Sales Training: The Science of Asking High Gain Questions

Featuring David Hoffeld, CEO & Chief Sales Trainer at The Hoffeld Group

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    Okay everybody, welcome to this HubSpot masterclass, the science of Selling, I'm Kyle Jepson with HubSpot Academy, I'm very excited to be here with you and with David Hoffeld. We are going to be monitoring questions throughout this presentation using the twitter hashtag HubSpot masterclass, so feel free to send your questions that way if you have any and we will do our best to answer them. But let's go ahead and get started.

    David is the author of the groundbreaking book The Science of Selling, and he is the CEO and chief sales trainer at Hoffeld Group, which is one of the nation's top research based sales and consulting firms. He's pioneered a revolutionary sales approach based on research and neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics that's been proven to radically increase sales.

    Because of the results his insights generate, David had lectured at Harvard Business School and has been featured in Fortune, US News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Investors Business Daily, Inc, Forbes, CBS Radio, Fox News Radio, and now HubSpot Academy. So we're very excited to have you here David.

    Hey, great to be with you today Kyle.

    Thanks. So tell me David, just to get us started. Why apply science to the realm of sales? Why can't we just get by on charisma and natural charm?

    Yeah, nothing wrong with charisma or natural charm, but there is a wealth of research, and I mean decades and decades of research that reveals how our brains make decisions. And when we as sales and marketing professionals align our strategies with this science, it really allows us to better serve our potential customers and it also allows us to better present ourselves and our ideas and help people make good choices that are in our favor.

    Love it, thanks. So today's topic for those of you who don't know, we're going to be discussing the science of asking high gain questions. So David, just to kick it off in your research, what have you found? What's the deal with questions?

    Questions matter a lot in selling, and all of us in sales know that but sometimes it's important to kinda peel back the layers of the science that actually discloses what they do. Because once we know what questions really do, we're better able to use them on our sales calls. So what do questions do?

    One thing questions do is they influence buying behaviors, and this is fascinating. It's something called the mirror measurement effect. Now what is that? It's when researchers ask people questions about their future buying behaviors, when it does, is it influences those buying behaviors significantly. And there's many studies in this area. One of my favorite ones involved 40,000 participants. Researchers went and asked them, in the next six months, are you going to buy a car? And what they found was merely asking the question about future buying behaviors influenced those buying behaviors by 35%, meaning those individuals in this study who were asked the question "Will you be buying a car in the next six months?" Were 35% more likely to actually do so then those who were not asked the question.

    Questions do some powerful things and we'll unpack "well, why is that?" Questions aren't magic, they're just leveraging how our brain works, and this is really important to understand because what do questions essentially do? Why are they so impactful? Not only does it help us gain information about our customers, but it also helps our customers think through information that is necessary for the sale to happen.

    So for any time for any of us to sell anything, we have to guide our potential customers in thinking through certain value propositions, certain ideas and questions are a powerful tool for that because questions literally control the minds. I call it instinctive elaboration, and let me demonstrate that, Kyle, with you if I could by asking you a question.


    It's gonna be a tough one, so get ready.


    What color Kyle, is your car?


    Blue, okay. Very straight forward question, but what is interesting is what has to happen in your brain or in anyone's brain to answer a question like that? What has to happen is you have to think about what? For that split second, what were you thinking about?

    First my car.

    Exactly, your car, right? And so there's something profound there, it seems very innocent and almost very simple, but something is happening and that is, we call it, instinctive elaboration, meaning when I asked that question, instinctively, your brain elaborates or thinks about the answer to that question, in this case your car. Now why does that matter? Well we just talked about how for us as sales people, to get a sale, we have to guide people in thinking through certain things. Questions are a powerful way to do that.

    Another reason this is very impactful is there is now decades of research that shows that while you are thinking about your car, that's all you were thinking about. So questions literally control the mind. Often times we think that our brains can multitask. In fact, many people even put that on their resumes, they're great at multitasking. What a wealth of research out of neuroscience shows is that our brains cannot multitask thoughts.

    So while you were thinking about the color of your car, you could not also be thinking about what you at for lunch yesterday. You can think about your car then lunch or lunch then your car, but you can't hold both ideas in your brain simultaneously.

    In fact, one neuroscientist put it best, he said the idea that your brain can multitask ideas is like trying to play tennis with a bunch of tennis balls. A lot of tennis balls flying at you, you can focus on one or most likely you're just gonna duck and get out of the way of all of them, right? Your brain gets overwhelmed. And so our brains are amazing organs, but they can only focus on one idea at a time. Now why does all this matter? It matters a lot because what we want to do is guide our potential customers, as we've discussed, in focusing on certain thoughts, certain ideas, questions do this. Not only that, it allows you to control the sale.

    Now often times we think about control as the person who's talking, like right now in this interaction, Kyle, for the moment, I might have the appearance of control, right? I'm doing a lot of talking at the moment and I assume you're listening, but I don't know. However, I don't know what you're thinking about. You could be thinking about what you're gonna do for this evening or what you did yesterday or anything else, but when I ask you that simple question of "What color is your car?" I can predicatively say that in that second, you were thinking about one thing: your car. And that's it.

    It's the closest form of mind control we have access to. Why does this matter? Let me show you really quickly a way or two ways you could apply this.


    All of us in sales when we start wearing a potential customer and we try to find out information about them so we can apply our product or service to them and really show them how our product or service can help them in meaningful ways. Often times though, people are excited to learn about what we sell and they keep barraging us with questions about our product or service and it's problematic because if we answer these questions we can't apply it to them or really show them how it's relevant because we don't know anything about them yet, and so we're trying to understand, so what do you do? You can leverage what we just talked about to make a significant difference in your sales performance and here's how.

    You use something I call a thought redirect, okay? So questions control the mind. So if I'm early in a sales call and someone keeps asking me questions about my product or service and I just can't answer them effectively because I don't know anything yet about them, not enough anyway to apply it. What I'll do is when they ask me a question, I'll answer it in one sentence, 'cause I have to, right? They're asking me a question, and then I'll immediately follow up with a redirect. I'll ask them a question to turn their mind back to the topic I want to talk about, which in this case would be them. So I'm asking a question about my sales training and I might give a brief answer and then I'll say "But Kyle, tell me more about the last time you guys invested in sales training, what was that decision making process like? Who was involved in that?"

    And now you're going to answer that question. I control the conversation via questions and it's a non confrontation, very effective way to do that. Let me give you one more application real quickly. That a lot of people struggle with that you can apply this science to right now to make a profound difference in your next sales call.

    When you're prospecting, you're trying to get new business, and whether it's you're calling someone or you're using social media or you meet someone at an event, regardless, and you're trying to generate interest and trying to understand about them and they push you off immediately, they're like "oh, we're not interested." Before you've even had a chance to generate any interest, right? This happens all the time in sales, right? And so what do we do? How do we handle that? How do I push through that resistance? Don't. Instead, use questions.

    So for example, I engage you and you immediately push me off "Oh, we're not interested, we're fine with our current supplier." Okay? So I'm selling widgets, alright? And you're like "Oh, we're very happy with our ..." and you're trying to shut me down immediately. And I say "Well Kyle, I understand you're happy with our current supplier, but tell em what is the longevity? How much do you currently get out of your widgets?" I engage you right back with a question, right? I want a thought redirect. I want to focus your mind on that question so that your brain goes to that and often trying to get away from me and then you answer that question and I can use that answer to generate more interest, so it buys you time. Something as simple as using questions effectively can really make a profound difference when you're trying, especially early on in sales calls.

    It can make a noticeable difference. We have clients that have used that simple thought redirect that I just demonstrated on prospecting calls and it has made a significant difference in getting them the ability to generate interest very quickly and handling those [inaudible 00:15:58] so that's just really two simple ways that you can use the power of what questions do to make a big impact on your sales production.

    So David, is any question a good question or are there different sorts of questions that you can leverage?

    Yeah, and that's a big question because there are a lot of different questions, in fact, we looked at that many years ago. Everything we do at our firm, we base it on science and when we say science, we mean, like you mentioned in the introduction, social psychology, communications theory, cognitive psychology, social neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral economics, so what does that mean? We read academic journals and we try to apply it to the world of sales and so we were looking at questions, they're so powerful, there's so much evidence on that. We've just glossed the surface of it. What are the best questions to ask? And so we looked at what is in the marketplace right now, which is typically taught, which is types of questions, which is where we look at different kinds of questions and we deploy them. When we look at that through the lens of science there's some problems and let me describe them 'cause a lot of people are using this and it's hard.

    These types of questions are fine for introductory questions, they work great. The issue comes when you try to engage people with follow up questions. Which type of question do you use? And this is a problem because follow up questions are where the meat is. So let me describe why this is a problem? Number one, types of questions are focused on the wrong group of people, they're focused on us as sales professional, we study sales professionals and we say how do they ask questions and then we group them. It's kind of like trying to innovate by looking in the mirror, I call it, when you try to take a step forward by looking around us, behind us.

    Second issue, is it's, to me, hard to tell the difference between these questions 'cause there's so many, there's open ended questions, closed questions, problem questions, barrier questions, pay off questions, solution questions, and the list goes on and on and on and it depends on who you talk to, some people say there's three types of questions, others four, sometimes they say 7, 12, 11, 19, I've even heard one sales trainer say there's 21 types of questions, so it's a bit much. And then the biggest question though that you have to answer when using these kind, and then I'll show you what we recommend, and this is the biggest one is, how do you use them?

    Here's why this is a big concern: we just talked about a minute ago how your brain can only focus on one thing at a time, one idea at a time. Now multitasking is a myth. People that think they're good at multitasking, I should clarify, have good memories. They're able to jump from one idea back to another and remember where they picked off and where they stopped at, but our brains can't multitask ideas. So this is a problem. You have two options. You can either listen to your potential customer and think about what they say or you can think about what question you're gonna ask next. You can't do both.

    So it's problematic, which type am I gonna deploy? This is tough 'cause if you and I were on a real sales call and I was using this methodology types of questions, I might ask you an open ended question, then I'm gonna go with a closed questions, then I'll go with a problem question, then I'll go with a solution question, then I'll go with an outcome question, then I'll go with a barrier question, then I'll go back to ...

    The amount of brain power this would take to execute while listening to you and really contemplating what you're saying is impossible. You'd have to learn it so well that it was almost like a reflex. It would be very challenging. So what we did, long story short, what we said is "Okay, how should we ask questions?" And we went to science. And we looked at is there any science that discloses how our brains reveal information?

    We can know how our brains innately reveal information, we'll just base the questioning model on that and that's kinda what we did and for us, it's been a game changer and for our clients as well.

    Yeah. So the title of this course is the science of asking high gain questions, what is that? What is a high gain question?

    Yeah, that's a very important question again. And what a high gain question, we found is our premise is we want to ask questions the way the brain discloses information, we want to start with buyers, not sellers. We want to always focus on the people we're trying to influence, we're trying to engage, we're trying to serve.

    So what do we know about that? The good news is there's a lot of data on this. We found a fascinating idea about this that's over 45 years old, meaning it's been tested and verified and used for over 45 years, it's called social penetration theory, social penetration theory. Two behavioral scientists, Altman and tailor put this together many years ago, in fact, it's the foundation of a lot of communication models that are used today all around the world, and what it says is this; that all of us reveal information in layers. So as I get to know you, I reveal more information about myself and then as we get to know each other more and more, I reveal deeper and deeper levels of information. In fact, the researchers refer to it is almost like peeling back layers of an onion. So you peel back one layer and there's another then there's another, then there's another. That's how human beings are. And that makes sense, right? All of us know that.

    So we said "What if instead of types of questions that are very hard to use, we had layered questions that are literally based on how the brain discloses information anyway? Would that make a difference?" And we found it made a profound difference in two areas: number one, asking powerful follow up questions 'cause that's where the gold is if you're a sales person, and it allows you to easily do this without a lot of ... We talked about it, if you're listening, it's hard to think about what question you wanna ask next while you're listening. So it needs to be almost intuitive, and this is, 'cause it's based on how our brains work. Second reason and second thing we noticed it in was it allowed people to become great at asking questions quickly. And I mean within an hour.

    When you learn this and practice it within an hour and you can ask questions at a very high level, very competent, and so we can go into exactly what these are, what these questions are, we say there's three levels of questions, three layers that match how your brain discloses information, and as soon as you learn these and you can use these on your next sales call. So I believe we have a slide to show that first layer of question. If we pull that up here I'll explain it, and that is this: level one questions, as you see on the screen, are questions that focus on introductory ideas about someone's thoughts, behaviors, facts or situations, right?

    These are easy questions and almost everyone in sales has a wealth of these. It's things like "What is your budget for this project? When will you migrate to the new software? Who is involved in this decision?" Right? These are introductory questions that open up a topic. Here's what we found. These questions are absolutely important because they open up the topic, but what we've also found is this is the type, or the level of questions rather, that sales people who are struggling use almost exclusively, meaning they only ask first level questions and though that's good, it's not enough.

    To get to a high level of sales production, you need to ask the next level of questions, which is second level questions, now what are these? These are where great sales people live. This is how you create high gain follow up questions with ease. What are second level questions? They ask you to assess or explain. Assess or explain. So once you learn this model, it's easy, in fact, it's intuitive because it's how your brain already works. You can deploy these, like I said, you practice for about an hour and you're ready to go at a very high competent level. So let me talk about this second level because there's been a lot of research on this. These aren't just my ideas.

    One study at Stanford looked at these kind of questions, they termed them elaboration questions though, and they found that when people answer elaboration questions, and when they are asked, it helps people understand another person's perspective in much more depth, which is obvious. Second thing they've also been shown to do is boost trust significantly. When you ask second level questions, your potential customers will view you as more trustworthy. Why? Because you're asking questions that help them think through their situation that provide real value to them. Another study found that these questions make the asker seem more influential, but probably my favorite study that's looked at these questions comes out of Harvard University.

    What they did was they hooked people up to an FMRI machine that measures brain activity. And they asked them second level questions. Here's what they found: the pleasure centers in the brain lit up when people were answering these questions. In other words, people enjoy answering second level questions. Why? People like giving their opinions. They like answering these kinds of questions, and so we should ask them a lot. They not only give us great information, but every study show that when a trustworthy competent person asks them, it boost trust, it boosts levels of competency, perception of competency, it boosts influence, it does all these productive things. So this is the most important level and this is where great sales people live.

    So let me give you some examples of these. Would you ever consider investing in a software package that did not include this feature? So you've shown a feature of a software package that you're selling for example, and they're interested in it and you know this feature would matter a lot, and so you can ask a second level question like that, or does it make sense why so many other companies just like yours choose our widgets because of their strength and durability? Right? It helps people assess some key information about your product or service, so those are the assessments, let me give you two that help you explain, help them give explanations.

    Why did you choose that vendor? Why did you choose that vendor? Let them explain that. That's a great second level question, and what prompted you to commit to investing in this project? Right? These are the kinds of questions that when you ask them, you get information that is so important in selling that you can later use. So second level questions matter, and the third level of questions, the most consequential on, is what we call, well, third level questions, and these focus on two things, desire for gain and fear of loss. Desire for gain and fear of loss. And we talk about these a lot in sales abut they're very important.

    What I found though is even though we give a lot of lip service to both, often times we as sales professionals and marketing professionals focus on desire for gain, and though that's important, there's a lot of research on the impact that loss aversion or fear of loss has. In fact, research has shown, out of neuroscience, that loss aversion is twice as potent as desire for gain. Meaning people are motivated at a two to one ratio more for desire for losing something rather than trying to gain something of equal value. Right?

    In fact one company, a telecom company leveraged this to decrease cancellations. This is a few years back. But when people would call in to cancel, what they used to do was leverage desire for gain. They would say "If you don't cancel, we'll give you 100 free calls." Some people would be swayed by that, but a lot of people still cancel. They were able to significantly reduce cancellations by focusing on loss aversion, fear of loss. Here's what they did: When people would call in to cancel, they would say "I've just deposited in your account 100 free calls, if you cancel, you'll loose them." "Oh, I don't like that." You don't know how much you love something 'til someone threatens to take it away, right? I don't like that when you want to take the 100 calls away that are already mine and many more people would not cancel because of that.

    So make sure you leverage loss aversion, so how do you do that in questions? I'll give you an example here: if you did invest in this machinery, what kind of benefits would that have for your business? So that focuses on desire for gain. Let's focus on fear of loss; if you don't invest in this machinery, how do you think that could negatively impact your business? Right? And so focus them on that desire for gain or fear of loss, that's that third level of questions, and when you think about this model and practice it, like I mentioned, for a very short period of time, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to actually deploy in the real world. So think of questions not as types, but as layers: first, second, and third level questions, and if you do that, you'll match how your potential customers' brains reveal information and will make you much more effective.

    That's fantastic. Next time I interview you David I'm going to have much more pointed questions for you. So moving on from questions to commitments, how do we get people to make that next step when we're looking for people to commit?

    This is so important and we have a slide on this as well that I want to share because what we found is that commitments are literally the building blocks of the sale. How does our brains make a buying decision? One of the biggest breakthroughs in this area is it was revealed that our brains use commitments as strategic commitments that guide us on this progression of consent and naturally advance the sale. So the graphic you see on your screen is the closest representation that I know of to visually demonstrate how our brains make buying decisions. We do so incrementally. One small decision at a time. So this is the goal of every sales process. It's to guide people through this natural progression of consent and advance the sale. And the great thing is we know what these commitments are and we talk about them in our classes and of course in the book, but the question is: how do you get them?

    Let's talk about that. How do you obtain these commitments? 'Cause that can often be challenging and then what happens if people won't commit? We'll talk about that because your ability to execute on those two strategies, how to obtain commitments and what to do if they don't will literally determine your sales success. This is mission critical and this is what we've seen sales people take their sales skills from good to exceptional, sometimes double their sales results by mastering obtaining commitments. So how do you do that?

    A key principle I'll share with our listeners and viewers Kyle is that the way something is presented shapes how we perceive and whether or not it will be acted on. So how do we communicate commitments effectively. How do we prepare people to make them?

    What we do is we leverage something called choice architecture. Now what is that? Choice architecture is structuring commitments in ways that are aligned with how our brains make choices. We architect them. So let me give you an example of this that we can all relate to. Restaurant menus; my favorite example. Researchers, behavioral scientists, when they go and redesign menus, they're able to increase sales between two to ten percent very consistently and here's what they do. They just change the menu slightly. For example, a lot of restaurants now are taking off dollar signs off the menus. Why? Because dollar signs increase the perception of price, meaning $34 with a dollar sign in front of it seems more expensive to our brains than just the number 34. Not only that, but we will pay much more for fresh squeezed Florida orange juice than just orange juice.

    Not only that, but people are far more likely to choose an entree or an appetizer from a list if that entrée or appetizer is on the top of the list or the bottom. So where do restaurants put their high profit items? Top or bottom. I'll share with you one more. Often times when you're looking at wine lists, restaurants that know anything about this will put a very expensive wine at the very top of the list. Why do they do that? This has been shown to increase sales by 25%, the average price of the wine you'll choose.

    So for example, if the first wine you see on the list is $250 and you say "Not doing that." The next line is $37 and you go "Oh, that sounds like a great deal." Right? And so you buy that wine. So it shapes perception. And so that alone can make a profound difference. Now what is all that? It's choice architecture. So how do we use that on sales calls? We do something called priming. What is priming? It's the idea that exposure to one thing shapes your perception of another. Real quickly, here's an example of priming, we can al relate to and then I'll explain exactly how to use this when you ask questions.

    Think of the last time you watched a scary movie. Usually it's late at night, a horror movie, a thriller, you watch this movie and then you turn it off, you get ready for bed and you notice a strange sound. Kyle, what do you do when you hear that sound?

    Freeze. I'm terrified.

    Yeah. Yeah, you're like "What's going on?" You're checking the doors, you're getting the flashlight out, looking under beds, right? Why is that? Now you might have heard that sound 1000 times before but that night it freaks you out because your brain is primed, you're in a heightened state of awareness for anything odd. Why? Because you just watched two hours of this horror movie, so that's priming.

    How do we do that? How do we prepare people and architect these choices? Here's what you do. What happens right before the commitment is asked for matters a lot. And to get people to be more likely to commit, you want to prepare them for it. You want to prime them by getting them to affirm the value that the commitment is based upon immediately before you ask them. So for example, instead of asking you "Are our widgets the one you want moving forward for your machines?" I could ask you that question after I do the presentation about my widgets. Instead what I need to do is prepare you. So I would say "Kyle, does it make sense why so many companies just like you are choosing our widgets because of their strength and durability? And you'll say "Yeah, that makes sense, sure." "Kyle, are these the kind of widgets that you would like for your machines moving forward?" Now for you to go against that, not commit, you have to go against what you just said, makes sense why so many people just like you are choosing our widgets. For strength and durability.

    So I'm preparing you to get that commitment and this has been shown to more than double compliance rates. So this is not a minor thing. This is mission critical. If commitments matter, the way you ask for them matters just as much. So prepare people. So another way, if I'm presenting my product to you let's say, and there's a feature that matters a lot and it's something only mine offers, it's something distinct to me, and you go "Wow, that's pretty cool." And I would say "Kyle, it seems like this feature is very important to you, can I ask why?" And you say "well" and you think through it, right? I'm preparing your mind for the commitments and you go "Well, it'd be good for this and this and that." "okay. Would you ever consider investing ina product that didn't have this feature?" "No." That's huge. That's huge. That's moving them on that progression of consent. So I don't ask for commitments, I prime you for them. What happens before the commitment matters quite a bit.

    You have to prepare people's minds to make the commitment. And this is one of the biggest problems we have with commitments and sales. We say they matter, okay, that makes sense, but we just ask for them. Don't just ask, what are you doing right before that commitment? Focus on that and you'll find compliance will sky rocket. Beaning because you're helping people think through the value the commitment's based on.

    So ask them a question that allows them, that second level question, that allows them to think through the value and then follow up with commitment and you'll find your compliance rates will literally double today. And this can make a profound difference on your sales production.

    That's amazing. So David, let me ask you this: you prime people, you ask these levels of questions, what do you do then if you still get a non committal response?

    This is very important and this is mission critical too because this happens all the time and so there's two things that are going on here. It's important to realize it and then I'll show you exactly what to say and how to handle it and a strategy that really works, because this is a problem 'cause most people don't have good strategies for this.

    Here's what you need to understand, when people are pushing back on a commitment, there's two things, they could be objecting, they could raise an objection, so they're just not buying into what you're saying. And then you handle that like an objection, which is a whole nother call. But often times what happens is you get weak wishy washy response and they'll say things like "That makes sense Kyle maybe." Or "Let me think about that. Yeah." So they're not saying no, they're saying "I'm just not ready yet." And that's exactly what's going on in their minds. Their brains are not where you are, so your presentation stopped but they're not to that end point yet, they're not ready to commit, so what do you do when you get these weak wishy washy response that happen all the time? And it's not always that you're doing something wrong as a sales person, it's just that people aren't ready to make that commitment yet. And so you have to help them. You have to kinda nudge them across the finish line. How do you do?

    This is something we wrestled with for about two years of testing to figure out what I'm gonna say to you right now because if commitments matter, how you deal with this matters quite a bit. Here's what you do. You get them to defend their position in your favor. Let me say that again and I'll show you how to do this. Get them to defend their position in your favor. So remember, they're not saying no, they're leaning in your direction, they're just not ready yet to make a commitment. So you want to help them do that, so for example. If it's about my product or service. Okay, let's say I'm trying to sell you machinery and I ask you "Is this the kind of machinery you would want?"

    And I built the value, I primed you and you go maybe. And you're close, you're just not ready yet, and so I'll say "Well Kyle, if you did have this machinery, what do you think the biggest benefits would be for your factory moving forward?" And now you're gonna think about, right? You're going to elaborate on "Well, I guess it would help us with our efficiencies from what you've shown me and the maintenance seems like it'd be a lot easier I guess." "Well based on that, based on the fact that the maintenance would be less and you would boost your efficiencies, is this the machinery that you'd want for your factory moving forward? Right? So now I'm preparing you, right?

    Let me do another one. I wanna go another way with this. Let's say I'm selling software and I go in for the commitment and then you go "well, I'm not sure. Let me think about that. I like what you're showing me but I'm just not sure yet."

    "It sounds like Kyle, everything we've talked about, these features for our software program, is kinda something that you're interested in, if you did have this, what do you think the benefits would be?" "Well I guess ..." And then based on that, I go back in for the commitment again, right? Of if I'm going against the competitor, let's say I'm going directly against the competitor and they brought it up, right? And they say "What's the difference between you and this company?" And I say "Well here's some differences." And I highlight the difference and then they go "Well, I'm not sure, I want to think about the differences between you and them." "Okay." And then I would ask for a commitment to us, they say "Well no, I want to think about it still." "Okay. It doesn't sound like you're excited about ..." Let's say I'm the only one that offers reporting, a certain kind of reporting, alright?

    So some feature that's distinct to me. I would say "It doesn't sound like you're excited about not having that feature." Well no, I guess not." "What do you think the biggest disadvantage would be if you didn't have our reporting feature?" "Well, I guess we couldn't do this, this, and that." "Okay, based on that then, it doesn't sound like any service, a product that didn't have this feature wouldn't be a good fit for you. Is that a fair statement?" "I guess." Right? So I'm helping you think through it and it's easy to do, all you have to have is that strategy. Get them to defend their position in your favor.

    Think of it, they're leaning in your direction, how do I nudge them and help their brain make that choice? And if you do that, you'll be highly successful at getting these commitments and it's something you want to focus on, so I'll say it one more time. Get them to defend their position in your favor. If it's in your favor, what are the benefits of whatever it is your talking about? If it's against you, what are some of your concerns, Kyle? It's a non confrontational way, you're not beating your competitors up, they are, right? Get them to defend their position in your favor. If you do that, you'll find that people that don't commit but are close, which is a lot of our customers that are just not ready yet and we ask for it, this will help them cross that finish line, make strong commitments and that'll move you forward in the sale, speed up sales cycles, increase closing rates, raise average sale prices, it does all these positive things, so it's mission critical that we really focus on this as sales professionals.

    David, thank you so much, all of this has been great. I love what you're saying. I want to make one last plug for your book. It's called The Science of Selling, you should all definitely check it out, we here at HubSpot Academy are a big fan of this book because we of course are all about changing the way people sell to match the way people buy and David speaks to this very directly. David, do you want to ... Have one final word on the importance of matching the way we sell to the way people buy?

    Yeah I think you're exactly right. This is mission critical and there's such a wealth of science out there that really describes how people buy and when you leverage this in your favor, you're able to better serve your potential customers in some really meaningful ways and so what I say is this. This is success or failure in sales because the closer your way of selling is aligned with how your potential customers brains make buying decisions, the more effective you'll be. And the further away your way selling is from how your potential customers make buying decisions, the less effective you'll be, and so this is mission critical and science based selling is all about the buyer. It's not how do we want to sell. We don't try to look in the mirror and say "How should we sell based on how we're selling?"

    Instead we look at buyers and say "How can we serve them by understanding how their brains make choices?" And there is so much scientific data. I say armed with the science, we're able to literally improve any salesperson's performance no matter where you are, a veteran or a newbie. All of us can up our game and in today's competitive marketplace, ignoring this science isn't an option anymore. It's not a luxury we have, we have to embrace it, and when you do, it'll really help you better serve your potential customers.

    Awesome, thank you David, we are getting a couple of questions here on Twitter. Greg has asked "What is your favorite book on your bookshelf for sales effectiveness?"

    Well let's see, I'm not too humble to pull my own out. In addition to mine, I read a lot of academic journals, you might be able to see some on the bookshelf behind me. One book that I really like that came out recently that's a sales book is Beyond The Sales Process by Dave Stein and Steve Anderson. Beyond The Sales Process. Dave Stein is one of my heroes in sales. In fact, a lot of his research impacted me in profound ways. It's a great book, just came out last year, talks about how to position yourself before the sale and after the sale and also during, but it's a great book, so I'd recommend Beyond The Sales Process by Dave Stein, Steve Anderson.

    Perfect, thank you. I think that's all the questions we've ... Oh, one more. We've got a question about social selling. How do you use LinkedIn or social selling? How does that fit in here?

    Yeah, it does. Yeah, and you can use the science that we've talked about to engage people. So it doesn't matter if you're engaging them via the phone, email, social selling, you can apply this science because it's based on how our brains make choices, so there's so many different things you can do and so you can leverage this in every aspect of selling. And so absolutely, I'll give you an example. We're actually gonna put out little videos on this like Twitter, we have 102,000 Twitter followers right now and within six months we were able to get 42,000 Twitter followers when I first started on Twitter. I've only been on Twitter for a little over two years and we started with 85 and then we got to 42,000 in six months. How did they do that? We provide a lot of great content but we actually used behavioral science on twitter to not only get followers but to get the right followers 'Cause I said "I don't want to just get a lot of followers, I want people that I could potentially partner with or do business with."

    I wanna kinda almost nudge the right people in my direction. So we applied a lot of science in this and the results, I mean Twitter has gotten us, boy, media interviews, it got me ... It was a big factor in my book deal, it got me my agent for the book that found me via Twitter, I've gotten interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, I got interviewed by Forbes, Fortune, all because of Twitter and I've gotten a lot of business because of Twitter as well. A ridiculous amount that's come in over the last two years. And so you can use this science to actually boost every area of social selling.

    I'd encourage you to learn about it, we have a lot of great resources in the book that you can check out, or our website, or some of the workshops we offer that would show you exactly how to apply this.

    Awesome. We've got a question here I like a lot. "Will we be seeing you at Inbound 2017?"

    I want to, man, I'm ready to go. I love Inbound because three reasons, real quickly, a plug for Inbound. Number one, great people, right? There's people to network all over the place with, a lot of smart people, you want to go there and be ready to bring your business cards. Second thing, the workshops are awesome. I came there, I presented, but I also went to a lot of workshops too because I mean the best of the best are at Inbound. And third, it's fun, right? Inbound is awesome, so I'm looking forward to inbound 2017. Yeah, I would love to come again. Absolutely.

    Awesome. Great. That's all for the questions we've had on Twitter, so thank you David, again, for being here, this has been a joy and I hope I will see you at Inbound, if not before.

    Absolutely. Hey, my pleasure Kyle. Thanks everyone for watching today and just practice some of the things we've talked about and you'll be amazed how quickly you'll pick this stuff up. Thanks so much.

    Thank you, and again, the book is called The Science of Selling by David Hoffeld. Thank you a lot for being here everyone and we will see you again next time.
  • Kyle Jepson
    Kyle Jepson
    Inbound Professor
  • David Hoffeld
    David Hoffeld
    CEO & Chief Sales Trainer, The Hoffeld Group

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