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PODCAST 11: How to Use Empathy in Sales [Backed by Science]

Sam Jacobs

June 12th, 2018

Using Empathy In Sales

On this episode of the Sales Hacker podcast, we talk with David Priemer, Founder of Cerebral Selling about using empathy in sales backed by science. 

What You’ll Learn

  • The core elements of Cerebral Selling.
  • Understanding proper buyer motivation.
  • Using modern psychology to more effectively engage your prospects.
  • The key tactics to effective discovery.
  • How to ask questions in the right way.
  • Proper objection-handling.
  • Managing a sales process that leverages natural buyer behavior.

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

1) Show introduction [00:10]

2) About David Priemer [0:41]

3) Highlights of David’s sales career [2:10]

4) The 2 components of Cerebral Selling [7:12]

5) What the data says about the discovery phase speed [17:07]

6) Emotion-based objections versus logic-driven objections [25:33]

7) Quick-fire Questions [33:39]

8) Sam’s Corner [40:08]

Sales Hacker Podcast—Sponsored by Gong.io

Sam Jacobs: Before we start, a quick thank you to this month’s Sales Hacker podcast sponsor Gong — the #1 conversation intelligence platform for sales. Gong helps you generate more revenue by having better sales conversations. It automatically captures and analyzes your team’s conversations so you can transform your team into quota-shattering super-sellers.

And now on with the show.

About David Priemer and Cerebral Selling: Baseball Card Stats

Sam Jacobs: Hi, everybody, and welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. We’ve got a great episode today. My guest today is David Priemer. You may know David, or you may have seen him on panels on the startup sales circuit.

But David has over 20 years operating experience in b2b tech sales, beginning all the way back in 1997. He’s held every role in the sales organization. He’s done direct sales, service sales and has even been a sales engineer.

And, he himself is a four-time startup entrepreneur and has been through three acquisitions. The acquiring companies being Infor, IBM, and Salesforce.

Since leaving his most recent post at Influitive, he started a platform and a training organization called Cerebral Selling.

David Priemer: Thanks so much, Sam! That was a great intro. It sounds so much better when you say it.

Highlights of David’s Sales Career

David Priemer: There are two things here. When I got into sales, I started my career in solution engineering, and it was an expression of my curiosity. I was always interested in the “why?”.

Why do people buy things and why do they not? How am I going to showcase this solution to make it seem like it’s really, really great?

The second thing was that in the world of sales especially, customers start off by hating you. But sales has evolved so much over the last 20 years. I put these two together and decided it was a space I wanted to help people in.

Bonus read: 5 Game-Changing Trends Shaping the Future of Sales [New Report]

Sam Jacobs: Are there specific tactics?

David Priemer: I’m a big advocate for never falling in love with your tactics. Historically in sales, we think we’re encapsulated. We engage in activities that we otherwise wouldn’t. We cold call people and we ask, “Hey, do you have a few minutes to chat?.”

Or we ask them, “Hey, Sam, how you doing today?” Meanwhile, you know that I don’t care about how you’re doing. And I know that you know I don’t care about how you’re doing.

People just want to be treated like normal people. And sellers should be treating their prospective buyers in the same way that they would want to be treated.

The 2 Components of Cerebral Selling

1) Do the things that work

David Priemer: Look at what the data says and what the science says. I’m not talking the latest data about open rates on this particular email subject line, because those are very fleeting and can change. But the things that are have been shown to scientifically work in terms of persuasive tactics and messaging tactics like personalized emails.

2) Don’t be an asshole

When reps cold call, they invoke the sleazy used car salesman persona that every prospective buyer is on the lookout for, right? It takes a little of that behavior to trigger this response from a buyer. So, just don’t be an asshole.

What the Data Says About the Discovery Phase Speed

David Priemer: We can track back a lot of the conversion rates right to the discovery process or call. It’s not just the questions we ask, but it’s how we position the value of our solution.

The Exclusionary Principle

David Priemer: You could start off with, “Hey, look, this isn’t for everyone. I don’t know if this problem is big enough for us to help you solve.”

You might even invoke a mindset where you say, “I know we’re talking here in terms of discovery. I don’t know if our solution is a good fit for you.” It’s a mindset of the healthy skeptic.

But what happens is, most sellers go into the discovery process with confirmation bias. This way your pipeline has a lot of opportunities that are going nowhere.

Sales cycle length versus the discovery process

David Priemer: A quick look at the data and you know that you’ve spent more time losing than winning deals. Take a look a the time your spend on your discovery process. With my teams, what I found was that they we spending three times as long losing deals.

What this meant was that they spent three times as long in the discovery process because they walked in with a confirmation bias.

Emotion-based Objections versus Logic-Driven Objections

Sam Jacobs: I was reading this blog post that you’d written about the five categories related to objections in sales. And how to think about handling those objections. Walk us through that framework.

David Priemer: We all know that when a customer states an objection, it’s like iceberg. What we see is actually not the real objection. Here’s a fun little exercise to go through in your own business.

In sales, one of the most common objections that we get is budget. It’s too expensive. Go in your own company and write down the objection—it’s too expensive—and then a blank after it. Most often, prospects are just looking for logical answers.

Sometimes, they bubble derailing objections that could potentially make the sales cycle longer. The way to manage these derailing objections is to find those champions within that org who have positive views.

Quick-Fire Questions

Sales and marketing stack

David Priemer: Salesforce, DocuSign, Gong.io, Mixmax

David’s mentors

David Priemer: Definitely Tony Rodoni.

Top reads/podcasts

David Priemer: The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink, and Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein.

Sam Jacobs: David, thank you so much for being a guest. I’m sure your website, cerebralselling.com is a very easy way to connect with you. Thanks again, and I look forward to talk to you soon!

David Priemer: Pleasure. Thanks so much for having me, Sam!

Sam’s Corner

Hey everybody, it’s Sam’s corner! Another fantastic conversation, this time with David Priemer. He runs Cerebral Selling but has been working in sales management and sales leadership for 20 years.

I liked a lot of what David had to say. Particularly, as anybody that knows me knows I’m obsessed with the discovery phase. I really think that’s where 80% of the sale happens. The crux of discovery is asking questions.

Don’t Miss Episode 12

To check out the show notes, see upcoming guests, and play more episodes from our incredible lineup of sales leaders, visit www.saleshacker.com/podcast-subscribe

You can also find the Sales Hacking podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. If you enjoyed this episode please give us a share on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Finally, a special thanks again to this month’s sponsor, Gong. If you want to get in touch with me, find my social handles in my bio below.

I’ll see you next time!


Also published on Medium.

About the author

Sam Jacobs

Sam Jacobs is the Founder of Aqueduct Revenue Advisors and the New York Revenue Collective and regarded as one of the top start-up CROs in the tech community. He has has over 15 years of experience scaling companies from post-revenue to ~$300M, has helped raise over $400M in institutional capital, and has helped companies of all sizes achieve an average annualized revenue growth rate of 48% over the last 15 years.

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