There is only so much that we can see from the people we’re selling to, just like an iceberg. We usually see only about 10%. But imagine if we can see deeper than that, how big of a difference would it make to our business and life? This is the concept of Iceberg Selling, developed by today’s guest. John Solleder interviews Karl Becker, the founder of Improving Sales Performance as well as a coach, author, and speaker. Karl gives us a new perspective with the Iceberg Selling, focusing more on building relationships and being of service. And you can only do that effectively if you know more. Learn about this concept along with the success stories to back it up, both in the sales process and the customer experience process. Plus, find out about how to transition from good to great with the ownership mindset, and hear about a little role-playing that best showcases what iceberg selling can do. Tune in to Karl and John in this conversation!
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How Iceberg Selling Can Improve Your Business And Life With Karl Becker
It’s my privilege to introduce you our guest. Some of you know him. I have heard his name for many years. Karl Becker has founded and run numerous companies over the last 30-plus years and now runs Improving Sales Performance, a consultancy that supports sales organizations to build high-performing teams and achieve their revenue goals. He’s the author of Set Up To Win: Three Frameworks To A High Performing Sales Organization and Sales & Marketing Alignment. He has a BA in Economics from Colorado College and an MBA from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Karl, welcome to the show. How are you?
I’m great. Thanks for letting me be here. I love the topics you always explore and how you interact with your guests. Thank you for letting me come and share.
My privilege. We’re going to get into a lot of stuff about sales and maybe some non-sales stuff. Who knows? We’ll see how well the internet performs for us. Could you tell us about the concept of Iceberg Selling and what inspired you to develop this approach?
I love the idea of Iceberg Selling. The quick drill-down takeaway comment is this. Everyone is an Iceberg. You, me, and the person you’re selling to is an Iceberg. What I mean by that is we usually only see about 10% above the surface just like an iceberg. Think about Titanic, the movie. The more you can see underneath, the more you can be of service and the more you learn about somebody. I love salespeople. I’m a salesperson. I’ve done that my entire career.
What inspired me is, “How can I create a fun book, full of stories, easy to read, and inspirational, but with the lesson and some best practices that we can all remember quickly?” The biggest one is everything is an iceberg. The more you can look underneath the surface, the more you can understand and the more possibilities that happen. If you’re selling, most likely, good things happen. You solve problems and make some sales.
The more you know, the better service you can give and the more opportunities that exist both for you and your clients. I love that concept. How does the lifetime value mindset change the way salespeople interact with their customers?
I know I was this way early in my career. I wanted that bad too tight. It was like, “I need to hit these goals and money. I need to close all this by the end of the quarter, month, or whatever.” There was all this pressure. A lot of it, I put on myself. A lot of it was sales managers that I worked for, making sure I hit those numbers.
What I started to realize as I got older, I started to coach and run sales organizations of my own, is a lot of times what was happening at that end of the month, quarter, and year I almost call it artificial pressure. We make bad decisions. We overly discount, call people, and get too aggressive. All this rapport we’ve built oftentimes erodes away because we show up needy, desperate, or something like that.
I’m not saying all the time. A lot of times, in the month, that makes sense, but some of the times. What I started to do was relax into, “What are we even playing for? Why are we in sales in the first place?” To serve people and solve a problem. Long-term value is this mindset of, “Let’s relax. Realize what we’re playing for.” We’re playing for a relationship that can go on for years and years. A lot of us in sales have probably even been taken into other people’s companies as they’ve moved around. We’ve had clients for half our life or whatever it might be.
It’s because we change the way we show up to those people and go, “I’m in it for the long haul. I’m in it for the relationship and solving this problem and the next problem. Not just for this transaction.” As a human being and a salesperson, we go, “Let’s relax. What are we doing here after this transaction or after years of service and lifetime value?” When that happens, a lot of good stuff occurs. We can change our mindset.
It makes total sense, what you’re saying because I think back to my early days in the life insurance business many years ago before, I started network marketing, got a life insurance business in my first network marketing business, and I came back to network marketing. Nonetheless, I remember the company I was with MetLife, one of the big boys. They always had a concept, “Grow to 100 customers. Give good service and those 100 will bring you to 500 and alternatively more.” That’s exactly what you’re saying. What are your thoughts on something like that? How do you grow with your customer as their families and businesses grow?
In that book, the first mindset is lifetime value in Iceberg Selling. The second is being of service mindset. I think that’s what we’re talking about. I like to build relationships with my clients. The people I coach usually are into relationship or solution-based selling. They are spending the time to get to know someone.
In that journey, you get to know other things about their lives. That’s where this being of service mindset almost naturally fits a salesperson. We want to help out people and be of service. That’s thinking, “What else can I do to better this person’s life?” The value isn’t always the thing you’re selling. I’ll give you a quick story. I was brought into a company the second time to do some more consulting. The team had grown. It had been a couple of years. Some things over the last couple of years have shifted as we all know in their business.
I’m in there. I’m working with them. It’s going well and they have a new director of marketing. I’m starting to get to know him a little bit because I’m usually working with sales and marketing teams. I realized that he’s driven and smart, but he’s young and he’s looking for more knowledge. I had this other client that’s running this marketing conference workshop. I was like, “Would you like to go to that?” He goes, “Yes, but I don’t think we have a budget.” I was like, “Don’t worry about that. Would you like to go? Here’s the curriculum. This is what we’re doing.” “That would be awesome.”
I called my other friend, “Would you be willing to give me a solid? I like to send somebody that’s one of my clients there for free. Help me out.” He’s like, “Absolutely.” That moment wasn’t about selling something, but being of service to a member of the team or that client I was working with. As salespeople and human beings, we probably have a gazillion stories like that. If you’re selling and building relationships, that’s another piece of that iceberg. The more you learn, the more you can be of service. That’s one of those places where you start to go from good to great as someone in sales.
Let’s talk about the ownership mindset because I read a little bit of what you talked about. I love that ownership mindset that people need to develop, empower them, and service their clients better.
This is one of my favorite mindsets to remind people of. All of us want to be accountable. Oftentimes, we wait for things like, “I need to wait for this thing to happen to me. There’s this thing I want to do but.” The ownership mindset is about removing all excuses, “I’m going to own my own success.” That’s powerful. “The only thing that’s going to get in the way of my own success is myself.” When we start to have this ownership mindset of being accountable, having no excuses, being the person that’s going to make it happen for ourselves, a lot of our world changes, whether you’re a sales manager and you can encourage your sales team to do that or you’re a salesperson yourself. Think about that like, “I got into sales because I wanted to bet on myself already.” “Great. I’m giving you the permission to do what you already wanted to do.” Own your own success.
That’s one of those things that sometimes we forget, not only as humans but as people in sales. We are like, “There’s nothing standing in my way.” You might hear, “This person hasn’t called me back.” What does that mean? They haven’t called you back. Do you still want to move this forward? Do you still have something good to say?” “Yes.” That gets into the fourth mindset, which is almost like the twin brother, which I call the driver’s mindset, which is don’t be a passenger. Be a driver. Make something happen. The best passenger can do is change the radio dials. Be that driver. Make some stuff happen for yourself. Those two are tied together by mindsets in the book.
How can salespeople transition from being good to great by adapting these mindsets?
It all starts with something before the mindset. What are you playing for? In sales, a lot of times, we forget why we even took the job or decided to work for ourselves or whatever it might be. We forget. It was probably for freedom, independence, supporting our family, or a better way of life. Fill in the blank. A big part of going from good to great as a salesperson is reconnecting with your why. Why are you doing this? What are you playing for?A big part of going from good to great as a salesperson is reconnecting with your why. Click To Tweet
We’re going to have tough days no matter what we do for a living. In sales, it’s probably a little bit more obvious. We put ourselves out there every single day. For me, how does a salesperson start to go from good to great? It’s about realizing and getting clear what we’re about, what we play for, and why we’re doing this. At a minimum, pick some of these mindsets that feel good to you.
You might realize, “Would I be able to change?” Close more and be more effective. Just relaxed a little bit. I didn’t worry about the end of the month. I looked at the long-term value. I looked at this as somebody that I want to work with for a long time versus right now. being of service, owning your own actions and success, and then getting into that driver’s seat mindset. Make sure you’re the person making things happen. Instead of waiting for things to happen to you, make it happen for yourself and others. Those would be the four things. If you pick 1 or 2, your life is going to change.
I know you’ve done actual case studies with some of the people that you’ve worked with with Iceberg Selling. let’s talk about some of those success stories.
One of my favorite stories is about a young guy I was coaching. He is selling professional services. He’s doing pretty well. He’s making his numbers more or less most of the time, but there’s still a lot of pressure he’s carrying. A lot of it is on himself. Sometimes I would go to him and I was like, “Can you be of service?” He’s like, “What do you mean? What does being of service mean?” I call people. I’m telling them I can help them when they’re ready.
“What does ownership mean? I feel like I don’t know what that means.” We started to break some of this down and first started with, “What’s important? Why are you doing this?” I grew up in a relatively poor family. I’ve been fortunate enough. I went into the military. I impacted the world in that way. I learned a lot of stuff. I came out of it. I started working and I met a woman. I want to get married, but I want to move out from running this house to buy a house and raise a family. That’s what’s important to me.
I was like, “How often do you think about that?” He’s like, “Pretty often.” I was like, “How often do you think about that from turning that into your own ownership? What can you do every day to get close to your goal?” That was the first time he’d done that, doing the math and putting the dots together. You’re in an opportunity in a job where you can make almost whatever you want. It’s uncapped, so let’s start talking about how you can show up differently. What’s funny is if I asked him, “If you could meet your ideal person and have the ideal conversation that you’d sell to, what would it be?” He went right to the bottom of the funnel, “We would do this. This is how we solve it. This is what it would cost. This is why we’re great.”
I was like, “Time out.” That’s awesome if they’re ready to buy it, but most of the people you run into, that’s not going to be where they’re starting. They’re starting point is not the end. Let’s talk about what being of service is. Let’s talk about this Iceberg concept. Let’s talk about learning more about them and relaxing into this experience of two human beings getting to know each other. On top of that, I want you to realize that you are the person who can move this forward. You don’t need to wait for me or one of your managers to tell you to do something. This is not the military anymore. You don’t need to wait for your commanding officer to tell you to do this thing.”You are the person who can move this forward. You don't need to wait for anyone to tell you to do something. Click To Tweet
Once he started to change his vision or what he was looking at, and he made a slight shift in his reality, different things started to change. Sure enough, his number started to pick up. When I looked at the KPIs of activity, they went up. The number of appointments went up because he was showing up with more service and value, and not rushing things. He felt better too. He didn’t feel like he had to close and he was in this transactional business. He was like, “I’m starting to build great relationships with people.”
Ultimately, he got engaged the last time I interacted with him. He’s on the road to what he wants, but most of us already have it. You do a slight shift. Get a mentor, a guide, and a couple of ideas. Maybe meet with someone on your team and support each other to look at things a little bit differently. I’ve got a gazillion stories of people who with some slight changes, they changed their lives.
Let’s talk about some of the current trends both in the sales process and also in the customer experience process, and how Iceberg Selling is helping both.
I’ll share a little bit here and then I would love it if you want to play along and share some of the things that you learned too. On a super high level, people are fatigued with getting sold to. Nobody wants to get manipulated or persuaded. I mean that not in a positive way but in a forceful way. Nobody wants to get convinced to do something they don’t want to do. At the same time, there’s all this information out there. It’s relatively easy for someone to discover some knowledge about what you might be selling. The big gap, AI will never solve this by the way if you ever want to have that conversation, is there’s a human element of understanding, slowing down, and looking at a transaction not as a transaction but as an interaction between people, a couple of people, or groups of people based on learning and solving.
We can talk about the best practices of Iceberg Selling if you want to, but it’s a little bit about how you start to approach things differently. Being curious, having earlier conversations, being of service, and being a guide. People still need guides. There’s so much in our lives and so much data at us. If somebody can quiet that noise and guide us forward and we start to trust them, then we probably want to work with that person. That’s what I’m seeing from trends. It is almost like old is new again. Getting back to that conversation, that handshake, getting to know people, spending, and putting in the time instead of rushing to the next thing, and conversations based on short threads on your phone. Putting a little bit more effort is what I’m seeing.
Would you agree that people buy from people? They rebuy from the people that they have a relationship with versus, “What was that guy’s name?”
One of the things I like to tell a sales manager or a salesperson if I’m coaching them is I might say, “Tell me about your funnel. We all have funnels. Who’s on your bottom of the funnel? Who’s your next step that you’re going to close?” They’ll start to tell me the usual answer, “I think there’s an 80% chance.” They’re talking about budget, “This is my next,” and all the nuts and bolts and the good things. I’ll go, “Can you tell me about their world?” Sometimes people are like, “What are you even talking about?” Other people like, “John this. This is what he’s doing. This is how his kids are. This is the challenge.” He knows their world. I think people buy from people that know their world.
I’d love your response to this one. I worked with a guy who was a trade show guru. He was that good. He was up in Saskatchewan, way up North in Canada. This is way back. The guy was good at working on trade shows. He wasn’t good in my business, but he was good at selling not only our product but he had other products that he and his wife had from local vendors. He taught me something one day that I think has been lost with all of this technology. I love your thoughts on this.
Let’s say we had a conversation like we’re having right here. You and I, before the show, compared our kids. Maybe we’ll do that at the end. We’ll talk about some things. Our kids are about the same age. I know you got an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old. I got a 19-year-old and an 18-year-old. I didn’t mention my 28-year-old in California. She’s been out there for a few years.
He taught me a valuable thing. I’d love how we would do this today because this was the day of business cards. Other people are like, “What are those? You’re not going to text me your information.” He taught me this. He’d have a fish bowl because every hour he’d give away something free. What would he do was lead generating. If you put your business card in his fish bowl, every hour he gives away whatever.
If he had a conversation like we’re having and he said, “John has three kids, 28, 19, and 18.” All of a sudden, he called me back three days later. He said, “How are those three kids doing today?” You just went on the other end of the phone. You said, “He remembered he was talking to me. He talked to 600 people that week. He had no idea what I even looked like,” but I thought that was such clever salesmanship because that person said, “This guy remembers talking to me.” How do we do that today when nobody has a business card? Everything is by cell phone.
I still carry business cards. I made sure they weren’t coded so that if you did write on it with a pen it would stick. There’s some old-schoolness in there. I know this is old school. There’s a drawer next to me with a rubber band around it and I can flip through it. The problem today without business cards is I don’t remember your name. I don’t remember you coming. Even if we connect on LinkedIn, how am I going to find you?
For the sake of sharing something personally, which gets to my second answer to this question, so much about Iceberg Selling. When we started, I said, “You’re an Iceberg. I am an iceberg.” As a salesperson, the more of your iceberg that you can reveal, it enables the person to reveal some too. We talk about vulnerability for example, but the other part of sales is if I ask you a question, you’re probably going to ask me the same question back, “Where are you from? How many kids do you have? Are you going anywhere? How did you start this job? How did you get started?”
It’s a yes-and here. Yes, you spend the time to learn about people, build rapport, understand, truly listen, and document it. Write it on a business card, put it on your phone, or whatever it might be. Also, know that the way you start that is by sharing first. My guess is that the guy at the trade show is good at getting people to open up quickly, and then he would meet them where they were, and reflect back. Before you know it, they’re like, “This guy gets me.” We all love to be understood.
When he was calling people back, he was like, “Remember? I understand you. I got you and I still do.” That puts us in a different headspace. We’re not defensive. No one feels like they’re going to get taken advantage of because this other person revealed to you something about them. In my case, I’m 51 years old and I told you I still carry a business card. There are people who are going to be like, “He’s a dinosaur.” If you want to see me as a dinosaur, that’s okay. I’m going to share who I am in hopes that you share who you are because I’m genuinely curious about learning.
Let’s roll play a little bit with some of your strategies and I will be the would-be customer.
What are you looking for today?
Most of my listeners are in network marketing. Most of them sell a variety of pills, powders, and potions. Our show is generic. We have 15,000 or 16,000 people who tune in on a regular basis. Some a lot, some weeks, and some not. This goes to YouTube and all these other things. We never know how many, but most of them are in network marketing. Some are full-time and most are part-time. Most do this in this economy to make up the difference. Let’s say that you’re trying to sell me a nutritional product for the immune system.
The first thing to frame it up is I believe that if I’m the salesperson and I’m selling a product, I have to believe in it. Hopefully, this is something as a salesperson I’ve experienced and know firsthand. I’m a believer and I’m full on because that allows me to have confidence but also relatability. I’m going to add that to this roleplay.
I might say something like, “John, I appreciate that you’re curious about this product. If it is alright, I’d like to share a little bit about my experience with it, and then see if you’re willing to share some of yours, and then from there, let’s see where the conversation goes. Who knows, maybe we’ll find we have stuff in common. I’ll brainstorm a little bit about how this might be a fit for you. If it’s not, it’s totally great. I appreciate getting to know you. At the end of the call, if that makes sense, if you need more information or you want to try something or a sample, let’s get into that conversation then. For now, let me share a little bit about why I’m doing this.”
I might have said something like this. Over the years, as I’ve gotten older, I was with my parents and taking care of my parents. There are certain things that they had challenges with. A good friend of mine said, “Have you ever had them try XYZ?” I said, “I don’t know. How did it work for you?” Sure enough, I was with my dad one day. We were playing golf and he brought it up and I said, “Are you open to trying something? I tried this myself. It started to change my life. What do you think?” He said, “Yes.” As soon as that happened, I knew I wanted to help other people. As you’ve been going about your life, getting older and you’ve got friends and parents and stuff like that, what’s been showing up for you? What’s your life like? What are you hoping to improve?
I think about my overall health as I get older. I’m a senior citizen now, which I hate to admit but I am. I’m always thinking about, “How do I feel better? How do I live longer?” In my case, I got married late and had my kids late. A lot of my friends have grandkids, doing stuff, or even great-grandkids in some cases. Mine are still around and in between. I want to live long enough to see my grandson or granddaughter graduate high school. I know with all the stuff that’s happened in the last few years with a pandemic, COVID, and all these other things, the longer that I stayed alive. I’m looking for something to improve my longevity.
True story. I had my son who turned eighteen. That was one of those milestones that I reflected back to. My parents are in their 80s. They come out and visit. I have a pretty active family. My son loves to fly fish. I want to bring my dad and I think about, “What am I going to be like when I’m older and I have my grandkids too?” Are you active now? Do you spend a lot of time with your kids? What is life like for you?
I do. My son and I train together a couple of days a week in the gym at the same time. We don’t talk to each other. He stays on one side. I stay on the other. We do our thing together there. My younger daughter lives at home. We spent some time together. She’s a big reader. We compare notes on some of the classics. She loves the classics. I am on Dickens and some old-time authors. We talk about stuff like that. We have some commonality. I have more in common with my son because he’s a guy than I do my daughter. My daughter is out in California. We text more than anything else because of the time difference and all that. We stay in contact. I’m active in their lives.
I get that too, being able to exercise and every little moment counts. I might be busy and my kids are like, “Dad, can you, fill in the blank? Watch a ski movie with me. Will you go fishing with me this morning? Do you have any appointments?” Every time I can, I say yes, because I want that moment. What have you done? You’re working out. What have you been doing? What do you plan to keep doing to make sure you’re healthy and around, and able to have those experiences as we move forward in our lives?
Believe it or not, I stretched twice a day on a yoga mat. I do some yoga and still lift weights because resistance training as you get older is important. I do a lot of that. I’ve even started this shop in my old age. I did that for a while when the kids were young and then I stopped when their sports careers had taken off.
Now they’re not tying me up on weekends. I’m doing the occasional track meet. I have a friend who lives not too far from me and he’s great. He was a Big Ten Champion and Olympic gold holder years ago. We go out and throw together on a nice day. I enjoy it. This is like our barbershop. We solve more of the problems of the world politically. We might get twenty throws in each, but we solve all the world’s problems.
I do stuff like that. I try to walk with my wife a couple of times a week, keep moving and keep the body. I’m a big fan of the Blue Zones people. They’re not running marathons. Half of the time, they are working in the garden or doing whatever they do regionally where they live in the world. I adopted some of those principles as we got older in order not to kill myself necessarily but to move the body every day and keep the blood flowing.
Your friend that you do the disc with, your son, wife, or all the people you talk to, is there anything they’re taking as a supplement to help them and have they seen any benefit from that or have you explored that at all? Ultimately, that might be something that XYZ could help. I don’t know if that’s something that you’re open to trying or even thinking about. Where are you right now with things like that?
I’m looking at what’s out there supplement-wise and food-wise because food is important, what can I take and what’s got some evidence to it? What’s something I can take that the medical community would say, “You made a good decision.” The reality is none of this stuff is cheap. You have to spend money on it, but unfortunately, good health generally costs money.
At this point, I would probably start to ask you questions like, “What’s more important, science or testimonials? I’ve got a lot of stories and customers that have a similar profile. Would you ever want to talk to one of them? You mentioned the science. Is that something you’re curious about? I’m happy to share something with you. Are you open to trying something for a short period of time and seeing how your life is now versus later and taking that trial to see if it’s something that might be the right fit for you?” Depending on where that conversation went, I would try to move it toward getting you what you’re starting to want.
That becomes that co-creation part of, “What do you think? I’m just brainstorming here. Would you like to do the discs? There’s a friend of mine who is a tracking coach at SMU. He’s been doing this and taking these supplements for the last five years. Why don’t we head over there and chat with him one day?” I’m going to start throwing out ideas based on what you told me that might be a fit.
What I loved in our conversation, it was a gentle conversation. You didn’t try to sell me anything but you started closing around a 3rd or 4th of, “How about trying it?” Like anything, being a supplement, automobile, or anything. Eventually, it’s like, “Try it. If you don’t like it, give it back. I’ll give your money back.”
That’s where the mind shift of being a guide shows up. If I’m a guide, then I’m helping guide you to the reality that you want, but until I understand that reality back to that Iceberg, I’m going to be gambling like, “Maybe it’s this or that.” After I do that 2 or 3 times, if I didn’t know you yet, you’re going to start to shut down, “This guy doesn’t get me. This guy is a clown.” It’s one of those things that if you truly believe in what you’re selling and you truly want to help that other person, sometimes I even say that like, “I do this because I love the impact and helping people change people’s lives. Are you willing to let me ask you a couple of questions so that I might be able to help you out of the gate? Would that be okay?”
I don’t think I’ve ever had somebody say, “That wouldn’t be okay.” That’s why we’re here. We’re here to talk and if I can create value for you by 5, 10, or 20 minutes, before you know, we’re getting into a solution together, and then you’re asking me for the trial. I’m not having to pitch you. You already know that this is something you want to try.
What you’re doing is building a relationship. When Karl calls me and says, “How are you liking your XYZ product?” It’s not some stranger salesman calling me. It’s my buddy like, “Did you fly fish this weekend? What did you get?”
If we can get a clear next step that we agree to together, then when I call you back, I’m not bothering you. I don’t have that head trash like, “What am I going to say? Are you ready yet? Did you get my proposal? Did you like it?” I don’t have to do that. We already agreed we’re going to reconnect. I might have ended that call like, “I’ll mail you some samples. It’s a three-week trial. Why don’t I give you a call about a week and a half out? Can we look at our calendars right now? I’m going to check in with you and see how it’s going.” You’re like, “That would be great.” I don’t have to be like, “I wonder what John is thinking.” I know in a week and a half, he’s going to tell me what he’s thinking.
For the supplement, for example, we’re talking $100. Would that apply to some of the people who are selling automobiles or homes? We have people who do network marketing part-time or sell something else full-time. Is there a difference in building those relationships?
This is the craziest thing. If you ask me this twenty years ago, “If you were sitting across the table of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, would you ask them for a next step?” I might have been like, “I don’t know. They’re the CEO of this big company.” I got to tell you a story. I was sitting across the table from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that I had cold-called and pitched an idea to. She happened to come to Denver. We had a beautiful lunch. We went and visited her store in the mall. She’s a busy lady.
I said, “I know you’re a busy lady. It seems like we’ve had a great meeting. Would it be all right if I reached out to your assistant? We scheduled some time so I can check back in after you’ve thought about this?” She’s like, “Yes, please. Do that.” My lesson there is the bigger the thing you’re selling the bigger the decision it is. Maybe even the person you’re selling to. You see them as a pedestal. I think we all go, “I better not change. Screw up this relationship. I’m asking for our next step.”The bigger the thing you're selling, the bigger the decision it is. Click To Tweet
Anybody that’s in leadership and busy people wants someone to step up and help them out. Get on their calendar. Make it easy for them because they don’t want to ghost you. They want to move it forward. If you can’t help them move it forward with an appointment, it can start to move sideways. I would say no matter what, you’re helping that other person. Ultimately, they wanted this thing when you solve their problem. It’s another step in solving it.
Let’s come back to Iceberg. Let’s ask a couple of other questions. What are some of the common challenges that salespeople face today? How does Iceberg Selling trust them?
One is we typically think everything is a transaction. For those of you who do a lot of marketing, you might have heard of Marketing Qualified Leads or MQL and Sales Qualified Leads or SQL. A lot of times, as salespeople, when we’re getting leads that somebody is providing to us, we think they’re ready to buy. As marketers, we want to give people who are qualified. There’s a gap between where is somebody in their world of buying. I would say our job as a salesperson is to understand where they are on that journey, not just assume.
Just because of the digital age and many of us as consumers can self-serve, get some information to a lot of forms, and schedule a call, our counterparts think, “That means you’re ready to place an order.” That might be true, but I have found more times than not, if I can approach those conversations from the beginning with curiosity and understand where somebody is, then back to the example we talked about earlier, when I start to talk to them, I know where they are. I’m not guessing or gambling.
I will tell you five quick steps. The first is to do the research. If you can find out something about this other person before you get on the call, you’re automatically starting much further down the field. It doesn’t have to be magic. My parents are in the 80s. If I wanted to plan a surprise party for my dad for his 80th birthday, I’m probably not going to make it a surprise part. Eighty-year-old people don’t want to be surprised. It’s not going to be at night time. His friends are not going to go if they have to drive at night. These are basic things. By thinking about who these people are by doing the research, we can all automatically get a head start.
Back to the story about my father. I’m going to make sure if we have it at a restaurant, it’s not a dark restaurant. There are big stairs. He’s going to have his friends who are 80 and 90 years old. Doing the research and it’s all around us, LinkedIn, websites, blogs, everything that we can do. Start your call informed. Your competitors probably won’t. It automatically creates more credibility.
The second is setting yourself up for success. When you have this meeting like we did in the roleplay, tell them where you want to take them. People don’t like uncertainty. People don’t like to buy when there’s uncertainty. Tell them what that experience is going to be like in that first call, whether you call it a discovery call or whatever you want to do, but at least get them to understand what’s going to happen. Nobody wants to wait for that a-ha or “Got you later.” Be cool about it.
The third is what we did. Build a rapport. Start to learn more and more about that Iceberg. Get curious. Ask open-ended questions, share, and be vulnerable. By the time you start to co-create, which I call Testing For Success 4, I’m probably right. You probably already told me. We’re already in the ballpark of having that conversation. The fifth step is making sure we have the next step, like we talked about. It’s slowing down and realizing that if you want to be successful, it’s about understanding someone and moving them forward from where they are so you can understand them and move forward from where they are.
Improving Sales Performance, your company, what’s been your greatest challenge and your greatest success? How do you get started? Why do you start? Are you working for somebody else? Where did the journey begin?
I’ll start there. I’ve had a lot of different companies. From about 2000 to 2010, I had a digital agency. We build apps. We built the first mobile app for the Porsche brand. We were doing pretty high-end work. We also had a lot of big large real estate developments. You might know where this is going. We are dealing with big consumer brands and large real estate developments. 2009 and 2010 rolls around. I hope the funnel freezes. It wasn’t a yes or no. We know what it was like then. That was a hard time with The Great Recession.
I ended up closing down my business, declaring bankruptcy, and decided to reinvent myself. When I reinvented myself, I was like, “What’s the problem I want to solve?” I realized the only way a lot of business owners could sell or grow their company in their mind was, “I better clone myself. If I could clone myself.” You see this where they’ve hired salespeople and sales managers, revolving door, and they can’t ever have a breakthrough.
I was like, “I’m going to help with that. I can help with that.” I started to take systems and processes that I had in my own career to do lead generation, build rapport, and get people to a place where they want to talk to the domain expert. I started outsourcing. I would come into other companies and build that for them. I was super naïve because I thought all these companies had these foundations, and they didn’t. What I mean by that is I go into a company and I would say, “Are you clear on your value?” “Yes, I’m clear on my value.”
I’d say, “If I talk to five random people at the company, am I going to get the same answer” They would pause and be like, “No.” We’re not clear on our value. I’d say, “Who’s the target customer?” “I don’t know.” “I could put the next best customer in a seat next to the first-class seat on an airplane to fly across the country. Who would it be?” “I don’t know anybody with a checkbook.” These folks don’t know their value or how they’re different who they want to sell to. I developed something called the revenue equation.
That was the moment when I said, “I’m solving problems of foundations.” I ran that company for a while, and then all of a sudden, I was like, “Do you know what’s going on? I’m taking everyone’s risk and their expertise out of their company. How is that of service? They’re outsourcing something that should be a core competency in their company. Time out. We’re going to pivot, start improving sales performance, and we’re going to go into companies and help them have strong cultures, help them have clear foundations, bring out the best in their teams and individuals.”
That was the a-ha moment for me. I had to go on this journey of being in the trenches, figuring it out, getting beaten up some days, and winning some days. To answer your second part, my biggest win was when I made that pivot, I started coming into these companies. I would get emails, texts, letters, and postcards, “Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for believing in me.”
I told you that story about that Marine. He still sent me messages. He’ll take a snapshot of him out fishing. He’s like, “I closed some more deals. I’m out fishing with my friends.” I haven’t worked with him for a year. For me, the win was I started to impact people’s lives and I realized that’s what I wanted to play for. The other company I get messages like, “Why have you gotten this enough leads?” I was like, “Wait a minute” The big win was helping people change, grow, and find that they have the strengths within them and helping them bring that forward because that’s ultimately more scalable and satisfying than a check in my opinion at least.
For someone that is new to the selling profession and maybe they’re struggling a little bit or somebody that’s been around a while and they’re struggling. They’ve forgotten what got them successful in the first place. I sometimes go through it.
We all do.
It is a human nature. What advice would you give those people to reboot to get back to where they need to be or more importantly, exceed where they were?
If you like the idea of Iceberg Selling, skim and read it. Tune in to this show to get some pointers, but I think the most important thing is you have to be clear on why you’re in the game and what you’re playing for. You might have found that it’s not the right fit for you. The sooner you know that, great, but go do something else. If you’re like, “No. I want to bet on myself. This is what I’m doing,” then own that. The second one is realizing that money is a byproduct of doing a great job.
You see all these crazy sales movies. They’re entertaining as can be, but they’re not the reality in my opinion. It’s not, “How do I get them to sign on the line that is dotted?” It’s not this big thing like that. It’s like, “Who did I help today?” The more I help people, it’s like you said when you are at your other job, they refer and tell other people. You start to get a reputation of impact and positive impact. Ultimately, if you’re in sales, that’s what I would want to play for. How do I keep raising my game? How do I keep learning? How do I keep showing up in a way where I do get that thank you text, “Thank you. These supplements are great. You changed my life?” I’m playing for those moments versus an extra $5,000, $10,000, or $100,000 in my checking account at the end of the month or year. That’s the byproduct of being of service and bringing all this forward.
When I read your bio, I was like, “I want this to be the launch in 2024.” You’re going to be the first interview in 2024. The people tuning in to this are going to come out of Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, Kwanzaa, or whatever they celebrate or do celebrate, let’s talk about 2024 for a minute. How do they be the best version of themselves in 2024? What would your couple of key strategy points be for them, activities, etc?
My first one is If you can see everything as an iceberg, and I even mean your family, your teenage son, your teenage daughter, grandparents, parents, or spouse, you’re going to change your life. How many of you have had this experience? You come home, your partner opens the dishwasher, “You loaded it wrong,” or something like that or your version of that. It’s probably not that you loaded it wrong. Stick with me here. There’s probably something else below the surface.If you can see everything as an iceberg, you're going to change your life. Click To Tweet
If you can start to approach everything in 2024 as what’s going on and get curious, you’re going to start to change the dynamics in your personal life and your professional life. This applies to your manager or if you’re managing people and your best customers if they keep buying from you. Get curious. When you do, you’re going to change how you’re showing up in those situations. You’re going to learn more and as you learn more, there are a lot more possibilities of what you can do to move things forward.
My first one would be like, “Take a moment to do that.” The second one is I’m going to get back to that ownership and drivership mindset. This is about empowerment. It’s January 1. You’re tuning in to this Empower yourself. Be accountable for your own success and don’t let anything get in the way. Get in that driver’s seat of your own life and drive. If you have excuses, “I can’t. There’s this and that.” Sometimes I have to be a passenger. I’m going to invite you to play around for the month of January. Do it differently. Drive it a little. Stay a little extra. Make that extra phone call. Go to that extra meeting. Ask for that extra referral. Ask for a mentor. Do something that’s for you. When you start to do that, you combine that with looking at everything as an iceberg, 2024 will change for you in a good way.
Here’s the most important question. They should use Iceberg Selling as part of their learning because we’re always learning. Even at 62, we’re still learning. I work with a guy who’s 80 up in Canada. He still learning. Where do they get Iceberg Selling and your other books and products? Where do they reach out to you?
Go to IcebergSelling.com. I have a website completely dedicated to that book. There are lessons and videos. Even if you just go there you, don’t even buy the book, you’re going to get inspired. You’re going to learn something. If you’re inclined by the book, that would be awesome. There are also links there to my company site, which is called ImprovingSalesPerformance.com. All three books are there.
You can download sample chapters. You can listen to sample chapters if you like to learn by listening. If you’re curious, follow me, sign up for our blog, and send me a LinkedIn. All my contact information is all over that. Reach out if you have a question. I respond to everybody. That’s who I am and what I’m about. Check out IcebergSelling.com. Start there. It’s a fast, easy, and fun read. There are tons of stories that I think you’re going to love.
Let’s have a little fun. You have baseballs behind you. I know the story because I asked you earlier. I know some of our people are wondering. What’s the stories with the baseball?
It was about ten years ago. My oldest kid was seven. My youngest is five. My wife and I never had any time together. A good friend of mine said, “I have two tickets to the Colorado Rockies. They’re great seats. Do you want them? This was like a week before the game.” I was like, “Absolutely.” We do everything we can to get a sit. Nothing. It’s a late game on a Saturday. I finally go, “We’re taking Sam. We’re taking my seven-year-old.” That’s what we’re doing.
As soon as I tell Sam, he’s through the moon. He’s excited. He grabs this little mitt. He said, “We’re going to catch the ball.” For some reason as a dad, I don’t know why I did this. I said, “Yes, we are.” We get in the car. We drive to the game and we’re there a little bit early because I wanted to have experience. This might have been the second time of him at a ball game. He keeps leaning over me and pretending he’s going to catch the ball.
“We’re going to catch one.” I’m like, “Yeah.” I’m buying my own hype. Sure enough, it’s the third game, Michael Cuddyer is up the bat and I kept going through my mind, “If this ball comes to me, how do I make sure I don’t knock him over and I’m on Sports Center as that dad that everyone was laughing at? I’m going to stand up and put my arm out. The ball is going to land. I’m going to grab it. I’m going to pause for a minute. I don’t drop it. I’m going to turn to my son and give them this ball. That’s what I’m going to do.”
Sure enough, my son was like, “When are we going to catch a ball?” Michael Cuddyer is up. He hits his foul ball right to me. I’m 100% serious. There’s no joking here. This is all real. I stand up. I catch the ball. I did everything that was in my head. I’d imagine. I gave it to my son. He looks at me and smiles. He goes, “When we’re going to get the next one ?” I was like, “Oh my god.” I have two sons. I started to go, “How would I want to get another ball? How would I get another ball?” We have five now to spoil the story.
I’m going to speak at a conference in Dallas. We go to the Cowboys Stadium because even though I live in Colorado, my youngest is a Cowboys fan. Don’t hold it against me if you live in Colorado. We go down. We see the Cowboys Stadium, then we go see a Rangers game. I started to go, “How would I hack this?” All four of us dressed in Ranger gear. We get some seats right and back at third base.
I keep thinking, “I’m going to get this ball.” It’s the ninth inning. I still don’t have a ball. My family is looking at me like, “Uh-huh.” I was like, “I have faith. This is going to happen.” Sure enough, they’re playing the Mariners, pop flies, hits some bricks, pops back out, Beltré, who’s the third baseman, grabs it, looks up, sees me and my son, tosses it to me, we both grab it and that was ball number two.
The whole idea with the baseball and I cover this in my first book Set Up To Win is, “Chance favors those who prepare.” Sales isn’t about one waterfall event. It’s about a lot of little things. I was dressed like the home team. I had kids. I was in back the third base. I had a positive mindset. It happened five times. That’s why I have the baseball zero reminder that sales isn’t one magic thing. It’s a lot of little things that all come together if you want to win.“Chance favors those who prepare.” Sales isn't about one waterfall event. It's about a lot of little things. Click To Tweet
Beltré probably will be in the Hall of Fame. He’s going to be retired in five years. He’s a heck of a player. I love the story and optimism because the last thing you want to do is lie to your kids when they’re 5 or 7. When they get to 18 or 19, they figure out, “There are 70,000 people here. We may not get a ball.” I love it. It’s a great story. This has been a privilege. I’ll give you the last word. Anything else you want to share with our audience?
Everyone out there that selling, I wish you the best and I want you to believe in yourself. You make a difference in the lives of the companies you work for and even the people. You’re you’re closing deals. You’re helping people make payroll. You’re making a difference in your life. If you have some self-doubt, get clear on what you’re paying for and know that you’re an important person. You can do this. I’m all in with the salesperson. Believe in yourself. Make it happen. That’s what I’m going to leave with.
Thank you all for tuning in.