Host: Tim Martin
Guest: Michael Gallagher
Episode 13: Serve and Synergy – Michael Gallagher Interview
May 18, 2014
Download pdf Transcript HERE
Welcome to Success is Voluntary, a podcast devoted to helping you become the salesperson you were always meant to be, where it’s all about helping you learn the techniques and tools that will enable you to win in the increasingly competitive world of voluntary benefits. Welcome your host, a guy who has hired and trained over 2,000 voluntary benefit salespeople in his career, Tim Martin. Success is Voluntary, selling voluntary benefits.
Tim Martin: Yes, my name is Tim Martin, and you are listening to Success is Voluntary, episode number (lucky!) 13. Today I am interviewing Michael Gallagher. I met Michael about a year ago but really got to know him over the last couple of months. I’ve been incredibly impressed with his heart and passion for coaching and teaching others the art and science of sales. I’ll let Michael introduce himself here in just a second, but you guys are in for a great treat. Welcome to the studio, Michael. How are you this morning?
Michael Gallagher: I’m doing great, Tim. How are you?
Tim: I’m doing fantastic, but I’ll get better. Hey, I really appreciate you spending a couple of minutes with me. Like I said, I met Michael about a year ago at a broker event, and I was impressed with him then but really didn’t get a chance to know him very well. Then a couple of months ago, fate kind of put us in each other’s path.
I’ve just been incredibly blessed to get to know Michael a little better in some of the concepts he teaches. I think this audience will really appreciate it. I know I already have, and so, Michael, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and how you got to sitting where you’re sitting today.
Michael: Well, thank you, Tim. I’ve spent the last 30 years in the insurance and health insurance business and wellness voluntary benefits. Fortunately, I’ve been able to work in a multitude of startup organizations and helped reorganized, reinvent, and hire new sales teams and help existing teams be more productive. During the course of that, I started realizing that there were some sales techniques people tend to use over and over and over again. Most of them were ineffective.
Michael: I thought, “Well, is that like the hamster in the wheel will keep doing the same thing and get the same results, which are not effective?” So over the last few years, I had started to develop some interesting sales techniques that I tried, tested, and applied, and lo and behold, they were working.
Michael: I thought, “If these work that well, then let me figure out a way to create a coaching system so I can easily coach someone through the process, help them develop sales techniques that, by and large, are 90 percent effective, and at the end of the day will at least help them weed out the suspect non-prospect from a prospect and how to create a customer.”
Tim: You bet. So basically doing some heavy-duty homework on them and just understanding what the difference is, qualification of that person from a prospect versus a suspect?
Michael: Actually, Tim, what I noticed is here’s the typical sales scenario: The salesperson identifies the ideal prospect. They’ve already closed them in their mind, so the interaction with the prospect is all about the close.
Michael: From the beginning to the end, the salesperson is focused on closing, closing, closing. Always be closing.
Tim: Yeah, ABC.
Tim: Good old Alec Baldwin, right? Oh, ABC.
Michael: Absolutely. At the end of the interaction, the prospect tells the salesperson those dreaded six words: “I need to think about it.” Then the salesperson, hat in hand, briefcase under the arm, walking away, is saying to himself, “How could this person be so stupid not to see the value in what I was talking about?”
Michael: “How could they reject me? Perfect opportunity.” With that, I started realizing it’s not about always be closing. It’s about always be connecting.
Tim: It’s still ABC.
Michael: It’s still ABC.
Tim: Yeah, Always be connecting. Right.
Michael: It’s about that process, so the whole point of the sales coaching technique is about taking the pressure off the salesperson and the prospect so you have a blank slate to work with. No preconceived notions. You just let the interactions begin, and you actually serve them.
Tim: Mm-hmm. So tabula rasa. No expectations. No anything. You just go in with just trying to be connecting with them and figuring out where their needs are and if there’s an opportunity for you.
Michael: Exactly. As I mention SERVE, this acronym is the heart and soul of the coaching system.
Tim: All right, so SERVE is an acronym for you?
Michael: Yes, it is, and here’s what it stands for: The S is synergy.
Tim: Synergy, okay.
Michael: Creating that synergistic environment, again, the blank slate.
Michael: Secondly, E is the effective communication, so that’s all with the rapport building, understanding the 80/20 rule: the prospect speaks 80 percent of the time; the salesperson listens and speaks 20 percent of the time. Then, R is relationship building.
Michael: Next, the V is various influencing techniques.
Tim: Various, so that’s kind of cheating.
Tim: Various influencing techniques. Well, sometimes you have to stretch to make an acronym, but I like it.
Michael: Yes, but it works, and then the E is entering into agreement.
Tim: Okay. Nice. What was the first E again? We have SERVE…
Michael: We have SERVE…synergy.
Michael: Effective communication.
Tim: Effective communication.
Michael: Relationship building.
Michael: Various influence techniques.
Michael: And entering into agreement.
Tim: I like that. I like that. That’s a very simple and easy-to-understand sales process.
Tim: I’m a huge believer, and it sounds like you are too, Michael, that sales certainly has some art to it. We know that, but there’s also a lot of science to it.
Michael: Oh, absolutely.
Tim: If we try and get out of order, if there are buying decisions that the buyer makes, and if we try and sell out of their order, then our chances of getting that sale go down dramatically.
Tim: I think that’s what you’re talking about here: ways to make sure that you’re staying inside of that buyer’s buying order.
Tim: Okay, so what is, exactly, the Strategic Synergy Sales System? Is it built around the SERVE model, I assume.
Michael: Yes, it is, and the interesting thing about it, Tim, is that this system can be learned by anyone.
Michael: It doesn’t matter if they have sales experience, don’t have sales experience, or if they’re using another sales model, as well. This really can be the basis and the platform of how they interact with that prospect to create a customer, and with synergy, the interesting thing that we found is that there are five or six elements to this that are critical. We call it The Powers of Synergy.
The Power of Acceptance. When you sit with someone, the tendency for all of us is to start judging them. We judge them on how they appear, how they dress, what they have, what they say. What we teach is: Just put that out of your mind. Just listen. Be in state with them. It’s like the famous stories you hear about the gentleman who walks into the bank wearing coveralls. The bank clerk assumes this guy has two nickels to rub together…maybe.
Michael: He walks over to the bank manager with a check for $1 million to deposit into this bank. So we teach them never judge; just accept the situation you’re in.
Michael: Then the pressure is off the salesperson. The pressure is off the prospect. We also have…
The Power of Approval. You approve of everything that goes on. Whatever that person says to you is fine. You just deal with it. Listen to it, and then respond in an appropriate way.
The Power of Empathy. If you’re empathetic with what is going on in that prospect’s situation, they will feel it. People respond to empathetic situations.
Tim: That’s true. Go through those again. The first one was acceptance.
Michael: Acceptance, approval, and empathy.
Michael: Then when you’ve mastered those three, you can release any form of judgment about the situation, about them, about the results. You just let it be because when you do that, the prospect will feel that there is no barrier. They trust you.
Tim: Gotcha. In fact, you said something a couple of months ago when we first started to get to know each other really well about this acceptance thing. Oftentimes, we get into a decision-maker presentation. That business owner or HR director, they get interrupted four times. It’s really easy as a salesperson to get frustrated by that because you’re there with an agenda. You’re there to close them. Right?
Tim: You know that every time that they get interrupted, now you have to go back, and you have to kind of start over, and you can get really, really kind of tweaked out about it, but if you’re not, when you do that, they can feel that.
Tim: If you have that acceptance (right?), and that’s what you’re talking about here, whatever happens during that sales call is okay.
Michael: It’s perfect.
Tim: It’s perfect.
Michael: It’s perfect.
Tim: You’re going to struggle getting me to get to perfect, Michael.
Michael: I know. Well, the reason I say that is that in the example of that HR director being distracted several times going back and forth, when you apply empathy to that and say, “Oh, I appreciate how busy you are, and I certainly appreciate the fact you’re taking the time to meet with me,” now they feel like, oh, you understand them. They’re safe. If they get interrupted again, they may not take that interruption. They may stay in state with you.
That’s the power of empathy, when you apply that and accept the fact that this is going on. Then they feel that there is no pressure. They’ll actually probably start joking with you about the fact that, “Gosh, I really feel bad that today is such a busy day, and I really want to listen to what you have to say,” and be in state with you, the salesperson. It’s a way of creating a common ground, a way to be able to move the process forward.
Tim: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Like I said, I get that because I really believe people feel tension. They can sense tension, and when you get tense and you get upset by those kinds of things, it creates a barrier, like you said.
Michael: Yes. Yes.
Tim: The whole idea in the sales process is to remove the barriers. Right?
Tim: Okay, so that’s exciting. What is next?
Michael: Effective Communication. This, Tim, is just basically the old school of mirroring, agreeing, body language, and being aware of social styles. What we teach is that you want to be in state with your prospect in a way that they feel comfortable, in using certain mirroring techniques, agreeing techniques, body language, and social styles. Being aware if they’re a driver, Type-A personality and they’re coming at you like crazy, you’d better be able to respond in short, brief answers. They want the bottom line.
Tim: Right. They don’t want to know how to build the watch. They want to know what time it is.
Michael: Exactly. If you have the high analytic who is asking question upon question, be accepting of that. Give them all the information they want, because that’s the only way they feel comfortable responding to you or making any type of decision. So we really teach and coach through the fact of being cognizant that your social style as a salesperson is a social style. Theirs is too. How do you create some synergy and some connection between those two?
Tim: You know, Michael, a lot of people who are listening to this probably haven’t been in sales a long time, and they may never have heard of the mirroring technique. I know what it is. Would you briefly kind of explain? I mean there are books written on this, and there are three-day seminars you can go to on mirroring, but kind of briefly explain what it is and why the experts think it’s so effective.
Michael: Well, mirroring is just what it says. If you hold a mirror in front of yourself and look at it, it’s going to give you your reflection.
Michael: In an interview with a prospect, as you watch how they smile, respond to you, interact with you, you can use certain mirroring techniques. In the same way that they’re acting towards you, you can, likewise, mirror them. What happens, then, is it’s almost like, now, they’re looking at themselves.
Michael: They aren’t apt to reject themselves. They accept themselves, so you learn how mirroring and body language… When you see that they’re crossing their legs during an interview, if you’re brave enough, you can do the same thing.
If they cross their arms, I’ve done it many times where I’ve crossed my cross arms, but, at the same time, taken an expression of acceptance and very empathetic and spoken with them so there’s no guarded situation. Those kind of things, from a salesperson’s perspective, especially someone new in the business, those two techniques are critical to learn.
Tim: I agree. I agree, and here’s the problem: For a lot of salespeople, if they haven’t put in the hard work of really understanding what their sales process is and where they’re kind of going, that’s a lot to think about.
Tim: “I have to remember what I was wanting to get across here, and I have to mirror, and I have to watch body language, you know, and I…” I think that’s one of the things that really separates the true champions in this business versus the kind of second-place people, the people who aren’t quite nearly as effective. They learn their basics first, and then they’re able to concentrate on what is going on around them because the rest of it is almost on autopilot.
Michael: Yes and it’s putting in the practice.
Tim: Oh, man.
Michael: You know, athletes don’t become professional athletes without practice, and what I coach is the 28-day principle. You form a habit by doing the same thing for 28 days. It’s very simple, whether it’s fitness, whether it is diet, whether it is exercise, whether it is sales, whether it is business practices, 28 days.
Tim: Hey, stay off the diet-and-exercise thing. This is my show, okay?
Tim: We don’t talk about diet and exercise on here, okay? No, I’m so thankful the semester is over. I’ve contacted a trainer, and I’m back in the gym next week, so…
Michael: Good for you.
Tim: Oh, my gosh.
Michael: I’m a certified personal trainer, by the way.
Tim: There you go. All right.
Michael: We coach them through the fact that you have to put in the reps.
Michael: The more practice, the better you’ll be. When they take these principles, particularly someone who is new to sales, who typically will be the most aggressive at applying these principles, by the way, because they’re a clean slate in their own way…
Tim: Yeah. No kidding.
Michael: You know? So when they do that and practice it, there are amazing results.
Tim: I heard Michael Hyatt (back to that). It never ceases to amaze me some of the veteran salespeople who just kind of plug along, year after year, do about the same amount of premium, year after year after year after year, make a comfortable living but don’t get better.
Tim: Don’t get better. Two quotes: John Maxwell says, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts,” and the second one I just heard Michael Hyatt say this a couple of weeks ago. He said, “The day I think I’ve arrived, I’ve put one foot in the grave.”
Michael: Absolutely. Interesting you say that because when you put a ceiling and you feel comfortable with that ceiling, you’re only one step away from creating the next ceiling.
Tim: Oh, I like that.
Michael: Yes and it’s really sad, Tim. I’ve observed, also, when you see a salesperson who is a superstar and they feel comfortable at that superstar level, but they could be a super-duper star…
Tim: Super-duper, yeah, they could.
Michael: …if they would just put in a little bit more effort, a few more reps, learn more techniques. By the way, one of the things I do in my business coaching is I always reinforce the fact that you must be learning something new every month. You need to read a book, listen to a book on tape, do something, as Covey used to say, that really “sharpens your saw.”
Tim: You bet.
Michael: You need to be doing that because if you don’t, well, how are you increasing your value in the marketplace?
Tim: Yeah. My favorite quote on self-development is, “All growth begins with personal growth.”
Michael: That’s exactly right.
Tim: If you want to be a better salesperson, you want to be a better father, you want to be a better church member, you want to be a better spouse, whatever it is, you have to be better. You have to get better, and there is some really interesting brain science on it, Michael. I was just reading that if you are learning something that is fascinating to you (not just because you have to), but if you are learning something that is fascinating to you, it releases massive amounts of dopamine in your brain.
Tim: I mean the same amount as cocaine, as a lot of things that are really bad for you (right?) that people get hooked on, and so get hooked on that. That’s a great thing to get hooked on. Get hooked on learning something new. I subscribe, for instance, to TED, the TED Talks.
Michael: Oh, that’s great.
Tim: I get a TED Talk in my email box every day, and as busy as I am, it’s 18 minutes out of my day, but I make sure I watch every single one of those. I don’t care how busy I am, I don’t care if I’m traveling, because those things are so inspiring and so fascinating. Sometimes they’re about subjects I don’t care about at all, but by the time I get done with 18 minutes, I’m like, “Wow! That’s fascinating to me!” It’s very fascinating, so…
Michael: It’s exactly right. In fact, you know, Tim, with that same attitude, we coach people to do things you love to do. You need to enjoy your work, and it should light you up every morning when you get up that you’re anxious to go out there and do it, but you have to also do things you love to do beyond work. If it’s learning new things, great, but you need to be doing those things that enrich you because that makes you more valuable. It makes you a better person. I agree with you totally. The other portion to this is the relationship building.
Michael: This is where you can do the important listening and finding-common-ground questioning, and really this relationship building, if you do this effectively, everything else falls into place.
Tim: That’s one of the oldest adages in sales.
Tim: People like to do business with people they like and trust, right?
Tim: All things being equal (or not being equal, as it may be), the person who they have the relationship with is going to win. Right?
Michael: How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh, my gosh, my proposal was so much better, and they chose this other person who they knew, they liked, they trusted, they’ve known for years, and they got the business”?
Tim: Oh, it just happened to us. One of my agents and I made a big presentation to about a 700-life group, and we hit it off. I thought we had crushed that presentation, but unfortunately, there was a different relationship that we were unaware of that was a multi-year relationship, and of course, they went that way.
I think we had a better solution. I think we had better rates. I think all those things, and honestly, it sounds braggadocios, but I don’t know how we could have done a better presentation. It was textbook, all sorts of buying signs. They were with us the whole way. I never count chickens before they’re hatched, you know?
Tim: I went out of there and high-fived the agent we were with. We waited until we got out of the parking lot (I promise), but I high-fived him, because I was convinced that we had just crushed it, and we lost. That’s okay. Everything happens for a reason. I believe that, and I think we made some relationships that we can use long term, but in the short term, it still stinks.
Michael: Yeah, it’s true. It happens all the time. The interesting thing I find with the relationship building is that most salespeople are afraid to ask multiple probing questions, so they ask a question, they get an answer, and then they want to move on, but what I coach them to do is keep asking questions until you have no more questions to ask. People like to talk about their situation and themselves.
Michael: You never know what you’re going to uncover, and that next question could be just the key to making them a customer for you.
Tim: That’s great.
Michael: I really push; ask questions. They answer; ask another one. They can answer a question. You can say, “That’s an interesting response. Why do you feel that way?”
Tim: Yeah. Yeah. Just something simple like that.
Michael: Something simple. So I really coach through the probing question, relationship building.
Then the various influencing techniques. I want to give your listeners a great book to read. It’s called Instant Influence. Michael V. Pantalon is the author. It’s a great book. He actually created this influencing-questioning technique and applied it in hospital emergency rooms.
Michael: Yes, because these emergency doctors had less than 14 minutes with a patient. Many of them were addicts, alcoholics, things like that, so in order to create an intervention of some sort, they had to get to the issue quickly to create a call to action for that patient.
Michael: Well, from there, he has taken this further and further, and it’s applicable in all facets of life, and as I started learning these techniques, then I started seeing, “Well, I have six different techniques and tactics you can use.” This is the various influencing techniques: the what, the why, the how, the feeling, the experience, and the commitment.
If you use these questions, it would be like…Well, what is it you want to accomplish if we bring in these products and services? They answer, and then you can say, “Well, why is that important? On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is that to you?”
Tim: Nice. Nice. Then…What is the experience?
Tim: Yeah, I get it.
Michael: Yes and so from there, you have them telling you how important. You can ask them, “Well, why is it that important, or why is that that unimportant to you?” Then you can have them imagine what it would be like should that be in place: How would that feel? What difference is that going to make for you? What are our next steps?
Tim: Right. I think that’s so important, Michael, because I think to be effective in sales, you have to not only appeal to the emotional side of it. You know, again, one of those old adages in sales is people buy based upon emotion, and they back up that sale based upon logic.
Tim: So if we go in and all we’re talking about is facts and figures and what we can do for them and the features and benefits of our products and services, but we don’t appeal to their emotion, we miss the boat dramatically.
Michael: Yes. Yes. If there’s something they want and there’s a big why and a lot of emotion around it, you can deal with them, and you can make them a customer. You have to get to those key aspects of the situation with that prospect.
Tim: You bet, and I think you have to get them off center a little bit too. You mentioned Type-A personality. Not every business owner you’re going to run into is a Type-A personality, but a lot of them are.
Tim: Let’s face it. A lot of them are fairly Type-A personalities, and they’ve been in business 22 years and made a profit every year, thank you very much, without you. “Why do I need you, kid?”
Tim: I mean that’s kind of their attitude. It feels like that if you’re a new agent, especially, I think.
Tim: The reality is we have to get them off center a little bit. We have to get emotionally involved in the sale.
Tim: I’ve taught, for a long time, the disturbing question… In fact, I used it yesterday at a Phoenix Chamber of Commerce luncheon. I asked a bunch of business owners in the room, I said, “Imagine for a second that I was your favorite employee of all time.”
I said, “Imagine that when you started at your kitchen table, or in your garage, I was the first person you hired. You’ve built up this business, and you treat me like a partner. Now I’m not. I’m just an employee, but you treat me like a partner. When you go on vacation, you leave me in charge. You don’t even check in anymore because you know that I have your cell phone. I’ll call you if there’s an emergency. If something bad were to happen to me, if something awful were to happen, and I had to take off a year (maybe longer) to take care of an injured child or a sick spouse, how long are you prepared to continue to pay me?”
Michael: Wow. That is a great question.
Tim: It’s so powerful because they have somebody like that, maybe not to the point that I paint it for them, but they have that valued employee. Maybe it’s their brother-in-law or something, you know what I mean?
Michael: Exactly. Right.
Tim: They have somebody on their staff that they really have affection for, that they really believe has been part of the reason they’ve been successful, and so when, all of a sudden, we put it on their shoulders, they’re the person who is struggling, then, all of a sudden, having a solution for that is important to them.
Michael: Yes. You bring up such a great point. One of the modules we’ve created for a business owner is “Your Most Valuable Asset,” and business owners are business owners. They think that their lease, the brick and mortar they own, the equipment, all of the computers, all of these things are hard assets and very important to the business, but at the end of the day, the most valuable asset are those employees they retain to be able to support the success of the company.
Michael: You bring up such a great question there in front of business owners.
Tim: Yeah. Well, thanks. It’s served me well over the years. I can’t remember who I learned it from, but it was, again, one of the reasons why you have to stay active, and you have to keep learning things. I went to a NAFA meeting, and we had a gentleman come in from Texas who is was a big life-insurance producer, and he talked about disturbing questions, and so I built a series of disturbing questions for our business.
When we started doing that, all of a sudden, sales started to skyrocket, so I’ll just give the audience a little teaser here. If you will leave a comment at the bottom of the show notes for this episode (the show notes can be found at www.successisvoluntary/013/, as in episode 13), I’ll shoot you back an email with a series of disturbing questions for the business owner. All right, Michael, keep going.
Michael: Well, the last part of SERVE is entering into agreement.
Tim: Entering into agreement, you bet.
Michael: All things being equal, you’ve done everything perfectly. Now the prospect is becoming a customer. You just reinforce that decision. You refocus on the feeling, the why, and the outcome.
Tim: Trying to avoid that buyer’s remorse.
Michael: Exactly. You want them to be living in the state that this has already happened. It’s done, and now…How do you feel? Then you repeat to them what was agreed to so everyone is clear. By the way, I want to give your listeners a great book to read.
Michael: It’s called The Art of War.
Tim: Oh, yes. Yes. The first one, Instant Influence, I have not read, but The Art of War is a phenomenal book. I just picked it up recently, and I’m about halfway through. I had to kind of set it aside for finals, but it’s a great book. You bet.
Michael: It’s an awesome book.
Tim: And not The War of Art.
Tim: Not Sun Tzu.
Tim: The Art of War, yeah.
Michael: The Art of War. One of the things, the point that he points out that I really take to heart, is about communication. He says if the general gives clear orders and the soldiers don’t perform, then it’s the soldier’s fault. If the general’s orders to the soldiers are unclear and the soldiers don’t perform well, it’s the general’s fault.
Tim: That’s right.
Michael: What I say in the sales environment is that if you reinforce what they’ve said to you, and you have agreement, then they’ve made the commitment. If you haven’t reinforced everything with them and tied it up and that sale doesn’t happen or they’re unhappy with the result, it’s the salesperson’s fault.
Tim: Wow, there is so much good stuff there. There is so much good stuff. Before we dig into that for just a second, let me back up here for a second. I got the two books backwards. The Art of War is the one you’re talking about.
Tim: Have you read The War of Art?
Tim: Oh, it’s a great book. That’s the one I was talking about.
Michael: Oh, okay.
Tim: It’s kind of a play on words. I won’t get into the synopsis here. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes, but it is a phenomenal, phenomenal book. I think you’d really enjoy it. It’s about being creative and how the world conspires against creativity, even from the time we’re in grade school, on forward. At any rate, back to this idea that if you don’t tie it up, it’s your fault.
Michael: It’s your fault.
Tim: One of the Sandler Rules, if you’re familiar with the Sandler sales system…
Tim: You know, one of the Sandler Rules is you can never get mad at a prospect or customer for doing something you didn’t tell them they couldn’t do. Right?
Michael: Exactly Right.
Tim: If you’ve done a presentation with the employees, and you show up to enroll them, and they say, “Well, I didn’t talk to my spouse,” and you didn’t tell them they couldn’t use that as an excuse, that’s your fault. You didn’t tell them they couldn’t do that, so one of the things I teach, for instance, when I’m wrapping up, I say, “Hey, today is Thursday. I’m going to come back on Monday. That gives you plenty of time to talk to your spouse. Monday I’m going to need a yes or a no, but ‘I forgot to talk to my spouse’ is not an acceptable answer.”
Tim: I say it with a little humor, but I give it to them right up front. You set that expectation very clearly.
Tim: Same thing with the business owner. If you don’t set those expectations clearly, you can’t get mad. If you are just expecting that they will get everybody to the presentation and you’ve never really covered that with them, and you’ve never received a firm agreement they’ll have everybody there, and you show up, and 3 people out of 30 show up to your meeting, you can’t get mad at the business owner.
Tim: It’s not their fault.
Michael: Exactly right.
Tim: That’s great. That’s really good. Okay. So we’ve walked through synergy, effective communication, relationship building. Right?
Michael: Mm-hmm. Yes.
Tim: That is R, relationship building, then various influencing techniques, and then enter into agreement.
Tim: That’s really good. How is this different? How do you coach people maybe a little bit differently than a traditional sales coach, Michael?
Michael: Well, as I mentioned before, we take the salesperson and create a blank slate. No matter what situation they’re in, just go in with no misconception, no assumptions. No deal is ever a deal until it is a deal.
Michael: We help them determine ways to create rapport because really, if you think about the purpose of an appointment, it is not a sale. It’s to create a relationship with someone. That’s really what it is.
Michael: At the end of the day, the prospect may not become a customer, but they could become a sphere of influence for many referrals.
Michael: What we found in this sales environment is that there’s an obligation that you can create with everyone you speak with because they respect you, they feel your empathy, so they may not be ready to apply your product or services to their situation, but oftentimes, they’re not ready, but they know someone who is.
Michael: We try to coach these salespeople through the technique of everyone is a potential customer or a source of ongoing referrals. Someone may not be ready now, but they could be ready later, so you always have to manage a prospect is always in the pipeline for you until it’s absolutely no.
Tim: I agree with that to a point. Let me challenge you a little bit on that. I think that part of the thing that we get paid for in sales is to get people to make a decision, one way or the other, and I am just huge believer that the maybes kill you in this business because what they end up doing is they suck a lot of your psychic energy. They really do, because you think, “Maybe they’re going to become a client.”
Tim: I can’t tell you how many agents I have had say to me over the years (literally say to me), “I think I need to stop prospecting because I don’t know how I’m going to handle all this business.” Well, when you really sit down with them, they might have three solid yeses, and they have 43 maybes.
Tim: Really, they’re not busy at all. They’ve allowed themselves to be delusional about it, so here’s what I’ve taught for a long time: I have Mary and Bob, brand new agents. Mary goes out, and she has 10 decision-maker appointments. She gets not just 10 noes; she gets 10 “Hell, no. Get out of my office, or I’m getting a restraining order against you, okay?”
Good old Bob, he is a very nice guy. He goes out, and he gets one yes and nine maybes. If you ask me who has a better chance of success, long term, in this business, I’ll tell you it is Mary, because at least she can get people to make a decision.
Tim: Now she’s getting the wrong decision. We can work with her on technique and help her get much better at this, but at least she’s not afraid to ask and not afraid to really kind of challenge that business owner to a certain point. I agree we have to be in relationship. I agree all those things are important.
At the end of the day, we have to make sure we ask for that sale. We have to be very clear on it. If it’s a maybe, I really believe that it still could be worth following up with. I’m not saying don’t follow up with them. I’m just saying we have to mentally think of those people as a no.
Michael: Yes. Well, and let me clarify my comment. The maybes become suspects.
Tim: They go back to suspects.
Michael: They go back to suspects.
Michael: We don’t want to spend a lot of time with suspects.
Tim: Right. Right.
Michael: That’s where this process is designed so suspects can be over here. Prospects are here, and the customer is what you desire to have. The suspect bucket is worth followup periodically. Perhaps a referral comes, but if you’ve weeded them out in the beginning (you gave the example you have decision makers who just said no), great. They’re no longer a suspect. They’re just not a prospect for you. At least now, you’re getting decisions made. You know whom you don’t need to speak with anymore.
Michael: Now you know where to go
Tim: Now you know where to spend your time, to where keep your focus on.
Michael: Yeah, so the suspect bucket is the maybes.
Tim: Okay. Okay. I can live with that. Okay. I just wanted to make sure because, like I said, I think that I’ve seen way too many agents get caught up in their maybes.
Tim: It just drives them crazy in the long run.
Michael: It’s always the potential sale.
Tim: Yeah. The thing is that person who is the maybe is probably too nice to just flat out tell them no, and so the agent wants to keep going back and going back and going back because they’re nice. They’re never telling them no, and so it’s comfortable. It’s a lot more comfortable than going out and prospecting for somebody because they might tell you no. This guy is never going to tell you no.
Michael: Exactly. It’s interesting with that. The ones who will never tell you no typically are more amiable personalities, because they don’t want the conflict. They don’t want to disappoint. They like the fact that you’re paying attention to them, so they like the interaction. If they can just put off the decision, they feel comfortable, but they still keep you on the hook.
Tim: Right. Well, and that’s one of the reasons that I will never do the… Never say never, I guess, but that’s one of the reasons I’ll never do the senior market. A lot of the time, in the senior market, the reason they’re having that insurance agent come out to their house is they’re just lonely. They want somebody to talk to.
Michael: It’s just social.
Tim: They’re never going to buy. I’ve heard lots of horror stories from friends of mine who have been in that marketplace, and they’ve been quoted for long-term care. They’ve asked for quotes for long-term care from 23 different carriers, and they’re on oxygen. They know they don’t qualify, and yet they still have all these appointments, so yeah.
Tim: Yeah, no, we need to avoid that. Absolutely. Okay, so then what makes this so successful, do you think?
Michael: Well, I think basing it on, like I say, the blank-slate principle and always be connecting is a different type of approach to sales versus the hard close.
Michael: We really want someone to feel that there’s an empathetic bond between the salesperson and the prospect and that there’s a caring about their welfare because, as you mentioned a few minutes ago, people like to do business with people they like and people they feel have their best interest in mind. When that is created, you have a much better chance of creating a successful sales environment.
Tim: I couldn’t agree more, and it’s not just about sitting around singing “Kumbaya,” right?
Tim: Have you read the book The Challenger Sale?
Tim: It’s really an interesting book. He does talk a lot about relationship in there, but he says that one of the best ways to build a relationship with business owners is, sometimes, you have to challenge them. You have to say, “What you’re doing right now is getting you these results, and that’s great, but if you want to grow, you want to change, you want to get better,” you said it early on, “you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.” Albert Einstein said that’s the definition of insanity. Right?
Michael: Yes. Yes.
Tim: Doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting different results. I talked to a friend of mine who is a regional sales coordinator. I won’t tell you his name or where he’s at because it might give it away, but he called me yesterday. He said, “I just got done doing my second group interview, and I feel like I’m on this hamster wheel. We’re bringing people into the organization, but we’re losing them, and I just feel like it’s Groundhog Day. Every day is the same thing.”
I’m like, “Dude, you are. You are on a hamster wheel. You’re doing the same thing over and over and over again, and you’re expecting it to be different.” I said, “If you want to make a change, then you have to make a change,” and so absolutely. That’s interesting.
Michael: It’s interesting that you make that comment, Tim. I just finished a blog, “The Power of Focus,” and one of the things I pointed out in that is that, many times, we’re distracted by all the shiny objects around us, and we’re in that hamster in the wheel. We’re doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Instead of saying, “Let me take a step back. Maybe I need to focus my energy here and do something differently to get a better result,” as your friend was speaking with you.
Part of the thing with the salesperson, I’ve noticed over the years, is they get comfortable. As you mentioned, they get comfortable where they are. They get comfortable with an income. They get comfortable with activity level, and then they’re almost reluctant, not afraid, but just don’t want to put that extra effort in to raise the bar just a little bit more.
What we’re always coaching is that, every year, you should be using the 25 percent rule: “I did this last year. Let’s increase it by 25 percent this year.” If you’re always doing that, believe you me, those results will always be better than what you would have had.
The coaching principles of this, as I mentioned before, are easy to apply. Whether you’re a salesperson with a lot of experience or not, as long as you have an empathetic attitude and really care about people, anyone can do it because, quite frankly, I think we bring too many salespeople into the business who only care about the money.
Tim: Oh, I agree. Absolutely.
Michael: They don’t care about the people, and it’s not a knock. I know there are many out there who are very successful operating their business that way, but for the long term, the greatest success you can have is serving others
Tim: That’s what I love about this industry, Michael. I’ve said it multiple times in this podcast, in my blog, I don’t know of any place else where your income is based upon the quality and the number of people you serve.
Tim: That is such a beautiful thing. It’s the way it should be. It really is. You stole my last question. So how hard is this to learn and to apply, do you think?
Michael: We use the 28-day principle. We give them the techniques to use. If we’re coaching a particular client, we’ll work with them over a 28-day period of time reinforcing, getting feedback, and making sure that everything is progressing, they’re feeling comfortable. At the end of 28 days, by and large, most of the people who we’ve worked with have embraced it, saw a significant increase in sales results, but, on the other side of it, have seen their referral base increase substantially.
Tim: Wow, that’s interesting.
Tim: Do you think that’s because the connection that they’ve made with that person, they’re more apt to give them referrals?
Tim: I have to believe that has to be the reason.
Tim: Absolutely. Okay, a couple of questions that you weren’t aware were coming. First of all, the easy one, how do people find you, Michael?
Michael: Well, the website is www.fitbodymindandsoul.com/.
Tim: So, it’s www.fitbodymindandsoul.com. Of course, I’ll put that in the show notes, as well.
Michael: You’ll find my contact information in there and my business partner, Troy, his contact information. We do life, fitness, and business coaching, so you can get a free one-hour consultation as a listener to this podcast if you just go on to the website and put your information in.
Tim: Fantastic. I’m know you’re on LinkedIn, as well.
Tim: You’re a power user on LinkedIn, so… Michael Gallagher. I’ll include a link to his LinkedIn profile there, as well, and you blog over on your website.
Tim: Absolutely. All right, and then the last question, Michael, is…How do you want to be remembered? I know it’s a big question, but we know that we’re on this earth for a short period of time. When it’s all said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
Michael: I want to be remembered as someone who has helped a multitude of people realize their dreams and make a difference.
Tim: Boy, it doesn’t get much better than that. All right. Well, Michael I really appreciate you being here. Thanks so much, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Michael: Thank you.
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Tim: Hey, thanks so much for sticking around to until the end. I really appreciate you as a listener. Could you do me a favor and jump on over to iTunes and rate the podcast? If you’ve done that already, thank you so much. You can only do it once, but if you haven’t had a chance yet, I’d really appreciate it. It helps other people find us, and it keeps on the front page of iTunes.
Don’t forget to jump onto www.successisvoluntary.com/013/, and if you’ll leave comment there in the comment section, I will send you that email I promised with a list of disturbing questions. Hey, I look forward to seeing you back here next week. We have a great show for you. You’re going to love my guest. Talk to you soon.