EP204: Confidence Beats Technique in Sales Training
Alex McNaughten continues his visit with Chris to share psychological insights that challenge traditional sales training. As an AI entrepreneur, Alex emphasizes confidence should be the priority when onboarding salespeople, not technique. He advocates first building enough confidence just to "pick up the phone” and draws parallels between sales and coaching - both guide people through "the emotional journey to consider something new." Alex tells his story about overcoming fear in sales and boxing, noting most training overlooks the emotional side. He concludes that "so much sales training, particularly cold calling, is wrong or missing" these emotional components.
Alex’s perspective as an AI builder brings a unique view on honing the emotional skills crucial for sales success. He advocates pushing sales leaders to transform training to address confidence and psychology first. Join them for this episode, “Confidence Beats Technique in Sales Training.”
Alex McNaughten continues his visit with Chris to share psychological insights that challenge traditional sales training. As an AI entrepreneur, Alex emphasizes confidence should be the priority when onboarding salespeople, not technique.
He advocates first building enough confidence just to pick up the phone, and draws parallels between sales and coaching. Both guide people through the emotional journey to consider something new. Alex tells his story about overcoming fear in sales and boxing, noting most training overlooks the emotional side.
He concludes that so much sales training, particularly cold calling, is wrong or missing these emotional components. Alex's perspective as an AI builder brings a unique view on honing the emotional skills crucial for sales success. He advocates pushing sales leaders to transform training to address confidence and psychology first. Join him and Chris for this episode, Confidence Beats Technique in Sales Training.
Chris Beall (01:26):
Yeah, so I think a CS team would be very interesting. And he loves trying new stuff. He's kind of like Corey in that regard, and I think CS might be as big a play as sales for Taylor.
In fact, I mean CS is the game in the world of SaaS. CAC is like, well, okay, great. But are you going to hold them, right? I know when somebody looks at a company, they don't start out asking, what's your effectiveness at acquiring customers? They ask, what's your net retention rate?
Alex McNaughten (01:57):
I think CS becomes more important in a tougher environment because it's much easier to sell more to your existing customers, and upsell them, rather than trying to bring on new ones for a lot of companies right now.
Thanks for teeing up this podcast, that was fun. 30 minutes goes quickly when you're just talking. It goes so fast. You think 30 minutes is a long time., It's really not. It flies past.
Chris Beall (02:20):
It is quick.
Alex McNaughten (02:24):
It's good, though. Because...
Chris Beall (02:25):
By the way. Yeah, I think that it's really interesting. We sometimes do these and we'll go an hour and a half, or something like that. And it's really interesting where the conversations end up going. We almost never go where we think we're going to go, which is great. So we don't think very hard about it, but they go by fast. They really do.
Alex McNaughten (02:42):
Yeah, that's the best part about it. It's often when a conversation just naturally flows. Chris, I just want to say a massive thank you for your support. You said some really lovely things about what we're doing, and I get the sense that you genuinely believe and are excited by what we're building. Which is really cool, and it's the early supporters that I think really make a company. It's those folks who kind of get it before 90% of the world gets it. I really appreciate it, and thank you. Let's keep going on the journey together. We're going to build something big.
Chris Beall (03:13):
I feel very fortunate that we got to talk in the first place. Just watching the demo, most demos don't do much for me because they're about buttons. And buttons aren't very interesting. Push this button, this thing happens. And they're generally about feeding the monster or making pretty pictures, neither one of which is interesting to me. You feed the CRM system or whatever all day long, and then you ask it for pretty pictures, and then you pretend the pretty pictures are going to change your life and they don't. That's kind of the history of enterprise software kind of in a nutshell.
We do something at ConnectAndSell that actually does something. It's a doing thing, it's not a looking and thinking and whatever thing. And what I was drawn to in the simple demo was the emotional content.
And my view of sales is pretty simple, which is we're facilitators of an emotional journey.
Alex McNaughten (04:07):
Chris Beall (04:07):
That someone else needs to go on in order to be comfortable enough that they can consider the possibility of something new. And that's what we do in sales. And I don't know why not everybody gets it. It's like Anthony Iannarino gets it. You read Elite Sales Strategies, that's what it's about. The Jolt Effect guys, they get it. It's all producing the reality and the perception of risk on the part of the other person, the potential buyer, so they can move forward. You're actually an enabler of something that can't be done without your help.
I used to teach people how to rock climb. And to be a modern rock climber, even in the gym, the number one thing you have to learn how to do is trust the rope. And experienced climbers can't go back in time, back to when they didn't trust the rope. So they start in the wrong place. They start with technique.
And they start by saying, do this, do that. Try this, try that. But the thing you need to do, and I think this is identical to what we do in sales, is you need to help that person who is properly naturally afraid of falling. It's not incorrect to be afraid of falling.
I can tell you from experience, I once took a little fall on a mountain of about 800 feet. The chances of walking away from them are pretty close to zero. It was not something I would ask somebody else to give a try to. Why don't you go jump on that chunk of tilted ice and see what happens when you go head-first into the rocks at 70 miles an hour?
And so I knew as a young rock climber that the fear of falling is a good thing, not a bad thing. But when I taught people, I would just teach first to trust the rope. And the way I'd do it is this, go up one foot, step off.
It's kind of silly, right? Well, I wouldn't have gotten hurt without the rope. Yeah, well, you're going to learn to trust the rope. We do that until it's boring. Then go up two feet, step off, go up three feet and step off.
Alex McNaughten (06:09):
Chris Beall (06:10):
When you're so bored with that, then you're ready to have your mind open to what's the most effective way to rest? So let's go up to that three-foot level, and let's try different ways of resting. Because the other thing you're going to be afraid of is running out of gas. Because you're going to run out of gas when you're climbing. That's the first thing that happens.
Speaker 1 (06:33):
We'll be back in a moment after a quick break.
Selling a big idea to a skeptical customer, investor, or partner is one of the hardest jobs in business. So when it's time to really go big, you need to use an uncommon methodology to gain attention, frame your thoughts, and employ successful sequencing that is fresh enough to convince others that your ideas will truly change their world.
From crafting just the right cold call screenplays, to curating and mapping the ideal call list for your entire tam, Branch 49's modern and innovative sales toolbox offers a guiding hand to ambitious organizations in their quest to reach market dominance. Learn more at branchfortynine.com.
And we're back.
Alex McNaughten (07:22):
It makes you rethink learning journeys. My experience with boxing is quite similar. Is that I wish more time had been spent upfront on overcoming the natural fear of being punched in the face. Because it's very jarring, because you start with all the technique, and the punches, and the movement. And then you move to that, and you suddenly sparring. But your natural instinct is to shut your eyes when you see a punch coming at you. Of course it is.
But I wish that, when I was younger, someone had spent time with me on that fear, because it would've made everything a lot easier later on. And I think most learning journeys are like that, and I think we leave the emotional side out of it.
Chris Beall (08:08):
And in sales it's all we're doing. We're helping somebody overcome their correct natural fear of trying something.
Alex McNaughten (08:21):
Well, so is coaching.
Chris Beall (08:22):
We treat it like it's not correct, but it is correct. They should be afraid. They should be concerned.
Alex McNaughten (08:27):
But that's exactly the same as coaching. I think your description of sales as the emotional journey to help someone consider the possibility of something new, I think replace the word sales with coaching, and it's exactly the same.
And I think that's where most people go wrong, is they focus far too much effort and attention on knowledge, and product features if they're teaching someone something, and they actually forget that, especially when you bring a new person into a sales role, probably the number one thing you want to focus on is actually just their confidence. It is arguably the first thing you want to do, is just get them confident enough to pick up the phone in the first place.
And then you can worry about the specifics of technique and product features, et cetera, and that builds over time. But yeah, anyway, that's given me a thought. That's kind of got my mind racing actually, in terms of conversational design. But that's going to take me somewhere.
Chris Beall (09:28):
By the way, do you know about how we do our flight schools? It's so unusual. We do exactly what you said. So we run a thing called flight school, and flight school takes reps who are hesitant, uncertain. Maybe they think they're pretty good, maybe not. But it's about cold-calling.
We deal first with the issues around fear by making it clear at the very beginning, most of the fear is actually on the other side. You're the scary thing. The reason that you're afraid of cold calling is you're afraid of being scary. You're afraid of being thrown out of the village. You have a deep, primal fear of being exiled.
And so there's no place in the environment of evolution where we would interrupt a stranger, because there were no strangers. We have no mental, emotional machinery that prepares us to be the bad thing. Which is, in this case, the invisible stranger interrupting somebody.
And the way we overcome that is first we accept that's who we are. Second, we accept that experts have actually figured out a way to turn that fear the other person has into trust, and to do it a hundred percent of the time using the same approach. So that now your journey is not about your product or anything, it's just about, can I say something in seven seconds in such a way that causes a stranger that I've just frightened to trust me?
That's a much more interesting job then, go sell a product, or go set a meeting. And it's really fun to learn how to do it. I teach people how to do a dumb thing with the cork, hold it sideways, wine cork, bounce it and have it stand up. They're not aware it can be done. Once they see it done, it becomes interesting, right? It's a dumb little thing. But it's a thing that, when you see it, you go, ooh, that can be done.
And when you see this, seven seconds happen repeatedly ... So we coach for two-and-a-half hours with full conversations, by the way. But we only coach it for seven seconds. We let them fall on the rope over, and over, and over until they get confident in the rope. Which is, the rope is, I can get somebody from their fear to trusting me in seven seconds a hundred percent of the time.
At which point the rest of this is now just, can I get them curious about taking a meeting? There's not much left.
Alex McNaughten (11:58):
So interesting, right? We talked about this last time and you just described it. Again, it just makes me think that so much of sales training, particularly the cold-calling phase, is wrong. Or just missing a key part of the equation. But this has been great. Thank you.
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean or
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean App.