SALES with ASLAN Ep. 139 – Tips for Technical Selling

Welcome to SALES with ASLAN, a weekly podcast hosted by ASLAN Co-founders Tom Stanfill and Tab Norris, geared at helping sales professionals and sales leaders eliminate the hard sell. At the end of the day, we believe that selling is serving. ASLAN helps sellers make the shift from a ‘typical’ sales approach, to one that makes us more influential because we embrace the truth that the customer’s receptivity is more important than your value prop or message.

The goal of these interviews is to spotlight various experts in the world of sales and sales leadership – sharing informational stories, techniques, and expert interviews on the sales topics you care about.

 

The following are notes from Ep. 139 – Tips for Technical Selling

In this episode, Marc Lamson joins Tom Stanfill to discuss a common challenge in many sales organizations: when technical sellers represent a solution, they are often very adept at communicating complex information, but may have some difficulty with influence and soft skills. With his sales and engineering background, Marc offers up key insight to help highly technical sellers hone their soft skills and ability to influence.

 

Listen to the conversation here:

Or check out the full transcript below.

 

Resources:

Transcript:

00:13

Tom Stanfill

Welcome to another episode of SALES with ASLAN. I’m your host, Tom Stanfill. I’m not here with my trusty co-host, Dr. Tab Norris… I’m with my partner in crime, Marc Lamson, who I refer, actually referred to as The Captain, because he steers our company. He steers big ships. He leads all of us into greater places. Welcome to the show, Marc.

 

00:41

Marc Lamson

Well, thanks for having me, I guess you’re, you’re slumming from a doctor to a criminal. Is that where I am? Basically. Well, thank you for having me. And I appreciate that introduction.

 

00:53

Tom Stanfill

No, well, Marc, you’re not filling in for Tab because he’s right now in the middle of a big race where the rim to rim where…  you  explain, cause you’re smarter than me. It’s explosive.

 

01:06

Marc Lamson

For some reason, it’s for some reason it’s coal or it’s a thing to go start at the top of a perfectly safe, comfortable temperate plateau of the grand canyon and hike down a treacherous seven mile walk down the side, across the bottom, up the other side to the other side, which basically you gained nothing because you’re where you started until you go back down that side, across and up the other side, end up at the exact same place rim to rim. It’s like, I don’t know, hours and hours.

 

01:42

Tom Stanfill

He left at 3:00 AM this morning and I don’t know when he’s done. I’m sure he’s done now. I hope he’s done, but yeah, so we miss tab he’s down on the show cause he’s doing the running around, but that’s not why you’re filling in really wanted to talk with you about a common challenge. We’re seeing with a lot of the sales organizations we’re working with or working with a lot of companies who have highly technical sellers representing their solution because it’s required there. Some of them are scientists, some of our PhDs, some of our engineers and not true of all, but some I’ve seen have a consistent or they have consistent challenges with influence. It’s not as intuitive to them. It’s not as black and white. There’s more of a, some people will say art to it. Some people don’t like that term, but not just, again, it’s not true of all people that have that level of education, but many struggle with some of the, the, I guess the softer side of sales, I call it the IQ versus EQ IQ, intelligent quotient versus the emotional quotient.

 

02:48

Tom Stanfill

And very few are good at both. The reason I wanted to talk about that is because you solve that problem. I know when you joined us, you have a background in engineering that you fit that same profile, but you were able to adjust from an engineering mindset to being able to be extremely effective at influencing. I thought you could share your journey from engineer to sales leader, and L sales training and consultant, and how to share your story. Because I think it would be very enlightening for people who recognize that when it comes to building relationships, when it comes to reading the, our audience, when it comes to breaking out of a process and being versatile and reading the room and being more conceptual and less detail oriented, you figured that out and you’ve been successful. I’d love for you to kind of share what you’ve learned and, and how people can navigate that.

 

03:44

Marc Lamson

Yeah, I would love to thanks for having me. Yeah, there are a lot more technical sellers. Were talking about, we’re not talking about technology or it or science, it’s kind of that whole group. I mean, people with kids in the school systems today would be familiar with the stem concept, S T E M science, technology, engineering and math. It’s kind of all that technical stuff versus the non technical stuff as to overly stereotyped buckets, which yeah, I think if you have some, I don’t know if you’re a technical person, but you have some wiring and your training and the education, for sure. You get through college, you go through an engineering degree, you’re going to be slanted that way. When you get to the workforce, even if you’re selling battery backup systems over the phone, kind of thing for APC, but,

 

04:40

Tom Stanfill

You’re drawn to things that have a very predictable outcome. If you understand how the formulas work, right? In all the rules that you suggested, then you follow the formula, you understand the laws and you follow that and you will get a predictable outcome. People aren’t predictable. There is nothing about working with humans, which is what sellers do. That’s predictable and why they make decisions are emotionally driven. They’re not logically driven. You take someone that comes from a world where things are very predictable and the follow these laws and formulas to working with people who make the decisions that are sometimes insane, actually.

 

05:25

Marc Lamson

So Peter’s never make a mistake, right? Can never make a mistake. There’s a, there’s a language that somebody technical program, and it just keeps doing that over and over and faster and faster. If something there’s an error, it’s a person who did that, right? The computer, they never make mistakes, but as sellers, I mean, when we try to do the same thing with the next decision maker, it’s always different and that’s tough.

 

05:50

Tom Stanfill

That’s tough, hard. What did you learn about navigating that journey from being an engineer, to selling technology, which your background and an ability to comprehend complex information, allowed you to understand the products you’re selling very well and know how to understand the people you’re selling to, which is why obviously companies gravitate to hiring these types of people because they understand how it works. They can explain that to the people who are buying it. They can consume a lot of information. How did you learn the art of selling?

 

06:27

Marc Lamson

Yeah, I think the first step I would attribute it to his luck just in terms of the job that I took. Yeah, out of school, I had an electrical engineering degree, so I worked for a company, my old company APC, but by Schneider electric, were, they were hiring engineers specifically. I was a, I was really, my business card said customer service engineer, whatever that is. I mean, it literally said that.

 

06:55

Tom Stanfill

I liked that.

 

06:57

Marc Lamson

He literally said that.

 

06:58

Tom Stanfill

I kinda like that.

 

07:00

Marc Lamson

And so we were not selling initially. It was about people calling in doing tech support and we were solving the problems that customers had already bought products. Right. Right. That was a good, that was lucky because I just took that job. I got to use my degree. It got the satisfied, my curiosity, I should back up and say, really what I did after school was I worked at mobile as an engineer, a true engineer, and I hated it. So, so I think it’s important to understand I was trained in engineering, but when you call me an engineer, I’m not sure if that’s who I am. There’s a difference there right? It’s not what I’m drawn.

 

07:43

Tom Stanfill

To, not what you’re drawn to, but you had that kind of brain. You have the brain where you’re very linear in how you process things, which makes you a great at a lot of things, but which is similar to a lot of the people we’re talking to that are in the quote unquote technical sales.

 

08:01

Marc Lamson

Well, I think if you’re in this world, right, the general couple buckets are you’re probably, process-driven, there’s some process and you do this is what happens on. You follow that process, rinse and repeat. You might tend to be more black and white, right. And wrong answers. Yes and no, you’re not, you’re, you’re not painting as a stereotypical opposite of engineering. Right. You’re doing something that gets a right answer or not. You may be more focused on the logic of a situation and very analytical and the emotions of people. Decision-making, motions that maybe throw you a, and you’re very thorough. So, and you’re, you have a level of detail that you see because you’ve done that. When sometimes that level of detail is helpful and sometimes that level of detail is too much, potentially just like, it just was just the last 30 seconds.

 

09:02

Tom Stanfill

Let’s talk about that because that’s, this is something you taught me. I thought it was a really good, because I do you, because you have so much information and maybe because of the way your brain works is you start at granular. That’s the way your natural wiring is. You can, you understand all the details related to something, which is why you do things that, related to an engineering are related to, again, the roles that we’re talking about, why they do it well or understand it. When you’re, when you go, when you move to influence and you’re talking to somebody, they may not need that level of information. You talked to me one time about you had this epiphany that when you’re delivering or explaining something, you focused on what you call the Turkey thermometer. I explain what you learned there and why did you call it that?

 

09:55

Marc Lamson

Well, I think that’s back up to the problem. The problem is, and you articulate this book for the technical people that can relate to this problem, that there’s a lot of things floating through your head. There’s a lot of things floating through everyone’s head, right. You might be thinking about other things than other creative ideas, but when someone asked me a question or a customer, I I’m, I see all the information and I’m trying to get it out. And, and it just, it all is coming out and it’s too much. I lose track of the goal of why I’m answering this question. So, if you cook a Turkey, you’re supposed to put thermometer in and do all this stuff. Fortunately, Purdue, Jim, is that his name, Jim out of the woods produced name is, puts the little thing in, and you put the Turkey in and when the Turkey thermometer, Thanksgiving pops out, it’s done, period, stop.

 

10:47

Marc Lamson

Anything else you do is going to just create a problem for the Turkey.

 

10:51

Tom Stanfill

You’re finished.

 

10:52

Marc Lamson

Somewhere that pop in my brain is by that’s what I’m trying to do and influence when a customer asks me a question, or it’s not even a question we get to a topic, when you’re presenting, you’re talking about background of your company, overview of their problem, your products, et cetera. You’re, there’s a series of boxes as a seller. You’re trying to check off where the customer is saying. Yep, yep. There’s a Turkey thermometer for each of those boxes. For every person it’s different and I would catch myself and you help them with this. As we work together, you helped me because as I start to explain things, I overexplain and when you and I worked together, you said to me, are you doing this for you? Or for me,

 

11:37

Tom Stanfill

Are you explaining this for me or for you, right. Yeah.

 

11:40

Marc Lamson

Why are you explaining this? I’m like, well, and initially the answer would be, well, I’m explaining this because obviously you would want this information and that helps you in your decision making. You’re like, I don’t want this information. And the customers do the same thing. I would frequently occasionally give too much information and lose people.

 

12:03

Tom Stanfill

Yeah. That I think the key with what you learn to do. I think, and I mean, I think a lot of us struggle with this because it really has to do with the amount of knowledge when a lot about something it’s hard not to be excited about sharing that’s fair because you find you’ve studied this your whole life, or you spent a lot of time you’ve developed this and you want to help people, which is why I ask you that question, because sometimes it could be for you because you’re trying to process, or it could be for me, the listener. So if it’s the listener, right. I think the best way that I’ve found to gauge the level of information I share is always start high level. Right? Say I’m going to provide a very high level overview of the subject that we’re talking about.

 

12:48

Tom Stanfill

There’s three things you need to know about this. These are the three categories and that’s how we focus on the three things. I can’t think of an example right now. Let’s just say, there’s three things that there’s a next level where you provide a couple of sentences on the three things. There’s the next level where you provide several paragraphs on the three things that you’re, in level two. So lifts, basically three levels of information. You go down, you can see when the third Turkey thermometer goes on the third year, monitor pops at the high level you’re done.

 

13:17

Marc Lamson

Yeah.

 

13:18

Tom Stanfill

Them to ask you to draw in more that’s when that keeps them engaged. I always think about it as dialogue, not monologue. How do we get, create a dialogue, not monologue, because as long as there’s a dialogue going on, you can’t over explain something.

 

13:32

Marc Lamson

That’s, that’s exactly right. Yeah. It’s actually, it’s called something for you, technical people. It’s called levels of abstraction. That’s what you’re referring to. There’s levels of abstraction. Theory that’s given is, there’s the universe and then there’s our solar system and then there’s earth. You keep drilling down into like your hometown. And so I’ll.

 

13:50

Tom Stanfill

Say it.

 

13:51

Marc Lamson

Always started the universe because for some people maybe that’s just fine and say, well, versus a big place, I go, yeah. How many solar systems bothers that? You know? From an engineering process that keeps you on track. That’s how you organize that. The differences don’t cover all the levels of abstraction. Every time only what’s required to get the Turkey thermometer, to go off for the customer. When you and I work together, you’ve said, Hey, you’re overexplaining are you doing this for you? Or for me, in other words, are you telling me, because I think you want to know as the CEO of the company or my kind of processing this in my brain, again, I’m not selling, you have, we’re working on something and I’m like, I’m doing this for me. Perfect. Then continue. So, but that’s going on in a lot of technical brains, be careful of overexplaining being too thorough for the Turkey.

 

14:46

Tom Stanfill

You’re making a really good point, mark. I want to make sure our listeners don’t miss. This is that if it’s about the listener, it needs to be about the listener. Because when we get excited about something, we may be excited about it because we want to describe the levels of distraction. We get excited about all of that day. If we keep the customer’s the center of the story and make them the hero, then we’re like, do you want to know about the universe? No. Okay. Wow. You just saved a lot of time. Yeah. I didn’t mean the universe. I was actually talking about something else. I was asking you if it’s universal, so, and then they get to choose the level. So, but if it’s about you get excited about hearing yourself, talk about how smart you are about a certain subject and that’s fun, but it’s,

 

15:35

Marc Lamson

This is where this is where having that knowledge and an ability to kind of put them out in front of you can help you. There’s a lot of talk out there in the market about executive presence. People who have executive presence, what is that? Jury’s out. There’s a lot of things written about what that is, but most schools of thought agree, and I’ve kind of taken this term and written it down for me is that you say things in a way that are high level, but the person knows that if needed, you could go six levels deep. In other words, trust me. I knew this, but I’m not going to do that because that’s not executive that stay up here. If you want to double click on something, buckle up and that’s important for, to be able to understand how to say it that way versus actually have to sale those things.

 

16:25

Marc Lamson

Like, yeah, I got it. You got it.

 

16:27

Tom Stanfill

Here’s a consistent trait. This is a great point. You’re making, here’s a consistent, trade-off see of people that are following a analytical bucket. They find their credibility or judge a person maybe, or extend credibility. Somebody that can explain things in a thorough way and prove to the listener that they know what they’re talking about. That’s what works for them. When they’re talking to maybe an executive or someone else, who’s not that way that just annoys them. You’d actually their credibility. They find credibility. Like you made the statement and you just say, this is what’s true. Best practices. This, like one of the things we say in a meeting is like, change happens. One-to-one if you really want to drive change, I just was in a meeting where I said this, if you really want to drive change, you’ve got to move from focusing on a workshop where you’re just training people to investing in your frontline leaders.

 

17:24

Tom Stanfill

Now, if I was analytical person, I would feel the need to prove that statement.

 

17:28

Marc Lamson

Yeah.

 

17:29

Tom Stanfill

I would feel the need to start providing statistics, analytics, best practices. Whereas the people on the other end will listen to me go. I agree with that. You said that as a principle, as a law, I’m sold.

 

17:43

Marc Lamson

Because that’s what your training is. There’s problem set after problem set and test that says, prove you’re required. You’re baked into you. Like I don’t care if the answer, I want you to prove how this is right.

 

17:58

Tom Stanfill

Now. If the, if the listener customer is analytical and they want you to approve it, then the Turkey thermometer has not popped up.

 

18:07

Marc Lamson

That’s.

 

18:07

Tom Stanfill

Correct. You focus, but the listener determines the level of extraction. That’s what you’re saying.

 

18:14

Marc Lamson

Abstraction and.

 

18:16

Tom Stanfill

Abstraction.

 

18:19

Marc Lamson

Well, I didn’t say that clearly. That’s cause I’m, I’m from Jersey, but there’s one more thing I wanted to say about this Tom quickly is all this detail, all this overexplaining and you can explain all that analytics and something complicated. Here’s what I’ve learned. Determines a true expert at something. So we talk about experts. Like, you know what? An expert can take something that’s complicated and explain it to someone who’s not.

 

18:43

Tom Stanfill

Wow. You, that is,

 

18:46

Marc Lamson

I work with, we work with like accountants are like, explain that to me again. I’m like they finish. I didn’t really know what you just said. You know? Another person is like, it’s like this. Like I totally get that. I understand.

 

19:00

Tom Stanfill

One of the smartest people. I know this guy graduated from Princeton and Georgia tech at the same time, because courses at, when were in high school together, he took courses at Georgia tech while he was at high school, he maxed out at math and I went to the, one of those college preparatory schools was an easy, he got a perfect score on his act. This guy, and I had dinner with him a month ago. He’s now doing something related to energy. I don’t want to get into it cause I can’t explain it. He explained to me energy and what he was doing. And I was completely clear. He explained it to me and my wife like, okay, we’re like, oh, I get it. I get it. He could have, so that’s the tells you confirms what you said, brilliant guy. He was focused on us and he took something incredibly complex and it was basically around batteries and explained it to us.

 

19:52

Tom Stanfill

So I completely understand what you’re doing. Yeah. And I remember leaving going. I was so impressed by his lack of words.

 

20:00

Marc Lamson

That if that’s what you want, your technical horsepower to go towards, it’s about the listener, the Turkey, the mom, and you start with high at levels of abstraction wash for the Turkey thermometer and experts can make things complicated. Things, simple for the people who need it to be simple.

 

20:15

Tom Stanfill

I love it. I want to go back to something you said earlier, you talked about right and wrong answers. Because I’ve seen all sellers struggle with this is when the customer doesn’t answer the question correctly. It could because the customer didn’t understand the question or wanted to answer a different question. It could be where they say something that’s not factually correct. Right. They’re like, well, the reason we did that as this, and that’s why we’re doing it, that’s what you should always do. You want to go, oh, sorry. That’s not correct. Because in other words, your wrong and I can prove it to you. Or maybe they’re taking the conversation at a dominated. This probably relates to what first thing I said, but they’re taking the conversation a different direction than you want to go in.

 

21:00

Marc Lamson

That’s also.

 

21:01

Tom Stanfill

There start talking about stuff. Like I don’t really need to know that’s not relevant to what we’re talking about. I’m here to talk to you about this and we set up an agenda. How do you, as a person who’s wired to solve problems and you need information to do that. How do you address that? How did you, how did you learn to flex.

 

21:21

Marc Lamson

Tom? First? I’d like to say that the right and wrong piece versus the, not following the rules, they’re two different bullet points that you brought up at the same time,

 

21:32

Tom Stanfill

But that’s the wrong answer. What do I do? Just okay. It tell me I’m wrong and make me look stupid.

 

21:38

Marc Lamson

Yeah, look, there’s no smart. And w we’re all stupid. You want to, you want to feel stupid, watch jeopardy. I didn’t even know what the question even is. Let alone the answer.

 

21:47

Tom Stanfill

Yeah. Like how do you answer the question again?

 

21:50

Marc Lamson

I feel stuck at the first sentence. Read that under the word is,

 

21:56

Tom Stanfill

That’s a really good point. I just think of things there’s IQ and IQ might be the ability to, I don’t even, I’ve always struggled to explain this, the ability to consume a lot of information to remember it. It doesn’t make you great at being able to connect with people or influence. Does it mean people with high IQ don’t have any queue? There’s just two, it’s two different intelligence and people that are great at influence typically are good at both.

 

22:21

Marc Lamson

Yeah. Yeah. For sure. Both are required. I mean, selling, especially complex selling technical selling. I mean, that’s a, that’s not an easy thing, but back to your question about, yeah. I, I, again, my training was about right and wrong answers and when you ask customers questions, it doesn’t always happen that way. They’re given the wrong answers. It’s back to your, I’ll see rule number one, it’s focused on the listener, focus on your audience or your customer. I used to, in my Thoreau days, I would get ready to have a conversation with the customer. I would like a good studious engineer. Write down my questions thoroughly. I’d write them all down. How many questions I got through before that didn’t work one, maybe two.

 

23:12

Tom Stanfill

Yeah,

 

23:12

Marc Lamson

Because they start talking and they’re not following. And, and I, I can remember. I mean, this is what, this is the, I see a lot of people worried about getting the answer that, getting the information down and look at their next question. They’re missing what the customer is saying. Again, this is whether it’s engineering or how you think when you’re this process, right. And wrong answers. You have a list of 12 questions. I need the answer to this question and I need it to look like this because, that’s how it goes. The customers are not going to answer in boxes. They’re not going to follow the rules that I kind of stay in the lines. I think I struggled with that for a while. I think some of the things that we teach Tom, it’s about, focus on what’s the objective. The objective really is that I can do a couple of things.

 

24:06

Marc Lamson

One is I can go feed that back to the customer and say, all right, I’m not saying this is right or wrong. Yeah. Maybe as an engineer, I’m thinking deep down, something’s wrong, but it’s not my place. Just feeding back and saying, this is what I’m understanding that you told me, is that right? Yes, that’s right. No, this, I add this. It’s very easy to clean that up till we get to a point where they say, yeah, that’s exactly what I mean. I understand their perspective and that’s an important first step. I take all the pressure off of, because I be talking about a science experiment or something, there’s all these, all this information you need to learn and get, and it’s a fixed set of information versus where the customer, it’s just, you need to hear from them. It doesn’t follow in a straight line.

 

24:59

Marc Lamson

At the end, you just need to feed it back so that you can help them. That’s there isn’t, there is something helpful. There is something we’ve talked about. These traits that maybe go against selling. One of the traits that a lot of technical people have stem, whatever engineers is, problem solving, we’re focused on solving problems. So, so pull that out of your toolkit folks and say your job is to solve the customer’s problem, regardless of what that looks like, your solution, someone else’s solution, different ways to do it and put your brain power on solving their problems. So, so let’s back up to discovery. I’m trying to solve their problem versus fill out my discovery roadmap correctly. There’s a big difference.

 

25:43

Tom Stanfill

Well, I think you’re saying two things too, is it because the way you initially, where you started with that conversation with the customer starts to wander around and they don’t follow a straight line. I think two things is going on. One is that you do need information, right? You need information to solve the problem, and they may wander around and not give it to you in the order that you may have listed out your questions. The best way, as you said to delete a discovery is to focus on the objectives, not question oriented, like what objectives do you have and so how, wherever they go, you can just keep coming back to the objectives that you want versus following your chronological list of question. And that’s about information. I think one of the things that helps me, and I think it helps analytical people or technical sellers is change your objective and discovery initially from knowledge attaining knowledge, to validating what they talk about.

 

26:39

Tom Stanfill

I think if you add that to your process and see that as a step, I think it will help you. Because if you say, if I walk into discover and I think what I need here is information to solve a problem. What if you change that from what I first need is for the customer to feel like I understand what’s important to them, regardless of what they share. If they go off on a tangent and start talking about something that’s happening, not related on the topic, that’s, what’s important to them. By knowledging that and validating that or understanding why they’re telling you that. Again, it doesn’t mean you don’t lead them back to the topic. You’re building a relationship and you’re there, they’re becoming more likely to allow you to solve their problem. I think we just got to add that to a step and make that important, which may not be always intuitive.

 

27:29

Marc Lamson

Well, it takes the pressure off. It takes the pressure off as a seller, as a questioner. You’re not trying to get everything. You’re just trying to get their perspective. I guess I would say that back to the technical or the engineering or, or process driven brain, I’ve had this bite me, which is, I don’t need to ask a bunch of questions because I already know what’s going on. Like, I can already ask three questions and tell you what’s going on.

 

28:02

Tom Stanfill

There you go. I already have the, I need to see.

 

28:04

Marc Lamson

The customer is wasting my time now, just stop. I got it. I know what this is. Let me just hurry up and give you a quote. Cause we’re good. What I learned is it, and I’m going to get the words mixed up, but it’s not about that. You know, what’s going on. It’s about that. The customer knows that, what’s going on and then you’re on the same page. That’s to the point, validating not necessarily not agreeing, just saying this is where.

 

28:30

Tom Stanfill

It doesn’t mean you’re coming.

 

28:31

Marc Lamson

From, this is where you’re coming from. Yeah.

 

28:33

Tom Stanfill

Yeah. It doesn’t mean you agree. It just means that in a way I think about it as you’re a journalist, not an attorney, when you’re in discovery, be a journalist, just write down their story and tell them their story back to them. Don’t worry about the outcome. Once you’ve done that, you can go back to them and ask more specific questions because you’ve earned the right to do that. You can figure out what you’re missing, but they need to invite you in. You go, what do you want to talk about? Like, I sell this, I offer this, what do you want to talk about? They feel like you’ve heard them and validated them don’t feel stressed. Shaded, because there are demonstrates that you’re frustrated that they’re not on task. They’re not on path.

 

29:13

Marc Lamson

Yeah, that’s.

 

29:14

Tom Stanfill

Right. You’ve just opened the door to having the kind of conversation you want to. I think you just have to add a step.

 

29:22

Marc Lamson

I think the first step to influences is really validating their perspective, right? Because a lot of times it’s, it’s not the same when you are getting ready to potentially change their perspective or a lot. The first step is to validate their perspective. And I wish I knew that earlier. I figured that along the way with my now 18 year old son, because I would, I want to influence him, solve his problems and help him make good decisions. I would definitely along the way, skip discovery. I don’t need the.

 

29:54

Tom Stanfill

Discovery. I don’t think he’s 16. That’s a great example.

 

30:02

Marc Lamson

Shut up and listen to my sales pitch and he’s not listening. I learned to say, now the same thing applies, Hey man, what’s going on? Yeah. And not for correcting it. Not for interjecting, not for even giving my opinion, just to be able to say, so this is the situation. This is how you’re feeling or thinking about this decision or this problem. Or like, yeah, that’s what’s going on. Just naturally, when we have a relationship, he says, what do you think? It’s like, it’s just so different.

 

30:32

Tom Stanfill

Yeah. That’s a, that is the art of influence. We’re talking about, or maybe another way to say that it’s not it’s counter-intuitive.

 

30:41

Marc Lamson

That’s fair. Yeah.

 

30:43

Tom Stanfill

It’s like, I know the answer to the questions and you don’t know the questions even to ask or the answers. Why can’t you just sit down and I’ll just get out my flip chart and I’m going to tell you what to do and then we’ll be done, right? It’s not the way it works. Human beings are emotional. And, and so there’s a, we have to, as we talk about create, we have to create receptivity to the message before we deliver the message. And that’s not a logical path. We have to dress the emotions, the human emotion. So that’s exactly why wrong answers are. Okay. We need to feel good. Make them feel comfortable about saying things that maybe you’re incorrect or maybe are leading in the direction. We don’t want it to go in, but we’re building a foundation to be heard by doing that.

 

31:30

Tom Stanfill

I think you do that exceptionally well. I think, it goes back to something you said earlier, but I want to come back to that here. You are delivering your message and you’ve earned the right to do that, you talk about, it’s not just about the logic. It’s also, you have to get them to emotionally experience benefit of your recommendation. Tell, talk to me about how you learn, how to do that.

 

32:00

Marc Lamson

Well, I mean, when you said the word emotional a couple of minutes ago, it got me thinking about that other piece mean science, science, technology, engineering, math means there’s no room for emotion in that zero. Yeah. It’s all, it’s all just a lot of math problem. It’s a math problem. It’s a math problem. The problem is people never make decisions purely based on the math, they just, don’t, it’s just lots of other factors. It’s hard for someone who’s logically what that’s left, right. Brain. I forget which side is which, but that’s your slant, that’s your training. You just said to yourself, well, I don’t understand why that decision is being made. That doesn’t, it’s not logical.

 

32:45

Tom Stanfill

Let me give you, give me five minutes. I’ll prove to you. You’re wrong.

 

32:48

Marc Lamson

Well, and I think the problem that I used to have is if you’re saying something’s not logical, then it means it’s not correct the right logic and the right answer in my mind used to be at the same thing.

 

33:04

Tom Stanfill

Okay.

 

33:05

Marc Lamson

Now that’s different at every level, at every level, whether it’s customers make a decision that maybe this isn’t the best logical decision, but emotionally for these reasons, here’s the thing. There’s just a lot of, me, I’m a, a, what would you call me? I don’t know if you’d call me frugal, but you’d call me. You’ve called me before, like kind of making good financial choices.

 

33:29

Tom Stanfill

You’re very good at managing your money and making non-emotional decisions about purchases. You’ll say, if this is the budget, I will stick within the budget. You don’t waste money. Yeah, exactly. You manage your money. Well, like,

 

33:46

Marc Lamson

I’ve learned to, I’ve learned to use more emotion and make decisions that maybe aren’t as logical. So, so doing this myself, I’ve learned it’s okay to not make the best logical decision. I mean, my years ago I bought a truck and there were two trucks. There was one with a smaller engine and one with a bigger engine. There, the bigger, the smaller engine was totally fine for what I did because just drove around, took a few kids. When I drove the bigger engine truck, it was fast. It just, it’s more fun. I mean, just completely emotional. There’s there’s not a good reason in the world while you should spend more money and burn more gas logically though, and this is just happened. So, because it happened to me without me doing anything, it helped me realize, well, this is what everyone’s doing when I’m talking to them or selling them is I actually made the argument to myself and said, it’s safer.

 

34:45

Tom Stanfill

That was your intellectual alibi.

 

34:47

Marc Lamson

Going onto the highway with the basketball team. Eight kids on up in the suburban with a bigger engine would allow me to mow. It’s safer because it’s safer. I should spend X number of dollars more and burn X number of dollars more in fuel because it’s a logical decision that it’s a safer vehicle. I started laughing about it and I’ve enjoyed the truck, but it does help me realize that if you expect everyone you’re trained to make logical decisions. If you expect that of your customers, you’re going to have a problem working with them.

 

35:26

Tom Stanfill

Well, that goes back to what were talking about in discovery, because people won’t tell you their emotional drivers, because they might be embarrassed by them, or they don’t want to admit them theirselves. Well, the reason I want to buy this is because it’ll make me look good, right? Or the reason I’m doing this is because, I don’t want to work as hard or whatever their emotional reason is. If we can get them to open up, then we’re better at letting them talk about what they want to talk about. Bill ultimately reveal what their emotional drivers or informal drivers are. You can address those when you move into your, building value phase. That’s, it’s a trend cause people, and when we talk about logic, most of that’s related to money.

 

36:12

Marc Lamson

Yeah.

 

36:13

Tom Stanfill

It’s like, I mean, they’re going to save money or make more money.

 

36:15

Marc Lamson

This is the future. The benefits I spend that this is the benefit, but ,

 

36:19

Tom Stanfill

But even money is emotional base. Why do I want the money? It’s either because I’m afraid I’m not going to have enough when I’m older or because I’m can buy things that will make me feel a certain way. It’s all about how we feel. That’s what drives our behavior. We’re afraid of losing it or we’re afraid of whatever it is. So it’s an emotional base. And so that’s, we have to expand. If you’re more analytical, technically minded, you may, and I’ve had people say this to me, workshops like, oh no, everybody makes a logical decision. You gotta prove it to them. You know? Well, I I’ve, I can prove to people and even think about proving it, them, their willingness to believe what you say is emotional, because they don’t have enough time to prove anything. In the typically in sales, they gotta believe something about what you’re telling them.

 

37:09

Tom Stanfill

They don’t have the time to figure it all out.

 

37:12

Marc Lamson

Well, the advice I might all kind of come up with a solution. We’re talking about the problems and how we’re wired and customers do need both to make that decision that they especially need. Because as technical sellers, it’s easy to put it the logic. It’s easy to put up the chart and the comparing the checkboxes and yes or no. And that’s a logical argument. And, and like, well, how do you not? How do you make that decision in the face of that logic? There’s an emotional side that puts them over the edge. It, it, if people have to have some emotions and vote to take action, like I’ll look at myself. I am a financial guy, one of the best investments out there. Sure. My financial guy will yell or somebody is going to be offended or something. So I apologize. But, but dollar for dollar, a great investment you can make is term life insurance.

 

38:03

Marc Lamson

When you’re in your twenties. Cause it’s like ridiculously cheap and you can buy it and you can have it for a long time to take care of your family and kids just like that. But I didn’t buy it. The logical, I didn’t buy it. And like, it’s like no big deal. When did I buy it? The week before my wife and I went away for the first time, without our one and a half year old, because for some reason, being on an airplane is more likely to die than in the car and the highway and the, and so you buy them cause it’s.

 

38:31

Tom Stanfill

Just not logical.

 

38:32

Marc Lamson

No, exactly. Because, and there’s this going that we have to do this now, all of a sudden that matters. And so customers definitely make emotional decisions. As sellers, if you’re only putting the logical charter, which hear me, it’s important and we’re not saying just focus.

 

38:49

Tom Stanfill

On it.

 

38:50

Marc Lamson

If you’re not checking the Turkey thermometer on the emotional side, do something. And, and somebody told me a long time ago, a great way to tell a story. People love stories, good sellers are good storytellers. There’s a whole bunch of stuff out there about, how to tell stories. An easy story to always tell is it is just like a case study or a success story. Just tell a story about somebody else where this happened. Where this, they had a situation and they bought our product. And this just tell a success story. I’ll, I’ll give a shout out to men’s health. I remember I read this. It’s something that seared in your brain. This is forever ago. They had a little thing at the bottom, two points or whatever. And it said, storytellers. I mean, it’s literally a paragraph. It said, there’s four parts of a story of a good story.

 

39:40

Marc Lamson

There’s a character. There’s somebody that you named them or describe them or something. There’s a plot. It’s like, here’s the situation. There’s tension. It’s like, oh man, what’s going to happen. Then there’s resolve kind of thing. And like, that’s like, that’s a story. For what it’s worth, whether you’re doing that, whether you’re telling a success story, but there’s some way to tell a story to customers that will turn the logic on and get them to act and,

 

40:11

Tom Stanfill

Get the emotional and the most,

 

40:13

Marc Lamson

That’s what.

 

40:14

Tom Stanfill

They can see. Yeah.

 

40:16

Marc Lamson

Yeah. They, they see images. I had a client come and tell me that they were selling to a large medical organization, a big ticket item that they’d talked for some time. Would that get into too many details after we talked and we worked with them and she said, I’m going to go tell a story. I have a personal story about this certain disease and the way it’s treated, I’m going to tell the story. She sat in the chief medical officer’s office of a big medical organization to tell a story. They both basically got choked up and she said, I’m so glad you told me that because like I had the same story and I can’t believe I haven’t done anything I’m so focused on. And this was a very technical sale. All this technical mumbo jumbo to turns out two people coming to tears over stories, made a decision and it ended up having a huge impact on how they treated patients.

 

41:11

Marc Lamson

So.

 

41:12

Tom Stanfill

That’s it, man. You just reminded me of a great story that a guy we had on Todd Dunkin had on a podcast recently. He told a story about a guy who was a mortgage business meeting with a family. This kid’s just speaks to everything that you’ve been talking about. And he asks one question. He said, what does buying this house mean to now logically a mortgage loan officer. Doesn’t need to know that answer, to answer that question. They do not need the information to be able to fill out their loan application point or quote a rate or anything. They said, what does buying this house mean to you? The people basically told the stories the first time in their entire family history that anybody had ever owned a house. Basically the led to people breaking down emotionally. It was, it was just got really emotional people were crying.

 

42:00

Tom Stanfill

He said, well, that’s, let’s make that happen for you. That’s cool. The loan application and the deal was done, logically, you should say, well, what kind of rates are out there? Or what does it cost me if you’re a quarter point higher and blah, blah. That’s just not the way it works. It’s like we’ve got to tap into the bigger story and you’ve learned to do that. Yeah. So we’ve got to open. I think the biggest thing I’m hearing you say is recognize that there’s two aspects. There’s the emotional drivers and the logical drivers. We need to be able to speak to both of them and stories, having the stories to be able to address it is a great way to keep people engaged and where they can experience what you’re talking about. I think the other thing, and you started with this is the carrot, the central character in the story is not you.

 

42:49

Marc Lamson

Even that’s right.

 

42:50

Tom Stanfill

That’s the customer. It’s always the customer. If that’s your guide, I think that’s that’s that will help you accomplish a lot of the things or navigate a lot of the barriers we just talked about. One of the things I think that you’ve been saying, mark and I watched you, cause I know you had worked with you for gosh, what 12, 13 years now is.

 

43:13

Marc Lamson

I’m resisting the urge to correct that information. I’m just going to go with it. Just kind of go ahead and come. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Go for it.

 

43:21

Tom Stanfill

Because you were focused on the relationship and correct me the pockets. Exactly. Cause I’m not a, I’m not a technical seller.

 

43:28

Marc Lamson

Interrupt the flow and everything like that. Yeah.

 

43:31

Tom Stanfill

Now I can’t remember what I was going to say.

 

43:33

Marc Lamson

You would say what you’ve seen over the 13 years,

 

43:36

Tom Stanfill

Well is your willingness to learn. Some of these things that we’re talking about are going to feel very foreign to the people that are listening to some of you try this and that’s not going to go, well, you’re going to ask the one question that you wanted to ask and you’re going to try to tap into the emotion and you’re going to try to change your process. You’re gonna try to be versatile. You’re going to try to not look for wrong answers and it’s not going to go well. That’s part of the learning process is to be uncomfortable. That was one of my questions for you is I think that’s something that you’ve done well is you’ve been willing to move from, I know how this works. If I follow this process, I’m going to get this result. I’m not going to feel incompetent because I think a lot of people that have your type of wiring, don’t like to feel incompetent.

 

44:24

Tom Stanfill

They study hard, they make good grades, they figure things out, things are predictable. You go into this other where people talk about their emotions or they talk about it, they go into, and you feel uncomfortable. How did you, how were you able to be so humble and learn a completely new skillset with that type of wiring? I think that’d be super helpful for people to hear that.

 

44:46

Marc Lamson

Yeah. That’s, that’s a good question. I think, I mean, a lot of things go through my mind, but the, I do remember being out of school and I’m not sure if I was as humble then, but I, I remember someone in a, in a class. Were kind of working together, talking about some leadership things, drew a circle on the board and C, Z, which stands for.

 

45:19

Tom Stanfill

C,

 

45:20

Marc Lamson

Z,

 

45:21

Tom Stanfill

C, Z. Okay.

 

45:22

Marc Lamson

Yep. Do a circle. What’s that blanks it’s by stamina that we were a 24, 25 year old. It was a group of guys actually. I’m not sure if you can recall what happens at twenty four, twenty five, is it young man getting ready to maybe get married? Somebody said, cubic zirconia is what they said is the circle like, oh my God, that’s terrible. You can’t do that. Your binder is a cubic zirconia. So I digress. It was comfort zone. And, and the guy leading the class said, your comfort zone is very highly correlated with your level of fulfillment satisfaction, things that you want. You could even get into your income. Your comfort zone is where you’re comfortable and where you do things well, and kind of went through some people and said, do you think, what do you think this person is? Like, what are you, how big do you think people’s comfort zone?

 

46:20

Marc Lamson

We agreed that a bigger comfort zone is better for a lot of reasons. Let’s just agree that we also agreed logically because remember it was a room full of engineers. We said the only way to expand the comfort zone is to step outside of it. When you do what happens, it’s comfortable for no logical arguments so far, we’re following.

 

46:43

Tom Stanfill

A good suit. We’re building a good case here,

 

46:45

Marc Lamson

What happens is, and so this is where the real, so I think a lot of people are willing to step out of their comfort zone, but where the real rubber meets the road in the end, I think what I was lucky for someone to help me is to says the easy thing is to go back to where it was and say, see, that didn’t work. I told you that question. It was dumb that didn’t work well. That’s because he did it once. And I’ve done that a thousand times. If you do it again, it’s, it’s going to the gym. If you go to the gym, do you ever go to the gym and all you start and you got a big workout, your legs and arms, your muscles kill. If you rest for two weeks, they get better and you go back, they kill again.

 

47:27

Marc Lamson

If you go back to the gym, a or two later, they heard a little less. After about two or three weeks, all of a sudden you go to the gym and they don’t really hurt that bad. So that’s what the comfort zone is. Get out, do it different. All of a sudden, you’ll start to increase that circle, which increases your ability to do more things, have more abilities, have more fulfillment. It just gives you a bigger set of options that you can be comfortable and do well in. And I’m thankful that advice,

 

47:58

Tom Stanfill

Great point. The one thing I would offer to people that are considering what you’re recommending is when you get outside your comfort zone, because you’re talking about with what’s different about the weight room, and some of these situations that people use as examples is like, yeah, you’re barrel you’re alone. You’re not with another human being. That’s. Going to look like an idiot, like get outside your comfort zone on stage when you’re making a talk. Well, that feels a lot worse. When you’re in a meeting or you try something that you feel uncomfortable with, I find what helps me is to reveal my motive. I’ll say, look, I’m trying to learn how to understand my customers better. I’ve learned that it’s, it’s a humility thing. It’s like being open and transparent with people and say, I used to come to these meetings and I asked Alyssa questions and I felt very much in control.

 

48:47

Tom Stanfill

Cause I knew what questions, but I realized I wasn’t doing a very good job of listening to my customer. I tried to do a better job of that. I might be a little awkward, right? I might not go, or I might miss something, but I’m trying to do a better job of listening, understand my customer. That’s what, so, you could explain that after it doesn’t go, well, you can stand that before, whatever works for you. I think people pull are drawn by our humility and our vulnerability and not, and that may not be intuitive to you, but because we might be using our intellect as a way of feeling competent. Again, if you make the customer, the hero of the story and you’re struggling to learn about them, or you’re struggling to adjust to them, that’s always going to go better than talking about what, .

 

49:32

Marc Lamson

Yeah. It took the words out of my mouth to reveal motive. When you, we, when you reveal your other centered motive, I’m trying to do better by you to help you better. When you reveal that. What I find is you get an incredible amount of grace from people I’m not the most.

 

49:50

Tom Stanfill

Polished.

 

49:51

Marc Lamson

Greener, or I make some mistakes. I’m a little rough around the edges. When I’m in front of a team of people, I’ll tell you one thing, I’m doing my damnedest to speak the truth to them and help them see things. Maybe if I go awry or do something wrong, I apologize and say, this is my motive. This is what I’m trying to achieve. I’m a learning and I’m trying to improve it. What’s your feedback. When you open up every cause, because the truth is we’re all in the same damn boat, we all have the same discomfort and uncertainties vulnerabilities. You can walk in somewhere to some means is I have no idea what’s going on. Would you give me grace now? I mean, you have to come to the table. I want to be careful with this message. Right. You don’t have to know it all.

 

50:40

Marc Lamson

And it’s okay.

 

50:41

Tom Stanfill

Well, and were talking about some of the areas where it’s impossible to prepare. You don’t know what the customer is going to say, the customer they would take. If they go in a different direction, you can either ignore it. Or you can say, well, we could see where this goes. So you do the best to prepare. I will say when I prepare, I focus most of my energy on being able to explain things in light of the customer’s world. That’s where I struggle. Like when I’m going to talk about something, anything that we’re, I’m an expert at where I struggle is to say how I’m going to start the sentence with, because you, whether I’m asking the question, the reason I’m asking is because you are here, I’m going to share this because you were, I’m trying to connect everything I’m doing to the customer versus just talk about my stuff and hope they get it.

 

51:33

Tom Stanfill

That’s where the real prep comes. That’s the heavy lifting for me to get prepared for a meeting. That’s the hard stuff. So, Hey, like close this out, mark, give us any last words of wisdom or advice that you’ve learned over the years to leverage your, the way your brain is wired and how you’ve navigated that and developed a whole new skillset. Cause you’ve worked on your emotional intelligence. I know that anything else you you’d offer is some closing advice.

 

52:08

Marc Lamson

Yeah. I, I think it’s, I mean, it’s a great question. I think it is about something. We, we threaded through this, which is the audience or the character or whatever word we want to use is really the other person, not you, it’s not about me performing or me getting the answer, right. Or me following the right and wrong. We have a sales process following the sales process. It’s really all that pressure comes off. Like I’m going to check my motives and say, I’m gonna take my knowledge and my training and my process and logic and detail and do my best to figure out what your situation is and how I can help if I can help and how I can help. When, when it’s, when I take that pressure off, and it’s just easier to try to help, I’m trying to help. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

 

53:10

Marc Lamson

Yeah, and I think as technical background sellers, we’re, we’re problem solvers. Also curious, I think that’s a good trait. There’s a thought of general curiosity when you’re doing experiments. Some of the things that maybe tend to be the stereotypical traits are just things that we’ve talked about. When you focus on the customer and see the Turkey thermometer or see their process, or look at the emotion they need, it tends to be easier. I think you don’t work with them. Big bang theory is the only thing I’d say, well, that’s your homework. Watch the big bang. If you haven’t watched the big bang theory. I think it’s, I think it ended like a season or two ago.

 

53:50

Tom Stanfill

Yeah.

 

53:51

Marc Lamson

It’s just, it’s just a really well done thing about how like technical people, just, maybe aren’t working with non-technical people, where.

 

54:04

Tom Stanfill

There’s a gap in how they communicate.

 

54:07

Marc Lamson

Gap and how they communicate, what they see. So that’s your touch? Your homework.

 

54:11

Tom Stanfill

Beautiful. Beautiful. I want to add one little, even though I’m probably not following the category. Well, I don’t know. Probably I don’t fall in the category of a technical seller. I’m not wired that way. I’m more on the other side of the equation where I’m come from more of the creative conceptual, but one of the things I would say to people that have the mindset that you and I are, the wiring that we’ve been talking about, there are laws to drive physics, right? There’s also laws that drive communication and relationships. I would say take the same desire and passion you have for determining the laws that related to what you’re an expert at and apply that to figuring out the laws that drive relationship there’s laws, to drive relationships, trials, to drive communication. If those laws and you learn how to adjust and follow those, like there’s a process that we all have when we go into selling, right?

 

55:02

Tom Stanfill

It’s these are the steps that we should follow. And there is a, that is true. There’s also a process that a customer should have and should follow to determine the best solution. So figure that process out. There’s, there is a, there are equations that drive everything we’re talking about now it’s what’s different is it’s not an intellectual exercise. It is to be able to execute the formulas. If you will. It requires a different, when I say skill set, if I have different abilities than just, I guess maybe intellectual analytical horsepower, but there are laws exist.

 

55:42

Marc Lamson

And it’s there their laws and principles. Yeah. I won’t put you on the spot, Tom, but maybe a little Newton’s first law here. Remember Newton’s first law.

 

55:51

Tom Stanfill

To do with the frog.

 

55:53

Marc Lamson

Yeah, exactly. Right. The law of inertia body at rest stays at rest body moving stays moving. Like it’s like, it’s like the basics of physics. And so.

 

56:02

Tom Stanfill

Always true.

 

56:03

Marc Lamson

It’s always true. I would argue, were talking ago about, nobody really wants to hear your perspective until they hear until you hear their perspective until you validate their perspective. That’s that’s all, that’s a principle. It’s a wall. I don’t know if it can be proven with math, but I don’t know how Newton proved that it stays in there with Matt, but he probably pushed the ball a hundred thousand times and Hey, a hundred thousand times he kept moving. I don’t know, but after it studying enough subjects, meaning people that’s true. Yeah. You can rely on the principles, human nature principles to help.

 

56:42

Tom Stanfill

The human nature. Yeah. One of them that we always talk about is we call it the tug of war principle. If you try to force somebody to do that, they’re going to resist, even if it’s in their best interest. You try to pull them to your position. Their natural inclination is to pull back because people want to be by nature in control. They don’t want to be controlled. Matter of fact, I talked to a guy, the guy cut my hair today. He’s like, he puts it in. He went through bootcamp. He joined the army at 21. He said the hardest, what was the hardest thing he said, not being in control. They, they take, they want to break you down to where you are no longer in control. And that was the hardest thing. Cause that’s a law. That’s a principle. That’s just true. My wife says, put your seatbelt on.

 

57:22

Tom Stanfill

I’m like, I’d rather go through the windshield. I may put my seatbelt on, but I don’t want to.

 

57:29

Marc Lamson

Know, you know what we told.

 

57:31

Tom Stanfill

You, nobody wants to be told. That’s a law that you can leverage to better at communicating. Anyway, that’s a great, great topic, mark. Appreciate your insights, your wisdom and love working with you, my friend. I hope that was helpful. Guys. If you liked what you heard today, give us some feedback on the podcast. Like it, give us some comments, tell us what to do to serve you better because you are the hero of the story. Thank you for joining us for another episode of SALES with ASLAN.

ASLAN teaches sellers an easier, better way to gain access & influence unreceptive customers, by eliminating the hard sell.

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About ASLAN

The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.