We talked about how so many sales trainers and so much sales training talks about open-ended questions and trial-closing questions, and the problem is, how can you really be engaged with a customer and be listening to them with your heart, and then all of a sudden, you're thinking, oh, I need this type of question, I need that type of question. And so we talked about, just by asking these skin, bone, and heart questions, science actually proves, this is the way that people reveal information. So to sell the way people buy, we wanna ask them questions that is commensurate with how people divulge information, and they divulge information a little bit at a time, sort of the skin level, then the bone level a little bit more, and not until we know them better do we get into the heart of why someone would buy. So we talked a little bit about that. And I'm gonna ask a couple of individuals that talked to me at lunch. They're gonna share how this skin, bone, heart conversation applies to what ...
they do. And I'm gonna bring up Nikki, who came all the way in from New York, (audience applauds) just to be here with us today. And I believe we have a mic for Nikki. And Nikki sells, she's a very good salesperson selling a very complex product for a very big company whose name we're not allowed to mention, but they're kind of one of the big software companies. And so Nikki, you were sharing something with me, so I thought you would share your insights with the studio audience, and this is particularly for those of you who are selling a more complex product. So if you're selling business to business like Nikki is, she's got half-million, million-dollar deals, a little bit different maybe than selling our photography, unless we're a killer photographer, of course. But Nikki, go ahead and tell me what you shared.
So, one of the things that I was thinking about as you were going through the skin, bone, and heart questions is how do you get that heart question really, really quickly. So in a B2B situation, when I'm dealing with like a CMO or a CIO who are not gonna reveal that kind of thing, one of the ways I get to a heart question really quickly without being creepy is, you know, you start with that KPIs, right, everyone heard the key performance indicators, and that's, you know, still kind of corporate-y, but then you ask the question, like, and what if that KPI went up five percent? What does that mean personally to you? Oh, well that means a new car. That means a promotion, or that means I get to move back to Austin where my family is. So that's how I get to the heart question really quickly. I don't know if that's helpful or.
And how did you come to that? How did you learn to do that?
I read your book. (all laugh)
Good answer, Nik.
Were you not doing that before, seriously?
I mean, that's an interesting. Tell me what you were doing before.
No, so in B2B, in a very complex technical situation, I felt it was more important to be competent, especially as a woman, so I'm answering very technical questions. And I also thought in a highly-regulated industry like finance that you're following, you know, requirements, and you're answering RFPs, or you're not allowed to have that kind of interaction. So I was staying kind of clear of it. And then it happened one time where I was talking with someone, and that's exactly the situation, that that would have meant a promotion for him and his family. He would have been able to move back to Austin. That's where his mom was. His mom was sick, so this is, it was very important to him.
So it went right back here.
Yeah, it was very important.
At the end of the day, people run companies. And so what, which of the seven motivators did you hit?
Gosh, all of them. Safety, yeah. He wanted out of Houston. He wanted back to Austin. Health for his family, health for his mom, success for him, personal success for him, growth for him and his team, right, he has 16 people reporting to him. It meant that they would be learning a new technology. So, yeah, kind of all of 'em.
So your third-level heart question is what, just so that people can write it down. What was that question?
Well, it started with what are your KPIs, right.
Right, so what are the numbers, which is easy for people to answer.
One of the easy, yeah.
That's kind of a skin and bone question, what are your KPIs, what do you measure, what type of metrics. I'm gonna go ahead and read straight from my book some classic skin, bone, and heart questions for you. But go ahead.
And then, what are the, what would a five-percent increase in account openings, for example, mean for you? Well, that's millions of dollars. Okay, well then, what does that mean? That means that I would get a promotion. What does that mean? That means that I can move, right, I would be more independent, I would have my team, and so, that meant that he could get back to where he wanted to be, so.
Awesome. Let's hear it for Nikki. Thank you, Nikki. (audience applauds) And by the way, Nikki, before you sit down, how are you doing in sales at X, Y, Z company?
I am at 130% of my quota for this year. (audience cheers and applauds)
And sorry, 'cause I know Nikki. How do you do in relation to some of the other sales people in X, Y, Z company?
In relation? Well, I'm currently number one. But things change quickly in my industry. (Shari laughs) But right now, I'm number one, and that's hopefully where I'll finish this year.
Thank you, Nikki. (audience applauds) That's awesome. So, again, what a great question. It's easy to start with what are your KPIs. What do you measure? Great question, B2B. What is it that you measure, and then why do you measure that? But what would this mean to you? What would a five percent, what would a 10% increase mean to you? But here's the big heart question for B2B buyers. What does that mean to you personally? What would that mean to you personally? All right. Fausto. You were talking to me at lunch, and you had an interesting insight, so come on up, Fausto. Fausto's my brand-new friend. (audience applauds)
Thank you. Completely opposite of what Nikki just shared, our company goes business to business, but on small retailers, mom and pop shops, convenience stores, and the product that we offer, it's technology-based, it's a point of sale system, won't go into details, but it is also the type of questions that you ask the customer, in this case, the owner of the store. You say, what would, because they spend, they open the store and they close the store. So what would it mean to have a system that would give you time? 'Cause you ask them, what about the, why do you spend all this time here? Why don't you just hire someone? Oh, I don't trust them. Well, if you had a system that, that would allow you to keep controls and tabs over your employees, what would that mean to you? Well, it would allow me to leave early or not work on Sundays. And instead of, it's being, again, your book coming to life, I love it, but as a salesperson passionate about sales, I mean, I'm taking in a lot of stuff. But also, as a manager of a dozen salespeople, trying to understand how I can translate this and give 'em the tools to succeed, the going out on the skinny branches, most of my salespeople, they need to prospect, but they don't want do it, because it's the hard part. It's the no. It's the uncomfortable part of the process. So, they'd rather go and take care of accounts, their existing.
Right, they'd rather babysit, right.
They'd rather nurture.
Than go and face the unknown and the no's and all that stuff. So, the tools here, especially the questions that go to to the why would you do the stuff that you do I think will help them go and learn a little bit more about their customer, because sometimes, and again, we pressure people to make sales, and they just look, they're looking to make a sale. But they don't ask the right questions. And what that happens is that the first thing they assume by not asking is they go to price. So the first thing they do, they drop the price, instead of understanding that maybe price is not the issue. Maybe the person is not that comfortable with technology, or he has seen older people working at the store, so he wants something that's easier to use. So ease of use might be a more important thing. But if you don't ask the questions or you don't take the time to understand what the real needs of your customer are, then usually the first thing they do is drop the price and assume that price is gonna solve everything. So I think that by asking the right questions, that's gonna help them a lot, and I think that's definitely at least part of what I'm taking. I'm taking a lot of stuff, but this is stuff that's gonna help me hopefully translate to them what, the empathy part. Because I have some people that are very knowledgeable in the technology end, but they need to understand, how does that technology help your customer succeed?
Help you personally. And really, this is a perfect example where, and, thank you, Fausto.
Oh, thank you.
That was just awesome. And you can stay up here. What we're talking about is really the balance, we said at the very beginning, of empathy and competency or empathy and courage, if you will. I referenced the Harvard Business Review magazine, where they came out with a breakthrough study, and they said, what's more important in a leader or in sales or in anything, in influence. Is it empathy or competency, or likeability or strength? They sort of use these terms interchangeably. And again, their conclusion was, you need both. You need likeability and strength. But if you lead with strength, and think about when a leader comes into an organization. You said you're a leader. If all they are is competent and strong, you might like them, but you might fear them. What are their intentions? Am I gonna keep my job? Is everything gonna be okay? So we have to be very careful coming into any sales situation or any personal decision, situation, too strong, with too much competency, too much courage. That's the Tony. So for those of you at home that took the test, that's too much Tony, right? On the other side of the coin, if all we do is lead with this sort of empathy, likeability, sweetness, we're gonna make a friend, but we're not gonna make a lot of money, and that's no good either, right? So, what the call method does, what we've been discussing all day, is it helps you balance. We connect, and we connect, right, through our likeability and through our competence. Each one of the steps of the call method, right, it's going to give you everything you need. When you ask questions, you're asking rapport building questions, but you're also asking the problem, the bone and the heart questions, which take courage. That takes courage, asking those questions. I did learn from Brene Brown, on CreativeLive, I first saw Brene Brown on CreativeLive, that the root word of courage, I mean, the root word of courage, C-O-U-R, actually comes from the word heart. So, if you have enough heart, you can get your people to ask those difficult questions.
And I think, again, going back to your teachings here, it's not just asking them for the sale. It's asking them, well, what we're selling our customer, is it gonna work for them?
It might be, again, perfect example. Just walk away from it if you're selling something that's not gonna work for them. Be honest enough with yourself and your customer or your prospect. Gain a friend maybe, but definitely don't. Because, I am getting returns. I'm getting instances post-sale, because we didn't take the time to ask those questions before.
Absolutely. You know, I'm gonna give you a free t-shirt at the break. We've got heart and sell t-shirts. (audience laughs) I just, you know, what do you think? A free t-shirt for Fausto? (audience cheers and applauds) And Nikki. We've got, we'll show you at the next break. We've got t-shirts that say, replace the hard sell with the heart sell, and I feel a lot of heart from you, Fausto. Is he all heart?
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much.
All right. So, and again, we're going to be looking at what kind of skin, bone, and heart questions do we need to ask. We're gonna actually create an action plan in doing so. And then we're gonna look at what I call the big four. So I just wanna go through this. We've alluded to it, but I wanna draw your attention to the board here, and that is, when we ask skin, bone, and heart questions, we're asking these questions because we want to get, in the long run, we wanna get some information. What are the four pieces of information you need to get in your discovery, again, regardless of what you're selling. Okay, whether you're selling a painting, whether you're selling a business, there's four pieces of information that you need to get. I feel like a lot of times, we get objections at the back end because we don't know what information we're looking for at the front end, okay? So, we need to get the skin level information. When I talk about skin level information, I'm just gonna draw this in here, and maybe you guys can all shout out, now that you've been in this class. What is skin level information? What does that tell you? What information are we trying to get? Go ahead and shout it out. Pardon?
Yeah, the what's. Facts, thank you. Easy on internet, excellent. Keep going. Surface-y, love it. Very good. Surface-y. Situation, okay. This is their situation. Hopefully you can read my writing. Sorry we erased your map. That was a great map of the United States, wasn't it? Nice work. All right. We're also going to get bone questions. So we need to get the responses. Now, what information are we getting when we get bone information? And sorry if this analogy's too weird for people. I did do a keynote at a funeral home. I did the Funeral and Cremation Society keynote, and I came in with this skin-bone-heart analogy. They loved it. (Shari laughs) They thought it was great. How do you get into the heart. But if you wanna be more sophisticated, you can call it first-level, second-level, and third-level. I like skin, bone, and heart. Okay, bone. What kind of information are we getting? What's the bone information?
How and when.
Okay, how and when. We're digging deeper. Excellent. Measurables, yes. So, as Nikki said, these might be the KPIs, you know, what are they measuring, how are they measuring. Business to consumer, Katie here is in the back, and she owns a very successful PR firm. And so she's an independent business owner. So she would, we talked about at lunch that Katie, you might be looking for problems. I'm gonna put you on the spot here, and hopefully, you'll still be my friend. (Shari laughs) But, go ahead and tell us, when you are talking to a business owner and again, owning a PR firm, what kinds of problems do you uncover?
Let's see. I mean, typically, people are coming because they want positive attention, and that's what we give people, is positive attention, unless we're being brought on for a crisis management situation. That would be a little bit different. I do think that, you know, this whole process is great, and I do think that the way we already do business fits a little bit into this model, but it really highlights the importance of listening and also finding out additional, additional benefits to the client for working with us, and they might be things that they haven't thought about. And when we were chatting at lunch about, you know, it might be something, it might be good for company culture to get positive press for your company. The problem we have in public relations are, you know, measurables. So, we have a, you know, we have a marketing arm, and that's a lot easier for our company to show people value and returns and click throughs and all of that, but with PR, there's really no, there's no guarantees at the end of the day.
Right. So, when you're uncovering your customer's problem, and you set it in the positive, and, you see, we could put this in the negative. So one of the problems that somebody has is they may not have good press. So again, when you're uncovering a problem, a problem of not choosing Katie's PR firm might be that they don't have any press, or, God forbid, bad press, okay? So these bone questions, thank you very much, Katie.
Uncover a problem that the customer, now, there's different types of problems. Sometimes a customer knows they have a problem, okay, as is in the case, I told you earlier about a customer that called and said, hi, we need training for our managers. So sometimes, they know they have a problem, and often is the case, Suzanne and I have talked about customers don't even know they have a data problem. They don't know that their data is a mess, garbage in, garbage out. They don't know that AI can't solve their problem, can't fix their problem, right? So you need to let them know that they have a problem. So, some businesses, depending what the businesses are, customer knows they have a problem. Other times, it's not that we need to create a problem, but we need to illuminate a problem that's already there, okay, and those are the bone questions, the KPIs, and then heart. What are we looking for in the heart? What kinds of information are we looking for? The why. That's how we get there, the why. And what kind of information is revealed when we ask a good heart question? What's in it for them? Love that. Pardon?
I call it the WIFM.
What's in it for them.
The WIFM. And is that WIFM emotional or logical?
Should probably be both.
Both, okay, great. So it's a little bit of both. You've got a hope for gain and a fear of loss. And we talked about the seven motivators that motivate anyone to do anything: safety, growth, significance, and all of these are emotional motivators. B2B, I just wanna give you a list again for those of you that are selling business to business. Here are the problems that we're solving, okay. The bone, we usually we want to help them realize that we can increase revenue, decrease turnover, expand market share, enhance culture, growth engagement, and beat the competition. Can anybody thing of any more? Does anybody have any more besides that? These are things that businesses, these are the KPIs that your businesses are looking at. And again, a lot of people simply don't sell to those. What we're gonna do, Laura and I talked about this at lunch, because we think this is so important. We're gonna break from the routine a little bit, and I'm gonna have everybody here in the studio audience pick one partner, again, hopefully somebody you've never been in a motor vehicle with before, and I want the person with the longest hair to start. And what I'm gonna ask you to do, we're gonna take five minutes, and then we're gonna talk to the home audience, and I want you to spend some time and craft your skin, bone, and heart questions, all right? So craft them. And if you already had them, what I'd like you to do is add some that you would ask. And home audience, it's very critical that you do the same. Take the time now. If you don't do it now, when will you do it? Take the time to craft these questions, and this is something that you wanna use and take with you wherever you go, whenever you go there. So, again, studio audience, please pick a partner. Why don't you, you know, try to get with somebody you don't normally work with. We're gonna take exactly five minutes to go ahead and do that. So go ahead and begin.
So we were just looking at, if people are working in creative fields, so whether they're artists or perhaps they have an Etsy store or they are a photographer looking at ways and types of questions that perhaps they need to be asking to their consumers and their customers.
Yeah, and that's a great question. And I can tell you, this is probably more important of a concept for artists and creatives than just about anyone when we talk about the seven key motivators to decision making, because it is so emotional, and how do you differentiate yourself? You mentioned a photographer. How does a photographer today differentiate themselves from oh my God, dare I say, a cell phone? Okay, I have a client, actually, I am his client, a gentleman in Park City. I live in Park City, Utah, and he is an expert photographer, and he told me, he said, Shari, a problem that I have is my photographs, my packages start at $800. And I have all these clients now that are saying to me, well, why do I need you? I can just take pictures on my cell phone, right? So, that's a pretty big problem and a pretty big objection. Well, Kevin and started working through some ideas, and we talked about this idea of first-level, second-level, and third-level questions. And Kevin changed the questions he asked, because again, then all of the sudden, he's working on price, like Fausto said. So, if you don't have third-level heart information, you are subject to compete on secondary motivators like price, and so it makes it very, very difficult. So, Kevin starts asking people questions instead of just skin questions like how many people will you be photographing, when do you wanna have it by, you wanna have it by Christmas. Why is having these, why are having these photographs so important to you, and then questions like, are you taking these pictures just to have a picture or a recording, or are you taking them so that you can have a memory that you can cherish forever? Very different question. I had a client here in Mountain View, and they were selling home furnishings. And he changed his questions completely. See, what happens is, when you ask these third-level or heart questions, you can actually expand your market share, because you're making people realize that they have a need that they didn't even realize they had. This company, particular company, was selling home furnishings. And for the longest time, they only sold to people that knew they had a problem and know new they had a need, people that were interested in refurbishing their home. And they were the cheapest provider, a wholesaler, so that you could fix your whole home in any way, furnishings, art, whatever. And so they started asking different questions, like, instead of are you looking to refurbish your home, what's the difference between a house and a home? They would ask questions like, why is having a beautiful home so important to you? What does your home mean to you? So these aren't skin or bone questions. Well, what Mark and Paul told me is, they were, they sort of were looking at their close percentage. And of the customers they talked to, 10 to 15% would end up buying their home furnishings. But when they expanded to these heart questions, all of the sudden, their closing percentages doubled. I remember Mark called me once, and he says, we had a customer that told us that his family, his children, weren't coming home for the holidays, and once he realized that they weren't coming home, he talked to them about getting a whole home entertainment system and what that would mean to him, and having a cool place for the college kids to come home to would actually be a heart or a third-level benefit, because it would deepen the relationship. So again, if you're just saying, hey, when are you thinking of refurbishing your home, what were you thinking, well, we're not thinking of it. But by asking these third-level questions, why would it be important for you to have this type of a home, that changes everything. So, for creatives, these why questions are super important, and really thinking through what kinds of questions that they can ask in order to expand their market share. Okay? Now, what happened when you did this? Did anybody see that there were some questions that they may have been missing, skin, bone, and heart questions? Did you notice that as you did this exercise, that there might be, seeing a lot of head nodding here. So, we're not gonna have the time in this venue to actually go one by one and have you read all your skin, bone, and heart questions. I go through it in great detail in my book about what questions to ask, whether you're B2B or B2C, but my advice to you, again, whether you're here in the studio audience, or whether you're at home, take the time to write these questions, because when you take the time to write the right questions, you'll avoid getting those objections at the back end. The whole idea is we wanna connect and ask questions that get to the true, specific motivator of the customer that's in front of us. We wanna solve their particular problems and hit their emotional motivators. Now, let's go ahead and go through how to do a good discovery, some discovery hacks. What's the how? We now know the what. We know what we're trying to accomplish. We know why we're trying to accomplish it. How do we do it? How do we perform a good discovery? We're just gonna take a few minutes. Do a proper setup. I like to tell people I'm gonna ask 'em a few questions instead of just firing 'em off and let them know that it will help you. Very often, you have somebody that's in a hurry, particularly if you're talking to a very busy client. I always tell them, we have so many different product options in our software that, if you can give me five minutes, I can save you 50. Great line. Give me five minutes, I can save you 50. I only wanna show you those features and benefits that are gonna be pertinent to you. If you're selling photographs, if you're selling art, you know, let me ask you a few questions so I can see what you like. I don't wanna bring by demos and examples that aren't going to be meaningful to you, and I can tell you that nobody's bored when they're talking. They're bored when we're talking. I haven't been bored yet. (audience laughs) But it's true, right? So, if you get them asking questions, this becomes very, very critical, all right? So, involve all stakeholders. Oh, my gosh. How many times has this happened? Nikki, complex sale? You get it sold, man, to that director of sales, that VP of sales. They are in. They're sold. And they are psyched. And then all of the sudden, there's like six other people that are involved in the decision. We just had that happen, didn't we? Jennifer, who's on my team. You know, sometimes, it's very, very difficult to get everybody involved, and so you need to ask up front, who are all the stakeholders? Who are all the people that need to be involved in a decision, and to the extent that you can, you want to be able to talk to each one of 'em, because I can assure you, a problem for a CTO is gonna be very different than a problem for a CMO. Very, very difficult set of issues and motivations. And I've seen a lot of deals stall because we're not involving all of those stakeholders and/or we're not involving them early enough. So, critical to find out who they are, and then talk to them all. The other thing that happens, I don't remember who I was talking to, but just the other day, a friend of mine said, yeah, it was really great. You know, we were moving along with the deal, and then, all of the sudden, I realized that the CMO had to sell it to the CEO and the CTO. So now, you've just done this amazing presentation. You've created this amazing rapport. You've done the demo, and you've lost all control, and you hope that this person that you talked to once and did one demo to can now sell it to their coworkers. Yeah, good luck. They don't even have your deck. They don't have anything. They don't know how to overcome objections. This is where deals go dark. Very, very easy. Same thing B2C. Again, I'm talking to both audiences here. In B2C, you sell to the husband, not the wife. That never works. (Shari laughs) Sell to the wife but not the husband, it actually can work. Sorry, it's just, truth is truth, okay? (audience laughs) There's a statistic that women make 86% of the decisions in a household. Pardon? Only. (Shari laughs) So, plan in advance. We talked about that a little bit. What does that mean? Every time you meet with your customer, spend more time crafting your questions than worrying about your presentation. I cannot emphasize that enough. Spend time. If you get nothing else out of these sessions, I want you to take time, did you see what I did? Attention span. If you get nothing else out. We talked about that earlier. Gotta practice what you preach, okay. Ask questions that yield the big four. So we wanna craft the questions so that they yield one of all of these four. Oh my gosh, please let them finish their train of thought. Count to three. This is especially important. We're gonna be talking later on about overcoming objections, creating urgency. We'll be doing that after the linking portion and the storytelling portion. But there's some very interesting research that shows when a customer has an objection, the amount of time you take and pause before answering it will determine the success of the entire sale. People get defensive, and they feel it. And if we answer right away, all of the sudden, people get a little nervous. In fact, to the extent that you can, have them tell you more when you're doing a discovery. Well, you know, we just don't have budget for that. You know, just listen. Don't snap back right away, okay? A friend of mine, Karen Keating, she works for inside sales, I think she may even be watching today, she sells million-dollar, a million, billion-dollar software product, and she talks to customers all the time, and they'll say to her, oh, you know, this all looks good, but we don't have the budget. She says, oh, people always find the budget after talking to me. Let's go ahead and like, it's just in one ear and out the other. Don't let price scare you. How many times as a consumer have you told somebody, I don't have the money, and then all of the sudden, you're talking out your wallet, right? I mean, come on. We don't have the money to buy anything. We don't wanna part with our money. And then all of the sudden, ladies, you'll appreciate this. You see the perfect black dress that makes you look 10 pounds skinnier. We find the money, okay? Guys, whatever it is, you know, we find the money, as consumers. Think of yourself as a consumer. We always find the money. Let them finish their train of thought. Full attention. Don't try to do a discovery when somebody's in the middle of doing something. Good friend of mine was negotiating a deal to work for somebody with a client overseas. She said, it just didn't go that well. I said, well, what happened? She starts telling me a little about the interaction. Well, turns out, he was driving 95 miles an hour on the Autobahn, and she's talking to him from Utah and trying to negotiate her package. Not a great time. Extreme example, but do you have their full attention? Okay, very, very important. By the way, just because a client tells you to send a proposal doesn't mean you should send a proposal until you've done a good discovery. You own your own sales process. And that's where we lose it. We think we're being a little too Susie. We're being a little too nice. The customer says, well, can you put it in writing? We're like, okay. We're like this little eager beavers, right, that wanna please. So, this is a process that we have to follow. Otherwise, we're not selling to the way customers buy. That may sound a little mean, so bring out your Tony, okay, bring that inner Tony out and think, I can't help this customer until I find out what their needs are, until I ask, and then give them value. And finally, there's a lot of research on the importance of dialog rather than monologue. We don't wanna be talking at someone. It needs to be a flow. A discovery isn't, I'm asking the questions, you're answering. It's not, you know, it should be more like ping pong, right? It's not just a, you know, single line of speech. So these are some discovery hacks or some things we need to think about in the how-to. So, Fausto, this is a great list for you to bring back to your team. Trainers that are watching. Lists are always really, really valuable, and I wanna give you a quick trainer tip for those of you that are training a staff. What we would be doing if we were in a different venue and we didn't have a home audience is I would have everybody get together and learn from each other, and I would say, pick a partner, it's a great training exercise, and I want you to circle the one you're best at and put a check mark under the one you need the most help with. And then have them interact with somebody else on the team. And what that does is it helps people learn from each other. I always say there's much more knowledge in front of me than is in front of you. And I mean that with all my heart. The knowledge is here, so in a training situation, you wanna make sure that your teams are interacting.