Virtual Selling, with Jeb Blount [Episode 833]

Jeb Blount is the multi-bestselling author of books such as “Fanatical Prospecting.” In this episode we were meant to talk about negotiation and his excellent book titled “Inked: The Ultimate Guide to Powerful Closing and Negotiation Tactics That Unlock YES and Seal the Deal.” But, as is our habit, we ended up talking about something else altogether. In this case, we dig into the ins and outs of virtual selling.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Jeb. Welcome back to the show.

Jeb Blount: Andy is awesome to be back. Thank you so much. I think you’ve had me back now in the last, what, twice in the last three months or four months.

Andy Paul: Something like that. Yeah. here’s the thing. Now you came last time and we’re going to talk all about your book, about negotiation and which are, and we didn’t get to it because we got sidetracked, which is always a risk when we talk. And so nominally, we’re going to talk about that book today, but you my friend write books faster than I can read them. So since that time you’ve published yet another book, which I have to admit, I have not read yet. So we’ll save that and talk perhaps more in depth about it. but before we get to negotiation, let’s do talk about your latest book because it’s so relevant to what’s going on. You wrote a book about virtual selling.

Jeb Blount: I did called Virtual Selling

Andy Paul: Shock. Yeah. How’d you come up with that name?

Jeb Blount: I was a, it took a long time. I worked it. I worked at it hard on the shower.

Andy Paul: That’s funny. That’s where I have all my great creative thoughts too. I even bought one of those pads. Those can ride on in the shower.

Jeb Blount: I got one of those too.

Andy Paul: I’ve never used  it, but I

Jeb Blount: I’ve never used

Andy Paul: I haven’t installed mine, so you’re a step ahead of me. Alright, so Virtual Selling. tell, let’s talk about that for a bit, because we’re in the midst of it. Again. I apologize. I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet. And I always enjoyed your books, but so is virtual selling different than selling face to face in person?

Jeb Blount: It’s a facsimile of selling face to face. And the idea is that we can create the closest facsimile of selling face to face as possible, because nobody’s going to argue that a face to face communication isn’t the best type of human communication? It’s just not always efficient or effective in, in the moment.

So one of the things that I’m, that I’m teaching people is as a concept called Blending, which is you take the sales process, you map it out. And this, by the way is whether you’re an inside sales person or a field salespeople person. And then you start taking a look at both your physical communication tools and your, in your virtual communication tools.

And then you map those into your sales process, so that in each step of the sales process or micro step of the sales process, your process, and with the right customer, that et cetera, you’re using the right communication channel that gives you the highest probability of getting your desired outcome at the lowest cost of time, energy and money.

So back to your original question is virtual selling different than in person selling, it’s still selling. And so the steps are the same and the motions are the same. The questions are the same. The way we do things are the same. It’s just, there are some, especially when it comes to video, some things that you need to keep in mind in order to deliver a better message to deliver a better experience for your customer and to make sure that you’re not skipping steps in the sales process.

Andy Paul: So let’s get that last part because is there a tendency when you’re selling virtually to skip steps or assume that there are steps to be skipped?

Jeb Blount: Yes, there is a bad tendency. So one of the biggest problems that I’m noticing with salespeople across the board is that when they’re on a virtual call, they are much less likely to ask for the next step. And let’s call a virtual call either a phone call or video call because it’s all virtual.

It’s just a facsimile of being there. If for some reason, other ones, salespeople, especially field sales, people who are transitioning from being in face to face when they’re on those calls they really struggle with that close at the end of the call for the next call.

Andy Paul: Why field salespeople? I know sales people in general have that issue, but why is it more pronounced?

Jeb Blount: Yeah, salespeople in general have that. I think that, if you’re a inside rep, you have, we all have that natural problem. But if you’re an inside rep, you we’re always selling virtually anyway, most, almost, always by the phone. That your sales leaders are coaching you constantly to don’t get to the end of the call and not ask, but with field reps, a lot of field reps just weren’t used to doing like real sales calls in a virtual environment.

So they were, they just weren’t used to it. Just get, I think it, the vulnerability that they feel when they’re on a virtual call. Doing something that they’re not accustomed to because they feel like a part of their site’s been taken away from them and just freeze. There’s something about that closing on a virtual call where they just feel like maybe they haven’t earned enough trust or the relationship. They just don’t get that loving feeling that they have in person when they know it’s the right time. And I see it in my own salespeople, like we’re at the end of the call and in a lot of times I’m waiting to see what they’re going to do and I’ll end the call and go, okay, I’ve got my calendar out. Let’s go ahead and get the next call scheduled. With inside reps- so SDRs, for example, always going to be almost a hundred percent by phone. They’re not making video prospecting calls. They may be doing video messaging to connect, but they’re there, but the phone’s been there, primary tool. And to that extent, web chats with inbound leads. A lot of inside sales people are having to learn web chat, especially proactive web chat, where you’re engaging somewhat on the website. Now, like with our web chat, we can make a phone call right. In the web chat.

Andy Paul: Yeah, it’s a great tool.

Jeb Blount: That’s beautiful. So they’re learning those tools. And I watch inside sales reps on chat, freeze up just like field sales, do people do on a video call. So it’s just something they don’t understand that they get petrified on web chat. I watch sales people. If you were to take chat. Alone. That’s the place where I see the most terror. I see people just absolutely shut down on chat and I’m like, it’s just a conversation. So it was like, I was explaining to one of my people who was having a hard time with them, if the phone rang, you’d be having a conversation, this is just the phone ring. And they’re not talking to you. But in any moment, they could push that little video button and they’re going to be on with you. So you need to be video ready. I think with the account executives on the inside though, as we start pushing account executives. So my trainers and consultants are working with a lot of companies to get the account executives to start moving more into video.

So two things. And a lot of account executives will do their discovery calls purely on the phone. And in a lot of cases, they’ll do their demos where there’s a screen share so their customer is on essentially a Zoom call with them or a video call with them. But they’re not on video. So the account executive, you never see their face. So teaching them, when you initiate the call, they can see the full frame you. And if you stop to ask questions, you turn the screen off and you put you back on the video call, right?

And you put you where it makes sense. You put you in a picture and picture, and we see the same thing happening, where we take account executives who are used to hiding behind the slide, and now they have to get out there. They start getting a little bit nutted up in front of the camera as well. So it’s just basic human vulnerability and I get it. When I first started this business, I ran from the camera. The camera scared me to death and I was telling you in the pre show. I did seven keynotes over the last two days where I’m standing in front of audiences. I have two audiences where there were more than 2000 people in the audience watching me on video. I’m terrified before I walk in because my world is standing on a stage where I can see people and interact with them. And when you’re looking into the camera, making eye contact with the audience, I can’t see them or anything. Like I have no idea everybody’s asleep.

Andy Paul: No, it’s hard to play off it. I missed that part too. And I’m doing it virtually is not be able to play off the, yeah.

Jeb Blount: Yeah, but you have to train yourself and keep doing it until it gets better.

So I think that, I think one of the biggest things to help salespeople understand if we just dialed it all in, is that your customers experience when they’re working with you through the sales process is a more consistent predictor of outcome than any other variable. And a lot of companies are really starting to figure this out now. I think that the pandemic has – it’s the pendulum is swinging faster than I’ve ever seen before. I had a beautiful conversation with the CEO of a big tech company. And the one thing he was talking about is we’ve got to differentiate on emotional things. We’ve got to differentiate on our soft skills on our relationship and how we sell.

Andy Paul: Alright, so I’m gonna stop you because this was something I was just ranting about, but somebody the other day. Is in the echo chamber of LinkedIn is you know, relatively prominent sales thought leader, if you will says, yeah, here’s a big myth about sales. Relationships are important, basically.

And I’m like, Whoa. Whoa, wait a sec. This is coming up more and more actually. It’s like why people think that a yeah. Relationships are unimportant. And to your point, when you talking about the buying experience and the customer experience with their buying journey, as the biggest predictor of success, that’s based on humans interaction.

And I know people get afraid of this idea that a relationships, a friendship, which is just complete utter BS as you and I both know. If you’re connected with somebody, the definition in the dictionary for a relationship is the way two or more people are things are connected. if you’re selling to somebody you’re de facto in a relationship, how can we just put this to bed? Relationships are part of selling.

Jeb Blount: it’s a huge part of selling. And I think that the- let’s stop and look at one thing, okay. So let me just, in every interaction you have with another human being at the, either the conscious or subconscious level, they’re asking five questions about you, the other person do I like you, do you listen to me? Do you make me feel important? Do you get me, do you understand me? And can I trust you and believe you like, and when, and if you check those questions off, that it’s very hard for people not to do business with you. And. And so if you think about it that way, like that’s the relationship and the relationship in on like an, let’s say a one call close inside sales, you’re going to build a relationship.

And we work with competencies you’ve been in the relationship in five minutes and all it is, it’s just do I like you? are you. did you ask me a question? did you, are you concerned about what, how I feel or what I want and when you offered me a solution, did you, were you nice? And if you’re really nice and I want to buy that I’m more likely to buy from you, but if you call somebody, if you really want to buy something and the person’s a total jerk to you, you’re going to go someplace else.

Andy Paul: Most times. Yeah,

Jeb Blount: Yeah. Almost all the time.

Andy Paul: But here’s the flip side though, of that relationship thing, explicitly people saying, and these are people you and I both know saying you don’t need to be likable to be an effective sales person. And you and I both know jerks who have done well in sales, but being likable costs you nothing. Why wouldn’t you be, if you’re trying to gain every competitive advantage, if every little thing makes a difference, why wouldn’t you be likable?

First of all,Jeb Blount: there are people who are jerks that are good in sales, but they’re not jerks or their customers they’re just jerks to everybody else because it’s just really simple, People don’t always do business with people they like. If you’re a glad-handing charismatic person and, but you’re like, you’re, as Larry Levine says, you’re wearing an empty suit.Like you don’t have, you don’t have the goods to back it up. Like you’re going to sell something, but eventually people are going to catch on that you don’t really offer anything of value. So yeah. Gotta be valuable to your customer. So you mean you’ve got to get that piece, but if you’re the smartest human being in the world and you’re a complete asshole, nobody’s going to want to work with you and they’re not going to buy from you because people don’t buy from people they don’t like.

So here’s the thing about this echo chamber on LinkedIn. So the first thing, and I’m just going to be call it like it is, nobody believes that bullshit except for the people that are saying it. Nobody does. I’ve got a big company and we produce a lot of revenue working with some of the most prestigious organizations in the world, and the people that are running those companies, aren’t sitting around in a conference room going, we need a new strategy. I think our strategy is going to be, we’re just going to piss people off.

Andy Paul: We’re going to be less likable.

Jeb Blount: Nobody needs to like us. What I’m seeing though, is that. I’m seeing a lot of executives who get that they understand, but they’ve, they’ve been like, they’ve been really focused on digitization, like that transformational thing, numbers and quantitative things where that’s been the primary place they focused.

I’m just seeing them shift a little faster. Into that, because I think one of the things that’s happened with the pandemic, because we’ve had to adopt like digital transformation rolled over like a tidal wave in a series of a couple of months. So what would have taken 10 years to transform us, we’ve done it very quickly.

And I think when you wake up to that, and then you realize, okay, now we’re communicating through all these different channels. Take chat, for example. I can show you really good chat where two people connect, even though they’re not talking, like you can see it happen in real time. And I can show you train wrecks with a transcript. Where the individual on chat talked over the other person. They weren’t likable. They didn’t listen to the other person. They just threw out their stock answer and you can see the person on chat, getting frustrated, and then abandoned the chat. but that was the person who came to you, like they came to your customer.

so we know that has to be that’s true. The other thing is that science tells us this. So just go back to Antonio Damasio. He was a professor at University of Michigan. We all know him, and his somatic marker study was, made him famous, but basically he proved like so many other scientists approved.

Yeah. Yeah. Daniel, Kahneman’s another one. Eichmann’s another one. Yeah. They proved over and over again that human beings are rational and we make decisions based on emotions first and then on logic. That’s how we operate and and I’ll just give you a really quick, I’ll just refute everybody who says relationships don’t matter with one simple thing, New Coke.

If you go back to the late seventies, Pepsi was kicking coats rear end because they were running the Pepsi challenge commercials. People would walk into a grocery store. They would ask them what their favorite soft drink was, they would say Coke and then they would sit down and they would drink the soft drinks and they were, so I liked this one and they would reveal that was Pepsi.

Coca Cola didn’t believe it. So in Atlanta, Georgia, they brought in scientists and they were running the Pepsi challenge in their labs. And it turned out that the Pepsi challenge worked in their labs just as well it worked in the grocery stores. So they got together and said, we need to change our formula. They did. And they created New Coke and everybody who’s been to B school has gone through this case study because is the greatest marketing disaster of all time. So it wasn’t until 10 years later that a scientist and I believe they were at Berkeley figure this out. They were showing people pictures, really fast pictures of things that were really nice, like fuzzy kittens or things that really horrible, like a horrible, like train wreck, where people were lying dead everywhere. And there were showing the picture so fast that you actually couldn’t see the picture, only your subconscious could see the picture. And they were basically asking people like how you felt after seeing certain things. So they were able to register that the optic nerve goes directly into the limbic system and that people seeing those pictures, even though they couldn’t register it consciously could feel the emotion of what they were seeing. And they stumbled on a group of people that this didn’t work with. And they figured out that with this group of people, that somehow there’d been some damage. So the optic nerve was no longer connected, so they didn’t get that type of emotional connection. This is part of what Demasio

Andy Paul: Yep.

Jeb Blount: So they basically ran the Pepsi challenge with these folks and it turned out that the people that had that connection, thei  eyer to the emotions when they could see the Coke can they always pick Coke?

When they didn’t see the Coke can, of course  they would pick Pepsi because the Pepsi to the taste buds tasted better, but Coca-Cola’s about Santa Claus and penguins and Christmas, and the polar bears and, teach the world to smile and all those things. The people that had that disconnection, they always picked Pepsi, whether they saw the cans or not. Because they were focusing and working on logic. So if you think about that, just in that moment, right? Logically Pepsi tastes better than Coke, but emotionally Coke tastes better than Pepsi. And when the emotions are allowed to take over, what do we do? We pick what we like, and this is why organizations everywhere make illogical decisions based on how they feel.

I’m going to give you one more example from my world, we were in the middle of a seven figure deal, a really good company, it was a big deal for our organization and we lost it. So we built really strong relationships with the stakeholder group. As we went along to the point where it was almost a friendship.

So they were kind enough to sit down with us. They felt, they’ve really felt an obligation to sit down with us and tell us why we didn’t win the deal. And that’s always been one of my core drivers as a sales person, sometimes I’m going to lose, but when I lose, I want the stakeholder group to hurt to tell me no.

Like I wanted to pain them because they liked me that much. They sat down with us and they said, here’s the thing. You won the deal. You outsold everybody. The way that you guys did this was, it was like artwork. And you sold the way we wanted to buy your product. But they said, this is a really big deal for our organization and everyone from the CEO across the organization, their eyes are on this, and we’ve never worked with you before and you’re a small company and we’re just. We just need to pick a safe choice in this situation because our jobs are on the line, but we just wanted to know that you won and we’re going to give you some more business. So don’t worry about that. We’re going to work with you on this and bring you into the organization so you can earn that level of trust.

And I said to him, I said, I would have made exactly the same decision. In that situation, if you just looked at, they liked us more, they felt like we got them. We certainly made them feel important. They were really struck by the way that we approach the sales process. And we won on everything except for we didn’t win on trust.

They even felt that our solution was better. Like everything that we presented to them was the better choice. But they needed to trust us because their jobs were on the line. That’s not a logical decision, it’s an emotional decision. And yes, the relationship mattered in that moment, but we didn’t have the relationship that the incumbent vendor had of years and years of working with them, where they had earned that level of trust.

So in that case, their relationship with that vendor beat us, even though we were in a situation where we won at truly at the logical level. This echo chamber of relationships, don’t matter, like a lot of things on LinkedIn. And I know the person that you’re talking about, they say those things because it’s provocative. So they get a lot of likes and I’ve learned a long time ago, you can’t spend Liles. So if likes were dollars, I’d be doing the same thing. But I think the other part of it is that people gravitate to that because it makes it easy for them. This is why challenger, was such a big deal. Even though in most cases, it didn’t really work because very few people could actualize the idea and people loved it because it just took the, “Hey, you don’t need a relationship here. You just need to go and tell people what they’re doing wrong now.” That’s not actually what they wrote, but that’s what most people read into it. And how people approached it because that’s easy.

if I don’t have to go make you like me, build a relationship, if I can just go on and talk about logic. Gosh, that’s easy. Like building a relationship with somebody and Oh, by the way, do it on a video call. It’s hard. Like I got to, I’ve got to be vulnerable. I’ve got to listen. I’ve got to step into it. I’ve got to be a human being that is really difficult work. But if you don’t need a relationship, but you need to like me screw you. Here’s what, here’s the deal. You need to take it because I’m better than everybody else by now.

Andy Paul: Wow. Wow. Yeah. I think to your point is some of the people that make that claim draw the completely wrong lesson from their own advocacy for it, which is that they’re actually very likable. this. Our first self aware about it, but I think, yeah, I think that’s all I do is that people are trying to eliminate the emotional side of things, which is just impossible to do. As you described through Damasio’s work, you had another study. He did where he found this new brand know about the Z came across this guy that the emotional control center of his brain had been damaged and he couldn’t make any decisions without emotion. He could not make any decision. He couldn’t decide what to wear. Couldn’t decide what to eat. Couldn’t decide to turn left or right when he left his house, all those things. And this feeds it’s into something else I’m interested, where you come across, is that in this, in your work is, again, I’m finding that you know, people are  training sellers that they don’t have time for small talk.

The people you’re talking to, they don’t have time to, these basic human things, but it sort of gets magnified because if you’ve got a group of stakeholders, is again, one of the things science shows and this has been known since the fifties is that when you get a group of stakeholders and look at making a decision in a business, as they look at it at two levels, what’s it mean for the company? And what’s it mean for me? And so if you don’t think there’s a relationship as important, then you’re going to miss that whole personal level there. You really don’t have 10 stakeholders. You’ve got 20 stakeholders in that case.

Jeb Blount: That’s exactly right. They asked the question, do you get me? And my problems? So what we forget is that you’re selling to people that are using other people’s money to solve their issues. And it, and they’re asking that question, me and my company, and. And the me part matters. And even in negotiation, for example, there’s, when we look at, for example, we use a discovery format and it’s just an acronym called SCORE.

but the first two, the ask is the stakeholder’s criteria for innovation, for evaluation. So what’s there, what’s the individual stakeholders, personal criteria. And then we look at the criteria for evaluation at the enterprise level. Because at the enterprise level, that’s how the organization is deciding whether they’re going to buy your company or buy your product.

But the individual stakeholders, they each have a list and those lists can be divergent in what everybody wants, especially. when you’re looking at a group of stakeholders that may even have different loyalties and it’s normal in the training world to lose a deal because you’re working with a group of stakeholders and three of the stakeholders have worked with another company and they liked that company.

Like they’re just connected to them. It has nothing to do with the training material or anything like that. It has everything to do with the relationship that they built with them. It’s brand loyalty, which by the way, is irrational brand loyalty is irrational. So I think that the, I think you’re exactly right.

And I, and you can never disconnect yourself from the fact that there’s an individual human being, making the decision and Gladwell’s last book, by the way.

Andy Paul: Talking to strangers. Yeah.

Jeb Blount: Yeah. when he was talking about how the judge is, like, when you blindfold the judge, couldn’t see the, the defendants and where they could do the defense, how they made different decisions about bail based on what they could see. I thought that was like one of the most fascinating

Andy Paul: That’s scary.

Jeb Blount: It’s scary. But if you put again defining and refuting anybody who says that relationships and connections and likability don’t matter,

Andy Paul: Yeah. so glad I triggered you on that. Cause that’s I was been triggered on that in the last couple of days is –

Jeb Blount: I have to, I almost, I wrote, like I had a whole thing I wrote for one of those posts and I just, I went and looked in the mirror and said, Jeb, this is not worth your time and effort and move on.

Andy Paul: I send it to Alec and I said, what do you think, but don’t post it. And he can validate that when it comes back in on the calls over. Yeah.

Jeb Blount: I’m glad you’re in the same boat. Cause it, I just I’ve learned this Northern because I just know that they’re the only people that believe them. I believe those things and they’re pandering to groups of salespeople who

Andy Paul: Are scared.

Jeb Blount: they’re scared and the truth is they’re probably not very good at what they do and this just gives them an out.

Andy Paul: that’s what leads to the question I was going to ask you is because I did go through a scans, one person’s book on virtual selling and the premise was is that, Hey, there’s this. Like completely different set of skills that you need to have. And my reaction to that was, what you said earlier in the conversation is good sales behaviors are good sales behaviors, and you need them and it’s not like you can come up and be a completely different person with a completely different set of skills in a virtual world.

Then you can meeting someone in person.

Jeb Blount: No virtual selling is still selling. And that’s that premise is just let me say this way, you to create emotional connection with people in a virtual world requires that you pay attention to some different things. And, but it doesn’t require that you change the way that you sell, doing good discovery.

Delivering a great presentation and business case that connects with what the buyer told you, asking provocative questions. one of the things that I’m able to do on a virtual call, that’s almost impossible on an in person. Call is I’ve got one of these smart boards. So when I’m on a virtual call, I can ask questions and whiteboard and collaborate.

at a level that’s much deeper than I do in person with a group of stakeholders. And then I can send my stakeholders, a PDF of the notes that we took on the whiteboard while we did it. the tools just gives me a lot more dimension and what I’m able to do, but if I was there in person and there was a whiteboard there, I always get up into, with a pen and I whiteboard stuff with my customer, but the virtue, the smartboard’s great because I can share it with them and they can do it at the same time, but the yeah.

Advancing through the process and. And selling and, and I just start the book off saying I’m not an, I’m not an evangelist for virtual selling. I’m not an evangelist for any type of selling. I’m an evangelist for talking with people. I’m evangelists for building relationships and building connections.

Yeah. I believe that what the virtual, what was happened with the COVID has made this the best time. Ever to sell. I believe that the young salespeople who are going through this right now are going to come out on the other side of this crucible way better than they ever were before. And the people that come behind them that didn’t have this experience, won’t be nearly as good as they are.

And I believe that it’s forcing everyone to learn that we can communicate through an omnichannel approach, both synchronous and asynchronous, but at the end of the day, it’s about talking with people at the end of the day. It’s about selling and virtual selling is still selling the same principles.

Everything is exactly the same. But we do miss a few things. So we miss, we missed the whole picture. when you

Andy Paul: missed the body language. You can’t really see the body language.

Jeb Blount: You can, if you can’t on the telephone, but we’ve been selling stuff with the phone forever. So on the phone, like I always sell inside salespeople on the phone it’s like selling with, blindfolded with two arms and a leg tied behind your back because 80% of human communication is visual. 80% of the brain’s computing power is computing. What with your eyes. all that you take in. So we know that to be true, but inside salespeople do just fine.

They sell stuff over the phone all the time because they train their brain to listen to the nuance of the conversation. They get good at pacing themselves on the phone and asking good questions. So they shift learn how to do that. Video poses, a different set of issues where, we’ve got to, we’ve got to solve the problem of video fatigue, which means that you need to get your frame, right?

You need to get your lighting, That means that you need to have a good video call set. That’s not distracting, but it’s pleasurable for people to interact with. It means that you can use tools like a whiteboard. So when you’re taking notes and people can actually see your hands taking notes, but you just stand up and take them on your whiteboard. I do it all the time. It’s amazing people get off the phone. Like how can I do that? Teach my people because it makes them feel good because they or says something and I write it down on the whiteboard and they see it all of a sudden they’re like, man, that makes me feel important and significant that this person heard me.

I’m using the same principles, but I’m accentuating it and I’m building it out. On a presentation ,sales people learn how to pace and pause themselves so that they learn how to bring other people into the conversation. By calling them by name, they have to be better in discovery so that they have the information that they need to say, “Hey, Andy, when we were talking last week on our call, you said that this was really important to you based on what I just presented. Tell me how they feel like that’s going to work for your organization.”

If you didn’t have that information, then you’re not gonna be able to ask that question and bring that person into the conversation. So I don’t see to me, like I don’t sell anything differently than I did in person than I do when I’m selling virtually i, it does take a little bit longer to build relationships. However, the one thing that I’m able to do is I’m able to compress cell cycles, like further than you can ever imagine. Like we’re doing, a good example is we did an almost seven figure deal that would have, that was a rewrite of a company’s training program. We were writing it for their trainers. They have almost 30 trainers. So we’re building the leader, guides, writing the program, what’s a licensing program for IP, but we’re building it around them. we’re talking about several hundred hours of work. We have to be creative, then we have to do train the trainer for them. It’s a really big deal and a really big deal for this company and a really big company. So it’s a lot of money, basically. It would have taken about six months to put one of those deals together just because you have a meeting and then three weeks later, you’re going to have another meeting. And then you got to go talk to this person. we’re doing deals like that in six weeks now, but we’re having three video calls a week versus what we did would have done a deal that size before is we would have gotten on the airplane, gone over there, sat in their conference rooms, spend a couple of hours there, come back, spent six more weeks, getting together. We’re not having to do that and customers are accepting it, but I’m going to tell you something. If you don’t like it, if you think that you’re going to sell differently, if you think those things, it’s the group of people that say, and you can skip steps, like there’s somebody out there telling people that they shouldn’t wave and smile when they get on a video. What kind of a moron would tell people something like that?

Andy Paul: I can say I have a list, actually. I’ll tell you after we’re done,

Jeb Blount: Don’t be nice to people when you get on a video call. But when I get on a video call, I wave at everybody and smile and you know what everybody does, they smile or they way back at me, we just shook hands. It’s awesome. So I’m like, it’s just, this, it’s just this drivel and it’s pandering and it’s wrong. And, and it’s wrong and I know it’s wrong. And the beautiful thing is most of the smart people in the world that are actually making money know it’s wrong.

Andy Paul: Yeah. and the thing that you talked about that I wanted to get back to real quickly, as you’re talking about, closing deals and shorter period of time is, you know, I wrote about this in my first book, which was there’s this oral tradition that’s gone around and sales is I talked to the customer on day one and that has to be this interval that exists before I go back. And, this whole period is putting the lie to that. Cause that’s not the case. It’s never been the case actually. but sometimes if you’re in a field sales mode, it took something off days before he got back to people. People want to make decisions faster than we’ve ever thought that they wanted to.

They’ve always wanted to make decisions faster than sellers wanting to sell to them, in my experience over decades. And it’s were you prepared to serve that? Most sales organizations weren’t.

Jeb Blount: Yeah, it was, and it was the field salesperson. Cause I was there. You’d meet with them on Tuesday. So you set the next meeting for the next week. So if you’ve got a 90 day sales cycle here’s when you get in and here’s how you keep it going. And there was some strategy to that, there was the you would go faster or slower based on what you thought your competitor was. So you could probably take the, take them off of there, but it, but a lot of it was just travel. Like you come in and you’re working so many deals and that’s that section of your territory, you don’t go to that section until Thursdays.

You were just naturally pushed off. But now, even, there has been a move called social proximity, which is essentially, you build territories based on how connected people are to other people back to our connection, but connections don’t matter. And the nice thing about virtual is it virtual begins to break down geographic territory is although in local field organizations where people are making risky decisions and face to face matters, it gives you a competitive advantage.

You’re still going to have geographical connections. But now you literally, you can sell anywhere any time. And that’s just back to my premise. My job on virtual is to create the closest facsimile to a face to face conversation as possible. I’m just teaching people. When you sit up at night and watch Netflix, my wife and I were bingeing, a show called away the other night ago, which is a fantastic show.

We watched three episodes. We didn’t want to go to bed. We want to watch the fourth episode and we had to go to bed. Cause we’ve got to go. We have jobs, right? but we didn’t get up. The couch should go, man, I got Netflix fatigue. What am I going to do about this? And, but you spend a day on zoom calls and you get off the calls, your brain hurts.

And your brain hurts because it doesn’t look right when you watch a TV show, everything looks right. Everything symmetrical and the colors, the right of the lighting. And they put a lot of effort in that because they reduce overall cognitive load. When you’re honest, when you’re watching a show. So you have a pleasurable experience doing that. So I’m just teaching people. Listen, if you’re going to get on a video call with people, stand up, get good lighting. Get a good microphone, make sure that you sound good. Get rid of the echoey room and then I’m teaching people, the art of being on camera, not the art of, of you need to change the way you’re selling because when, if you go to my virtual selling classes, we’re really not teaching you virtual selling. We’re teaching you virtual, how to like the technical aspects and human aspects of, for example, how to maintain eye contact on a zoom call. Very difficult for people, but very important because eye contact is one of the things that we look to in face to face interactions that allow us to trust the other person is teaching them.

How do you show interest by leaning forward into the camera? How do you position yourself? So that if you were, if if you’re doing that rather than being in their conference room, you can create the same feeling that we do in person. I believe that in person is the best way to communicate.

It’s just not always the most efficient way to communicate with a cost effective way. So if we can teach people that we still got to go back and teach themselves skills, right? We still have all the issues of, you got a prospect and you’ve got to build a pipeline and you’ve got to get them to the next step. But the number one thing is if people are getting on a video call with you and you sock on the video call because they can’t see you because you got a bright window behind you. They’re not going to want to get on the next video call. So your sales cycle is going to stretch out because they’re avoiding you because you suck too.

I don’t want to do that.

Andy Paul: no, they don’t do business with you. So one thing you said that you ran through, and this is interesting, cause I hadn’t really thought of this and I don’t see anybody else doing it. You just said stand up in front of the camera.

Jeb Blount: Yes, stand up. Always stand up. I would never stand up. Like I grew up selling where one go, the first rules I was told is don’t try to sell, standing up. And what they really meant by that was don’t walk into someone’s business and pitch them while you’re standing up, get across the threshold into their office, sit down.

But, but it was always in the back of my head and then I would never, I wouldn’t go into someone’s world and stand up. It would be uncomfortable for people to do that, but on a video call, we all stand up, everybody on my team stands up and we’ve been doing it for years. The way that I started doing discovered that it was a better, I got better reactions from people.

Was, we started delivering virtual training in 2015 and in 2016, we started getting better at it. In 2018, we were really starting to pick up a lot more agreements with smaller companies that just didn’t want the travel costs. And we started perfecting virtual training. And in fact, I’ve got a new book coming out called Virtual Training Bible,

Andy Paul: of course Is that coming out tomorrow?

Jeb Blount: Yeah, I’ll be out soon. but it talks about the things that we, we learned along the way. And I remember the day that for me, it struck me cause I didn’t like virtual training. Like I really hated it. It felt bad to me. I didn’t get off the training calls feeling like getting the juice that I would normally feel if I went to a training room and I just couldn’t figure it out, but one day I’m like, I’m going to try standing up. So it was a really awful thing. I didn’t have any, I didn’t have a standup desk or anything. So I’d stacked, like audio foam and cardboard boxes up on this really rickety sort of tower. And I put my laptop on the top of it and said a short prayer that the thing wouldn’t fall off. And I delivered a training for a group of sales reps in a manufacturing space while I was standing up. And when I walked away, I felt good. And then when I went back and looked at the video replay, I was like, they felt good, too. They were leaning more into me. There were less of them that were, looking down and being like attracted by other things.

The energy was better, it showed through the. Through the lens and it took me another full year to get my trainers, to start doing the same thing. And I’ll still watch their replay videos and go get off the stool, stand up. And now I teach salespeople to do the same thing because when you’re standing up, if you should see me on video, you can see my hands, which is really important because then when people can’t see your hands, Because of the human negativity bias, what are they doing? They’re thinking about why they can’t see your hands. And they’re usually not thinking the thing, and I’m not talking about a bad thing like that, if you can’t see by his hands are dangerous. Like hands are deadly weapons, so you can see my hands. I’m always on a camera torso up, waist up. And then I lean into the camera. I can lean away from the camera. I can put distance between myself and them and the horizontal and vertical lines are always the same. And everything that I’m doing in that moment is to try to create a more normal environment so that people have a great experience and that they want to do more calls with me.

And, and a lot of cases, they just get on and go, wow, they’re go. people are like, wow, can you show me how to do that? And I’ll even notice my clients begin changing their video frames. After they get on a call with me, they start getting better at i.

Andy Paul: They start imitating. Yeah.

Jeb Blount: because they know that it made them feel that good. Like suddenly they were like, this looks normal to me. this is what normal looks like. And so if we can do things that reduce fatigue for our customer, then it gets easier. And by the way, Andy. we talk about video all the time. There are some times when video is the absolute wrong thing to do, pick up the damn phone and just have a conversation.

Like I don’t need to have a video call in this particular situation with this particular stakeholder. So you need to, be aware that just because video’s hot, it’s not the only way that we communicate.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I think that there’s situations where a certain intimacy is required and I believe the phone is a more intimate way to communicate than a video call.

Jeb Blount: It is, but I, I just think that, I think if you can get good at the video calls and look, we’re, we’re investing, if you were to come to our studios, you’d be amazed at some of the equipment that we fought so that we can have better video calls and it’s expensive. And we have one, one studio where, we have a $3,500 piece of equipment and it sits on the camera, sits into it. And it’s basically a big glass, but we’re able to project the person’s face on the glass right in front of the camera. So their eyeballs are right in front of the camera. So when we’re looking at the camera, literally they can see us and there’s no gap at all. So there’s no looking around or looking down. really powerful, but really expensive. But when you can do that. So if you’re an enterprise level sales person, if you’re selling deals that really matter and your company you should be investing this technology for your best salespeople so that they have that ability. I wouldn’t like, I wouldn’t give that to, a random SDR, but when we’re working on big deals and we want to wow people, we use those things.

And listen, the thing about wowing people emotionally, I always get, I give the analogy and I write about it in the book that when I, this is back in like 1992-1993 but Microsoft PowerPoint had just come out and I saw someone use a PowerPoint presentation to my company. And at that time I think we had one computer for 200,000 people that have PowerPoint on it.

And I was like that is incredible. Like I immediately was like, I gotta have it. So I went to my boss and said you got to give me PowerPoint. Oh, by the way, I need a laptop. Now imagine 1993 asking for a laptop and you’re just a field account executive and I’m just a briefcase carryer and knocking on doors.

My boss looked at me like I had lost my mind. And I’m like, seriously, I need a laptop and I need that software and the end and they wouldn’t let me have it. I went and bought it with my own money. And then I went to best buy, which, that was the place where you bought equipment at the time. And I think I dropped to five grand on computers so that I could run PowerPoint and I started using it and I did get my boss to relent and allow me to rent projectors because projectors at that time were in suitcases.

Yeah, they were big.

And I would. And I would, I started building my final presentations in PowerPoint. I would walk into playful people’s place of business. I would set the projector up. Sometimes I was like, I was a camel. I had the screen on my back, like I’m walking in, and I’m like this massive all of this equipment and I would set it up and I would run PowerPoint and they would hand me money.

Cause they were like nobody’s ever done anything like that. They couldn’t see it. And back then, we’d have things you’re spinning around in circles, but I even like in 1994, I figured out how to drop video into PowerPoint and make it run even on those machines. And when you’re running a presentation and you’re dropping a video on a PowerPoint when you’re running a machine.

People sit up and look, and they would write me or they would send me letters and they would tell me later on nobody’s ever done thing like that, it was incredible. So I use technology in that moment to rise above everyone else. Now, you walk in with a PowerPoint. You’re just like everybody else.

So same things happen in here. Everybody’s going to get good at video, but right now the people that are adopting this and leaning into it and getting really good at it and learning how to blend it into their entire sales process again. Yeah. There are some situations where you need to go there. Like you’re right.

You’re selling. I got a client. So big equipment really expensive, $500,000 machines into manufacturing plants. There’s part of the discovery process where you gotta go, there’s no way you could do that virtually. But they’re able to do a lot of their initial meetings or initial discovery meetings on video, and they’re getting good at it and they can do demos on video and they’re getting really good at that.

So they’re shortening their sales cycles because they’re using these tools, but the. But the salespeople right now that lean into this and get good at it. They’re the ones that are separating themselves and we’re seeing it in our own business. Clients going, man, nobody did anything like that, where there were a bunch of talking heads.

They can see that like we’re putting on a production and I’m like, and it just excites me to be able to go and invest in this stuff and get so good at it that we’re creating this separation from our competitors in our ability to interact with people that I know that they’ll eventually close, but in the short term, why not take advantage of it?

Andy Paul: Absolutely. Alright, Jeb, guess what? We didn’t talk about negotiation.

Jeb Blount: Not, I don’t know why I’ve got the book right in front of me. In case you asked me something hard. I could look it up.

Andy Paul: I only have 50 questions about it, but, we’ll have to do it again. See, actually, this is my ploy actually is I had no intention of talking about it as this is just the way to suck you in to get you back on the show.

Jeb Blount: I love it. I love anytime. I’m still ready to talk about negotiating. The next time we can tell you about, the, the art of negotiating in a virtual world, and what you have to do.

Oh, yeah, love it.

We can do that, but it was, it’s been a delightful conversation. Has always, I think, I think I dominated the poor conversation this time. I’m sorry-

Andy Paul: No, this was great. Great information.

Jeb Blount: It’s your fault for lighten me up like a rocket ship with that. We don’t need relationships. Comment.

Andy Paul: I know I can count on you, alright Jebb. If people want to contact you, what’s the best way to do that.

Jeb Blount: Best way is go to my website is salesgravy.com  For all the people that aren’t from the South, there is no E and gravy. So sales, gravy.com and a, you can, if you want to send me an email, I’m at jeb@salesgravy.com. That is my real email address. So please don’t spam me and you can also find me on Instagram @salesgravy,  Twitter @salesgravy.

Facebook @salesgravy. And just look me up Jeb Blount on Linkedin.

Andy Paul: Yeah, they keep saying gravy, I’m getting hungry.

Jeb Blount: I know.

Andy Paul: Especially from the South. Cause there is sausage in that gravy.

Jeb Blount: Oh, I love some sausage gravy.

Andy Paul: Okay. Alright, Jeb. No, I’m hungry. All right. As always pleasure to have you on. And I said, we’ll get you on, we will talk negotiation, but there’s so much going on that, we just had talked about this. All right. Thanks.

Jeb Blount: Thank you. Talk to you later.