say, hey, look, Scott, when you go into the call with a customer, like, here’s the list of things that you need to come out with. And then what happens is we get to tether to like those lists and we say, So Scott, like, what’s your budget? And you say, I don’t know, we haven’t said anything. Okay, awesome. So who’s gonna sign this thing? Like, I don’t know, maybe my boss and like, Okay, great. And when do you need this by and and your customers can feel that you’re, it’s like a polite interrogation that you’re just working down a checklist, it does not feel human. And so when we talk about tactics, it’s about using tactics that you can execute with passion and conviction, in they’re not all easy to execute by any stretch, right? But that’s the whole idea behind sales being a thinking person profession, you really have to unpack. Some of them are easy. But yes, manifesting the emotion, that conviction using words like, you know, even just like a very simple thing, when you have a lot of, let’s say, young sales reps, and they go and talk to a customer. And they say, Well, you know, Scott, like what I think and what I’ve, what I’ve seen, and Scott’s, they’re thinking like, Who the hell is this kid?
Like you’re not Oprah, like you’re not Bill Gates, like you’ve seen nothing. So you know, one of the tactics I talked about, and this is just like a small little thing is I call it the eye phrasing trap, where we start saying, well, I’ve seen I found and like, no one cares what you think. So I say, well, who has credit? If you don’t have credibility? Who does? Your customers have credibility, third party, you know, articles and studies and reputable journals have credibility, the collective experience of your company has credibility. So I say, shift your eye phrasing, to rephrasing and invoke the credibility of the entities that habit. So I say, you know, well, what we found, like we’ve been in business for 10 years, and what we found working with tons of customers like you is, and you can use that on day one of your job, right, you just have to execute it with passion and conviction. And there’s lots of ways to do that. But just like these little tweaks to your repertoire can make you feel completely different. But how you execute that sales motion when you feel completely different your customers can feel to and it’s very powerful from a conversion perspective.
So let’s break down what the current modern day iteration of Cerebral Selling is. Because now you have a book out, you have a course it’s been broken down into I’m pretty sure six different components. What is what is the full, complete cerebral selling, when you train it, when you when you teach somebody how to sell this way.
Well, you know, it’s funny, like when you start a business like like mine, when you’re focused on training, it’s not just about the content, because there’s lots of great content out there, I oftentimes will, will focus just as much on the delivery mechanism and the retention, right, because people forget, and actually as a consumer of sales training over the years where the sales trainer comes in, and does it the thing for two days, you forget most of it, and this has been been proven out. So what I do is I focus on a particular topic like messaging, you know, when we focus on that, and then you know, I leave you to execute those tactics in the field for two, three weeks before I come back, and I teach you something else. So we focus on the fundamentals, messaging, discovery, Objection, handling, negotiation, leadership focus. And in each case, we focus on like science based tactics executed with the right empathy and tone. It’s especially relevant now, when you think about like the current buying climate, you know, whatever it is, you say, you do. There’s a million people that will say the same thing at least in though, you know, they you think you’re this delicate snowflake, and you’re unique from everyone else, maybe you are, but to your customers, you just all sound the same. So no one really cares what it is you do, and a lot of times the United States of So Scott, what do you do? Like, Oh, well, we’re a platform that like, no one cares about your stupid platform. And I’m saying that in the best possible way. No one cares about your platform. Okay, like people walk around, caring about their problems and their lives and not even like features and benefits. Right? So speaking the language of like, pain and enemies, like for example, if you say like, So David, like, what do you do with cerebral selling? I guess Oh, well, I’m it’s a sales training and practice. And I have a book and like, no one cares, right? So I say like, like, I work with sales teams who realize that like, people love to buy stuff, but they hate talking to salespeople, right? And now you’ve had like a little mini epiphany of like, Oh, yeah, you know, it’s true. I also hate talking to salespeople. All right, tell me more. Right. So when you think about from a messaging perspective, such as having empathy for your customers, but like really thinking like, how does my customers brain process this information when I give it to them, so that I maximize my chances of creating interest in conversion later on down the road? And none of this is like this is all completely aboveboard. It’s it’s easy stuff. It’s stuff that you can execute with passion and conviction. But that’s, that’s how it breaks down in every step messaging, discovery, objection handling. There’s all these like little tips and tricks that you can manifest. I mean, I can give you more examples.
No, I think that so what I wanted to do so I saw there’s messaging discovery, objection handling, negotiating, leading for growth, which I’m not sure what that actually means. And then I don’t know what that actually means. But it sounds interesting. And then it sounds great. I like I like the copy. It’s great copy for, for these little video breakdowns, and then mindful execution. So So five and six, let’s we can we can shell those for a quick second. So messaging, discovery, objection handling, negotiating. These are things that if you sold anything to anybody, and put an ounce of effort into researching how to sell something, these will come up again and again and again. So let’s break down the cerebral approach approach, excuse me to the other three. So discovery, Objection, and negotiation. And how do you do that with this cerebral nuance?
For sure it will with discovery, I kind of think about two things and you go you go into a discovery call with a customer? Well, what is it that you want to know? Like, what do you want to talk about with that customer, because there’s like a million things you could talk about, not all the things will be equally important, and not all the things will have an equally emotional impact on the customer. So we talked about that. The other thing we talked about is the science of self disclosure. How do you get people to tell you things that they don’t want to tell you? Like when I come to you? And I say Scott, like what’s your budget for this project? Like even if you walk into a car dealership and the car salesperson is like So Scott, like what’s your budget, all of a sudden you’re the hamster wheels cranking in your brain?
Why they ask him What are they going to do with this information? When I give it to them? What should I say? Should I lowball? Right? And so we get into like the science of self disclosure and like how to kind of recognize the kind of pictures that are going on inside people’s heads, and how to kind of approach those discussions with objection handling. It’s all about understanding before we even handle the objection. It’s understanding with the intent. So for example, the most common objection in sales of any kind, is is too expensive, right? Everything’s too expensive. Everything was free life would be good, but everything’s not free, unfortunately. So when someone says, Oh, it’s too expensive. It’s like if I, if I asked you out on a date, Scott, and you don’t want to go with me, and I say, Scott, hey, let’s we met like Saturday night. I’m afraid you want to go Saturday night, and you don’t want to go with me? And you say, oh, David, I’m sorry. I’m busy on Saturday night. Right? That’s the that’s the equivalent of it’s too expensive. So I don’t know what what does that mean? Like, you want me to make it cheaper for you? You want to go out? You want to go
Sunday? You want to go Friday?
That’s right, so well, exactly. So now if you tell me you’re busy Saturday, and I say Well, hey, look, I know, Scott, I’m springing you spring lasagna on the last minute. I like what about next Saturday night? How’s that looking? Right? And now if you say, Oh, Okay, next Saturday nights good. Well, I realized this was just a logistical issue like that was your intent was to find a date that you’re available. Just like if I say, well, it’s too expensive. And I said, Well, what if I could show you how we can make it more affordable? You know, like, Okay, great. But maybe that’s not maybe you never want to go out with me. And you say, Oh, I’m really busy that Saturday night, too. And so now I’m creating a deeper picture of like, okay, it’s not a logistical issue anymore. It could be something else. So it’s the same thing when when someone launches too expensive. So really does understanding like when people have an objection, what do they try? What’s the intent behind it? And then what I teach, and this is, you know, one of the biggest I say, mistakes that people make when they think about objection handling, is they think about objections. It’s like a two column chart. customer says this column A, then I say that column B, I say this, and the objection goes away. And like, that’s not how, you know, that’s not how objections work. objections are like anything else, or conversations. So what we try to do is we try to teach the elements of that conversation and layering and I, there’s 10, objection handling tactics I teach, but I also they’re in my book, so if you want to, you have my book, you can read about these tactics. And the purpose of these tactics is that they can be combined together. So almost think of it if you’re like a gamer, and we were talking about, you know, playing in the arcades, his kids grown up, think about this as like buttons on your controller. So the the, he wouldn’t just like stand there and the hit the A button just to keep punching and punching and punching, like, you would have to combine that with a bunch of other tactics. And so that’s what we teach. But you know, at the end of the day, messaging, discovery, objection handling, the customer doesn’t care what part of the conversation that they’re in, it’s not like, Oh, yes. And I remember as a kid taking karate, and I remember, you know, the instructor would line us up, and we’d be, you know, across from someone else. And he would say, hey, great, so Scott, you’re gonna punch. And then David, you’re gonna, like block like this, and then punch back. And I’m like, oh, okay, so we’re practicing this thing. And I remember saying, I said, you know, to the instructor, can I just ask a question? In real life? If we ever ever in a fight? How will we know what the other person’s gonna do? Right? Like, it’s like such a naive question. And like, Oh, this is all choreographed. Right? And the reality is like, sales is the same way. There’s no choreograph. Like the customer doesn’t say, We are now in the negotiation portion of the conversation, right? It’s, it’s very free flowing. So you know, I start with the fundamentals, the messaging and discovery. But once you get objection, handling, you start looping in discovery and messaging tactics back again, so
kind of all hangs together. And that’s one thing that I think any sort of, I guess, linear sales training or sales process really misses the mark on it’s assuming that, that once you finish that one step, it’s it’s on to the next. But in reality, a true conversation. You are, you’re always doing all of these things almost constantly. And to take it a step further. If if the if the messaging and the objection handling the when you have those when those pieces are injected into a conversation with the customer. If that messaging and that objective handling is not also built into your marketing, messaging, and your website, copy and everything else that the customer sees, it’s like it has to be holistic. It has to be everything has to be feeding into everything else all the time. Because if it isn’t, then you’re assuming that the customer will move on to the next step and the next step in the next step. And that’s not how people buy that’s, that’s that’s never how they buy.
Absolutely. Look, you know, we’re all in sales everyone, right? And it’s funny because you sometimes you meet marketing people or people who are in customer success or account management. And they say, Well, I’m not in sales like First of all, they think sales is a little gross. Which is why they It’s like I’m in these roles, because I don’t want to be in sales. But like, guess what you are in sales, we’re all in sales. And in that alignment, I actually call the messaging supply chain is so important, because the worst thing is when sales says, Oh, you know, we can do a, b, and c, and then they sign. And then we move into our support or customer success teams, and they say what sales told you that now, like, we know, we can’t do that. And so it’s very important, not just from that perspective, but also, as you say, like, on your website, and marketing can play a tremendous role. As far as arming the sales team, disarming objections, creating the right copy, like if you’re the most expensive product on the market, and the sales team is going to get that objection 90% of the time, marketing can help by creating content, air cover perspectives, you know, to establish that value even before someone gets to a salesperson. So that alignment is super Next. Next one, negotiation, just a high level of what that looks like from,
again, from a cerebral perspective.
Yeah, so you know, the way I kind of think about negotiation is also two parts. There’s like the preparation part. And then there’s the execution part. And people when they think about negotiation, typically what people think about is, how do I minimize concessions, like how do I minimize what I give away? But they don’t stop to think about oftentimes, like, okay, what’s the balance of power? How much power do I want to have going into the negotiation? What can I fall back on? Who am I negotiating with? Like, what is it that I want? When At what point should I stop negotiating? What’s important to Yeah, like, what’s important to me, versus what’s important to them, because the things that are important to both of us may not be the same, right? Like my organization might be, especially in SAS, might be focused on getting like, upfront, you know, contracts and multi year agreements. And the customer might be okay with that. They just need a better price. Right? So that’s what negotiation negotiation is, we focus a lot on like the preparation, like, what do you want to know, going into the negotiation? What are the levers, you know, what are you going to do, because oftentimes, with sales, we just pay, we don’t practice anything, we just go in and get our ass handed to us in real life. Right? So doing some of that preparation. And then, you know, the the execution pieces. But again, there’s a lot of like discovery, for example, even a negotiation, the customer says, Oh, we love your product, but it’s too, it’s just too expensive. What is that? Are we negotiating now? Like, are we negotiating? or figure out? Am I just not established? Yet the value, maybe I did a bad job of explaining what it is we did. So do I have to go back to the messaging, but to put a bow on it, cuz you asked about the leading for growth as well, one of the biggest sources of leverage that we have in our sales organizations, is coaching, you know, the reps that get good, proper coaching, are statistically and scientifically proven to be more likely to exceed their quotas. And I’ll tell you, like, we would do sales rep surveys all the time in Salesforce in my companies, and we would ask reps, we say like, Scott, what’s one thing that you wish, you know, you had more of, and Scott would say more time with my manager, I want them to listen to more of my calls, ride alongs, all that kind of stuff. So sales leadership has a tremendous role to play in the success of the organizations, we all, you know, extensively believe that, but sales leaders actually get 1/3 of the investment in training of their skills as their reps do. And usually, it’s not, how to be a better coach, how to give better feedback, how to create more transparency, how to advocate for your team, but all of these things, have some, again, scientific principles rooted in that can help us get better. And that’s actually one of my favorite leadership books. Actually, my favorite Simon Sinek book and the big Simon Sinek fan is leaders eat last because he gets into kind of like the science and leadership. And so that’s, you know, what I do in my my, my academic background, now I teach sales leadership in my practice, as well as it’s in business schools. But sales leadership is such an under invested in elements of the sales motion, but it has a massive impact if you can get it right and really help these leaders get better at their craft. I
have one more. One more question that I’m curious to get your thoughts on, because you’d mentioned that before I think it’s it ties into what you do for a living. So you had mentioned that you have and then I’ll do a couple rapid fire just to pull some last insights from you. You had mentioned that you have a certain way that you actually teach and train people so not only do you have your own, you know, you have your own sales, sales process and training program, but the way that you actually teach it over so you do this for a living, what are what are the best ways to learn new new ideas, new concepts so that they stick. If you are interested, if you’re an autodidact, and you want to go learn yourself, how do you learn these concepts and apply them so that they stick and they’re useful? If you’re a sales leader? How do you get your team to buy into them? I’m curious how you have success with that. Cuz that’s the thing that people
yeah may have trouble with. I say like three things, start small. Practice often, and create accountability for your own progress. So what I mean by that, you know, like I said, starting with like, the whole shebang of like sales training, like all at once is too much, you’re going to forget everything. So starting with one topic at a time, small bite size tactics that you can memorialize that you can execute very simply and easily. That’s the first thing so don’t overwhelm your, your the people that you’re training you’re working with with too much content. Number two is like the reinforcement of the practice. So it’s not just Okay great, sit there smile and nod and say, Oh, this is great, David, and then just go back to your desk and do what you what you were doing before, you need to practice this. And so what I’ll actually do is I’ll say no, so iraps. Between now on the on our next sales lesson, what I want you to do is I want you to start doing this in the field. And when you do it, I want you to remember what you did, if you use any of these kind of, you know, conversational analytics tools, like Gong, record the conversations, you know, surface it up to your manager, and get the coaching that you need. So I say, you know, start small, and create accountability for the practice. And then what we do back to kind of this accountability, and this is the same if you want to lose weight and get in shape or into triathlon, it’s the same thing, go for it, go for 1k, then for 5k, and then have a running buddy and then having someone that you are ultimately accountable to, to answer to. And so you know, what I’ll do is we’ll actually as part of like the the kind of the training practice, what we do is we we do the training, there’s the practice in between, and then I will come back and I will listen to your calls with your managers and with your peers. All together, we do these call review sessions, which are very like reps have never often done this before they’ve never exposed themselves and like listen to their let their colleagues listen to them on the phone and these kind of pre recorded things. But it creates, it creates a compelling event that like Oh crap, like, I gotta, I gotta do this stuff. Because, you know, there’s people we’re going to be listening to it, and it makes them more conscious of what they’re doing. And I’ll tell you like, even though it’s a little bit uncomfortable to do at first, it creates so much I mean that teams love it. They love cheering each other on, they love kind of seeing things like every the best players have coaches, right, because they see you play the game and they pick up on things that you can’t see even like, you know, never split the difference. Chris Voss, you know, he talks about how, you know, when you’re training, like, how do you train to be a hostage negotiator. In any hostage conversation, there’s five negotiators on the phone. One speaking, the restaurant is listening for, like the things that the first person is missing. So the secret starts, like one tactic at a time, one topic at a time, practice, practice, practice, create accountability, to review the content. So like you can’t, you know, you’re not you’re not hiding in the corners there. We’re all learning from each other. And then rinse and repeat. And that’s, you know, I mean, there’s lots of other ways, you know, people have, you know, LMS systems and other kind of enablement platforms like and stuff, which is great, but it’s the content, the simplicity, the reinforcement and accountability. That’s how you make stuff Decker good.
Okay. closing thoughts on on cerebral selling? what’s what’s next for you in your career? What is it for startups? Couple VP roles book? So what, what’s the what’s next for the sales Professor Miss?
Oh, well, you know, maybe the audience can help me a little bit with this. Now, you know, what, like, I you know, the the mission, like, why I do what I do is right, like, I, I love sales, you know, sales has given me in so many people so much in their lives, like so much, you know, fulfillment. And it bothers me that when you tell someone and you’re in sales, you become the enemy, right? Like, no one gets into this on purpose, we all do it backs. And so my mission is to get the message out there around, getting to the profession on purpose, doing it the right way, always, like treating it seriously, always be learning, and adapting. And so, you know, my goal is with with my content, I continue to write, you know, I continue to, you know, create videos and the book, these are just ways of getting the message out there. So that is the mission that’s the why that will always, you know, be the same and but look, at the end of the day. I’m a lightbulb guy, like I love connecting with people and kind of you know, having them see the impact that like real human feeling tactics can have on their sales motion, because there’s nothing worse than getting into sales and then feeling a little bit gross every day. You come home, there’s no
feeling for career like
no, you know, it’s not like emergency room doctor, you know, salesperson like it’s theirs, they’re not in the same, you know, stratosphere so the idea is you know, just just keep doing more things to learn. I love learning is number one thing I love to do and there’s so much amazing knowledge out there and just be be part of the solution to help salespeople execute this amazing profession with like passion conviction, with the right tactics and And hopefully one day, you know, when you tell someone you’re in sales to lean in and say, That’s amazing.
I love that very good. Okay, a couple rapid fire to pull out some insights from from your career. What is one misconception that you had when you first started going to sales? And how is your mindset shifted on that over the course of your career? It’s probably going to be an easy one.
misconception Well, I’m you know, the first thing is you think like, oh, like sales? Like, that’s a job, right? Like, you can’t any like, I’m, you know, I can’t anyone do that, is that something people actually get into? And then, you know, and to the credit of all those amazing sales professionals out there. And you mentioned some of the beginning, there are many who get into this on purpose, and who do take it seriously, and, you know, refine the craft. And so for me like that, that’s the number one thing is just like, appreciating how amazing and nuanced sales is just like the most complex engineering problem, but you know, what the complexity of human emotions run into it as well. Just the deeper appreciation for that is the number one
thing I would say, what was the biggest challenge in your personal career?
You know, uh, so, you know, actually, I talked about this in the book a little bit. So about 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer, and, you know, kind of threw me for a loop. There was a lot of obviously, you know, look, I’m not I don’t have a moratorium on, on personal struggle, everyone has something that they deal with in their personal lives, and impact, and they bring it to work, right, you’re going relationship problems, disease, you know, things going on with your family, really, you know, there’s all sorts of stuff. And so I’d say, like reconciling those two things, of like, you know, when you have a big disruptive force in your life, you start to question you say, like, what, why am I Why am I doing this? Like what’s important? Right? And, but I have to say, you know, after all this time, you know, one of the things that you’re never, you know, with cancer, like you’re never really done, you know, it’s always like, it’s always the ghost that haunts you a little bit. And, but I think, and I talked about in my book, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, because in a way, it makes you much more mindful, it makes you much more appreciative of things. And I don’t know if I would have started my business and started cerebral selling, or had the courage to do that, per se, if I didn’t have that experience, right. Like it made me more mindful about having an impact. So that’s, you know, I’d say the number one thing for me,
what would be a lesson you would tell your younger self?
Yeah, so the thing i would i would tell myself is to kind of like, follow the patterns, you know, a lot of you know, and I say this to all the young reps out there, a lot of times in life, we think about what we think we should want, right? Like you and I were reps at a company, we’re both Junior reps, and you want to grow up and be a senior reps and like, yeah, okay, that’s what I want to. And over the course of your career, you could be tempted to jump ship, go to another company for more money, or do something that that sounds a little bit easier, or kind of do something you’re not really passionate about, just because, like, you know, the fringe benefits are good. And we look at our left and our right, people are crossing this out. That’s what they want. That’s what I want. And I say, like, take a step back and think about like, in your job, what are the things and I kind of break it down to three categories, the things that you love to do in your job, the things that you like to do in your job, or it’s okay, the things that you don’t like to do in your job. And every time you move to like a new job, try to figure out how you make that the love bucket, so to speak, like, how do you make that bigger? How do I do more of the things that I love, and not just okay, I’m moving, I’m doing a little bit less things I love but like the money is really great, right? Because at the end of the day, people can tell like, I can tell if you believe in what you’re doing, or not like people can tell. And it comes through when you’re doing what you’re passionate about what you feel like you were put on this earth to do. People can tell and it’s absolutely true, what they say. You’re always worried about, okay, well, what if I do this and it fails. But like, history has shown you, there’s amazing people out there have shown that your passion will carry you through it, especially if it aligns with something that people need. So I would say like, my advice to my former self is like, just keep asking yourself, like, what am I passionate about? What do I love to do? And try to do more of those things? So I’ll tell you like the things that I used to do when I was a research scientist. Not because not because it’s part of my job, per se, or the title, but because it’s part of what I’ve always done. So take a look at what you’ve always done, what you love and do more of that and every good advice.
One person that had an incredible impact on your life, who is that person? And what did they teach you or how did they impact you?
Well, I you know, there’s like the business answer. And then there’s personal answer, but I was just thinking about this today. I’m coming. I’m coming up on 25 years with my wife. And I have to say, you know, she we met when I was in university, so she lived with me through The whole, you know, research scientists phase and all the startups and cancer and three kids and the whole thing. And you know, I just say like, none of this would have been possible without her. You know, it’s true when you have like love and support and people that just kind of stick with you, no matter what they don’t, they don’t take your bullshit, you know, they call you out. It absolutely makes you better. And my wife, she’s a grade six, or grade or sixth grade teacher, depending on where you’re listening to this Canada, us. She, she is the like the kindest, most empathetic person I know. And I learned so much from her in seeing how she raises our children, and we do it together. But you know, in all honesty, it’s a lot of her genius. And that has filtered so much into my life. It’s the support the empathy. So my advice to all of you find a great partner that will stick with you. And they’ll propel you to do great things. So I
give all the creditor recommend a podcast a book and audible as somebody should go check out even though you’ve already recommended some I have to ask at the end anyway. So drop some drops up besides your own book, which we’ll link in the show notes. What are some other ones?
Yeah, like you just tell us human by Dan pink I love and it was funny because I was I was saying earlier, I was looking at your bookshelf and have a lot of the same books online. So the one thing essentialism Yes. 50, scientifically proven ways to be persuasive. There’s some great podcasts out there. So I love Doug Burdick in the marketing book, podcast, any Paul and the sales enablement podcast, you know, these are great hosts that put a lot of, of just kind of effort and professionalism into what they do. They source really great, great guests with great perspective. So yeah, those are you know, I’m I’m drawing, I’m naming names. Those are some of the ones I encourage you I have to
I have to just get it on the record. The podcast that I referenced before was the sales leadership podcast by Rob Jepsen. That’s also a good one, I just feel obliged to drop it. Because I said it was one of my favorites. And I completely blanked on the name. Anyway. Last question, and then I’ll get some contact info from you. What does success mean to you? You know,
the first thing that comes to mind when you say that it’s just, it’s just happiness. Happiness is is the most important thing. Success doesn’t isn’t, isn’t a number. It’s not a financial statistic. It’s a feeling just like anything else. And and happiness comes from, you know, having you know, things but not having massive amounts of expectation. In fact, one of my favorite books I, I won’t reach for it on the on the on the wall behind me, there is a book called solve for happy, have you heard of this book. It’s by a fella by name and Moga dot and he was the head of Business at Google X. So like Google’s like, kind of fringe experimentation arm, and he tragically lost his son and at the age of 21, in a routine appendix surgery, and he talks about this idea that you know, like, so now he has to rebuild his happiness and figure out how he’s going to be happy again. And now his mission is to make millions of people happy. One of the things he talks about is, is just, you know, not having expectation. So for example, if it’s your wedding day, and you have an outdoor wedding, and it’s like, the weather is crappy, you’re upset, because you thought your wedding day should be wonderful and magical and nice weather. But if it was just any other day, you’d be like, Oh, it’s like it’s raining outside, no big deal. So this idea of just happiness, like, you know, be grateful for what you have, remind yourself of what you have, and be grateful for it. You have goals, but don’t overburden yourselves with expectations of what things should be like, because you’re most likely going to be disappointed. So happiness, you know, existentially from a health from being centered. That’s, that’s the best advice I can give, try to try to search and be having a good search for happiness to be happy.