PODCAST 163: Objections? You’ve Already Lost the Deal with Neal Patel


In this episode of the Sales Hacker podcast, we have Neil Patel who is the CRO of Crunchbase, an information resource that we all know and love. We talk about why salespeople need to be business people first and why objection handling means that you’ve already lost.

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If you missed episode 162, check it out here: How to Turn Relationships into Revenue with Gauri Chawla

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. How to marry your ambitions to create success [7:04]
  2. Lessons in poverty and humility [9:12]
  3. Ways to connect the dots so you kick ass and take names [11:31]
  4. Principles of team leadership [14:58]
  5. Objecting handling means you’ve already lost [20:11]
  6. Who motivated and taught Neal along the way [25:24]
  7. Sam’s Corner [28:58]

Show Introduction [00:10]

Sam Jacobs: In this episode of the Sales Hacker podcast, we have Neal Patel, the CRO of Crunchbase, an information resource that we all know and love. We talk about why salespeople need to be business people first and why objection handling means that you’ve already lost.

Before we get there we want to thank our sponsors.

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And without further ado, let’s listen to my conversation with Neal Patel.

How to marry your ambitions to create success [7:04]

Sam Jacobs: You were in strategic partnerships at Google and you spent a long time there, but how did you first enter the go-to-market field?

Neal Patel: I’d love to tell you that 20 years ago, I had a vision for exactly what I was going to do, but that’s a total lie. I don’t even think there was a job title of CRO back then.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have people and opportunities around me that enabled me to really pursue some things that I thought were interesting and skillsets that I thought were valuable.

I was an engineer who then went to law school. I liked math and science and therefore I became an engineer, but I also recognize that there were things that were hard for me. Number one, persuading people to do things or reading and writing persuasively. I was a little shy. So like any wise person, I chose a better way to develop in those areas than go to law school and jump into the fire.

I also recognized that no one in my whole family was a lawyer in the United States. And our family’s here, my extended family’s here. So I thought it would be good for someone in the family to understand the law, policy, and how things work.

It was a good marriage of my two ambitions. I liked it a lot, but I found myself being more interested in the business side of the transactions.

Lessons in poverty and humility [9:12]

Sam Jacobs: You’re a corporate attorney.

Neal Patel: It was great. But as my interests became more aligned with the business side of things, I started to gravitate into the business side of things. I realized that that’s probably the kind of space I wanted to be in. I didn’t even know what go-to-market meant, much less like anything beyond that.

I didn’t even know what kind of industry or role I would be valuable in. I took some time to think that through. And long story short, I decided what better way to get exposure and become good at business than to start my own company?

So I wisely started a company with a few friends. It wasn’t a financial success, but it was a great learning opportunity, and it led me to a place where I could talk to some people from Google and got an opportunity to join Google Maps early on in a business development role to help build that product.

Sam Jacobs: What was that company that you started?

Neal Patel: We made organic sustainably made children’s clothes with an Eastern Asian aesthetic, so I called it “baby diesel with a side of masala.”

A few things didn’t go our way but one of them was simply timing. And we made mistakes along the way, but they were good lessons learned. We look back upon that time with smiles on our faces, because it was really fun and made us appreciate some of the things we didn’t know.

Sam Jacobs: I started a business when I first got out of undergrad, and my business failed. I learned a lot of lessons in poverty and humility.

Ways to connect the dots so you kick ass and take names [11:31]

Sam Jacobs: So you got to Google and you joined the Google Maps team, but still in this story there’s no formal go-to-market training or sales training. And yet, it’s pretty clear that you’ve become really, really good at it over the last decade or so.

Neal Patel: Google Maps involved a lot of things that were analogous to what I was doing as a lawyer and a business owner, which was thinking about markets, what markets to go to, why they were important markets, negotiating deals, and working with partners.

And in many ways, I was selling. You’re always selling. I realized that that skill was something that many people that were higher up at Google respected.

And so I started trying to find ways where I could just learn about sales and learn about customers. I got really good at Biz Dev and partnerships and understanding markets and market penetration. But I really wanted to get into that other side of the business, which was like quite frankly, just how do you set up repeatable, scalable ways to make money?

Principles of team leadership [14:58]

Sam Jacobs: What have you learned in terms of leading teams?

Neal Patel: I do best when I am radically authentic. If you talk to my team, there are no different versions of Neal. I am who I am. That is the foundation from which I can become a good leader.

When I haven’t been a good leader, many times it’s because I was trying to be somebody that I wasn’t. So I think that’s one really important thing.

The other thing is … winning is great. But people also need to feel like they’re growing and there’s a purpose in what they’re doing. And for us, we’ve found it in helping people generally become better business people.

Objecting handling means you’ve already lost [20:11]

Sam Jacobs: One of the things that you’ve mentioned as you think that objection handling means you’ve already lost. Explain, because that’s a pretty controversial statement, which is great for podcast fodder, but what do you mean when you say that? And what should people do instead?

Neal Patel: You objection handle a lower-level question or a problem or issue. But what I really mean by that is, creating a context for your success through all of the interactions you’re having with a potential prospect.

Some people call it controlling the message, but you can set context through your engagement with that prospect. If you’re objection handling need-to-have versus nice-to-have, you’ve lost.

You should be approaching prospects from that perspective and have a plan in place for it. And that comes from preparing and understanding the account. It comes from understanding your product super well.

RELATED: 10 Types of Sales Objections and How to Overcome Them

Who motivated and taught Neal along the way [25:24]

Sam Jacobs: When you think about people that have had a really big impact on you or people that you think we should know about, who comes to mind?

Neal Patel: I’m not going to do it on this podcast, but one day when we get down to beer, I’ll tell you a story of what my mom and dad did, how they came to be here, and the challenges they had.

So things like that motivated me,

When I think about public personas, Steve Jobs. If you read about him in the early days, there are things that I think are really valuable, and that helped me. I know he has lots of flaws, and there are things like that. But there are really discrete things that he did that I think is super valuable. And there are other folks like that out there.

Sam’s Corner [28:58]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody. Sam’s Corner. Great conversation with Neal Patel. He made two important points I want to talk about. One, salespeople need to be business people first. Many salespeople don’t have a theory of value or understand what makes great companies great. That’s something Neal spends time teaching his sales team.

And then there was the point he made about why objection handling means that you’ve already lost. Obviously, he’s not talking about the common objections, but the thing he said is, if you’re debating need-to-have versus nice-to-have with your prospect, you’ve already lost.

So great conversation.

Don’t miss episode #164!

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Of course, we want to thank our two sponsors, LinkedIn. Thank you, LinkedIn, you’re a great company. We love you, LinkedIn.

Find new ways to connect with your buyers virtually with LinkedIn sales navigator, who doesn’t use sales navigator? You can learn more and request a free demo at business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions.

Also, of course, we always want to thank Outreach, the number one sales engagement platform.

Thank you for listening. If you would be so kind, or if you would be so kind as to give us a five-star review on the iTunes store, please do that.

If you want to follow up with me, email me at sam@revenuecollective.com or find me on LinkedIn at Linkedin.com/in/Samfjacobs.

See you next time.

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