INSIDE Inside Sales – Ep 33: Empty Suits, Fake Smiles, and Insincere Conversations

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Only 3% of surveyed people claim to trust salespeople. Why is that? Is it, perhaps, because too many sales professionals approach their craft with fake personas and lack the empathy needed to engage their prospects? Are you guilty of hiding behind your product or service and not understanding how to connect with your prospect? Too many sales reps are making simple mistakes that cause prospects to not trust you, not want to engage with you, and to seek out alternatives.

In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl finally sits down to chat with the legendary Larry Levine! Larry hands out incredible advice on how to be authentic and sincere, gaining credibility and success at the same time. He also shares tips on how to go from being an “empty suit” of broken promises and lack of trust, to becoming your true, real, and confident self! Learn why you shouldn’t fake it until you make it, on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!

Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.


Host:  Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: Larry Levine, Selling from the Heart

 

Darryl Praill:     We are back for another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales. How is everybody doing today? Me? Thanks for asking. I’m doing well. Well, why am I doing well? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’m doing well because you know what? It’s summer. The sunshine has arrived. It’s going to be a long weekend for me. I’m recording this on a Friday. Really all that stands between me, and some time away from the daily grind that we do here in sales. This fine recording. Now? Normally it’d be like, how can I get through this recording really fast so I can get to that outcome, but this one is not. This one is not because I am being joined. You know? Sometimes I have the buildup. I’m just going right to it and this one, I’m being joined today by Larry Levine and before I let them talk because boy can he talk.

Darryl Praill:     I want to talk a little bit about Larry. Now, candidly, if you guys are not following Larry, hey, that’s cool. You know, somehow you’ve been off the social media for forever. This man is prolific. He’s a best-selling author. You might know his book Selling From the Heart. It seems every conference I go to, whether it’d be you know, Unbound or the, you know, the Enterprise Sales Forum or whatever it might be, they’re dropping his name and his book everywhere. You know, when you’ve got the four horsemen of, you know, the sales arena promoting you nonstop, it’s a good thing that says you might be on to something beyond that. What I like about Larry is that he’s candid, he’s blunt, calls it as it is. I have a lot of time for those people because I don’t want to get distracted by, you know, some, I don’t want to call it political correctness, but let’s just call it just the whole veneer of dodging around something we don’t want to speak to because it might be sensitive.

Darryl Praill:     You’re an adult, I’m an adult. Let’s not be disparaging, let’s not be a racist. That’s not be unethical. Let’s use our integrity, but let’s just speak the truth. And so Larry’s that and he and I see eye to eye on many things. Now, with that said, we don’t alway. Recently, he did a post and, and I busted him a little bit. And what I loved about Larry was, you know, granted he didn’t acknowledge my busting him. So that doesn’t mean I’m right or I’m wrong, but he responded and accept it and embrace my response and my position. That’s what a healthy conversations about. So in other words, nothing about Larry is fake. Yet so many people in the sales arena and the course of doing what they do every single day are exuding this, this image, this, this symptom of fakeness and guys and gals, if you’re doing that, it ain’t working for you.

Darryl Praill:     I don’t know why you’re doing it. It ain’t working for me. So I have asked to join me because he is Mr. Selling from the heart sellingfromtheheart.net if I recall. And, and we’re talking about that, we’re gonna talk about not being vague. You may think you’re being sincere. We’re talking about what you’re doing. That might come across as fake. I always think of a, you might be a redneck if right. You know, you might be fake if…we’re gonna have those conversations when talk about what it means to you. Talk about how the buyer perceives it, talk about what you could do to avoid him. And basically we’re going to help make you, if we do this right, a little more self-aware of your approach to selling, not just you but your colleagues as well so that you can help and support one another when we’re done with this show than perhaps you were when we started this show, Larry, my friend, welcome to the show.

Larry Levine:     What’s happening? I got boy, you know what? I was sitting here just had a smile cause I’m like going, okay Darryl, keep it going. Keep it going. So I guess that 100 bucks, I threw your way, actually did some good.

Darryl Praill:     And it was a hundred Americans. So when you do the Canadian exchange, like that’s gotta be like $1,000. So I am gonna have a pop or two this weekend all on you. and I hope I did that right.

Larry Levine:     Thank you so much. I, I appreciate all the nice words.

Darryl Praill:     Hey Dude, I, you know, you know, I call it as it is. And what I said about you is 100% true. So there’s nothing nice. I wish it was, but it was not fake. It was genuine. But with that said, Larry let’s kind of get into a little bit.

Darryl Praill:     Let’s talk about the whole premise of fake. I know when you are, and I were talking about what we wanted to talk about. One of the things that jumped out really quickly was just the whole, the fakeness that we’re seeing. I know you use it, you dropped the term empty suit. There’s other terms we’re gonna drop about, but I’ve gotta talk about, I know this is a passionate thing for you, so let’s just jump right into it. What about this was a trigger that, that we want to talk about it today for you.

Larry Levine:     You know, I’ll go back to back to my career in sales and, and I always bust the sales channel that, that I came out of. I, and I came out of the most prehistoric, dysfunctional, laggard sales channel that probably ever existed. And that’s the copier channel.

Larry Levine:     And you know, the reason why I say it and you know, they provided well for me and my family and so forth. And I had a great time and, and I learned a lot. But what I did learn was that lack of trust runs rampant. And, and I can say that probably in any sales channel, but what I found out was there was a lot of broken promises, a lot of broken dreams, a lot of sales turnover, a lot of just, I’ll call it corporate fakeness and sales fakeness.

Larry Levine:     And you know, and I write about it in my book is I said, you know, there’s so many people that I saw that led with their wallet and they didn’t lead with their heart. And I saw all kinds of bad things started happening. When you put yourself first and you put your commission first, people started to sense it. And I always say people can smell sincerity, but they can smell insincerity just as fast. And I started picking up on that like 20-25 years ago. And I just started asking, you know, Darryl, and this is where I started picking up on it is, you know, you know me through social and so forth.

When you put yourself first and you put your commission first, people start to sense it. And I always say people can smell sincerity, but they can smell insincerity just as fast. ~ @Larry1Levine #SalesTips #InsideInsideSales Click To Tweet

Larry Levine:     And I don’t mind, you know, asking questions because I’m curious. And I would always go back to my clients and ask them for help. And I’d say, Hey, what do you really crave with a salesperson. And I just started taking notes, whether that be on paper, whether that be mental notes.

Larry Levine:     And what was interesting is they just wanted somebody who cared and they wanted somebody who was just there for them. And this stuff’s not complicated. And I go, you know what? That’s what I’m going to do. I just started asking clients and, and you know, future clients, what all do you want in a salesperson? And I started packaging this all together and I just redelivered it. And that’s what I’m trying to get through to people is, you know what? You don’t have to be somebody that you’re not, right? Just be yourself. And that’s why I’m calling it out, whether that be face to face or on social is, you know what, let’s just stop it guys. And let’s just be the best version of ourselves because you know, fake doesn’t work anymore. And that’s why I’m just running with the term empty suit.

Darryl Praill:     So, if you, I don’t know if you know this Larry, you might know this, but you’re being so popular now and so busy on social and you don’t have time for me. I, my first sales job was selling photocopiers for Harris Lanier. That was. Yes. I and I, my story is, you know, I had my 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan, stock full of units that I would, you know, from the small, you know, unit that could do a, you know, little scans over on to the big ass, full-fledged beast. And I would cruise the various industrial malls and walked door to door on my fine, you know, young face, fresh, although cheap suit and, and walking into all these various, you know, I love walking into the, for example, the heating and cooling guys who are mechanics and they’re, they have paperwork everywhere and they are looking, you know, their personal hygiene may not be optimal for them, nor is there personal skills.

Darryl Praill:     And you’re sitting there trying to sell and you’re trying to be fake to a degree, right? Oh Hey, how are ya? How’s that going? You know, it’s just, it was brutal. And you talk about going back every day at the end of the day, doing rounds and debriefing with the pit. So you know, you have, you leave in the morning, you come back in the night and, and everybody’s high fiving and, and, and the thing of the fakery is it just doesn’t extend to the buyer. And we’re talking about that, you know, what, what does the buyer want in a relationship with a sales professional? It also extends to a lot of the dynamics amongst the sales team themselves. I would watch these people coming back, high fiving and great deals and you know, basically slapping each other on the ass. And I’m like, well, I had a shitty day.

Darryl Praill:     How was it that I’m the only one here with a shitty day? And everybody else seems to be, you know, killing it. And, and you realize with time that the Merck killing it, they also had a shitty day. There was a lot of fakery going on. It’s just that they were all exuding empty suit, that persona of what they thought they’re supposed to, to be that, and, and, and a man, it, it, it didn’t work for me. I did not, I lost it less than a year in that industry because I just, I wasn’t, for me, it wasn’t for me in so many ways.

Larry Levine:     Yeah. And I, and I always say, you know, faking it til you make, it just doesn’t work. And I always said, you know what? It’s too hard to pretend to be somebody you’re not. So why don’t you just be yourself?

It's too hard to pretend to be somebody you're not. So why don't you just be yourself? ~ @Larry1Levine #SalesTips #SalesAdvice Click To Tweet

Darryl Praill:     And the beauty of age is that you learned that, you know, that’s so easily said. And I, by the way, I agree. I give the same advice. I 1000% agree, but it’s, but it’s so hard to understand when you’re, you know, 22-23-24-25 years old. Like what does that mean? Be Myself. I don’t know what that means. And then with age you start to realize just who you are.

Darryl Praill:     You know, if you’re the introvert, you’re the introvert. Own it. If you’re the extrovert, you’re the extrovert, own it, whatever. Right? Yeah. Anyways, let me ask you this. For those listening, you might be fake if… What are some of the classic examples you see that will come across to the buyer as fake?

Darryl Praill: Now, for my audience listening, when he goes through these, I want you to be honest with yourself, remember, and you know, success starts with self-awareness. Are you guilty, and no one’s judging, of any of these things Larry’s about to share. So you might be fake if…

Larry Levine:    Can I flip this thing real quick?

Darryl Praill:     Sure.

Larry Levine:     Do you care?

Darryl Praill:     I don’t care.

Larry Levine:     So, so I, so I would say, you know, I, I think that the fakeness, you know, we hide behind, and I’m going to throw it out there. We hide behind our products and we hard hide behind our company. We hide behind our solutions and we hide behind our services because we don’t know how to engage in a conversation. So, you know, you, I always say you might be fake if you don’t know how to drive a great business conversation. You might be fake if you pretend, and that’s the key word is you pretend, that you know what you’re talking about. Just stop and think about that one for a second, Darryl, how many people pretend?

Darryl Praill:     Most? I mean, most and people smell that. Right? So, and the, even to build on what you’re saying, like you said, you pretend to drive a real business conversations or you pretend to what you’re talking about, you made reference to, you’re hiding behind your product. So that means you’re simply asking questions that are 100% related to your features and your functions, not having context to how they actually matter or influence the individual you’re talking to. And that’s because all you know is your features and functions. You don’t know anything about them, but you’re trying to fake it. But they can smell that. Cause you know, I, I can smell a leading question a mile away. I can already guess what the answer is. I’m supposed to get a give based on the way you ask that question. And whereas a much more open-ended question where I can kind of go anywhere.

Darryl Praill:     You know, I don’t know where this is going to go, but you want to know. So I’m going to give you some information and my assumption is you’re listening to all the information I’m going to give you and then your program ask more questions and then eventually you’re going to narrow in on how you specifically might be able to help with one or two of my issues. That is not hiding behind your product, that is driving a real business conversation. But I’m going to guess that’s what you’re doing. Cause you know, that’s, I’ve seen it over and over again, especially somebody new to a job, new to a product, new to a service in the last three, six months. They’re just going on the training they took. And that’s it.

Larry Levine:     Yeah. And, and here’s what, here’s what’s interesting and getting back to this, this fakeness thing is, I think a lot of the fakeness comes because you’re insecure and you’re not sure of yourself and so forth. So, you know, maybe it’s, it’s not so much being fake, it’s just that you lack some of the skills to sit down and effectively just have a normal conversation. And that’s, you know, that’s one of the things that I keyed on a long time ago is I might not be the smartest whip out there, but I just kept it real. And, and there’s too many of us that, you know, have sales conversations and very few of us have human conversations.

I think a lot of the fakeness comes because you're insecure and you're not sure of yourself...it's not so much being fake, it's just that you lack some of the skills to sit down and effectively have a normal conversation. ~… Click To Tweet

Larry Levine:     And I knew how to effectively balance both. And I think that that’s the missing link is that, you know, we’re hiding behind this sales persona so much that we forget at the end of all of this. It’s just one human having another conversation with another human. So why not just keep it real? But so often, and I’m gonna throw this at leadership and management. I would say, you know, it’s your product of your culture and, and I, and think a lot of the fakery are insincerity or empty suits that are running around it. Just people know no different because it’s just a product of their environment.

Darryl Praill:     You’re right. And I know even Mark Hunter posted on that just last night, on Linkedin about how often we are busting a sales rep and the reality is the sales rep is not necessarily on the blame because they’re modeling their leadership and their leadership is of themselves empty suit or lacking the skills or lacking the culture or lacking integrity. Therefore it’s a cause and effect there. There’s a mirroring going on and, and you’re right, there’s a lot to blame be put here both in leadership as well as on the individual. Let me explain for both you and even the audience. This is a piece of advice I shared with my, my kids growing up, but it really came to bear. So I help them, you know, through their, you know, high school years and part-time jobs and all that kind of stuff. But it really came to bear when they were, they met their significant others and they were trying to establish a rapport with their, you know, eventual in-laws if you will, and family.

Darryl Praill:     And because often, you know, the, the father or the mother was intimidating, and they didn’t know how to connect. And I just reminded them, I said, here’s what you do. You make the conversation about them. Sounds stupid. Sounds like you’re being fake for a second. But in fact, what you’re doing is you’re, I said, people are comfortable talking about them. So I said, just keep on asking them questions and the course of asking them questions, what do you do for living? What does that mean? So how do you do that? So how do you do this? You know, how can you help me understand this? I said, you’re actually developing a rapport and they’re gonna open up and that’s going to present opportunities for you to explore further and you’re going to find common bonds.

Darryl Praill:     And it all comes down with stop worrying about you pitching, you trying to sell you, you trying to convince them that you could be a good, you know, son, daughter-in-law. It’s just start with the him show an interest and the rest will take care of itself. And it’s hilarious. My son, I know for example, came back to me because he was really freaked out and he came back and he goes, it worked. I go, I know it works. He goes, but it’s just a good reminder that it works.

Larry Levine:     Yeah, no, and, and you and you bring up a really good point. And, and I always challenge the sales world on this. I said, hey, listen, you know, let’s look at our personal lives and you just, you just brought up a great example, Darryl. I said, hey, you know, I hope that in your personal life, you’re sincere, you’re genuine, you’re bringing the best version of yourselves, right? Whether that be to your significant other, right, or if you’re dating or some something. I think most people would agree, and I know you would agree, Darryl, that you know, you bring the best version of yourselves to your personal lives, correct?

Darryl Praill:     Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Larry Levine:     And, and, and I think everybody would. So I said, if that’s the case, then why you as a salesperson, the minute that you leave your house, you get in your car, you throw this sales beast hat on and he becomes somebody else.

Darryl Praill:     And with that we’re going to go to commercial and then we’ll answer the question. We’ll be right back.

Darryl Praill:     All right. How many of you are guilty of leaving the house and becoming a different persona? I will put my hand up. I mentioned I’m an introvert. I don’t ever hide from that. At home, I am a full-fledged introvert, drives my wife nuts. But when I come here I’m like, Hey, how are ya? I’m talking to Larry Levine and I’m on video, I’m on calls and I’m this guy and that is not, you know, that’s, that’s my work persona. But that’s not who I am. Right? So I’m guilty of it guys.

Larry Levine:     No, I think, I think we all are. But, but you know what I always tell people, you get what you get with me. Yeah, I am, no, I am no different. I write, I write about it in Selling from the Heart, you know, and sales chaos. And misalignment and so forth. And I learned a long time ago. It’s hard to juggle multiple personalities and I’ll, I’ll kind of leave it at that, but I go, you know what, just I, you get what you get. And, and I do a lot of work, you know, I do a lot of community work. I do a lot of charity work in the city that I live in and I am no different Daryl than I am online than I’m in speaking in front of people or working with sales teams. I’m no different. It’s just that’s who I am.

Larry Levine:     And I, and I think, you know, is it, was it hard in the beginning? Yes. But what I’m going to challenge and encourage people out there in the sales world is stop it, right? Just stop pretending to be somebody you’re not. And I’m going to take this one step farther is I remember this, I just wrote about it last week, is this goes back like to 2006 is it? Okay if I share a quick story?

Darryl Praill:     That’s what this is all about, man. This is real, real life.

Larry Levine:     Cool. So this goes back to like 2006-2007, so I’m 54 years old right now. And so I would say I’m the biggest excuse remover that’s out there cause I’m like the tail end of the baby boomers. So when I started sales, there was no technology, there was no internet, there was no anything, right. The way, you know, the way we built relationships and changed the way people think was face to face and on the phone.

Larry Levine:     And that was it dude, that there was nothing else. But about 2006-2007 I hired a business coach and that was the single best thing I ever did is because I was, I was sitting in sales bullpens and I was listening to just bad sales training and bad sales advising and I said enough’s enough. And you know, I mentally disconnected and said, you know what, I’ve got to go find somebody to help me. Cause I’m sure not getting it here.

Larry Levine:     And it was the best thing I did because that business that I hired gave me the single best life lesson that I ever got. And I take it to heart. And I think this is where I’ve gotten to where I’m at today is this person helped me uncover who I really was. I became the best version of myself. But this was before I knew about Linkedin and, and all these social platforms is this person helped me build up who I was online. And he really shared with me, he goes, hey, you know, if you’re doing a great job face to face, you need to show people that you need to do this online.

Larry Levine:     And I learned how to smash what I do face to face, and I learned how to smash it together online. And I told my story and when people decided to do business with me or not, or you know, future clients, I drove them to find out more about me. The real version of me. And I just replicated it online. And that’s where I’d urge a lot of people to, to really, you know, take a look at is how you’re really portraying yourself face to face and how are you marrying that online.

Larry Levine:     And it and it just so happened though. It took a business coach to help me do that, you know, 12-13 years ago.

Darryl Praill:     But what I’m hearing you say is, and this is a big piece of advice to those listening, if you think you need to adopt a certain personality, a certain persona to be successful. If you doubt your abilities, you second guess yourself like, like a lot. If you kind of see the glass half empty as opposed to half full. What Larry did was he was self-aware. Remember you said self-aware and he went and proactively sought out professionals who could help him develop his skills, overcome the issues that are preventing you from having a positive self-image. All that kind of stuff. The other thing he did was he was given permission to go and express himself. And I think we need to understand this is when you do that, you need to partially accept that not everybody is going to like you. And that’s okay. Not Everybody likes me, I get it.

Larry Levine:     Same and same here, same here.

Darryl Praill:     And therefore, I’m not going to worry about those people. Not that I, I, I disagree with them. If they don’t like me, they don’t like me. And, and I don’t even care why they don’t like me. They just don’t like me. They’ll go find somebody they do like, that’s cool. That’s cool.

Darryl Praill:     But for those of you who do like me and keep coming back and continue the conversation with me, let’s have that conversation. Let’s be real. So, you know, part of it is just accepting that you can’t be all these all people and, and you gotta be yourself and, and you kinda gotta have confidence to be yourself. So if you don’t have the confidence or you already think you need to be something else, you know, seek the advice of those who can help you out. Just like Larry did. All right, my friend, they say 3% of salespeople are trusted, which means 97% of people are not trusted. What are some of the first things I can do to establish my credibility? My lack of fakeness? Because they say first impressions matter. So I finally talk to somebody or engage with them. What can I do to start being perceived as genuine and believable and approachable and trustable?

Larry Levine:     I, you know, I, I’d, I’d say the first thing is just show that you care. One, make it about them. I, the other thing is a, and this is where, this is where I throw it back on salespeople to do some homework right, is get your clients and your friends and some key people that you know to start sharing what it’s like to do business with you. And I, and I challenged the status quo on this a little bit, Darryl, is if we know how well we take care of our clients, then let’s starts showing it, start positioning ourselves with insight, start educating, start and I already went back to it. Start making it about them. Position yourself as that subject matter expert by understanding the value that you bring, showing the value that you bring. Sharing a great story that aligns to their issues and challenges and reference the heck out of testimonials and recommendations.

Darryl Praill:     So let me repeat what he said in a different way. Cause he’s 100% right. He said, establish your credibility. Why? You don’t need to project this image. You don’t need to be fake. You can be yourself, because what people are going to do is, they’re going to check you out regardless. So let’s say you go, you get really active on social as an example, or you get busy contributing articles, you know, in various publications and your positioning, your, you’re sharing content, you’re sharing advice, you’re sharing lessons learned, you’re part of the conversation. Your profile looks, you invest time in making your profile look substantive and polished. They’re going to go to Linkedin as soon as they hear your name and they’re gonna check you out and they’re gonna make a judgment call right away that this individual appears savvy. They appear like they know what they’re talking about. They will probably be able to give me advice that I can benefit from. And you said nothing.

Darryl Praill:     Let your work speak for itself. That will establish your credibility. You don’t need to project fakeness to do that. You need to be yourself because what yourself does is it reaffirms that expertise that they’ve already granted you when they saw all the contributions you made, they’re gonna check you out. Know that. That’s where you establish credibility and then the rest is all about. It’s like you said make it about them. So it’s what I told my son, and this is what Larry just told us, you do that, you will have dynamic business conversations and you will connect. That’s how you do it.

Larry Levine:     Yeah, it’s and spot on. Brilliant. But you know, I, I always share with people my secret sauce, my secret sauce that I used when I was in the sales world and my secret sauce when I stepped out of the sales world, they end. And just so everybody knows, I stepped out of the sales world three and a half years ago. So I mean, I’m not too far removed from, from being where most everybody is right now, right? In the sales world. But when I started doing what I’m doing now, Daryl, and it was just the beginning of 2016, there’s not a soul who knew who Larry Levine was outside of my city and my market place, which is, you know, I just live north of Los Angeles, California.

Larry Levine:     But what I did is when I decided to do this and give back to the sales world, and I’m just a sales geek, I’m, I mean, I’m a nerd when it comes to sales, is I was proactive. I was proactive in how I leveraged myself, both face to face online, how I smashed all this together. That was my secret sauce. So that when you know, people like Darryl landed on my profile go, you know what? This guy knows what he’s talking about.

Larry Levine:     And that’s what I’m going to urge the sales world is, you know what socials ingrained in what we do. It’s not going away. How, how are you proactively leveraging this so that when somebody lands on your profile to go, I get it, right? I get who Daryl is, or I get who Larry is. And there’s not many salespeople that will commit to themselves so that they look good online. Folks. That was my secret sauce.

Social is ingrained in what we do. It's not going away. How are you proactively leveraging this so that when somebody lands on your profile they get it? There aren't many salespeople that will commit to themselves so they look good… Click To Tweet

Darryl Praill:     And to build on that, that was also exactly my story. That was my secret sauce. When I came to VanillaSoft, just less than two years ago. Nobody knew who I was other than that the marketing world. Right. Sales world didn’t know who I was, and I did the exact same thing and got the exact same results. It actually doesn’t take time, you know, give yourself a year or more like commit, commit to it and the rest will follow. With that said, Larry, if they wanted to learn more about you, they wanted to connect with you, obviously Linkedin, where else can they go to learn about you and your books and all your services?

Larry Levine:     You can go to sellingfromtheheart.net, and on sellingfromtheheart.net you can find the Selling From the Heart podcast. By the way, you can find it on any of the, you know, major podcast apps. I podcast every single week on that’s selling from the heart. You can find me on Instagram and if, and if you really want to get to know who Larry is, follow me on Instagram. It’s @larry1levine on Instagram. You can find me on Twitter at the same name. You can find me all over LinkedIn. And you can reach out to me and even if you wanted to send me email, you can send it at llevine@sellingfromtheheart.net.

Darryl Praill:     All right, so with that folks, stop being fake. Just be you because we love you man. We love who you are. We just want you to be successful. My name is Darryl Praill. This is another episode in the can. If you like INSIDE Inside Sales. Keep on sharing the love reviews, likes, and shares are always appreciated. In the meantime, we shall see you again in one week’s time. You guys take care. We’ll talk to you soon. In the meantime, we shall see you again in one week’s time. You guys take care. We’ll talk to you soon.