05 Jan Virtual Selling: How to Persuade Buyers Remotely (With Tim Pollard)
“At the end of the day good communicators win and bad communicators lose.” — Tim Pollard
Randy Schwantz and Tim Pollard, author of The Compelling Communicator, discuss virtual selling for insurance agents.
In this video they dive into things you should know, common mistakes, and how mastering a few communication tips can hugely impact your business and success.
*P.S. — We’ve negotiated a special deal for you!
If you enter the discount code RS15, you will receive a 15% discount on Oratium’s E-learning.
E-Learning Website: https://elearning.oratium.com/pivot
The Compelling Communicator Book: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-compelling-communicator-tim-pollard/1125315183
Virtual Selling: How to Persuade Buyers Remotely (with Tim Pollard)
Full Podcast Transcript:
Randy: Hey everybody, this is Randy Schwantz with Agency Growth Machine and I’ve got a really famous guy here. His name is Tim Pollard. He wrote a book called the Compelling Communicator. And I got to know about his book through a friend of mine named Jeff Syn, who has been through his class and that sort of stuff. And I was telling Jeff about a challenge. I was having, trying to get a point across virtually to my client base about our value proposition. He said, man, you ought to check out this book. So I did.
And then I asked Tim if he would join me because, and here’s the number one reason, as COVID has hit us all our life has changed, particularly if you’re an insurance agent from knocking on doors, seeing people face-to-face, one-on-one, that’s been taken away from us a lot. And now it’s become a virtual world just like this podcast [inaudible] doing, we are doing a WebEx, we see each other and things have changed. So Tim, let’s just start off with, before we get into all that great stuff. Who is Tim Pollard? Just start with that a little bit. Do you mind?
Tim: I sort of do mind. I hate talking about myself. You know, we exist, our company and me personally, to solve a problem, which is people don’t communicate as effectively as they like. The mistakes they’re making not the ones they think they’re making. Everyone thinks that communication is about you know, have good eye contact and body language and that’s childish nonsense. There are really only three reasons why we communicate badly and we have developed a whole range of solutions to help people solve that problem. And where I sit in that is, this is all I’ve thought about for 15 years in a variety of different settings. That’s about as much as I want to say about myself, honestly. I hate talking about myself.
Randy: Yeah, I appreciate that. But, so let me ask you this then. You’ve thought about it for 15 years, is this because this is your genius and it just came to you or you could you just work hard at how did you get interested in this whole communication and messaging stuff?
Tim: So, the underlying thought here is I’ve always had this obsessive fascination about communication. It is such a vital skill in life and business. Great communicators have always thrive, be it Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan doesn’t matter and poor communicators have always suffered. I won’t get into this because it’s so contentious, but I would defy you to go back through 50 years of American history and tell me of an election where the poorer communicator of the two candidates won the presidency. It’s really interesting.
Good communicators win and bad communicators lose, kind of, regardless of their underlying abilities, to be perfectly honest, but that’s the electric rail I’m not going to touch. So I’ve already had a certain fascination for that. And then in my professional career for a long time, I ended up being in roles where my responsibility was to convert very complex, either research or sales messaging into very vibrant, crisp, compelling, powerful communications that would have great effect on the audiences or customers.
Tim: And so, I think if you combine personal passion with professional responsibility, you end up with what I built. And the other thing I think that’s interesting here is great communication is not fundamentally an art. People think it is, but it’s not. Communication is governed by an understandable set of scientific rules and principles. And what I did, I think over the last decade that led to the company I have now and the books is just discern what those rules are, and create almost a systematic theology of communication, if you like. What does great communication mean and how does it work?
And that’s helpful because people do when you tell them to embrace a new art, but they do very well when you teach them a set of rules and guidelines and principles and guard rails to run on, which is fun. Because it means that anyone who wants to be an exceptional communicator can be because rules can be learned, you know, charisma can’t necessarily be learned, but rules can.
Randy: How do you come about discovering the science and those rules? Tell us about that a little bit.
Tim: I think it’s actually, that’s a very interesting question because I think it helped a lot that I am really intellectually curious person.
Randy: By the way, does that become a code because of your Texas roots, the intellectual curiosity?
Tim: Possibly it runs in my family. Yes, that’s West Texas, of course. So for example, we’ve learned more about the brain in the last 10 years than in the history of mankind up to that point because of functional MRIs. So you can now look at how the brain lights up when exposed to different stimuli, which is really interesting. So I started looking at that to understand what’s happening in communication. And then there were certain aspects of communication effectiveness that are tied to linguistic precision and all, I mean by that is say things clearly, and don’t fumble them because you don’t want to put an audience in a position where they don’t understand what you’re saying.
And we may talk about this later, but I guess even more important in a virtual environment. But which is the group in the world that best understands perfect linguistic precision? Standup comedians.
Tim: So, I spent a lot of time looking at standup comedy and why linguistic precision matters so much there. And Jerry Seinfeld took four years to develop one joke. You can read about this. This is his pop tart joke. And then take one, there were dozens of countless medieval writers. Why does Shakespeare survive when all others have fallen by the wayside? Well, the answer is Shakespeare did things in his writing. And again, remember that he wrote plays, he wrote plays to be read. And so he wrote oral, although he’s writing he’s creating all arguments. What he did linguistically, and it’s just astonishing that he figured this out, is he tapped into linguistic forms, writing and spoken forms that actually connect, connect to things the brain loves. I’ll give you an example, your brain is addicted to contrast. It loves contrast.
And so, when I present you with a contrasting idea, your brain will find it sticky and I started to understand this within Shakespeare and well, lo and behold, you find some of the stickiest ideas in human history of contrast ideas. So for example, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. You know, I’d rather, you know, die on my feet than live on my knees.
These are contrasting ideas, well go look at Shakespeare. Every memorable speech from Shakespeare is memorable because it protects, it contains one or more contrasts or antitheses. So now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by the son of York. It’s a contrast.
Randy: All right, so I’m going stop you right there. So a couple of things going on. So you’re talking about the science contrast, a critical thing. The more you can create this contrast also is you’re creating contrast, I’m seeing visual contrast. I’m not just hearing it, so at least I’m able to visualize it.
Then secondly, when you’re talking about brain science, I mean, I’ve read a lot of stuff recently on the Medulla and how the brain works and fight flight and all that sort of stuff. And so those all fit into the science. What else?
Tim: I mean I think that all of those individually, none of those individually are tremendously important. Can you be a great communicator without using antithesis? Yes. You know, can you be a great communicator without perfect linguistic precision? Kind of, yes. What you need to do is stitch these together into a full coherent framework. And that’s, I think what’s the cool thing that we did. It isn’t one rule. It’s a collection of principles that actually combined into one holistic process that you can learn that doesn’t over depend on one thing.
Storytelling is another one. Stories create movies in the mind, by the way, that’s why you were able to visualize something that you only heard verbally; storytelling, imagery, sequence problem centricity. What I mean by that for your audience, is you’re going to talk to a company or a potential customer, stop talking about yourself? Because people aren’t interested. People will engage when you talk about their problems. So all sales messaging should be problem centric not sender centric.
So, I think what we did is we created a holistic model that incorporates all of these different lines of thought and reasoning. And it spits out unbelievably, unbelievably good messaging because it doesn’t only depend on one thing; is one of the problems is you can get training and [inaudible] storyteller. As long as you know storytelling, you’ll be great. No, that’s not true. You need storytelling and about 15 other things.
We have a holistic process that starts you at point a and it finishes with a great message because it draws in each of the important things that you need to understand. We don’t necessarily teach all the science. You want to read the book or take our class. You can get that. The fundamental model is very easy to understand and apply, even if you don’t know or care about the underlying science.
Randy: So, what do you think most, let’s just go back to the world of sales people that are calling all buyers of a product or service like insurance or copies or whatever. What do you think they’re missing it? I mean, where’s the first place they’re missing in this world of messaging?
Tim: That’s a great question. It’s really simple. They’re getting three fundamental things wrong. When any company develops a solutions message, they’re going to get three things wrong and you can objectively understand that they’re bad, but you know, they happen. And then if you want to spend time, I can tell you why they violate the way the brain works. But there’s three things.
One, everybody packs too much in. Everybody does too much information. We’ve actually worked with some insurance companies. I don’t have it to hand, but this is audio only anyway, but I’ve got a 75 slide PowerPoint deck where each slide is just a list of products that this insurance company does. This is their quote unquote capability page. I mean, it’s literal madness. I think I would be borderline suicidal at slide five, but we still have 60 more slides to go.
Tim: We packed so much in and our good motives, maybe I’m passionate about what I do. Oz is a complex story. We do a lot, but what you create is such a complete cognitive violation you might as well stop. By the way, we may come back to this. You never ever want to use PowerPoint because that’s going to make everything worse, but that’s not the fundamental issue. The issue is stupid. PowerPoint is merely the vehicle in which stupid drives around.
The second issue is almost always true with value propositions is they’re just too confusing. People are not clear on the value. We do a lot of work with technology companies, Cisco, IBM, LinkedIn, Salesforce, [inaudible 11:30], people like that. And they’re just an example that we get so technical so quickly, and insurance is like this. We get technical, we get in the weeds, we’re all into the details of our products and underwriting, how it all works. And the customer’s like, yeah, I think I understood all the words, but I just don’t really get it. You know, we just tell them a story and we hope something sticks.
Tim: The third thing arguably, the most toxic, but it will kill you is we are way too sender oriented. And what I mean by that is we just talk about ourselves all the time and too much. And I think if I look at a typical slide deck from a client, it’ll be between 30 and 60 slides and 30 to 60 of those slides will talk about us, our products, our technology, our innovation. But it’s ludicrous extreme, it’s pictures of buildings and ponds and number of employees we have. And if I’m the client, I’m like, I don’t give a damn, congratulations, you’ve got a really interesting business. Why should I care? So that’s going to lead you to a bunch of important rules, simplification, clarification of value, customer centricity, not sender centricity.
Those are probably the three most egregious sins. And I’m pretty sure that most people listening here are committing most of those three things most of the time, because we don’t know any better, to be perfectly honest.
Randy: So then how would you deconstruct or reverse your way into value? Can you deal with that some?
Tim: What you have to do is you have to just rethink the way you do your messaging. You can’t start by saying, I’ve got this garbage 60 slide deck. I know what I’ll do. I’ll make it 20 slides. That’s what people think they need to do. They sort of get that there’s too much crap in there and there’s too much stuff. And I, okay, well kicking and screaming, I’ll slim it down. That’s completely wrong. You need an entirely new approach.
You need an architectural model for messaging that has a new set of hallmarks. So hallmark number one, extreme simplicity. You’ve got to tell people a story that will fit within their brain. And again, we’ll get to this later, but all the more so in a virtual environment. You need messaging that’s thoroughly customer problem centric, at least one third of the conversation at the beginning should be about the customer problem that you solve. Otherwise, I don’t care what you do cause you’ve given me no motivation to do anything.
A value proposition should be expressed through the lens of a small number of ideas, because ideas are the traffic of the mind, you don’t remember facts or details or data. You remember ideas; logical, sequential narrative. The story should unfold logically, not just be a random assembly of stuff. And then ideally, and this is something people never think about. You’ve got to embed this into a document that you give people to be the documentary record of the conversation.
And the reason is twofold; one is comprehension goes up if I’m talking to you, but simultaneously you have a document in front of you to work from your comprehension will go up radically.
Way more important is a fascinating idea. Nobody thinks about which is the concept of retell ability. If you’re pitching, let’s take your world, commercial insurance solutions. You’re meeting with one or two people. They’re not the whole group making the decision. Some other groups making that decision. And that’s a room you’re not going to be invited into.
And even if the person you’ve met with is persuaded, they have to retell your story and the way you help them do that is everything in sales. And that’s another reason why slides are so bad because people are never going to represent someone else’s slide deck. It literally never happens.
If you want to take away a monster idea from this call, it’s this, everyone thinks that sales messaging’s goal is to persuade. Is that true or not true? It is true. It is true. But is that the only goal? No.
“The fundamental second goal of every sales message is to equip. You’ve got to persuade and equip.” — Tim Pollard
Tim: The fundamental second goal of every sales message is to equip. You’ve got to persuade and equip. If I’m pitching my solution to you and I know there are five other people on the management team who are going to make the big, painful decision to switch insurance providers, I sure as hell, better think as much about equipping as I do about persuading. And you know how much we think about equipping? We don’t. We’ve never even conceived of that. We build messages to persuade, we don’t even think about equipping.
So the long answer to your question is you need a different model for sales messaging that’s characterized by different set of hallmarks, and that’s what we teach. That’s what our training and consulting teaches you to do. And typically you win so many more deals, it pays for itself on the first day, but that’s a whole different question.
Randy: Yes, and we’ll get it into that question a little while. So is there [inaudible] about the persuading and equip and in our CRM database tool, we challenge our clients to gather their competitors proposals and lock it up. Because you’re building really a database on your competition, competition awareness and all the intel.
About a year ago, I asked my technologist to send me all of those proposals in the system. And I started flipping through and reviewing them all. Literally out of a hundred proposals that I went through over and over and over, just like you just said, Tim; cover page is about us. “We’ve been around since 1934, we focus on this. You know, my grandfather started the business, aren’t we great, aren’t we great. We got great people. It’s all about relationships. We’re here for you.”
And then it had all the technical stuff that was in the proposal that you literally have to have, you know, with coverage crap and things like that. And so it was anything but persuasive and it did zero to equip anybody to retell the story about why these people are better.
Tim: That’s why I have a company. We all message this way. There, you had it, right? Confusing, sender oriented and too much information. You literally just restated the three things. And they are going to fail badly in the first meeting. So that person isn’t even persuaded. But even if they are, they melt down in the second meeting, no one, imagine if I just presented that to you, are you going to go to your management team and talk to them about my company and all our great people and offices and buildings? It’s, literally ludicrous. So that’s why we need a different model.
In fact, the persuade and equip motif is helpful because if you’re thinking about a message from an equipping standpoint, you’re thinking about a lot of things now that matter; simplification, avoiding of technical language, avoiding talking about yourself, and you want the really big one. An equipping message we’ll begin to think harder about the interests and issues of the other people involved in the decision, not just the guy you’ve met with and that is huge.
Randy: I just want you to restate that part again. You’re equipping them with the issues and something. Can you recall what that was?
Tim: Yeah. Oh, of course. You want your sales message, at least in part to address, we actually use an acronym for this issues, positions and interests, IPI, but the issues, positions and interests of other people in the buying group.
So I’ll give you an example. If I was pitching insurance solutions, I’m going to pitch to the person who buys insurance. I don’t know who buys that, you know, somebody in finance or procurement.
Randy: C-suite for sure.
Tim: Yes, and this is going to have change management implications that are going to affect people like operations. It’s going to absolutely affect the company’s legal risks, that’s going to affect the general counsel. You want to explain why your solution does not just help your buyer to get lower premiums, but it increases operational efficiency and lows risk and raises profitability and all those other things.
Any really sophisticated sales message is showing the value, not just to the person you’re talking to, but to the other people in the room. And that is meat and drink to the person who’s retelling it because let’s imagine that I met with you and you think we’re great. You love me. And you want to move to our agency. You’ve got to persuade a bunch of other people, and they’re sort of interested in what you care about, but what they really care about is what they care about. What I need to do is to equip you once persuaded, to sell my solution into other people.
Tim: I’ll give you an example. We sell sales messaging. We teach people how to do this. And I will generally sell that to the head of sales or the head of sales enablement of the company. And I will talk about, you’re going to improve your sales messaging. You’re going to increase your conversion rate, increase your deal size, and you’re going to reduce your cycle time. That’s got him or her bought in.
However, I’m also going to talk about how this will improve your relationship with marketing and help create a healthier environment in which sales and marketing work together. And that’s important because that had a sales needs to get the head of marketing bought in almost always because marketing always has something to do with messaging.
Tim: So, I know how to tell my story, to equip my people, the people I’ve spoken to bring marketing in and say, Hey, now I’m now in the second meeting and I’m the head of sales saying, Hey, I think we should do this. And, Bob running marketing, I think this will be good for us, because I think this will create a common intellectual kind of framework for us to work together better in the future. Do you see what he’s done? He’s selling the idea onto marketing any good.
This is much more advanced thinking than I would normally discuss on our first podcast. But if I was developing a solutions message for an insurance solution, I would think really hard about who are the different constituents involved in this buying decision and what do I need to put in the message to equip the person I have now persuaded to retell that story? Well, now that’s getting very sophisticated.
Randy: What a gazillion dollar concept right there. I mean, that’s beautiful. We could just drop the mic and get out of here right now because literally, I mean, I was sitting there just going through that in my mind, you know, because I’m sitting there thinking about my value proposition and I’m talking to presidents, owners of agencies. And I’m thinking about how my stuff affects the IT guy and gal and that sort of deal. Also the service department of what’s going to be going over there and then certainly their producers and salespeople, but adding those other pieces to the message now, they get to go tell that message in a way that gets that buy-in, that moves everything along.
That’s very, very powerful.
Tim: And obviously how you do that is a little, the concept is easy to understand, the operation of it is a little trickier, but there’s training for that. That’s easy to learn.
Randy: And so, you, you might recall and you might not. I’ve read your book, right after I read the book I got on there and I opted in and used your software platform. And by the way, everybody I’m just going to tell you again, just here in the middle of it, in case somebody has got to go and drops off at some point, but I’m talking to Tim Pollard, the name of his book, The Compelling Communicator and his website is www.oratium.com.
Tim: By the way, Randy, I want to say this, the book I’m proud of it. It’s a very good book. It’s very well reviewed. It was written pre COVID. Everything we’re talking about is to some extent modified by doing all this in the virtual environment. And if people really want to understand this, there’s an e-learning that they can find on the website called Designing and Delivering the Virtual Sales Conversation. It doesn’t change anything in the book, but it modifies based on, on how you have both.
There are changes to the message and changes to the meeting that happened because it’s now virtual. It’s not all bad news, but you have got to adapt. You’ve dumped those slides into a virtual meeting, you can kiss your conversion rate goodbye. So people want to understand this from the most contemporary standpoint. So, take a look at that E-Learning and maybe if you want, we can give your audience some sort of Randy Schwantz’ friends and family discount code. We can do that if you want.
Randy: Whatever you want to do. Because, I’ve spent, like you, I’ve spent 30 years of my industry and I’ve spent somewhere between 25,000 hours somewhere in that range. Talk with my buyers, asking questions, trying to dig in and help them get the value proposition out.
Success in this business, those who become great students, lifetime learners, who will tap into what you have their ability to multiply their income and become wealthy as salespeople that ever happened to be an entrepreneur. The lucky things about you and I, you know, we own a business. We get profitability and we get to build our wealth that way. And you know, sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s not, but mine’s been good and I trust yours has been good.
Randy: But when you’re an employee working for a company, a lot of times you have this skill on your head, if you’re stuck in a salary. Well, the beautiful thing about being a sales person, particularly in the car sales insurance industry, unlimited prospects, unlimited product, unlimited income. And so I want to encourage them, go to your website, become a student of communication, become a student of, the two words you said, most people think presentations are to persuade, but it’s to persuade and equip.
And in this virtual world again, I want to get your opinion about something here. So I’ve been having to sell virtually for the last 25 to 30 years because my clients are all over the country. And so, it started out with just phone, then it’s kind of evolved to this. And I’ve got a single graphic that really represents my process, one picture, not a bunch of slides, one deal. And I talk about it and I can draw on it and do all that sort of stuff. I’m curious, I already know from having read the book, you know, dump the slide deck and get visual or visuals that get across a few single ideas in a very powerful way. Can you speak to that a little more?
Tim: So, there’s two different questions here. So I want to understand which one you are asking, one of them is how do you work in a virtual environment? And then the second was more about focusing on ideas. Do you want to tackle one or both of those?
Randy: You can sack them both, pick them either way you want to go. It doesn’t matter to me.
Tim: So, they intersect obviously. So let’s talk by understanding virtual. Virtual has presented us with both a tremendous problem, but an unbelievable opportunity. And I really want to make this point clear. It is already beyond doubt that you know, companies continue to buy and companies continue to sell and it’s all happening in a virtual environment. Those that figure this out are going to vastly outperform those that don’t.
So virtual selling is a problem, but it’s actually not. It’s an incredible opportunity, as long as you’re on the right side of it. The problem with virtual selling is its two different problems. One is the one that we sort of think we understand and one is the one we don’t.
Tim: The first problem in virtual selling or issue is mastering the platform and that’s what everyone thinks it’s all about. It’s not, I’ll talk about the second one in a minute. You’ve got to master your technology platform and people do not understand this. You’d be astonished. Some of the Fortune 50 companies we work with their number one question is I still am struggling to get my guys to understand the platform.
I’ll give you a couple of obvious nuggets. Do you know that you should always schedule your sales meetings in the morning? Always. Why? Because zoom fatigue is real. People are way more exhausted today than they’ve ever been before, by about two o’clock in the afternoon. You want to get someone’s full attention at four o’clock in the afternoon, after they’ve done six hours of zoom meetings, forget it. But nobody understands this.
Do you know to raise your laptop to eye height? Otherwise people are just studying your nose hole. Do you know that you need to upgrade your microphone? Especially if you’re a woman, because radio producers have known for decades that the register of women’s voices doesn’t come across well from low quality microphones and speakers.
Tim: So, there’s a lot of block and tackle stuff to learn that nobody really understands. We got training on this, if you want it. That’s not even the interesting thing though. That’s only the star that’s table stakes. The interesting thing, and everyone’s going to understand this when I say it, is that selling is an entirely social process. It’s a social process. It’s a complex, delicate social dance between buyer and seller. And it’s moved into a flat, sterile, asocial environment. And if we don’t understand those new social dynamics and respond to them, we’re going to have really, really struggle.
And basically three things have changed; one distraction. Your customer is more distracted than they’ve ever been, even if you’re sharing faces. I was on a call this morning, we’re talking about a hundred thousand dollar deal, and the person I’m talking to check their phone a couple of times. That’s okay, that’s their right. But I have to have a message that is so crisp and clean and powerful that it can survive when they self-distract for 30 seconds and have a complete cognitive fracture.
Tim: The second thing, a big chunk in social dynamic is a loss of intellectual bandwidth. Your mental capacity is literally reduced in a zoom environment. Why? Because you’re focusing on this screen, you’re deliberately crying to tune out all other distractions and heaven forbid this isn’t just virtual, this is virtual at home kids, dogs, cats, UPS deliveries.
And that leads to very significant changes in how you message. It further amplifies the importance for simplification, because you’re dealing with people they’re not stupid, but they don’t have the same mental capacity. And by the way, you sure as hell better be on the calendar in the morning, not in the afternoon.
Tim: And then the third one is so interesting. It’s a complete loss of social feedback and social cues. Randy, people ask me all the time, what do I think makes for a great sales person? They always think I’m going to say a great communicator. I don’t believe that, that’s not true.
A lot of the world’s greatest salespeople have solid communication skills that know better, but all great salespeople have very high social IQ. They are phenomenal. I could be looking at you now and I’m saying skepticism or disagreement, and then good salespeople don’t just read it, they run with it. And they’ll say, you know, Randy, you look a little skeptical. What’s the deal there? And then I need to surface, it’s a misunderstanding or it’s a legit objection. And then I will deal with it. That is so hard to do in a live meeting. It’s a key, essential skill. It’s the essential skill of a salesperson, in my view.
Now go into a virtual environment where you make the mistake of presenting slides, where you don’t even see faces, or you see these micro little thumbnails, good luck with that.
Tim: And so, there are things you need to do, which we can teach you to how do you get back and restore some degree of, of social feedback? One way of doing it for example is you now have to intentionally design interactivity into a meeting. You never had to do before.
I have to know the moment when I wanted to see our discussion and I have to seed and plant the discussion in ways I never had to do when the world was live. And these are not skills anybody understands. And so everything we described now gets amplified in the virtual environment. It can all be solved. We teach companies how to do this every single day, but you can’t just hope you’re going to figure it out on your own, because it’s much harder than it looked.
Randy: Well. And it’s certainly expensive not figuring it out. So you said in the virtual side, mastering the platforms is the tech and then the number two is really the social.
Tim: Yeah, the new set of social dynamics and mastering the tech matters, but the problem is everyone thinks that’s all, it’s about. Mastering the tech is important. We use an acronym called TRAPS. You know, don’t worry about it, but technology, ambience, things like that. That’s fairly easy to learn and understand. I mean, do you know to make sure that your kids or somebody isn’t using your bandwidth? It’s real block and tackle stuff here, but people aren’t doing it.
You’re almost violating this, but not quite Randy, but you don’t have the light behind you. Don’t have a light behind you because you’re now blocked out and you know that you’re in the witness protection program.
Always be front–. I mean, there’s a lot of basic block and tackle here. Then you get to the meaty stuff, which is how do you have both a message and a meeting that work in this new socially sterile environment. That’s the interesting thing you need to figure out.
Randy: But it’s interesting. I’ve got a round light rink right there, as well as I got one on my big mission chart. But, and here’s where you go back to the fatigue, when I turn that light up all the way so that it brings it up, I can’t manage. It wears me out. My eyes get hurt and so that is part of the new. That’s like having to sit on the beach all day long making sales calls. It sounds cool. But after a while the sun just beats you up.
Tim: We actually talk about another rule about don’t over-schedule yourself because zoom fatigue goes both ways. I’ll give you an example.
When we used to teach our live training class, I could teach it :8:30 to 4:30 and I’d still be raring to go in the bar afterwards, the old days when we did live training. We’ve now learned from practical experience that the learner can take no more than three and a half hours. So our core training is now back-to-back days, three and a half hours a day. I’m teaching this tomorrow. I’m teaching our class tomorrow, 8:30 to 11 or 8:30 to 12, 8:30 to 12 because the learner can’t handle it. And let me tell you, I never showed you anything for the afternoon. I’ll do email and maybe a couple of internal calls. I am fried.
Tim: Now salespeople need to be on their game. So if you’ve done three sales meetings and you think you can schedule five in a day because it’s virtual, you’re kidding yourself. You’ll be worse than useless in the afternoon. You won’t be good and your customer won’t have any capacity. So zoom fatigue, that door swings both ways. You need your meetings in the morning and you need to not over-schedule yourself.
In fact, I would argue the way you manage your calendar as a sales person, fundamentally needs to change. You need to move high value activity into the morning and you need to move low value administrative activity into the afternoon. And you might think I’m being totally crazy. Remember, all I do is think about this. I’m not going to burn times of the day when my mind is most agile and my customer conversations will be rich with, you know, expense reports and then arrange a three o’clock phone call. It doesn’t sound like it matters. I want your listeners to hear me, it matters.
You will have way better conversations in the morning and then do the crap in the afternoon. Trust me on this.
Randy: Well, I trust you. I feel myself getting tired. So zoom fatigue is going to be the new buzzword of the decade, won it.
Tim: Part of them. I mean, yes. I think we’re just beginning to understand this. There’s some very recent research I’ve seen in the last 48 hours that said, and for some reason, I don’t know why that study didn’t cover this. There’s a very high level of people just sick to death of zoom. And it’s higher among women than men. I seem to remember, like 47% of women are like totally sick of doing everything over zoom and only about 29% of men. And the average man in the mid-thirties, that number is only going to go up.
It’s actually interesting. Early in 2020, there was actually a little bubble of enthusiasm and excitement about zoom meetings. Like, Oh, this is kind of fun. You know, look, we’re all together and we’ve all got a cocktail. There was this little bubble of enthusiasm as people discovered the new medium. That bubble has burst, right?
Everyone knows what it’s like to be on five zoom calls a day and to be mentally fried, you better be on the right end of that; simple messaging, concise get done quickly shorter conversations by the way earlier in the morning. And also within your message that there needs to be more storytelling and more visualization because you’ve got to do things to correct for loss of engagement.
Randy: So, I want to flip this and look at it from a different direction now. One of the things that I think is true, I would love to get your opinion on it.
As a sales person, we spend a lot of time traveling. You know, it affects our lifestyle. We’re away from our kids and our family. You’ve got an appointment on the other side of town, wherever town is, it takes you an hour to drive over there. You sit in the lobby to go see somebody. I mean, that’s historically what’s happened. And so it might take three hours just to have a decent little tiny sales call, which maybe you got 15 to 20 minutes of good work done. You can get a lot more work done now, if you prepare it, you’ve got the skills and do the things we’re talking about. And that leads to for those who become excellent at it. I mean, really I’m combining both these things, just like you are.
If I become excellent at my message and getting that point across and I get great at using the new medium, my potential to make a lot more money goes up, I feel. What do you say about that?
Tim: I think that’s broadly true with some caveats. I mean, you become more productive. Yes, I flew 120 days last year. I was on a plane, somewhere between 120- and 140-days last year. Now I’m like most people, I work on planes, but I can’t work in the TSA line or in the Uber and stuff like that. So I got back, I don’t know, I haven’t done the math, 800 hours or whatever that is productive time.
And if I’m in sales, that has very important implications, I can make more calls than I ever could do live. I can engage customers in geographies I maybe could have never reached before. I might want to engage in a customer that maybe their value of their deal didn’t justify a face-to-face call, but does justify a zoom call. If you think about what drives face-to-face sales its value, right?
Tim: You don’t sell something for a hundred dollars with face-to-face selling, but you sell something worth $10,000 or more with face-to-face selling. So the value of what you do, tied to the cost of selling that equation has changed. In other words, I might go after more marginal client now because it doesn’t cost me as much to do it. That’s very, very significant. So, I can do more calls. I can be more productive. I can reach into different geographies and customer types, that’s all true.
The one thing you got to watch is you can burn yourself out this way, because if you think, Hey, if I do six calls in a day now where I never could do that, then I can make six times as much money. Yes, but watch out, there is a legitimate ceiling on how much you can do over zoom in a day.
Tim: And you know, for me, I’m very rarely going to have more than one or two sales conversations in a day because they’re exhausting. I had a 7:00 AM call today for 90 minutes with a big client. It’s a big potential deal, but man, I’m feeling it. I’m feeling it now. And this afternoon, I’ve got two hours consulting coming up and I’m going to need to go and get a couple of cups of coffee and hit refresh to be able to do that.
So broadly, I agree with you. Coverage changes, opportunities, value of opportunities change. Marginal deals become more worthwhile. I’m never going to fly to Chicago for a marginal deal, but I might do a zoom call, but just watch out, you know, every silver lining has a cloud, every cloud has a silver lining, right? There’s a silver lining here, which is productivity, but watch out for burnout.
Randy: Speaking of distractions at the house, I mean, everybody can hear that dog, I suppose. Now, that we’re at Christmas time and the Prime and the Amazon guy shows up about eight times a day, we get a lot of dog barking. And I tried to talk my wife into getting rid pf the dogs, it didn’t work out very well.
Tim: Yes, I wouldn’t do that.
Randy: Well look, man, this has been incredibly interesting. Tell us after the dogs get through barking, because I want people to hear you, if they want to engage in your classes, first of all, how does your class go? What happens in a class environment? What would people want to go in there with an intent and objective to get that’s number one, answer that and then come back and say, how could they engage into it if they wanted?
Tim: There are really two ways of experiencing our class. It’s very cool E-Learning, which is self-study. Honestly, what I would do if I was an insurance agency, and we’ve got two or three people who sell or more, go through it together. Go through it and go brown bag lunch. Talk about what you learned, talk about how that’s going to change the way you do things.
It’s more fun and you’ll get more change. And we actually offer a solution actually, where we’ll do facilitation for you. So you go through it and then we meet the group and we spend an hour helping them think about how to apply it. So, the self-study is the simplest level, then self-study, plus some facilitation and application from us.
Tim: Or you can attend the live class. We do some public classes, open enrollment. I just taught one a few weeks ago. I don’t often teach them our team, teach them. I’d need to check if we have even any on the books. But what you can do is, or actually this might be interesting, Randy, if you get a community of people who are interested, you could sponsor a class and then bring 20, 30 people together from your communities. They pay a per seat fee and they get a live class, which would be super fun. Live classes, aren’t that much more expensive than E-learning, but you just get a better learning experience.
Randy: Yes, because you get to, you get a chance to put your stuff out there and let the instructor, who’s the expert kind of pull this thing out and remold it. I mean, that’s the power of the live class.
Tim: Yes, absolutely. Precisely, the e-learning is 10, 20 minute lessons; that’s 200 minutes. It’s just a shade over three hours. The live class is the exact same content. We even use the same workbook, but that’s two times three and a half hours. Why? Well part of it is baking in some breaks, but a lot of it is discussion and conversations.
So we know that people get a tremendous amount out of a live class. I don’t know much about your organization, but if you’ve got a lot of interest in this podcast, you could sort of sponsor that. And we could, I mean, if you have any individual clients that are big enough, they could just do one on their own. Anytime you have enough, say 10 people, that’s enough for a class. A good number is 10, up to about 30, 35. But if you wanted to aggregate a bunch of smaller companies and just put one or two people through, that’d be fun. That’d be a fun thing to do. It’s all particularly the e-learning you can find at oratium.com.
That designing and delivering the virtual sales conversation is a very cool curriculum. Takes you completely through the right message, how to build the right message that will have impact, and then how to do that in a virtual environment. And then how to have the right meeting, things like designed interactivity.
There’s also other fascinating stuff in there, like, how do you have an e-persona, an online persona that drives up trust and credibility. By the way, the number one question we’ve been asked, how do you build trust and credibility in a virtual environment? That’s all covered in there.
Randy: So, this e-course is really about the virtual world. It’s not just about messaging and presentation, it’s about doing it in a virtual world.
Tim: Correct. Now, a lot of the principles will still apply when you come out of the virtual world, but this was built with a very specific job in mind, which is right now, this is the world we’re in. And by the way, that’s not going to change. It’s absolutely obvious that most, this did not change the future of sales. It accelerated the future that was already coming.
Selling is going to be a virtual function, that is as clear as day. So, you better figure out how to do it. And the things that weren’t working live are going to work catastrophic, big bloated PowerPoint decks, you try it. You try and present one of those in a virtual meeting in the afternoon, good luck. Let me know how it’s going to work for you.
Randy: So once again, to find the, the virtual course, it’s on your website, oratium.com and then they look for virtual selling e-Course or something like that.
Tim: Yes, in fact, right on the homepage, there are three big tabs, you know, fix your executive messaging, fix your sales communication and explore our e-learning options. And in fact, funnily enough, just today, we’re going to sunset some pre COVID e-learning because everyone needs to understand this in the virtual environment. So that’ll be very interesting for people to explore, I think.
Randy: Well, awesome. Everybody, once again, I’m talking to Tim Pollard, the author of The Compelling Communicator. A man who studied this for the last 15 years, who sees it inside out. And I hope you’ll get on his website and check it out. And then, you know, the final thing I’d like to say that that was to me was the number one thing is that most presentations are to persuade, but really, we got to persuade and equip others to tell their message internally. So, you’re building it to talk to all the stakeholders so that it gets sold and that sort of deal. So, there you go.
Tim: Absolutely, correct. It’s huge.
Randy: Thanks for being on today. I really appreciate it.
Tim: That was fun. I really enjoyed it, Randy. Thanks for the time. It was just fun to kick some of this stuff around.
Randy: All right, my friend. Appreciate it.
Tim: Thank you very much. Talk to again, sometime.