In this continued “honeymoon” edition of the Market Dominance Guys, our host, Corey Frank, sits down with Brad Ferguson of Sandler Training, one of the most highly rated sales trainers on the planet. Brad, being a top franchisee of Sandler for years, personally learned his incredible questioning techniques and prospect approaches from the founder of Sandler himself, David Sandler, more than 30 years ago.
On several of the Market Dominance Guys' podcasts over the years, Chris Beall and Corey have discussed many of the modern and fresh sales methodologies being used by successful sales professionals all over the world. From Oren Klaff’s “Pitch Anything” to Andy Paul’s “Sell Without Selling Out” to Chris Voss’ “Never Split The Difference,” there are many different flavors of sales methodologies that can be used to generate trust that result in more consistent sales success.
If you’re a pilot, you file a solid flight plan and know where you are going before you start the engines. You may change course due to bumpy weather, but you still know your final destination. If you are an architect, you know what type of building you are constructing. You have a blueprint. But if you are in sales today and you are still “winging it” and letting your personality alone dictate how your sales conversations progress, you fall into the trap of being labeled a “mere tourist” and continuing to wander inconsistently in this profession. As Uncle Zig once said, “Selling is the highest-paid hard work and the lowest-paid easy work there is.” Using a sales methodology makes the hard work easier.
In this episode, have your pen and pad ready as Brad shares several tactical and specific use cases where the Sandler methodology can be employed on your calls today. He discusses many traditional “mental hang-ups” and speed bumps that impede success from an emotional point of view. From being uncomfortable about money to having a high need for approval and an aversion to the word “no,” Brad shares just some of the powerful Sandler techniques that have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in closed deals. This is the Market Dominance Guys' nearly indispensable podcast, and today’s episode is entitled, “If I Could Show You a Way.”
About Our Guest Brad Ferguson is the CEO of Best Sales Force, Inc., an Arizona-based sales development firm. He is the Senior Sandler Training Franchisee with over 25 years of experience in the Sandler Network.
Full episode transcript below:
Welcome to another session with the Market Dominance Guys, a program exploring all the high stakes, speed bumps and off ramps of driving to the top of your market. With our host, Chris Beall from ConnectAndSell, and Corey Frank from Branch49.
In this continued honeymoon edition of the Market Dominance Guys, Corey sits down with Brad Ferguson of Sandler, one of the most highly rated sales trainers on the planet. Brad, being a top franchisee of Sandler for years, personally learned his incredible questioning techniques and prospect approaches from the founder of Sandler himself, David Sandler, more than 30 years ago. On several of the Market Dominance Guys podcasts over the years, Chris and Corey have discussed many of the modern and fresh sales methodologies that are being used by successful sales professionals all over the world. From Oren Klaff's Pitch Anything to Andy Paul's Sell without Selling Out to Chris Voss's Never Split the Difference, there are many different flavors of sales methodologies that can be used to generate trust that result in more consistent sales success.
If you're a pilot, you file a solid flight plan and know where you're going before you start the engines. You may change course due to bumpy weather, but you still know your final destination. If you're an architect, you know what type of building you're constructing. You have a blueprint. But if you are in sales today and you're still winging it, and letting your personality alone dictate how your sales conversations progress, you fall into the trap of being labeled as a mere tourist and continuing to wander inconsistently in this profession. As Uncle Zig once said, "Selling is the highest paid hard work and the lowest paid easy work there is." Using a sales methodology makes the hard work easier. In this episode, have your pen and pad ready, as Brad shared several tactical and specific use cases where the Sandler methodology can be employed on your calls today.
He discusses many of the traditional mental hangups, the speed bumps that impede our success from an emotional point of view, from being uncomfortable about money to having a high need for approval and an aversion to the word no. Brad shares just some of the powerful Sandler techniques that have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in closed deals. This is the Market Dominance Guys, nearly indispensable podcast, and today's episode is titled, If I Could Show You a Way.
Corey Frank (02:38):
Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys. This is Corey Frank, and once again, I am without my profit of profit and my sage of sales, Chris Beall, who is somewhere over the Atlantic, Iceland, Scotland, et cetera, who will be reporting very soon on some of his adventures. So, it's me solo today, but I wanted to bring in a particularly timely guest for today. His name is Brad Ferguson from Sandler Training, here in Phoenix, Arizona. And particularly why I wanted to bring you on, Brad, we've known each other for a lot of years, but we've been hit by a lot of layoffs it seems.
Corey Frank (03:17):
There's a lot of news on LinkedIn and a lot of VC funded companies, private equity funded companies, they're laying a lot of sales folks off. And so I figured it'd be helpful to kind of get your perspective, as a sales trainer who has done this a long time with a great brand like Sandler, just to talk about trends in sales, how sales manager, sales leaders, CROs are dealing or should deal with maybe some of these layoffs, some business strategies to boost sales when a lot of folks are battening down the hatches, and just overall just get an idea of what we can do in our day to day business to maybe boost some revenue. So welcome, Brad. I appreciate the time jumping on.
Brad Ferguson (03:57):
Thanks for the invitation, Corey.
Corey Frank (03:58):
So, first off for those, Brad, that aren't familiar with Sandler, Sandler's a name in sales training that... You guys are what? Two, three years old? I forget. Oh no, no. Wait, no, it's 1967 by Mr. David Sandler. And so I'd love to hear, because I understand you learned at the feet of this master of our profession, but talk a little bit about, for those who aren't familiar, what makes Sandler Training different? How did you learn? How did you fall into it? And let's start with that story.
Brad Ferguson (04:26):
David himself came from the cookie cracker and potato chip business. And he was a proxy vote, he got ousted, and now he's on the streets in Baltimore, Maryland trying to get a job. Basement waterproof [inaudible 00:04:41] fairly big and the World Book People had just come to town, but he didn't like going to people's houses and pulling on a guilt trip, and he figured sales training. Maybe if I can learn how to do that, I'll learn how to sell myself along the way as a side benefit. And David went out, pedaling his wares to sell sales training, and he set a record for his company. He went 0 for 83. Nobody had ever been that bad before. And there was one gentleman named Charlie Beseech on Friday afternoon. He said, "I'll take it. I pile this stuff. I really need it." And David said, "You promise not to change your mind?" He says, "Yes, but it's too late in the day. You'll have to come back on Monday and get it checked, and leave your records behind."
Brad Ferguson (05:28):
Because back then, there were not cassettes, certainly weren't CDs. There were 78s. And those are the ones that if you drop them, they broke. So, David went home, unlike a lot of sales people, spent his commission over the weekend, even though he hadn't collected it yet, went back on Monday up to the office, "Oh, you didn't hear? Over the weekend, Charlie, massive heart attack. He's gone." And David said, "Well, what about my [inaudible 00:05:55]? You got a PO?" "Well, no, it was [inaudible 00:05:57], I'm sorry." So, Sandler walked down the stairs, took his record player and his books and threw in a trashcan, made some bag lady really happy. And then he went back to every one of those people that he missed, and he said, "Why? What was it?" And he found out a way to sell his way.
Brad Ferguson (06:17):
He told him, "First, I'm going to find out if you get any pain. In other words, compelling reasons to do business with me. Then I'm going to find out what it would be worth to you if you could turn this around. Then I'll find out if you getting any money to spend. And if it's enough, I'll sell you what I provide. Then I'm going to find out I go about choosing whether or not to do business with somebody. And if we can put those things together, I'll give you a presentation on how I can present this to you and help you, if you promise to pick only yes or no at the end." He sold 78 out of the 83 going back and doing it his way.
Corey Frank (06:49):
So, he tripped over a sales methodology based off of the no in backing into the pain.
Brad Ferguson (06:55):
And continuously went further no and drove it. Probably most sales people is, most calls end up want to think it over. When we were kids, we played tag, and there was one place that they couldn't touch you. Remember what that was called?
Corey Frank (07:12):
Was a goal, or-
Brad Ferguson (07:15):
You were home free.
Corey Frank (07:15):
Yeah. Home free. Yeah, right.
Brad Ferguson (07:16):
Home base, home free. Well, I want to think it over is like home base for prospects. They don't buy, but they don't say no, and they leave you out hoping, which creates the most addictive drug on the planet, but that drug only afflicts sales people. It's called hopium, and they're all addicted to it. They didn't get a yes or didn't get a no. And most people know that selling starts with a no. Can you get through that thing? Well, turn that no into a yes, and eliminate the darn think it overs. And Sandler was my coach when I first got into this business. I was lucky enough that the master was my guy initially. The sad part is David passed away the same year that I got started in this business back in 1995.
Corey Frank (08:02):
Of all the sales methodologies... You come from a sales background, I know too. You're very modest about your background, but you were very successful in sales before you started into the sales training world with David. But what was it about the Sandler methodology that was little fresh, different, attractive than a lot of the traditional, Dale Carnegie, for instance?
Brad Ferguson (08:24):
David [inaudible 00:08:26], our current CEO, came to Scottsdale in December of 1994 for opportunity day to explain the Sandler concept. And he and I spoke, I told what I was doing, and I was very successful. The last two companies I was with, I was the top salesperson in the business. And he says, "Dude, you're doing it all wrong. You been doing all wrong. You sell through a process that really gets boiled down into three components, qualify, ask questions, find out what their issues are, present a solution, present, and then close, usually followed by overcome objections, trial close, overcome objections, close. And by the time you're done, both parties are out of breath." And he says, "You got the words right, but they're mixed up." He said, "Why don't you qualify people, and then close them, and then present your solution." I said, "That won't work."
Brad Ferguson (09:20):
I said, "How would they know how to buy if I don't make a presentation." He said, "Why don't you give them the presentation they want, not the one that you want to give them." He said, "When you walk into a restaurant, they don't bring you your dinner. They find out what you want, and then bring you what you just bought. And they get it right all the time. And if they don't, you say, 'Wait a minute out of the lobster, not the prime rib,' but the prospect knew what he wanted before you presented your solution." And it turned a closing percentage into the nineties from the thirties, 90% closure.
Corey Frank (09:53):
But going for the no, right is a challenge for a lot of folks. A lot of folks have, "I don't want to hear the no," or "I'm going to avoid the no. It's why I have such a large pipeline. Right? Because I don't want to necessarily ask the direct question to a lot of my prospects. I'm afraid of the answer." What is that? In the Sandler world? What do you call that? How do you overcome that? Is it something that's teachable?
Brad Ferguson (10:15):
If a salesperson... Again, I'm going to go really extreme in this thing and say, if we've got a salesperson who closes at 10%, they're bad. And when they close a $20,000 deal, 5%, they make themselves a grant, and they like that, but they also got nine people that said no. And nine to one is the really crappy ratio. So, if we turn the thing around, and let's just say that if a yes is worth a thousand dollars, I'm going to take the nine and round it up to 10 numbers, nos. So, I'm going to get 10 no's that are worth... Well, if a yes is worth 1,000, 10 nos is worth 100, I would rather win 10 times at a hundred than one time at 1000, because it's the feeling of success that you get every time when you go for this thing. So, at the end of the week, we set up a contest for the week for me, and we're going to go have dinner at some high end restaurant with my [inaudible 00:11:20].
Brad Ferguson (11:19):
If I can get 20 nos in a week, then we're going to have dinner. And it's Thursday and I've already got 19 nos. I just need one more for dinner at this high end restaurant. And somebody says yes, and gives me money and screws up the whole contest.
Corey Frank (11:38):
Brad Ferguson (11:39):
They're afraid of the no, because it has no value. And if we continue that on, let's just say it took me a hundred dials to get to those 10 offers. If those hundred dials netted me that thousand dollars one win, those hundred dials into the thousand, gave me a $10 reward every time I picked up the phone. If every time you picked up the phone, you made 10 bucks, I couldn't stop you from picking up the phone.
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 [inaudible 00:12:42] Branch49'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 with Corey and Chris.
Corey Frank (13:09):
So, I have to train my behavior. I have to train my mindset. [inaudible 00:13:13] what's the most common impediment to doing that? Why am I that anxious? When it comes to potentially getting to no? What do you-
Brad Ferguson (13:22):
We get emotionally involved in banking on the outcome. We are focused on trying to make the outcome happen. So let [inaudible 00:13:31] through a real simple exercise, and then I'll explain what we're doing. I know you're a competitive guy and you like to win. Okay? So, make a fist with your right hand.
Corey Frank (13:43):
Brad Ferguson (13:43):
Put it as high in the air as you can.
Corey Frank (13:44):
Brad Ferguson (13:47):
I got to go quick and it's got to go quick, as fast as you can. Put it as high as you can. Put a little bit higher.
Corey Frank (13:52):
Brad Ferguson (13:52):
And do that the first time. As fast as you can, put it against your chin. Go. Your chin.
Corey Frank (13:57):
Got it. Got it.
Brad Ferguson (14:02):
I said chin and you copied me.
Corey Frank (14:04):
Brad Ferguson (14:05):
When sales people get emotionally involved in an outcome. They don't think. They react. And they get [inaudible 00:14:13] with what's going to happen next, and they think about where we're going to go next, and they get too many thoughts in their head as opposed to focusing on what's happening with the prospect.
Corey Frank (14:20):
Brad Ferguson (14:21):
And they react and not respond. And I can't give you a better example than what you and I just did.
Corey Frank (14:27):
Yeah, no, that's great. So, there's a high need for approval. There's a... I shun away from that. I'm used to getting the seventh place participation trophies and the ribbons. And then I get into the real world, selling for Brad, selling cybersecurity for sub solution. Brad's my manager. And wait a minute, I thought I get credit for trying a little bit. Why can't I overcome this? And it sounds like there's just a higher need for approval with some folks more than others.
Brad Ferguson (14:55):
[inaudible 00:14:55] key point. It's probably one of the most difficult weaknesses to overcome. Need for approval is the need to be liked, in extreme cases, loved. And most people are out there because it's a relationship business, which means I got to make friends. There are no friends in sales. And if you depend on friendships in sales, it's going to deceive you long term. If you are in sales to get your emotional needs met, you're going to get in trouble.
Corey Frank (15:23):
Brad Ferguson (15:24):
True or false? The bottom line of professional selling is helping people get what they want and need? True or false?
Corey Frank (15:31):
Brad Ferguson (15:32):
False. The bottom line of professional selling is to go to the bank. This is a neat profession to make some money. Yes, we want to take care of our clients, and yes, we want to serve them properly. But if we're trying to get our emotional needs met in this profession, it's going to take us off because we will not ask tough, timely, effective questions that differentiate us from the competition because we're busy being nice. And if I say something that might get them a little concerned or upset, they might not like me. If they don't like me, they don't buy for me, so I'm going to be Mr. Nice.
Corey Frank (16:06):
Brad Ferguson (16:06):
And it doesn't succeed. I'm not after anybody being nasty. I don't want to be mean. We have really strong salespeople that don't have need for approval that deliver exactly what the prospect wants. And when they do wishy washy semi commitment stuff, they say, "Wait a minute. It's okay to tell me you don't want to do this. It's okay to tell me you do. Please pick one of the two. Either one's fine."
Corey Frank (16:31):
Well, let's talk about that. I was going to ask you, give the audience maybe an example of a few questions, because I want to be a nice guy. I want to be respected. I don't want to be a jerk, because I have a high need for approval. My mother told me be nice to this stranger. Maybe people will like me. So, I got issues, right? Probably like a lot of sales people, I got a lot of baggage coming into that sales job, that entry level sales job. And you know me for a long time, Brad. Right? You know I have issues. So, but how... Maybe old school to new school. If, for instance, when I came up, I learned Dale Carnegie, as is should be barrier payout questions. What's the one we always talk about? How does it go? If I can show you-
Brad Ferguson (17:14):
[inaudible 00:17:14] today. If I, will you?
Corey Frank (17:15):
What's wrong with those questions? That sounds fairly logical. For a lot of our audience, they're going to say, "If I can show you away, would you?" What's wrong with that? And how does Sandler improve upon that?
Brad Ferguson (17:25):
If I can show you a way, would you do business with me today? It's kind of like you got to snare and you want somebody to step in it so you can catch them. And you're given an... There is no alternative. In the Sandler methodology, it's based on the prospect's right to choose. "If I, will you?" is we're all moving to try to get to the yes, and that's not how it was. But if you go back to old sales training, they told you, "Nod your head a lot and smile, and get the people to say yes." And this is teaching you how to be a clown. I mean, who wants to be a clown?
Brad Ferguson (18:02):
Prospect's right to choose. Corey, I have an offer for you I think will probably work. It matches up with what you told me you need, what you're willing to spend, and how you go about choosing somebody. If this fits for you, we can get started. If it's not acceptable, say, "No, thanks. Not going to do it." Either one's fine. The prospect's right to choose. When was the last time a salesperson told you, "It is perfectly okay and acceptable to tell me 'No thanks. We're going to pass.'"
Corey Frank (18:31):
Not since I bought sales training from you. That's the last time.
Brad Ferguson (18:37):
It completely takes the pressure away.
Corey Frank (18:40):
Brad Ferguson (18:40):
That ton of power and the ability to say no lets your prospect feel like they're in a control.
Corey Frank (18:48):
Brad Ferguson (18:48):
But if I deliver exactly what we've outlined together and we've co-built that solution for them, I don't know what to go with. In the Sandler methodology, when you deliver a solution to a prospect and you've uncovered compelling reasons, found out what has costing them, found out what they're willing to spend and how they hire people, if you have all that stuff available only you can screw this up. They just told you their criteria. Now, you just complete what they told you they require to purchase. They're not being sold. And the salesperson is not convincing. The salesperson is discovering, which is different than convincing. [inaudible 00:19:33] The Dale Carnegie piece, the Tommy Hopkins, verbal led questions, can, does, should, would, they take you to [inaudible 00:19:44] places. Verbal led questions end up with yeses and nos. I want the prospect to respond in a sentence. A conversation isn't yep and Nope.
Corey Frank (19:53):
Brad Ferguson (19:53):
How would this provide something beneficial? How do you go about, what would happen if, how do you know for sure? You can't answer yep and nope to those things. You've got to provide me with a sentence, which now we go back into the screwy percentage of communication in the selling world. We firmly believe the prospect is doing 70% of the talking. We're just facilitating it, doing 30%. I'll tell you I'd love salespeople to get to 50/50. Here's my problem. What do they saying to themselves? During the 50% of that time, they should be listening to the prospect, but we can deal with that at another time.
Corey Frank (20:36):
Sure, sure. Of course. So, but it is a methodology. It's taught. I think all of our folks at our last couple of companies, right? The Sandler Foundation has been famous for a long, long time. But what do you say to the folks that, "You know, Brad, I just like to wing it. I just, I build rapport really easily. People seem to like me. I just kind of go with where the conversation goes"? Right?
Brad Ferguson (21:01):
Got it. Yeah. Yeah. 15th of April, call the government and say, "I just decided to wing it. I had some papers I put together in a spreadsheet. We put it in Excel, and I just sent it in because it works for me." Well, there are some salespeople that approach sales the same way. They have some components and some pieces they put together. We tend to call that the sausage method of selling. A lot of good components that looks pretty good, guaranteed not prime components, and it kind of tastes all right, but the next batch is never the same. What I want throughout a company is multipliable duplicatable, transferable, consistent results. It's so much simpler for a sales manager to debrief their people following a consistent system. And it's easier for sales people to duplicate successes other people have achieved because we're going down the same path.
Corey Frank (22:00):
Brad Ferguson (22:00):
Which allows us to sit back and debrief a call by working backwards in the system. The prospect said, "They really couldn't afford what I offered." Oh, okay. So, that goes back budget step. When you ask them what they'd be willing to spend to solve a $250,000 problem, what'd they tell you? Well, I really didn't ask them that question. Where'd the number come from? Well, I told them what I thought it was probably worth. You told them what they should pay for their problem? I think I'm missing something here.
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