Wouldn't it be great if your prospects trusted you from the moment they met you? Yes, this is possible and no crystal ball is required.
In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl is joined by InQuasive President Michael Reddington, a former professional interrogator and trained forensic interviewer to discuss his unique approach to sales training, using styles learned as an expert in persuasion. Hear advice on presenting yourself in the best possible light, ways to move your prospects from resistance to commitment, and how to begin building trust with them before even speaking with them.
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Darryl: How is everybody doing today? Folks, it's another week. It's like every week I start this thinking it's another week, where the hell did the time go? I can't believe it. It has gone by fast. How are you keeping? What's new? Are you stressed? Are you hitting the numbers? Q1's behind us, it's in the books. We're in Q2 now. You working hard? You focused? It's interesting. Right? We all get goals that we want to hit. If you're in sales, business development, it's about hitting a certain quota, right, or maybe it's a certain number of deals. Maybe there's some spiffs or some incentives that you want to get to. Maybe you want to get to an accelerator in your commission plan because you've already got that money allocated. Maybe you want to go on a vacation. Maybe, because summer is approaching us, maybe you just want to go and have a real nice week off at a nice cabin or a cottage. Maybe you want to go buy at that boat. And all of these things are what motivate us. They motivate us to behave. And really, it's a reminder that we do this job, we work to live. If you're living to work, I would suggest you might have your priorities backwards. So that's sage advice from an old dude like me, who has learned that the hard way. But I want to go back in time. I want to share a story about a time when I had some interesting goals and some of the things that I did. So at the time, I was a first time ever senior executive, I was a vice president of marketing. It was a 40 person software company when I joined. They're publicly traded now, making gazillions of dollars. We ended up raising over 50 million US dollars and we had a good run. That was back around the change of the millennia, right, from'98,'99, 2000 timeframe. So here I am, a first time VP, and I'm trying to make my mark, make my impression, make my career, because this is that first job. Just like as a sales rep, you want to hit president's club, right? You want to overachieve, you want to get that bonus. And a big part in those days, especially, was what do you do with industry analysts like Gartner, Forrester? And what you may not understand, because now you're saying," Well dude, this as a sales show. Why we talking marketing crap? Enough of the marketing crap already." Marketing is just sales by a different name. And what I had to do in those days was I had to go and convince Gartner that our little old company, who wasn't a category leader, deserved to be a leader on the magic quadrant. The magic quadrant, if you're not sure or familiar with, it's a little chart they come out with. You always want to be in the upper right hand corner, right? The upper right hand corner are the leaders and I think in the bottom right corner or the contenders. Top left corner is usually a performer and the bottom left is usually the niche. Niche is the kiss of death, you don't want that. I wanted to be a leader. How do I do that? And what you start doing is you actually start doing your best persuasion, because the category leaders have more resources than you do, more money, more staff, more R& D capabilities, they can innovate faster. So you start doing this stuff. So I was going to do my final pitch to the whole crew at Gartner group, and I turned to my R& D team and I said," This is what I want you to do." And they said," What?" I said," We're going to get hammered because we don't have this feature. Now I know we're going to have this feature in six months time, but I want you to go and mock me up a screen that is functionally working, even though we both know there's nothing behind it, so I can convince them we have this feature available now, so I can get us on the magic water, because they're going to score us high on that." And they said," Is that ethical?" And I said," Well, it is in my mind because this is going to be available in three months time anyway, but the magic quadrant is today." So I'm not misrepresenting in my mind, I'm just trying to be persuasive. So off I go and they're all excited and they did this, they were awesome, they were team players. And I went and presented it. And I said,"Look at this cool feature." And they oohed and they awed and I came back and I told R& D what a great job they did. And sure enough, we were ranked as a leader. And that was the first time ever we were a leader and I had won what I wanted to win. I won the respect and adoration and I was on my way to my good career. Life is good. You sit back and you go," How many times in our sales careers do we all do a variation of what I've talked about?", which is do we stretch the truth a little bit? Do we maybe misrepresents, maybe spin it a little bit to try to persuade our prospects that we ourselves are a good investment and we're the right choice for them? You see in the past on this show we've talked about, how do you ask questions? And we've talked about how do you listen better so you know how to address them better? But what we've never, ever, ever talked about is how do you influence, how do you build trust, how do you apply ethical persuasion and rapport to achieve your end goals. I don't think I've heard that anywhere. So we thought we'd fixed that. And we went out and today I'm really excited to bring to you my good friend, Michael Reddington, who's the head honcho, the big kahuna, the president at InQuasive. And I think you're going to like him because he's not only got a really cool story, but he's going to tell us how to be persuasive, how to build rapport, ethically, so you can achieve your jobs. Michael, how are you doing my friend?
Michael Reddington: I'm doing great Darryl. Thank you for having me. How are you?
Darryl: I am well. Did you hear my story about how, I would say in hindsight, I lied?
Michael Reddington: Well, I did hear your story and I thought it was a great story. And I'd be a little, I guess technically by the book, did you lie? I don't know because I wasn't in the room. So I don't know exactly what you said in order to categorize it one way or the other. But I would say this, when we talk about the ethical debate, oftentimes we all have our own, I guess, ethical guidelines or ethical rules or ethical gray areas. And it would be a fool's errand to try to convince somebody that what we believe to be ethical and what they believe to be ethical should always be the same, because we were raised with different value systems and different experiences. But overall, I would agree with your representation. You didn't have it that day, but you knew for a fact that in a couple of months you were going to have it. So it wasn't the old fake it till you make it, I'm going to put it out there and then force somebody else to have to do it after. You had something that you knew was coming, you demonstrated what it would look like in advance. Think about it like a sneak preview. I think you're fine.
Darryl: And even, I remember at the time, I remember saying to them, I said,"This is brand spanking new. You're one of the first people to see it, so here you go," to give myself some wiggle room. But you're right. So I'm really looking forward to today's conversation. But I do want to start off with the elephant in the room. For those wondering," Well, what's the elephant in the room, Darryl? You've already told us you lied you bastard." I want to talk about you. Now you have got a really interesting background. It's going to be even more applicable to our conversation today. Now folks, listen up to this background. Michael, why don't you tell us about your background?
Michael Reddington: So prior to sales, I was a professional interrogator. By trade, I'm a certified forensic interviewer, and I've made my initial career in that world focusing, I think it's important to designate on non- confrontational interview and interrogation techniques. But after rising through the ranks, as an investigator, I was recruited to join the world leader in non- confrontational interview and interrogation training and advising. And I spent over a decade traveling the world, teaching investigators in the private sector, law enforcement, public sector, military, how to obtain the truth by using rapport based ethical means in all of their conversations. And when I wasn't teaching, I led a team that conducted interrogations on a contract basis for clients as well.
Darryl: So I'm reminded, and of course the name is slipping my head right now and if you know you can correct me, there's the fellow who wrote the book a few years back, who's an FBI interrogator. And I remember him saying, and don't quote me on this one, you've got ballpark eight seconds to establish trust with somebody you're about to, I think he was a hostage negotiator was what he was, not interrogator.
Michael Reddington: Yes, yes.
Darryl: So a little different, but probably similar skills about building trust. And I know in all your speeches, in all your content, trust and rapport is big in the whole process, isn't it?
Michael Reddington: It's really big. And certainly, although I've trained FBI agents, I've never been employed by them a day in my life. So I don't want to step on any toes. There are some pretty clear research that shows that we are capable of judging somebody just based on looking at their face in 100 milliseconds. And we're capable of judging somebody just by hearing their voice. So this might be better for us if they can't see us and they're just listening. People can judge our trustworthiness just by hearing our voice in 500 milliseconds. So when we think about trust, unfortunately a lot of it, and this really does start into the tie in, believe it or not, interrogation suspects and customers travel the same cognitive process as they transition from resistance to commitment. The cognitive process that will leave an interrogation suspect to truthfully committing to saying" I did it" is essentially identical to the cognitive process that customers experience when they commit to saying" I'll buy it." I guess I'll do it this way. We enter into every conversation with mental models and expectations, and those mental models and expectations can be positive, negative, or neutral. Now, for the most part, I would say 51% of the time or more, if somebody agrees to a meeting with a sales professional, there is at least some interest there in having the conversation, more often than not I would guess. Some people might be forced into it. But by and large, I would think that there's at least some interest. On the interrogation side of the house, there's usually not a whole lot of interest to sit down and talk to us. And that's true for victims, witnesses and suspects, not just suspects. So what we have to realize walking in the room in both scenarios is that unfortunately, and I'll give sales professionals the win in this one, unfortunately the prevailing reputation or prevailing mental model of interrogators and sales professionals isn't great. Most people don't wake up in the morning and say," I hope I get interrogated. I hope I get stuck in a meeting with a sales professional." They're not equal, I'm not ranking sales professionals right with interrogations, but we don't necessarily have the best reputation or set of expectations going into the conversation. So if we keep that in mind and think that literally, within a blink of an eye, people can be gauging our trustworthiness, then literally from the word jump, if we have any runway prior to the official meeting, maximizing that runway, but then really from the jump of the conversation, carrying ourselves in a way that's most likely to help building that rapport and trust and doesn't just immediately feed into the potential negative expectations that they may have.
Darryl: Okay, you said a lot of things. I want to see if I can jump into some of these things, in no particular order. But I promise folks to keep us on track- ish, kind of.
Michael Reddington: Give or take.
Darryl: You made a comment that says, I'm paraphrasing, within 500 milliseconds max, they've already made a decision, an initial decision, that they can trust us. So the first part there, how much of this goes back to simply how we present ourselves? I'll be dramatic. So if I'm slouching or if I got poor lighting, because we're on a Zoom meeting, we're meeting for the first time and maybe I'm not the most well- groomed, and I haven't said a damn thing because like you said, 500 milliseconds, does that all instantly lead to my being perceived as potentially not trustworthy? Because I think you used the exact words were, how we present ourselves.
Michael Reddington: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. So trying to keep things short here for you. Let's just assume for the purpose of this conversation-
Darryl: It's like you know I'm stupid. This is good. Go for it, keep it short. I like this.
Michael Reddington: No, it's because we only have 30 minutes and I can do this for a day. We'll figure out the intelligence test by the end for both of us. So let's just assume for the purpose of conversation that no matter how proud we all are of ourselves as individual business development professionals, that a lifetime of making purchases has taught customers that they should be at least skeptical of us at the beginning of any conversation, because they know our route to success runs through them and the amount of money that they're willing to spend. So I'm sure even with the Canadian audience that most people are familiar with Miranda rights here in the United States.
Michael Reddington: If you've watched one movie or one TV show, right? You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you. People think about that when criminals get arrested. But let's be clear, customers have all been Mirandized as well. A lifetime of making purchases has them clearly aware that anything they say will be used against them at our very first opportunity. So this myth of buyers being liars. No, buyers are looking out for their personal interests, professional interests, just like we are. This is part of the dance. It's not necessarily, and a lot of time it really isn't, blatant dishonesty. So to finally get back and directly answer your question, yeah, from how we introduce ourselves, to how we dress, to how we comport ourselves, to if it's video, the lighting. God willing, in a world where we can shake hands again, how we shake hands and introduce ourselves. All of these things really make a big difference, especially in the opening moments. And moments is, like we're talking, like we said, milliseconds, seconds in the beginning of that conversation. What are we doing to grab somebody's attention and cause them to think," Well, wait a minute. This might not be what I expected." All of that becomes very important.
Darryl: All right. So you really hit on a couple of things. So for those who are regular listeners of the show, you've heard me say this before and I'll say it again because it ties back in here. Michael is doing a way better job of it than I am. Where I always say, buyers are just conditioned. It's just instinctive to eliminate, minimize or eliminate risk. Just like when we go shopping on Amazon, we go look at the reviews. We look at how many stars, look at the quantity of reviews. Is it four and a half stars. We look at the hot buttons, easy to use, 4. 7. Works well, 4.8, whatever. We're looking at signals, signs that help us reduce our perception of risk, which is said another way, helps us build trust. So now our job as sales reps is to use rapport to build trust. But the irony is, exactly to Michael's point, we're then going to launch, at one point, we're going to launch into a discovery process where we're going to ask a thousand questions like an interrogator might do, and the customer is going to be on the defensive and they're going to want to hold stuff back from you because they want to be able to negotiate later on. They don't want to give it all the way up front in case it comes down to price. So I've said a few of those things. I want to talk to you, Michael, on a couple things. You can go in any direction you want to. How do we use rapport to build that trust? That's number one. And number two, what are some tactics that we can use to influence or increase how we're perceived?
Michael Reddington: Love it. I'll start with the second one just real quick. And some of it is like one- on- one type stuff. Try to get a reasonable amount of sleep the night before, try to have breakfast or a coffee or whatever you do in the morning. Whatever your professional uniform is, choice of attire, put yourself together. Shave, brush your teeth, do all the things that we're supposed to do in order, not only to look good, but to feel good so we're a little bit more confident. Again, trying to keep it short, if it's a video meeting like this, make the best it. You and I are both standing up, so we can be a little bit more energetic in the conversation. So if that's possible, great. But if it's not, it's not. If there's a lighting issue, call it out. One of the worst things we can do is sit here staring at our screen, waiting for Darryl to log on and think," Oh my lighting's all screwed up. My dog's barking downstairs. There's nothing I can do about it. This is going to ruin the whole call." No, it's not. When Darryl logs in," Hey man, thank you so much for taking the time. Such is the world we live in. I just had a light bulb go out and there's a squirrel in the backyard, my dog can't keep it together. I apologize. If I need to repeat anything, just let me know." Believe it or not, I actually now have more rapport with you because I just called it all out. Like, hey, if it's not a big deal to me, it's not a big deal to you. So those are some of the little things that we can do. I'll say one more thing, kind of off topic on the video call while we're here. You said I could go whatever direction I wanted, so this is entirely your fault.
Darryl: Yeah, go for it.
Michael Reddington: One of the questions I get a lot for the video is how do I read somebody's behavior on video. Focus on what you do have, not what you don't have. Believe it or not, we should do a better job evaluating communication over video than in- person because we have dozens less variables to think about. I'm no longer worried about what I'm doing because you can't really see it. So it's less for me to worry about. I've lost 90 plus percent of your nonverbal behavior, so I don't have to worry about that. And I also have no idea if there's any stimuluses going on around you that might cause your behavior to change. So maybe your eyebrow really does itch or maybe somebody's waving at you saying," Hey, hurry this guy up. His answer's too long. He's not on topic." Right? I don't know what that's for. So literally all I want to do is focus in the majority of my attention on the actual words that you speak, because that is something that now I can pay much more attention to and get a much more accurate evaluation of. So on the video calls, really anything in life, but specifically in video calls, focus on what you do have and not what you don't have. We're reducing variables, it should be easier.
Darryl: What I love and folks, you guys know this show, you know this is a hundred percent unscripted, right? So what I love about this is Michael, the world's kick- ass interrogator, is actually telling us the skills we've talked about over and over again, without using the word interrogator. Because at the end of the day, it's what he said, interrogation, selling, it's about building that trust, it's about influencing outcomes. And you can influence outcomes by a couple of things. Your environment is somewhat in your control. I can make sure I've got good lighting, I've got a good camera, I've got good posture, that I'm reasonably well groomed, that I put a smile on my face before the camera starts so I look approachable. I can control that. And what I can't control, so the dog barking outside, I can acknowledge it and make sure that we're cool. And then right away, the person feels A, in control because you give them permission and B, they like you because you're being considerate of them, you're giving them a choice. So again, all this is stuff we can control, easily control. This is dynamite stuff. All right. So we're controlling this, but like you said, they know their own Miranda rights. So they may choose to shut up and say nothing. So how do I build that rapport to get them to open up?
Michael Reddington: Rule number one is let the conversation come to you. When we're under stress, we tend to go to what we know. And as sales professionals, what do we know best? Ourselves, our product, our service. So when we walk in and we have any little bit of tension, stress, uncertainty, it can be easy just to say," Hey Darryl, hang on a second. Let me tell you how awesome I am. And when I'm done, I'm going to start asking you questions so I can tell you how my awesomeness can benefit you." And in that situation, in many ways, we're playing right into the stereotype that people will try to protect themselves against in these conversations. So we want to be patient and let the conversation come to you. Let's say you've got 60 minutes blocked out for a meeting. If you get the most critical piece of information at minute five or minute 55, you still got it. If we try to get it at minute five, there's a good chance that we're tripping all over barriers and landmines and making this more difficult because we likely appear needy, we likely appear like a bit of a bully in the conversation and maybe a little bit arrogant or out of touch, depending on how bad we really are with the approach. But if we get it at the 55 minute mark, by the time we get it there, we likely have allowed ourselves to use a patient approach to give the other side plenty of time to talk and explain and pontificate of necessary. And then we take this intelligence that they give us, that we can use in turn to ask better questions. So instead of asking a thousand, we ask five, but those five questions give us a thousand points of information that we wouldn't have had otherwise, because questions can be perceived as invitations or attacks. And if we sit in front of someone and just machine gun them with questions for 60 minutes, we're going to walk away," Well, I asked a lot of questions." Well, quantity, quality, how did those questions feel and what information did we really get? So it starts with letting the conversation come to you. Any conversation on persuasion has to go through Robert Cialdini and I'll follow up with some links to his books on Amazon, which by the way, Robert Cialdini, essentially his claim to fame and rightfully so is the seven automatic mechanisms of persuasion. And other than making buying terribly easy and convenient, the thing that Amazon has done the best is maximize social proof with those stars. Well if it's good enough for 9, 000 other people, it must obviously be good enough for me. Whether they're real people or robots or paid people or have anything in common with me, I don't know, but 9, 000 of them liked it. So send me two. They've operationalized social proof better than anybody. One of the things that oftentimes we worry about when think about the mechanisms of persuasion first is liking," I want you to like me. I want you to like me." Well, one of the best ways to not be liked is to try too hard to be liked. So one of the best ways to be liked is to respect somebody's time, to respect somebody's space, to respect the information that they have. By showing that respect, we're more likable. The second is reciprocity, and I'll pause after this one for you Darryl. When we think about reciprocity, think about give before you get. And that doesn't necessarily mean, well, I'm going to send him gifts and take us to the ball game or take him golfing or buy him dinner, or this round's on me. Reciprocity means give them something before you ask for something. So Darryl, you started this meeting today, conversation today, by sharing a story. Literally, by you sharing that story, you are giving your audience and you're giving me something. You're giving me something of value. You're giving the audience something of value to tie themselves into, want to learn from. Then after you tell that story is when you turn around and start asking questions. So one of the things that we really talk about is the concept, this comes straight from the interrogation room, illustrate before you investigate. I want to demonstrate some sort of understanding, awareness of the world that my customer is experiencing. A word synonymous with trust is vulnerability. And it's going to be really hard to get someone to feel vulnerable and give us information they'd rather withhold if we don't show some kind of vulnerability first. So if I can be a little bit vulnerable and use a nice illustration, as you did, prior to asking any questions and then ask some high level questions, some real quality questions, instead of," So what keeps you up at night?" Now, I'm going to be much more successful getting more of the information that I need.
Darryl: So the biggest mistake I see sales reps making today is something touched on there, Michael. And it was in passing, but I want to stop and go back. Not to talk about it more, but to underline it. Underline it, bold it, italicize it, highlight it. Michael said," Let the conversation come to you." Too many of you are trying to force it. The classic case of this is the SDR or the BDR is trying to get their qualification in. Maybe it's BANT, budget, authority, need, timeline. And I need these answers and I can't pass it off to my accounting executive. I don't have these, so I'm not going to listen. I'm going to press, press, press on getting these answers. You're not letting the conversation come to you. What you do is you become untrustworthy. You become scary to your prospect and they want to avoid you. They want to hang up and get rid of you as fast as possible. There's a reason that Gong and Chorus and other conversational intelligence tools are measuring talk time. Not because you should be at a magic ratio, but clearly to Michael's point, you can ask one or two or three or 10 quick hitting hard questions. And often, they're building on answers they've already been given to drill down. And then shut the hell up and let them answer and come to you. And you can poke and prod here and go," Can you explain to me what you mean when you said that?" Boom, shut up. And by the way, silence is your friend, just shut up. They will answer it. And nine times out of 10, they're going to want to answer because they want to make sure they want to be heard. And they're only going to be heard if you understand it, which is the second part, which is you replay it back to them. It's like you build trust. You say," So what I'm hearing you say is because of this situation it's causing you this problem. Did I get that right?" Yeah, I feel heard. I trust you more. So the last part I want to bring around is the whole idea of what we're talking about here, which was storytelling. He said, you got to give. He used my example. We've talked about this before. Most recently, we had a podcast on story listening. We talked about how story listening precedes storytelling, because why? Because you're listening. So then you know what story to tell based on whatever they told you when you were listening. So it's not just storytelling for storytelling sake, right? But storytelling on its own does build trust. So if you want to be trusted, if you want to be ethically persuasive, you can do all of this stuff. Now, of course, it was funny when I talked to Michael in the green room and I said," Listen, the show's 30 minutes. How much content do you think we can get away with here?" And he's like," I got 24 hours of content." He's got literally 48 hours more than I've got this show. We're not doing a part two or part three immediately, but we may have Michael back soon to do a part two or part three. Michael, if those listeners don't want to wait and they want to get ahold of you and they want to learn more from you, tell us about you, what you do, how you can be reached and how you can help these folks out.
Michael Reddington: I appreciate you asking. Thank you. You mentioned InQuasive earlier. So at InQuasive, we teach people how to use the truth to their advantage by applying strategic, ethical observation and persuasion techniques. So if people are looking to find more contents or learn more about the seminars we provide, the training programs, presentations, et cetera, they can go to inquasive. com com, which is inquasive. com, or if they'd like to connect personally, you can reach out through their website, but I'm also on LinkedIn. So they can find me at Michael Reddington CFI on LinkedIn and as well.
Darryl: Right away, I started thinking about using truth to be persuasive, yes, I've been drinking folks, where I'm thinking about when I'm in a competitive situation, right? When I know I'm in a competitive situation, I know I'm one of three vendors, how can I use the truth about my competition or the truth could be about my own shortcomings to advance my own situation. How do you do that without coming across as a dick or somebody who's insecure or whatever? That's what persuasion is all about. And I love, love, love, love, Michael's point here about doing it ethically. Ethically is the way they go. It's the right way. It's what keeps sales as a kick- ass profession and not a slimy profession. So with that, we're out of time my friends. It goes fast, doesn't it? But don't worry.
Michael Reddington: Sure does.
Darryl: I'm coming back next week and you're going to reach out to Michael. You're going to go follow him right now on LinkedIn. You're going to go to inquasive. com and check him out. This is a good day for you, and it's a good day for me because I had a chance to spend time with Michael as we talk to you. We hope you got some value out of it. In the meantime, my name's Darryl, I wish you an awesome day. Take care of folks, we'll talk to you soon.