Do you know why you are succeeding, and if you aren’t, have you asked yourself why? Are you open to finding another path towards getting the results you desire? Have you asked others for their opinions or advice? Why, or why not?
In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, the incomparable Jeff Bajorek sits down with Darryl to discuss how critical thinking can help you use intelligent discourse and scrutiny to get in front of your prospects the way they need to be reached. Darryl and Jeff also discuss ways to avoid being neither a people pleaser who thrills nobody nor a champion of mediocrity. Find advice on ways to engage your brain every day, challenge assumptions, and take ownership of your outcomes on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!
Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.
Host: Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft
Guest: Jeff Bajorek, Jeff Bajorek – Rethink The Way You Sell
Darryl Praill: How are you doing everybody? Darryl Praill here, VanillaSoft, back for another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, the podcast I like to think as being the only one out there in the world. There is none other that speaks pragmatic truths, speaks to the heart of sales. We do not talk vision or strategy. We just talk plain old bread and butter selling, what the issues are, how to get better, how to make yourself 1% better after this episode than you were before this episode.
Darryl Praill: Now, of course, there are other podcasters out there who would challenge me on this assertion. You know guys like Jeff Bajorek and The Why and the Buy, but what do they know, right? They’re not listening to this show because you’re listening to this show because you’re a smart cookie. Speaking of being a smart cookie… See that little bridge there? Speaking of being a smart cookie, I might have been talking to this Bajorek guy recently at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Chicago where I finally had the chance to meet him in person. Mark the Sales Hunter introduced us. There’s a little shout-out for my good friend Mark Hunter, give him a follow if you don’t follow him. He’s awesome.
Darryl Praill: Anyway, Jeff’s just got this great voice, and he’s got this great cast, and he’s been out there consulting for forever. He’s a sales rep’s sales rep. If you haven’t met him before, you’re going to see what I’m talking about as soon as we get into the conversation. Hint, he’s listening to us right now. We got to jamming about statements. Statements that are made that are just accepted as all-out truths. Has this ever happened to you where someone makes a statement… And Jeff is going to give us several examples.
Darryl Praill: I’ll use one because yesterday, as I record this, yesterday was Canada Day, which means later on in this week it will be the Fourth of July in the US. People will make statements, whether it’s Canada or the US or anywhere else. They’ll make statements like, “Our country’s the greatest country in the world.” As a fellow citizen of said country, you believe it because you’re like, “Yeah!”
Darryl Praill: But sometimes, sometimes, you got to be a bit of a critical thinker. You got to sit back. You have two choices in life. You can continue with that statement as being truth and gospel. You can build your whole psyche, your career, your morals, your values, your approach to life all around that statement being true. You can repeat that statement to others because it’s true to you, so it must be true to them and they need to know this truth.
Darryl Praill: Or, the other approach, is you can be a critical thinker and you can say, “Well, I love my country, and I think my country is indeed great. But is my country truly the greatest country in the world? I don’t know. Let’s assess the facts. Let’s go out there.” Because before I go forth and claim that my country is the best country in the world, and I shout it from the rooftops to everybody of all lands, because I might offend them if I’m wrong, I want to make sure that I have my ducks in a row, that I have my facts. And then once I have my facts, I will go forth and I will then proceed and approach my whole methodology, my whole raison d’être around that.
Darryl Praill: Critical thinking, it’s a skill that appears more and more these days to be lost. Yet, as a sales professional, think about this. Your job is to go in and listen to a prospect, to qualify them, to learn what ails them, and to determine if your solution can make their life better. And then perhaps, if it’s a competitive deal, how does your solution optimally compare and contrast to the competition such that your solution is the one that’s chosen. Of course, there’s so much more around that statement than that, but that’s the fact. You cannot do that successfully, continually unless you approach that prospect and their circumstances, their needs with critical thinking.
Darryl Praill: Because what ends up happening is you lead with value propositions that are based on suppositions that you’ve not given any considerations to. You just believe them to be true, and that prospect doesn’t believe it, and you lose the deal to somebody else who’s made a more compelling case. Critical thinking is what differentiates your prospecting from that individual sitting beside you in the office or the cubicle right next to you.
Darryl Praill: If you’re a critical thinker, you will be successful. If you’re not, you will be mediocre at best. That’s my contention. Of course, it’s not just mine. It may also be that of Jeff Bajorek. Let me bring him on here now. I told you he’s been listening. He has. Jeff Bajorek, host of the killer podcast, The Why and the Buy, a phenomenal best-selling author, a kick-ass sales consultant. This man has not only got all this going for him, he’s got great pipes too. You’re going to hear it shortly. Jeff, welcome to the show, my friend.
Jeff Bajorek: Wow. I’m speechless. It’s not often that I find myself without something to say, Darryl, so thank you for that introduction. I really love the four-and-a-half minute rant to get this thing kicked off. There are a lot of great things there. We were talking in the virtual green room, as we refer to it on our podcast, I think in sales you have to use your brain every day, and when you are required to do something repetitively over and over particularly in insides sales, it’s really easy to shut your brain off. I think of it, and I love your pragmatic approach. I do have an issue though. I want to know how you can think critically, but not talk strategy. That is something that you are going to have to break down for me. I think-In sales, you have to use your brain 🧠 every day, and when you are required to do something repetitively over and over particularly in #InsidesSales, it's really easy to shut your brain off. ~ @jeffbajorek #CriticalThinking Click To Tweet
Darryl Praill: We can have that conversation. Forget that topic, folks. We’re changing gears.
Jeff Bajorek: I think the biggest difference for me in the way I think about it and talk about it is are you taking responsibility for a task list or are you taking ownership of an outcome? I think that’s a big difference for people. I talk about it with my kids. I’ll tell my daughter, “Sweetheart, I need you to sweep the floor.” “Dad, I swept it.” I said, “I know. It still needs to be swept. I’m not telling you that you didn’t sweep the floor. I watched you sweep the floor. I’m saying that I’m looking at the floor and it still needs to be swept, so I’m going to need you to get that broom out again.” There’s a difference there. Do you have a clean floor or did you take the step of sweeping it? She’s going to be 10 next week, so she doesn’t quite understand that yet, and she rolls her eyes like an almost 10-year-old little girl would do. She’s one of my favorite people in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that the floor is still dirty.
Jeff Bajorek: I think that difference there is one that trips people up, “But I did that, boss. I did that, manager.” I love your take too on you’ll be mediocre at best. Championing mediocrity is one of my favorite terms of phrase. We’re on the same wavelength here, Darryl.
Darryl Praill: I want to know how many people listening right now are just feeling a little bit uncomfortable. And if you are, that’s good.
Jeff Bajorek: I hope so.
Darryl Praill: I hope you are. I hope you are. Now, there’s going to be a percentage of you out there that are going, “Yeah! I’ve been saying this.” And there’s going to be another percentage of you going, “I’m going to tune out. Is there a fast forward? Can I just go to the next episode because this one doesn’t resonate with me?” For you, for those who are thinking of going to the next episode, whilst I respect that decision, I suggest you really should just kick back and listen to the whole episode. So give me some examples.
Jeff Bajorek: I’m not for everybody and I know that.
Darryl Praill: But neither am I. Go ahead.
Jeff Bajorek: But therein lies, I think, an underappreciated key to prospecting and to selling is recognizing that you’re not for everybody. And the people that you’re for are going to really appreciate what you do. And the people who aren’t for you, that’s fine. They’re for somebody else. That’s okay. There’s enough of them out there. I’m going to keep doing what I do. And not second-guessing what you’re doing. It’s important to think critically. But when it comes to taking things personally and second-guessing, “I need to have everybody like me all the time.” If you try to please everybody, you will thrill nobody, and we’re in business to thrill.If you try to please everybody, you will THRILL NOBODY, and we're in business to thrill. ~ @jeffbajorek #SalesTips #Prospecting Click To Tweet
Darryl Praill: I love that. I’ve heard variations of that, but I’ve not heard that used it with the word “thrill.” Thrill is such a visual word. It’s such a personal, emotional. It provokes emotion. It’s like you will thrill nobody. So you’re right. So let me step back.
Jeff Bajorek: Sure.
Darryl Praill: You’ve had this conversation. Rumor has it you might have gotten into a bit of a conversation even most recently as yesterday on LinkedIn about this topic. What was the catalyst for you? What sparked this? Did you see something? Did you experience something? Or is it something you just keep on continually seeing and you’re finally addressing it?
Jeff Bajorek: I’ve got some people that I run with on LinkedIn.
Darryl Praill: Some homies, some peeps, your crew.
Jeff Bajorek: It’s hard to believe, Darryl, but I have friends. The, “Hey, I just put this out there. Can you take a look at this? Can you disagree with me?” And I’ll ask for that, and I’ve done it before, where it’s like, “I respect your opinion,” you three people. And I’ll send them a message say, “Hey, look, shoot holes in this, please. Because I will not assume that it is perfect, but I feel really good about this statement and I want you to poke holes in it.”
Jeff Bajorek: One of those messages came my way, and I looked at it and I said, “Yeah, all right. I actually agree with the statement, but let me take a look at another point of view. Let me try to put up some opposition to this for the sake of intelligent discourse.” Because I think that’s when we get better, right?
Jeff Bajorek: Darryl, critical thinking is important, and that is something you do by yourself. Intelligent discourse is like critical thinking at scale. You can get three or four people debating something, not even debating something because there’s a bad connotation with that like you’re in disagreement. I think when you can hold something up to scrutiny and challenge it, that’s when we all get better.
Jeff Bajorek: I took kind of an opposing point-of-view, and my point-of-view was really not one to where, like I said, I didn’t really disagree with the statement, but I disagreed with statements like it that get taken as gospel and then used out of context. And so this post, my friend, David Masover, put this up and it was something to the extent of, “True sales hunters find their own opportunities.” My issue is not with that statement, but the idea that that statement will be taken out of context and taken to believe that all real salespeople are hunters.
Jeff Bajorek: I think that there are a lot of salespeople who have account management responsibilities who still grow those accounts very, very well. I think that there are a lot of hunters who believe that their job is to go out, hunt, kill, and move on to the next hunt and at the expense of leaving a lot of dollars on the table. I think it is easier for you to get $100 out of a current account than it is to get $20 out of a brand new account.
Jeff Bajorek: Last time, and I don’t know what the exchange rate is, Darryl, right now between your fine country and mine, but I do know that 100 is greater than 20, and I know that there’s a lot more spending power with 100 than there is with 20.
Darryl Praill: I could start with 100 Canadian and end up with 20 American, but that’s an aside.
Jeff Bajorek: That’s another conversation. That’s the thing. At any point… And David quoted Mike Weinberg’s brilliant new book #SalesTruth. I only mention that book because I’m in it, at the front of it, and Mike did me a great service by asking me to give him a little quote for the beginning of the book. It’s brilliant. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you have not picked it up, you should go pick it up. He quoted that phrase that Mike had in the book, so Mike chimed into the discussion. He said, “Jeff, but talk to me about an account manager or an account executive who’s getting enough opportunities from their SDR. I haven’t seen a company out there who does it or who has.” And I said, “No, Mike, I’m not trying to disagree with you, but these blanket statements taken as gospel are problematic.”
Jeff Bajorek: Look, we have the discussion around whether or not an account is grow-able, right? You can’t just be farming opportunities that won’t yield a sellable crop for you or any growth. But again, every situation is different and we need to pragmatically approach the situation into what is going to help us yield the most growth. You need to have people managing accounts and prospecting within those accounts in order to find new opportunities to grow.
Jeff Bajorek: You also need to have people beating down new doors, picking up the phone, Tweeting, SnapChatting, whatever it is that you want to do to get in front of the people that you need to get in front of. But sometimes those people are right in front of you, and so when you have this mentality that the only selling out there that’s real, real selling is hunting, well, I’ve always believed that in the hunter and farmer discussion, the best hunters find really good places to farm. And they may find other places to farm. I think you got to find more than one, don’t get me wrong.
Jeff Bajorek: There’s a lot that you can get out of one account. And there’s a lot that you can do with one account. There’s something inherently transactional about on to the next one all the time, and I’ve never been a transactional person. You can’t sum up selling in a short sentence, and I think that’s the problem is whether it’s cold calling is dead, long live social media, or it’s cold calling is dead, long live cold calling. There’s always someone out there who is trying to tell you what you want to hear. And I think you have to hold that stuff up to scrutiny. And I think it’s helpful to hold that up to scrutiny with other people who you trust to poke holes in theories that may not make sense.
Darryl Praill: All right, so that’s the setup. We’re going on a brief break and when we come back, we’re going to drill down on some examples of what you might be taking as gospel. And we’re going to talk about what you can do to make sure you don’t fall into that trap. So stay there, we’re coming right back.
Darryl Praill: All right, so we’re back. On the break, I had a chance to think about some of what you were saying. You were saying there are some, let’s call it some cliches, some bold statements that are used over and over again, “The only real selling is hunting,” you said. You made reference to social selling. If you’re not social selling, you’re not selling. There’s all variations of these, folks. I look at examples I use, the 48% of marketing qualified leads are never followed up by end sales. Well, that’s one stat. Good, that doesn’t mean it applies to you. You can’t assume it does. We could go on. Are there other examples you’ve seen that personify this oft-repeated, one-liners that we banter about that people just assume is gospel?
Jeff Bajorek: It’s interesting you quote stats because 74% of the stats that I quote and make up are 74%.
Darryl Praill: Yes.
Jeff Bajorek: So your 48% stat is very relevant and highly accurate, I’m sure. I think the cold calling is dead thing-
Darryl Praill: Cold calling is dead. You’re right. Forgot that one. That’s a great one. It’s dead. Why are you even bothering?
Jeff Bajorek: When I first got into this business, when I decided to open a business for myself, I had someone who told me, he said, “Look, you’re not in the sales training business. You’re not in the sales coaching business. You’re not in the consulting business. You’re in the prospecting business.” This was a time when I came out of medical devices where I sold door-to-door. I knocked on physicians offices’ doors because that’s how you got ahold of them because surgeons don’t Tweet very often. I sold an orthopedic surgical implant, several of them actually, different lines for different companies. You had to get in front of people the way they needed to be reached.
Jeff Bajorek: Listen, I know that if you live on LinkedIn then everybody in your circle lives on LinkedIn, but there are people outside of that circle who aren’t on LinkedIn, so LinkedIn may not be the way to reach people. I fell into this trap initially coming out of what I think is fair to call a laggard market in medical device sales. And I’m like, “Oh, this is where everybody else is? Everybody’s online with the prospect online now. We have to have a personal brand. We got to do… ” And there’s value to that, but to pretend that that is a blanket statement that covers everybody is a lie.I know that if you live on #LinkedIn, then everybody in your circle lives on LinkedIn, but there are people outside of that circle who aren't on LinkedIn, so LinkedIn may not be the way to reach people. ~ @jeffbajorek #CriticalThinking… Click To Tweet
Jeff Bajorek: Listen, there are still people, independent insurance agents out here all over the place in Michigan where I live where the best way to get in front of them is to knock on the door and talk to the receptionist, right? Because it’s the most direct way. And I think people also get carried away thinking about how to sell to 1,000 people at the same time when they don’t have a compelling message to deliver to one person who is standing in front of them actually listening. That’s where selling gets carried away.
Jeff Bajorek: Now, if you’re in the tech space, then yes, you better be online. If you’re selling software as a service, you better be online because, quite frankly, that’s where your product or your service is being utilized, so go where your people are. But don’t pretend that everybody’s there. You get back to your thesis of this whole show, which is brilliant by the way, let’s think pragmatically about what we’re doing. Use your brain every day. You can’t just take it out of your head and set it aside because it’s easier to not think. It is easier to not think. I know it, and that is exactly how I know I should be thinking every day.
Darryl Praill: Let’s be pragmatic. How do I teach myself to be a critical thinker? In other words, “My boss,” I’m not saying my boss, but I’m being generic here, “My boss says this is the truth, cold calling is dead, everybody’s on social,” Or, “My boss says the only way you’re going to get them is on email from 3:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon,” whatever it might be. And you nod your head and you go, “Okay.” Right away, instead of going, “Okay,” to me that’s like, “Okay.” Do you see the difference? It’s not, “Okay,” it’s, “Okay,” you know? You need to program yourself to take that as an input and then challenge the assumption, all right? Here is the thing, challenging the assumption may ultimately lead to learning that they were right.
Jeff Bajorek: Yep.
Darryl Praill: But now you know they’re right.
Jeff Bajorek: Right.
Darryl Praill: And that’s cool. And you learn something along the way. And the way you challenge an assumption, the simplest approach, is to test it. If it’s only 3:00 to 5:00 email, okay, I’ll do the 3:00 to 5:00 email, but I want to do emails from 8:00 to 10:00 and from 11:00 to 1:00 and I’m going to then, you can do this for a week or two or five, and I’m going to roll up the results and see how do they compare and contrast? Ah, he was right, okay, or he was wrong.
Darryl Praill: Cold calling is dead, well, I’m going to send some emails and some social and do some calls just to test it. I like what Jeff is getting at. Jeff is getting at… Because he’s bopped around this, but let’s be really explicit, he’s saying you have to physically go try other things. You have to challenge your assumptions. Critical thinking is having the courage to challenge the assumptions no matter where the outcome takes you. How do you begin? He says you are responsible not for a task list, but for taking ownership of an outcome. That’s where Jeff started today’s show. And you can only determine the outcome if you test the assertion.
Darryl Praill: Are there tips and tricks that you’ve seen used, Jeff, that our audience could use beyond the testing that I’ve talked about? I think I heard you say one already. You’ve said, “Let’s go to a few trusted advisors, both those within my pool,” so if I’m selling SaaS, I’m going to maybe talk to other SaaS people, “And those outside of my pool who have a different point-of-view and have a collection, a trusted group of advisors who can critically think.”
Darryl Praill: Here’s the thing, when you critically think, it doesn’t mean you need to come up with the answer. Critical thinking also means that you’re open to somebody else giving you a different point-of-view that you had not considered. That’s massive.
Jeff Bajorek: It’s a team sport. Life’s a team sport. Sales is a team sport. Business is a team sport. Nobody does this in a vacuum and nobody succeeds very well completely on their own. I think you have to hold stuff up to scrutiny. In terms of taking your managers, your boss’s word, as gospel, you know what? If you get lucky, and someone says, “Hey, this is the way you do it.” And you say, “All right, cool.” And I think that is a good place to start. If you’re new somewhere, even if you’re not new to sales, but you’re new with the company, and you have a directive, I think you go and do that. If you get enough opportunities to fill your pipeline, to close business, and move forward, and accomplish the objectives that you need to hit, well then, good, cool. Maybe you don’t need to hold that up to scrutiny.
Jeff Bajorek: Here’s the thing, that doesn’t happen very often because the way your manager did it may not translate well to you because your skill set is different from hers or your talent level is different from hers, and there’s work to be done there. That’s fine. But if you are getting the results that you need, then hey, move right along. You’re all good. But when you’re not getting the results that you need, then you need to find another way to get the results. And that’s taking ownership over the outcomes.
Jeff Bajorek: I borrowed this from Anthony Iannarino. I don’t know if these are the same words that he uses, but I heard this I think initially from him, but if you were doing what needed to be done, you’d be getting the results that you’re looking for. If you’re not getting those results then you got to look at the input to that equation.
Jeff Bajorek: Tips, I think, look, just be open and be vulnerable to taking on a different way, to looking at a different path. Think critically, use your brain, find friends, ask for help. I’m hesitant to give you just a tip because that tip may not, again, like a blanket statement, people say, “Oh, yeah, here’s this thing,” and then it doesn’t work for them and they’re going to say, “Well, Bajorek told me this would work and then it didn’t work. That guy’s a bum.” Well, no, the tip is to use your brain every day. The tip is to challenge the convention. The tip is to hold something up to scrutiny and see if you can poke holes in it. And then maybe after work, maybe on your drive home, maybe you think about it. Maybe on your way into work the next day you think about it. Maybe you call a colleague who’s having success that you’re not having and you ask them how they’re doing it.
Jeff Bajorek: And maybe it won’t work for you because, especially in outsides sales, field sales, where there’s a local kind of a… I had a VP call it a bubba factor. There’s just something about being in that part of the country or that part of the state or the region or whatever where you just relate to people. You can’t quite figure it out, but I just like that guy because he talks like me and he sounds like me and he uses the same words and we like the same stuff. That’s that bubba factor. You can’t pick that up and transfer it, but you can find your own. If you use your brain… Salespeople are so smart because you have to be, use that brain.
Darryl Praill: If you like what Jeff just said there, you got to do his podcast, guys, because it’s The Why and the Buy. Every single episode, he’s asking his listeners, one, do you know why your customers buy from you? Which is what you heard him say here just now. Do you know why you do what you do? Which is what we’re talking about, challenging why you do what you do. Do you know why it matters? And these are just some of the things he hits every single episode. The Why and the Buy, you can check out all that at JeffBajorek.com. If you can’t spell, it’s J-E-F-F, no Gs in this Jeff. B-A-J-O-R-E-K, JeffBajorek.com. Now, of course, Jeff, you’re rampant on LinkedIn too, so where should they go to connect with you?
Jeff Bajorek: Anywhere you want. You can follow me on Twitter, but Twitter’s really more of a broadcast medium for me. That’s where a lot of my content gets redeployed so people can see it. I do hang out there, though, a little bit. If you send me a message on any of my social platforms, Twitter or LinkedIn, or send me an email JB@JeffBajorek.com, I will reply. I do engage. Where I hang out to really talk about stuff is typically LinkedIn. There’s a little more room to roam there. I do prefer LinkedIn to Twitter, though, I can be found and reached on both.
Jeff Bajorek: If you got something to say, please say it and shoot me an email, JB@JeffBajorek.com. That’s the most direct way to get ahold of me.
Darryl Praill: And of course, the podcast. You get to experience them show after show after show. What more could you want from that? Also a little plug here. He’s got a new white paper out called You Don’t Have a Closing Problem. You want to learn more? Go to JeffBajorek.com.
Darryl Praill: Jeff, I am so glad you joined me today, sir. Thank you so much. I hope to see you again on another episode far, far, far in the future because I can’t have you this close because everybody else would get upset. But again, in the future, want you back on the show. Thank you for your time today. In the meantime, guys, we are out of here. We’re done, but we’ll be back. There’s lots of older episodes, go listen to them, like, follow, share, spread the love. In the meantime, folks, my name is Darryl Praill. I’m your host of INSIDE Inside Sales.