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Jenn DeWall: Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall and I am here with Andy Bounds. I am very excited to be here with him, and for those of you that don’t know him, he was awarded Britain’s Sales Trainer of the Year – that amazing, profound title. I’m so excited to have him here to discuss our opportunities to improve our sales, to learn how to be more influential and to overall create success within our careers. So you, Andy, thank you so much for joining us.
Andy Bounds: Thank you. It’s lovely to be here with you today.
Jenn DeWall: So, Andy, for those of you that aren’t familiar with you, I know that in Britain they likely are very familiar, but some of our audience may not have met you or heard you before. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and who you are?
Andy Bounds: Sure, of course. So my name is Andy Bounds and it’s my job to help my customers and sell more and/or to communicate better. So for example, we’ve helped one of the UK based banks with their largest-ever deal that’s worth two and a half billion.
Andy Bounds: I worked in 40 countries. I’ve written three books on this stuff. And the reason I have different insights than anyone else I’ve met is to do with my family background. Jen, my mom is blind. So when I was learning how to speak as a two-year-old and I was sat on my mom’s knee and my mom was teaching me, but she was teaching me as a blind person. So she taught me to communicate from someone else’s point of view. Someone who doesn’t see the world the way that I do. Now when we’re selling, our customers are blind to why they should give us money. Our colleagues are blind to why they should put the extra effort in. And so I’m very good at helping people communicate with blind people, so other people see things from our points of view and do what we want to.
Jenn DeWall: How powerful to be able to help shift and create that new awareness or that new line of sight and a new way of looking at things. And I think it’s going to be a really great discussion because we’re here to talk about one of the key products that you use within your business, which is your online video club. What does your online video club do?
Is Sales a Dirty Word?
Andy Bounds: Okay. So what I find is that, well in two words, sell more. So it helps people make more sales. But what I find is the way that we often learn is we go into a training room or where it’s wonderful stuff and then we go back into our workplace. And sometimes it’s a Wednesday afternoon and you think, oh, I have some training six months ago. I’m sure it will be relevant to this meeting, but I can’t quite remember it. And so what I want it was I wanted to produce something which people could use it exactly the time they need it. So for example, one of the videos on there is called, How to Feel Confident in a Scary Meeting. You know? So if you’ve got a meeting, what you do is you watch it, and then go into the meeting feeling OK. Another one is called Great Ways to Introduce Yourself When You’re Networking. So if you’re walking to a networking mingling event, you watch the video on the way there if you like, and you go in and you say the right things straight away. So my idea is I wanted to give people something which was super quick, five-minute videos, but super timely because you can look at it when you need it not six months ago.
Jenn DeWall: Right. Well, that’s so important because I can tell you that I’ve been to a plethora of trainings here at my career and yes if you don’t have it accessible to you, you do forget it. So that’s nice that you have that on-demand option. So people can really think what type of support, like am I going into this meeting that is unchartered territory and how do I show up in a way that’s confident or how do I network in the way that I can at least show people who I really am and articulate the value that I really can bring to them. One of the challenges when we say the word sales, right? Like sales can seem like, oh I’m not in sales. Or maybe I’ll turn off this podcast because I don’t have a sales role. It’s not true. Right? What do you think about that? The dirty word of sales?
Andy Bounds: I mean there’s two points there. Firstly, do we sell or not? And secondly, is it a dirty word or not? And what I mean by selling is it is convincing someone to do what you want. So when I have, as we call him in my house, Child Four – if I want Child Four to go to bed. Well, Child Four is six. So if I can’t say it in a certain persuasive way, he’s either not going to go or he’s going to go in a very grudging fashion. Or, I might be able to win because I have to. It’s my voice, but I don’t want it to be that sort of parent. So I want to be able to sell to him. The facts are, I want him to go upstairs, but in a way he’s happy with. And the skills you need with a six-year-old boy are often quite similar to the skills you need with an executive board of a large bank. So we all sell, whether we’re trying to get customers to give us money or our children to go to bed or our partner to let us go and play with our friends instead of having to do the housework one weekend or whatever it is. So the way I think about selling is it’s helping the other person say yes. So what we want in whatever guise that takes. Therefore I don’t think it’s a dirty word because sometimes if I can get Child Four to go to bed, you’ll have a better day tomorrow because he’s gone to bed. That’s not a dirty thing. That’s a helpful thing. If I help an executive board to buy something that makes them billions of dollars, well that’s not a dirty thing. That’s a helpful thing. So best practice is, selling is not a dirty word, it’s a helpful word, but it’s not just about getting customers to give you money. It’s about getting people to say yes to things that they want.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, I love that. The reframe, right? It’s helpful. It’s helpful for that business to be able to save money by you helping them. It’s healthy for your, for Child Four, to be able to have them go to bed on time so they can get that rest and their brain can develop so they are ready for the day. And so it is time to kind of, you know, reframe how we look at sales because regardless of your position, you are going to want to know how to influence and how to help people.
Andy Bounds: Yeah. And people are very committed to things that are in their interest and they’re also very committed to things that they themselves have thought of. So, if I think weekly update meetings are a bit boring. If I say, “Team, our update meetings are boring, therefore we’re going to do X.” I might be coming at it from the mine. But actually what happens is it’s not a very good sale. But if I say to people, “You know how you’re really busy, I’d love to see if I can give you an extra half hour, or an hour a week.” Would that be okay? Well, they go, “Yeah!” because they want more time.
And then I can say,” you know the update meetings we have every week, how do you think we might be able to speed those up so we can free up some time for us?” And then they might come up with some good ideas. So they see it’s in their interest and then they come up with the ideas. But that means that I get what I want, which is for the meetings to be shorter. So everyone wins. Now I would call that selling. I haven’t used the word sale, but I’ve come up with something which is helpful to them, helpful to me. Everyone’s happy, but it’s been done with charm and persuasion, not with shouting.
Jenn DeWall: That is such great insight. And I know one of your videos talks about how I do what I do, or how you do that, what you do. And you have this profound insight and way of seeing the sales process that’s inspiring and empowering and accessible. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you do what you do and what that was about?
Sales Up / Time Down
Andy Bounds: Yeah. Cool! So as far as sales go, there are four words that matter. The first two are “sales up” and the other two are “time down”. In other words, we want to generate as many sales, as much positivity as we can, but we want to do it as quickly as possible. So the video, How I Do What I Do, talks about how I make my sales go up when my time goes down. And I mean, I know a lot about this anyway, but I started studying it a while ago because I wanted to stop working on Fridays, but I knew, if I stopped working on Fridays, my business is obviously going to shrink by a fifth. So I thought about it and analyze what I did with my time and very carefully analyzed it. And as a result of that, I stopped working Fridays and my business grew by a third.
So I thought, it doesn’t even make sense. And it’s because what I did was I made sales go up, and time, go down. So for example, here are some things which I find super helpful. So if you’re watching this video and want your sales to go up and, or your time go down here for quick wins for you. Number one, the first thing I did is I looked at the outcomes of everything. So when I go into a meeting, I never go into a meeting saying, “Hey, we’re here for an hour and we’re going to talk about A and B and C and D.” Instead, what I now say is, ”Welcome to the meeting everyone, the outcomes we’re aiming for are X, and as soon as we’ve achieved it will stop the meeting”. So rather than say we’re discussing this for an hour, I say we’re looking to achieve this at the end of it, let’s get there as quickly as we can.
Now we can do that. It doesn’t sound like a big thing, Jenn. But if you do that with every meeting, every conference call, every email, every conversation you find that you lose so much time you are wasting. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is an extension is I banned one-hour meetings. So I never have a one-hour meeting with anybody. Effort. Most corporate meetings last an hour. And the reason most of them last an hour is because that’s how they did it last week. Even if last week’s dragged on and the week before it dragged on, well we’ll have another one for another hour. It’s just ridiculous. But we do that. So I banned one-hour meetings and now the average length of my meetings is under 20 minutes, which means I might have three meetings at the same time that some people are having just one and each of my three meetings are focusing on outcomes.
Whereas the one-hour meeting is not focusing on outcomes, it’s just discussing stuff. So they were two things. So number one focused on outcomes. Number two, no one-hour meetings. The third thing I did, and this sounds a little strange, is I stopped doing face to face meetings unless I have to now with my colleagues, I still have face to face meetings with potential customers. I tried to have fewer face to face meetings and I coached my EA about this, and I heard her on the phone the other day. It was brilliant because someone wanted an hour face to face meeting with me. And so Emma said, “You don’t need an hour with him, Andy is really quick at things like this. 30 minutes, 20 minutes should be fine.” And the other person I could hear says very positively, “Okay, that’s great. Thank you.” And then she said, “also his calendar is very full so he’s going to struggle to make a one-hour meeting anyway for a while. Why don’t we just have a telephone meeting instead of a face to face meeting?” And again the personal thought, this is great. So I’m getting 20 minutes, not an hour. It’s going on the phone, not face to face. It sounds like it’s in the other person’s interest, but it’s saving us time. And the reason I really like this one is then the person said to Emma, “Actually, on reflection, I do quite like face to face meetings.” and Emma said, “Have you seen Andy’s face? I’ll put in a phone call.” But what he got was a 20-minute telephone meeting. He’d asked for one hour face to face and I would call that just perfect selling.
The fourth thing and this is so we’ve got three so far focused on the outcomes. No one-hour meetings, there are as few face to faces as possible and the fourth one is a strange one, but most people I meet, Jenn are much better in the morning than they are in the afternoon. It’s like you have lunch and people fall off a cliff. It’s simple – I put my lunch break back by two hours and what I found was instead of eating at 12 o’clock and then being a bit rubbish after lunch, I had two hours longer. So I had a little snack at 12 o’clock but not much. And I have lunch at two o’clock, so that meant I had a longer morning and you wouldn’t believe what a difference it makes. So obviously that won’t work for everyone, but just little things like that, all incremental marginal gains meant that I stopped working Fridays and my business grew by a third.
Jenn DeWall: Well, the interesting thing about what you just shared is that there was relatively any financial investment in terms of making these changes. You were able to push your time out by two hours by moving lunch. You were able to take time back by only scheduling the 20 minutes. You’re very focused on those outcomes. Like all of the solutions that you proposed are low cost. They are something that you could do right now. Today.
Andy Bounds: You’re looking at the low cost, the low cost, low risk. So I mean, here’s another one you can do straight away today. So focusing on outcomes- when you’re sending an email- before you write the email, ask yourself, what action do I want the reader to take? What’s the outcome? And let’s say you want the reader to, I don’t know, send you the figures for the month. Then just write that at the top of the email. Please, can you hit reply and send me the figures for the month? That’s the outcome. And then you think, what will I do with the outcome? And you write underneath. So you might then say, please send me this month’s figures and then I’ll put them in the presentation for the board. Now can you see once you’ve written that, the length of your email just disappears because there’s nothing else to say? You know, you might call the email something like a quick question to ask. So now the other person, let’s say you’re writing to somebody called Bob. Bob gets an email saying a quick question to ask. That’s the subject line. Opens it up and you say, please can you hit reply and send me the figures and then I’ll put them in the board report. Well, imagine if you could do that every single email. It’s not just low cost, it’s low risk, and you were sending the email anyway, so it actually saves you time.
Jenn DeWall: All right. And the time saving is huge because we all have so much going on. And the last thing we want to do is sit down in front of an email and be bogged down by two paragraphs trying to understand what the sender is looking for it. That’s maddening, right? Or especially when people do the see below and then make you read an entire email chain to try and figure out what the point is.
Andy Bounds: Thank you, you just reminded of a good one from the other day. I had an email which was about this long from one of my customers and so I quickly rung her up and said,” Hey Julie, thanks for your email.” So firstly, she was amazed I rung her up cause you reply to an email with an email, right? That’s what everyone does. So I picked the phone up and said, “Hey Julie, thanks for your email.” So she’s like, “well that is good customer service.” And I said, ”I’m just popping out in a minute, Very quickly, what is it you want me to do with the information you’ve sent me?” And she said, “Oh, can you just answer the question at the bottom of paragraph three?” So I put the phone down, go to paragraph three, the say, “the answer is 12,” and she’s delighted. She’s got what she wants it, it took me 10 seconds instead of that 10 minutes of just hating the person who’s emailed you.
Jenn DeWall: That’s a huge value in how the work landscape has changed. All of these work really well with the remote employees, right? So just instead of having that hour-long face to face meeting, picking up the phone and calling them and talking to them for 20 minutes instead of leaving your communication to be a virtual exchange. So really just connecting. It’s a short time investment and you get higher engagement just by being able to, maybe it is over video or maybe it’s over the phone, but at least you can go back and forth a lot very quickly to make sure you’re on the same page.
Andy Bounds: Yeah, absolutely. You reminded me of things I should have been saying anyway, the quick win for everyone if you do ring your team, and working remotely, very often people are in because they want an update, you know, to know what’s going on. And I’ll say, if I say to you, give me an update, you probably don’t quite know what I want an update on so you’ll probably talk a bit too long and then I will talk too long, and the whole conversation was too long. So I always advise my customers rather than having a meeting called “Update”. What you do is you call it “Best, Worst, Next”. So when you bring a member of your team, you say, and you let your team know this is what you want, an advance.
Andy Bounds: So they can prepare and you say very quickly, just two minutes at best thing, the worst thing, next thing. you know, what’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week and what’s the worst thing? How can I help you with that? And the next thing, what are you planning to do next week? You know, so what’s been the best success? What is your biggest challenge and what are you doing next? Now imagine if we had a conversation like this in two minutes, I would know what you were pleased with, what you were worried about and what you’re doing that I can maybe have two or three-minute conversation with you. I can tell you my best, worst and next, and we put the phone down five, ten minutes later. But it’s so rich, you know, it’s not an update. It’s not boring. It’s just bang, bang, bang- quick. And then we carry on.
Jenn DeWall: Great. And so for the people that don’t necessarily, have that skill set, you’re adding structure, right? You’re saying like, this is your focus, here is your structure so you can make sure that that person gets what they need. You get what you need and here’s an easy way to do it from best, worst, next. I love that! We have a team meeting at 11. I think I’m going to have to introduce that into our team meeting.
Jenn DeWall: Well, we’re going to talk a little bit more about your online video club and some of the different videos you had out there. And I kind of cherry-picked a few that seemed really intriguing to me and, but there are so many other topics that we won’t even be able to cover here, but we’re going to dive right in. So we know that every leader needs to know how to sell. It’s not just about selling a product or service, sometimes it’s just making sure that you’re influencing people. But one of your videos is talking about the three steps to winning more sales and you have the three steps of best practice selling. What are the three steps of best practice selling?
The ABC’s – Afters, Building Certainty, and Closing
Andy Bounds: Okay, so the three steps to getting them- beginning with ABC, which I was quite pleased with because when you’re in the middle of a sale or an influence saying it can be stressful and it’s hard to remember the right order. So if you remember ABC, no matter how stressed you are, it’s quite easy to remember. So the A stands for Afters and what I mean by Afters is finding out where the other person wants to be afterward. So let’s say that we are making an external sale, and let’s say we are, so it’s me talking to a potential customer. So if they say, “Andy, we’re thinking we might hire you for our conference.” Rather than me saying, “tell me about your conference.” I will say, “Okay, thank you. Can I ask you some questions so I can give you relevant information about me?”
Andy Bounds: Now, of course, they’re going to say, ”Yes”. Of course, they’re not going to say, ”No, be irrelevant.” So they say, “what do you want to know?” And I say, “well, you know, after the conference, the conference is on a Wednesday, what sort of things do you want to see your team doing on Thursday, and Friday, and the week afterward? You know, what is the impact you’re looking to have here?” So that’s always the first question. The question is not telling me about the projects. The question is, tell me about the Afters of it. So if you’re a marketing agency, you don’t say, tell me about the campaign. You say, what business benefits do you want? You know, if you’re an attorney, you don’t start off by saying, tell me about the case. You say, what’s your endgame here? What are you looking to get out of it?
And so as long as we know the future good. Because actually, that’s why people buy things. You know, I don’t buy a newspaper because I want a newspaper. It’s that after buying the newspaper, I’ve got the information. So I don’t want a newspaper. I want the information. I don’t want toothpaste, I want clean teeth. I don’t want an attorney. I just don’t want to go to jail. I don’t want a CPA, I just want to pay less tax. So we don’t want the thing. We want the ambassadors of the thing. So our job is to find the afters people want. So we have some future-based questions. So that’s the thing. Once somebody has told me the afters they want from the conference, I want my team to be doing this, this, and this, I then go to the B phase, and the B means to Build Certainty.
So once somebody says, well, I want my team getting out more to meet potential customers, I then go into the B phase and say, Oh, I can definitely help you with that, for an example… And then I might give a story about how I helped another customer in the past. So a great way to build certainty is to do stories. And another great way to build certainty is to teach people things they didn’t know because when they hear something they didn’t know, they go, oh, Andy is clever, I didn’t know about that. Or Crestcom has got some great insights, I didn’t know about that. So ask questions to find the afters and then B, you say, I can help you with that. And then you build certainty. And then the C stands for Close. And that’s where you close the sale. Now there are various ways that you can close, but the simplest way to do it is to offer options.
So rather than me saying, I can help, it’s going to cost $10,000 do you want it or not? Well, they might say no. It’s like if I say to Child Four, do you want to go to bed or not? I can tell you, he’ll say no. But if you give somebody options and you say to the customer, well the good news is there are two ways we could do this. Yeah. So option one is blah blah, blah. That’s $10,000 if you want and you can invest a bit more. We could do option two, which will be this, this, this, and this, that’s $15,000 which of these two do you prefer? And then the customer’s not thinking, do I buy from Andy? They’re thinking, which do I buy from Andy? So let me very quickly run through the ABC again, A- afters, find where they want to be after working with you. B, build certainty, prove they’ll get those off just by telling a story and teaching and so on. Then C, close it off maybe by offering options with different price points and then saying, which do you prefer? So it’s as simple as that. Afters, Build Certainty, and Close. That’s what the world’s best salespeople do. They might not use those words, but that’s what they do. Find the customer’s happy place and then prove you can get them there.
Jenn DeWall: You know I love that notion of finding a happy place via the afters. Because I think especially when you’re new to understanding how to influence, you might understand the concept of knowing people’s pains, right? Understanding what you’re trying to help them with. But sometimes we get stuck and talking about the pains and we probably create a long list of what these pains are costing them. Instead of saying really what do we want to accomplish by alleviating or solving these pains. And so I love that it’s initially putting people into that strategic mindset of thinking, okay, this is where we want to go. Here we are and instead of just living in the, oh my gosh, this is awful. This isn’t working. Sales are bad, engagement’s low, you know, whatever someone else, someone else’s pains are. So I love that. And then to build certainty, right? And then, you know, of course, close the sale. So that’s really easy, like ABC, obviously, it’s a really easy way to remember how you can approach the sales process and how you can differentiate it. And I’m not going to just say sales, it’s how you can approach influencing people.
Sales and Pricing
Andy Bounds: That’s a great thing. Of course. Yeah, it is. It’s a beautiful way, it’s a helpful way. So remember I said before about helping that bank with that big deal, worth billions of pounds. When I had that conversation with them to start with, I’d done the afters thing and I found that the afters was they wanted to win the deal and that it was worth two and a half billion pounds and it was strategically essential. They want it. So I found all these things out and then we did the build certainty, and then when we did the close, and I put my price and fit the various options and they said, “that sounds great, Andy, but it is quite expensive. Can you do anything about the price now?” Because I’d already had the afters conversation when they said, “ can you do anything about the price?” I said, “absolutely, I can put it up if you want.”
Andy Bounds: Which was quite funny. They didn’t and they said, “oh, what do you mean?” I said, “This is worth all this money to you. I’m charging you this much. It’s not even a fly on the windscreen of a truck. The amounts of money I’m charging it is tiny compared to the value. I don’t understand why you’re asking me to drop the price.” And then they said, “Yeah, but you might only be here for like two or three days.” And I said, “Yeah, I know. And then you’ll make two and a half billion pounds in two or three days. I don’t understand. What, what, what? Why are you asking this question?” And they said, “but we might be paying you quite a lot of money for just two or three days.” And I said, “do you want me to take longer?” And they went, “No!”
This is helpful selling because, well what they want to see is they want sales up and time down. But because I knew what it was worth to them, and I knew they wanted it quickly, the most valuable thing I can do is help them with it quickly. So, therefore, I put in a price which is tiny compared to what they’re doing and that’s what I will call gold-selling because they made this much money and I made this much money. But both of us were happy.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. And you had obviously, in that example that you gave, there was resistance, right? They want to just say, can we adjust the price, can we pay less? And you were obviously offering the value and you’re very confident in what you do. But to someone that may encounter resistance what advice would you have for them to be able to stay confident when you are told they don’t really believe in the value offering and what that worth is.
Andy Bounds: Okay. That is a great question. So here we go. , it is all to do with the power of the after. So remember I said the A, in A, B, C stands for Afters. Many, many years ago, and when I only did sales training, so no consultancy, no sales presentation creation, no conference speaking. I just did sales training and what I thought was people were paying for the day- because they go to a training day and my rate per day is this, etc. And I found it quite scary, because when someone asked if you can drop your price? Then I worried about my own self-worth. I mean the stuff’s in my head anyway. Am I not being rude just telling them, should I not just tell them? Because we all know that I know the answers now. So I had big trouble with that.
And then I suddenly realized they’re not paying for the training on the day, they are paying for the sales that happened after that day. And let’s say they make sales of let’s choose a small number, $1,000 and if they paid me 15 dollars, well that’s a very good return on investment. Now let’s make the numbers bigger. If they made $100,000 and they paid me $5,000- so I began to realize they weren’t paying for me talking on Tuesday. They were paying for the sales they will get on Wednesday. So it’s really not just for the customer, but for you as the salesperson. But you want to understand the afters that the other person wants. And the only way to do that is to ask good questions. My two favorite questions- and I ask these- I was nervous early on, I ask these now and I’m much more confident.
The first question is, what impact do you want this to cause? You know, what’s the afters, what do you want to happen after this? And the second question- and this is so powerful- is help me understand why is this so important? What’s it worth to you if you achieve this impact? So the first question has the word impact. And the second question, has the word worth in it? What’s it worth to you if you get that? So once somebody says, the impact I want is I want my sales team to be better, I want them to sell more stuff and you want to say, what’s that worth to you? If they say, well, we’ve got a team of 20 they’ve got targets of $1 million a year, each $20 million, anything that gets in there at $20 billion, I would find that very valuable. Then can you see what happens to my confidence that they’re not looking at Andy, as someone who’s going to do a training course, they’ve actually said the word $20 million. They see someone who might help them get near the $20 million is great for their confidence. But in answer to your question, it’s great for my confidence too, because I’m now an enabler of $20 million. I’m not just someone who’s rocking up training.
Jenn DeWall: I mean, I like to say confidence is the key to happiness. Confidence is the key to everything that we’re doing, but confidence is the key to influence. And I love that way of looking at the Afters is to say they’re not just looking at you and buying your product for what it is today. They are investing in you for what you can bring them tomorrow and it’s, that’s right. Yeah. That’s a great way for someone that’s new, that’s entering this process to remember it’s not all about you. You’re here to help them open up these opportunities down the line and that’s why you are able to charge what you are charging and that’s okay.
Andy Bounds: Absolutely. Absolutely. And there are two things I promise you, your customers don’t want us. Number one is you and number two it’s your products and services. I can promise you they don’t want you or your products or services. What they want is the Afters of your products and services. So you walking up and say, hi, my name’s Andy. I’ve been an attorney for 20 years and I’m really good at law. I will go, meh. If someone comes up and says, you know how you’re about to go to court and face a fine of $20 million, well I can get you out of both of those. Well, that seems highly different. Customers don’t want to hear you say how great you are. They want to hear you say how great you can make them. Right? And if I could teach any salesperson anything, that’s the one thing. They don’t want to hear how great you’ve been in your past. They want to hear how great their life is going to be in the future. And once you’ve asked the impact question and the worth question, both you and them are now talking about the huge future happy place that they want- and your confidence, I promise you, goes up when they said this is worth $20 million to me.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, and that’s right. It’s not about you. I’ve always been told or I’ve been told this once throughout my life or so, but it stuck with me- and that is you have three seconds to win someone over. And they are only thinking about what’s going on in their head and their life and their responsibilities. And so you have to always remember they’re only thinking about themselves. Just like when someone’s talking to us, we’re only thinking about ourselves and our needs. It’s not about you. It’s not personal. You don’t have to, you know, berate yourself or criticize yourself if you don’t nail it perfectly. You just have to really get and step into their shoes to understand why they would want to listen to you.
Ask the Right Questions
Andy Bounds: You’re so right- and all of it stems from you have to ask good questions. Yeah, you have to ask good questions. I don’t know any salesperson in the world who is brilliant, who doesn’t ask good questions. I mean, I’ve met a lot of extreme powerful salespeople and every single one of them is brilliant at asking questions. So some homework for someone watching this video. I would suggest when you pressed pause at the end of this video, write down five brilliant questions to uncover someone’s Afters. Then work out your best friend, as we say in Liverpool where I’m from, your best friend, your number one contact. Go and have a cup of coffee with them and say, what are your favorite five questions? And get a list of good ones. Because once you’ve got them, it’s so empowering for you and it’s so helpful for the customer and good sales. The ABC hinges on you asking good questions. I promise you your confidence skyrockets when you know good stuff to ask.
Jenn DeWall: All right, one of my favorite questions? And this is what I like to ask when you have leadership that’s requesting things- and that’s, ‘What does success look like for you?” To really make sure that we’re on the same page because my vision of success might be different and it’s a great opportunity to uncover where that disconnect is and bridge the gap. What’s one of your favorite questions?
Andy Bounds: Well. So the two I’ve said before, what impact do you want and what, what’s it worth? And another one which I ask, and this is good for anyone who does any advisory stuff like coaching or consulting and so on, so sometimes when people call me in for training or conference speaking and I ask- so obviously any trading or speaking I do will have an impact, but how long do you want that impact to last? And people always look at me maybe a bit like you’re looking at me now. Like what is that question, I never thought of that? And then I just say, “well sometimes people haven’t even thought of it and they just want good happy sheets at the end of the day though. So no business impacts, I just want a nice day. Sometimes people want a short term impact whereby people use a few things and then maybe just go back to what the world was like. Most companies who I speak to want a long term impact where we actually change people’s habits. So a year from now they’re doing things differently. So I just wondered with your company, how long do you want the impact to be?” Now, the reason I love that as a question is almost everyone goes through this mental thing or thinking, “hmm, before he asked that question, I hadn’t thought of that question and I was just going to do happy sheets. But now I’m going to study it like that. Clearly, the only answer to that is I want a long term impact.” So that they’re already learning from me. And then when they say a long term impact and then follow it up by saying,” okay, well the thing that dictates people’s long term behavior and the habits that they’re in. What plans have you got in place for changing the habits?”
Andy Bounds: And that’s when they just look at me almost in tears going, “I haven’t thought about that either.” I can help you with that. Yep. So two really good questions. How long do you want the impact to be? And then when you explain do you mean long term and then when they say long term, the followup question, what plans have you got already to change people’s habits to get this long term change? I love both those questions because both of them teach. The client learns to build certainty by teaching. They teach the client something they haven’t thought of. It shows the clients I know more about this maybe than they know about it. It gets them thinking, but also the thinking. I’d love to have this next conversation with Andy because if he’s taught me something with just two questions, what might happen next? So I promise you, anyone listening to this- write down five questions. Go and speak to someone else and get some really good questions. It is the best differentiator you can get.
Jenn DeWall: Right? Well in those questions it sounds like you want them to be open-ended, right? Open-ended questions where you can get your audience to really think about it. And so it’s not just a yes or no, where it’s easy to back out and say, you were like, yes, of course, I want growth. That’s a dumb question.
Andy Bounds: That’s right. I mean, I might ask you a couple of closed questions just to get them talking, you know, like how are we, you are you more interested in growth or, or whatever it might be. But then, I, you are so right. I want to ask the open questions and then once I’ve asked the open questions, however, they respond, I say “oh, actually, this is my favorite sales question.” However someone responds, I then say, can you tell me more about that? That’s my favorite is questionable. Because anytime you say, can you tell me more about that? Do you know what happens is they always tell you more about that.
Jenn DeWall: Well, and people love talking, especially about themselves and their situation. And that absolutely, you know, in your online video club, you also have something that I think is so valuable to every leader or anyone that’s in a sales position or anyone that’s in a position of influence, which is how to manage when they say no, which is the dreaded response that we don’t want to happen. But what the heck happens? I mean, I know that you’ve got some great insight to that. Like how do you manage when someone says no to you? Cause I know my response sometimes being a very stubborn person, I can get really frustrated and you know, angry and just start to, you know, instead of thinking like, wait, there’s gotta be a more logical way I could approach this.
Role-Playing for Better Sales
Andy Bounds: The thing is, I mean, people often use the word objections for this- or concerns. I mean, I love the fight. Did you use the word dread? That’s the way that I dread, I call it my dreads. The stuff I’d dread people asking, can you drop your price? We already have a supplier who does what you do, we’re a multinational and your just one bald man from England. We don’t like consultants. We’ve had bad consultant’s experience before. We think sales is a dirty word, but you know all this. So I have my list of dreads like right, you will have yours like everyone watching this will outfit. And the most important thing I can share with you is that the reason you dread this stuff is big. Not because they say it. What you dread is you don’t know how to respond when they say it.
Andy Bounds: So if you knew how to respond, you wouldn’t dread it. So like you probably don’t dread someone saying, do you think the grass is green? Because you know the answer to that. You don’t dread them saying do you think the grass is blue, because you have the answer to that. But you do dread can you drop your price, please? Because you don’t have the answer to that. So the only solution, the only solution to removing stuff you dread is to know in advance what you’re going to say in response. So what I did a few years ago, is I spent half an hour a day for about three weeks. So quite a time investment. But if you think, if you start doing exactly the same thing as I did three weeks from now, anyone watching this video, three weeks from now, you won’t have any dreads left. Because all I did is I worked out really good scripts that I was going to say in response.
Andy Bounds: So I’ll give you some examples so I can share what I mean here. So what I did was I found a friend who I liked and I said to them, “I hate it when the customer says you’re too expensive. So can we do a little role play? And all I want you to say is you’re too expensive and I’m going to just verbally respond, whatever I say, ignore it and just say, you’re too expensive and I’ll have another go. And then ignoring, say you’re too expensive, I’ll have another go. And I want to try and say different things.” Now the reason you have to do it verbally is that people often write differently to how they speak. So you don’t want to be writing it down, you want to talk about it. But the other thing is your first answer will I guaranteed the rubbish because you dreading it anyway and therefore your answer won’t be very good.
Andy Bounds: So I sat down with this person who I trusted and they said, you’re too expensive. And I started off with some terrible answer. I said something like, “well I think if you extrapolate the benefits you’ll get from working with me and compare it to the cost, you’ll find the return on investment, particularly over a number of years is, is very strong.” And then they just look to me and said, “you’re too expensive” and I have to try again. And I came up with another answer and then they went, “you’re too expensive.” And after my third one, it’s still wasn’t very good. Again, you’re too expensive.” And we carried on doing this. And then gradually I got a bit crosser and I got crosser. My tone got a bit more clipped. It was never rude. It just got a bit more to the point.
Andy Bounds: And then on about the fifth or sixth time around, they said, “you’re too expensive.” And I said, “oh, I don’t often hear that. Why do you say that?”And they said, “that’s it, that’s your answer.” And I said, “why?” Because when you said, when the customer says you’re too expensive, they speak from a position of power and authority. I’m the customer with the wallet. And I’m saying, you’re too expensive. And when you say, Oh, don’t often hear that, why’d you say that? It takes all that power away because you don’t often hear that. And also because I finished with a question, it puts the ball back in their court so they have to respond. And so then when I do that, and I’ve been saying that answer four years now and, and then when people respond, they go, “well your competitors are cheaper than you.”
And so then I would do the role play with that, “because your competitors are cheaper than you.” I’d say, “Well I think you’ll find you’re not comparing apples with apples.” And he’d say, “your competitors are cheaper than you.” So we just did this thing again. So my answer when somebody says you’re too expensive is I say, I don’t often hear that. Why’d you say that? If somebody says, “can you reduce your price of it?” I say,” absolutely. What bits would you like to take out of my proposal?” We again finish with a question to hand the ball back to them. If someone says, your competitors are cheaper than you, this is my favorite one. Actually, I then say “Good.” and they just look at me. And I said, “because that means my company is the same as yours. We both have competitors who are worse than us, but I thought you wanted the best possible results or have I not understood that correctly?” Now you can hear how powerful that is because if someone says, how can I answer? Yeah, and so I promise you, Jenn, this did not come up five minutes. This was half an hour a day for three weeks. None of my clients know that I did that once. But if I hadn’t done that once, I wouldn’t have my dread answers setup. Right. Okay. So quite a long answer to your question. Let me give you the short answer: stuff you dread- work out scripts.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, work out the scripts because it builds confidence, right? The more that you can anticipate it, because especially with a lot of the things, whether we’re having a very big conversation that may not resonate with people. Or they may have concerns and questions, or if we’re going into a pitch meeting or sales meeting, remember that what you can control are your own questions. You can always control the questions that you asked. So if you don’t necessarily have that response, I love how it’s about taking that power struggle and you know, owning your worth and saying, okay, well tell me more. Or what would that look like for you? Or what do you want me to take out? So it helps to break down that fear that I think comes up for people where it’s like, holy crap, here’s the final moment that we’ve all been waiting for. Oh my gosh. When they may not want that, and it’s like, oh no, I have this because I have my script worked out. I know that I’m going to ask some questions to uncover more information. I love that. Again, it’s really just helping you set yourself up for success and you know, just thinking and being more strategic about it upfront and doing that essential preparation.
Andy Bounds: And of course another thing reduces people’s nerves is- as far as price goes- is if you offer two options with different prices, because if I just say, I can help you, Jenn, but it’s going to be $10,000. Straight away my brain thinks, “what’s she gonna say to the $10,000?” But if I say, “the good news here is there’s two ways I can help you. This way is 10,000 or this way is 15,000. Which you want to do?” I don’t feel scared saying it because I’m offering you a choice. It’s not all on one. If you don’t like either, I can say what do you suggest instead? And we’re having a peer to peer, very friendly chat, you know?
Jenn DeWall: Right. These are just people doing business as people do business with people. We’re just trying to figure out the best solution. But yeah, we complicate it in our heads sometimes because it can be intimidating, especially if there’s a lot on the line.
Andy Bounds: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Jenn DeWall: You know your online video club covers the essentials that help people be successful within sales, but you also include an emphasis on, you know, having a life, right? Like having a life outside of sales and what you can do to rejuvenate yourself or to take care of yourself. Out of curiosity, why was that important to include that in your online video club?
Andy Bounds: I’m, well, thank you for asking that question because most people don’t. They just want to know how to sell more. But actually, I put it in because it’s just pivotal to your, how can I put this? What you’re like on the outside is really affected by your inside. So if you are getting pretty busy at work and you’re not getting home enough and you’re not seeing your husband or your wife enough, or maybe your children. If your home life is suffering a little bit, it’s very hard to feel in balance. And it’s hard to express yourself with confidence, I find if I don’t think I’m getting things right in the right order. So, and I mean this with the utmost respect to all my customers, my main priority in life is my family. So therefore what I do is the thing that goes in my calendar first is my main priority.
So at the beginning of each year, we think, what am I going to take off every Friday? I’ll try and take off as much of August as I can and it’s school vacation. We’ll have those two weeks at Christmas. We’ll also do this. So before my year starts, I have got my number one priority in. The second thing I do is I then think, when can I learn? To make sure that I keep interested and I keep it interesting. So I then start putting in my calendar when I might look at my own self-development. And I find that if I get those two rights, so I’m learning right and my balance is right, then it gives me a platform on which to build. I see so many people who get in bad habits because when they start in business, understandably, they do everything. They come for their business and you absolutely have to to get the momentum.
Andy Bounds: But then all of a sudden the 30 years down the line and they’re still doing everything they can for their business. And they’re sometimes not seeing that their partners or their children or their friends or doing their hobbies and they become a business-doing thing instead of a happy, full person. And so the reason I put that on though was when there are three promises I make with the video club, sales, enjoyment, and love. You’ll sell more, you’ll enjoy selling more and you’ll live your life and you’ll love your videos, or you get your money back. Because I don’t want to just give people sales skills that help them sell more such that they don’t see that. Funnily, I want to help people get sales, enjoyment, and love so they have an enriched life both inside and outside work.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, I love that. Sales, enjoyment, and love. It’s just so important. It really is. And I love that you used the word love, right? As something that we can aspire. Aspire to have more love, or to enjoy, whether that’s with our family or our friends or the things that we just genuinely enjoy doing, like our hobbies. But I love that there’s that emphasis on, you know, finding and making room, especially up front. So when you’re thinking about your strategic goals, what do I want this to look like? Making sure that you carve out space for the things that are going to bring you joy. The things that are going to fuel your success, that things that are going to excite you, the things that will only continue to build love and excitement and create that beautiful ripple effect for everyone that you touch. And I imagine that even in the sales process, the more that you’re able to design that well-rounded life that fills you up, you have to be contagious, even for the people that you interact within your business, whether you’re selling to them or not, you can relate as people. Okay.
Andy Bounds: Absolutely. And first and foremost, I love the success that I’ve had and I love the success of my customers have. But I, I’m just a nice guy and I want to be happy and I want people who are around me to be happy. I want my colleagues to be happy. So the other day, for example, my PA got in contact with me and said= I was running a workshop- so she just got in contact and said, something’s kicked off at home. I need to go. I’ll crack on with work later on. I trust her implicitly. And so I just sent her a note, I sent her a message and said, don’t do work. tonight. Sort out whatever it is, we’ll catch up tomorrow, it’s fine. Because her life is more important than her work life. That’s what I want her to think. And that’s what I want her to think I think. So the job she does with me, and she is brilliant, is supposed to facilitate her life. It’s not supposed to take over her. And so everyone has to be in balance. And that’s why I have to do a video on it because I can’t get sales and enjoyment and love if your selling more, but your family life is suffering. That’s not what I’m aiming to do here.
What is Your Leadership Habit?
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. I’ve really, really liked our conversation a lot and so much. It’s been really, really nice. But I know that we have to wrap it up. So I have to finish with the last question that we ask everyone that’s on the leadership habit podcast and that is what is your leadership habit for success?
Andy Bounds: Wow, I’ve got an exciting one and I’ve got an important one. I’ll do the important one first because this is just really, the most critical and that is follow up. So it’s not sexy. Follow up. And by follow up, I mean at the end of each day I have three Ds – I do all my follow up actions, and I put in my diary or my calendar when I’m going to do my follow up actions, and the other D is discipline. When it comes up in the calendar, I make sure I do it so that way I never forget anything. I always follow up on everything. Everyone can rely on me all the time. It is not sexy, but it’s part of my brand. So for all the lovely stuff people say about me, I always want people to say and do you know what? He would never let anyone down. So that’s the followup. Not Sexy, but really business-critical, life-changing, really important.
On the exciting one- and it’s, it’s just the concept of afters. Like we don’t do stuff we call stuff. Yeah. If I was a lawyer, my job is not to be a lawyer, its to cause my clients to not go to jail. My job is not to be a consultant, is not to be a trainer, an author or a speaker. It’s none of those things as far as my family goes. It’s someone who’s lovely to be around, loves the slots, and he always has this in his mind. As far as my customers go, it’s sales, it’s enjoyment and love. That’s what he brings us, and that’s what my job is. And I’d much rather do that than be a consultant.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to share your expertise and your experience and your attempts for success with us. I really, really mean it when I say I enjoyed our conversation and to everyone listening, you know, I love that idea of the follow-up. Sure. It may not be sexy, but it does help you stay plugged into your goals and dreams, which is very important. So thank you so much for being here, Andy.
Andy Bounds: Oh, you’re welcome. And had a great time. Thank you, Jenn, for inviting me.