Sept. 9, 2021

Always Be Closing: Fact & Fiction

Always Be Closing: Fact & Fiction

Episode 12: Always Be Closing: Fact & Fiction with Justin Michael
Anyone in sales will tell you that the most valuable time is spent face-to-face with customers, but few of us have a solution to automating the groundwork. Not so for today’s guest, Justin Michael, who believes that 70 to 80 percent of the work salespeople do is fully automatable. During this episode, you’ll hear about his newly published book, Tech Powered Sales, the result of a year of research, 400 hours of work, and a wealth of unique, hard-earned experience. Justin introduces us to Salesborg, a hybrid between a seller and a cyborg, and tells us the story of the exponential growth of the community surrounding it. Next, he talks about the power of admitting that you’re an interruption and immediately adding value when you’re reaching out to powerful people in the middle of the day. He shares the biggest changes he has observed during his twenty years in sales, why he now needs two full days to achieve what used to be possible in ten phone calls, and how sales have become a quality game. We talk about the role of AI and his future prediction that we’ll be charging a premium to speak to a human rather than a robot and what Justin considers to be the goal of closing in today’s selling landscape, as well as how he thinks of selling as a sport, why courage is the most important value, and why he thinks of doing sales as change management. Find out why a lack of pain development is a problem and why great selling is detective work before we touch on spin selling, the value of old-school techniques, the fact that the first step to all sales is getting the customer to admit they have a problem. In closing, Justin offers listeners some powerful advice: stay hungry, stay foolish, and busts the myth that you cannot become technical. We hope you join us for a highly motivating episode today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Introducing today’s guest, Justin Michael.
  • How a year of research and 400 hours of work lead to his book, Tech Powered Sales.
  • Why Justin believes that 70 to 80 percent of what salespeople do is automatable.
  • Why everything outside of face-to-face communication is marketing rather than sales.
  • Why Salesborg is a seller and a cyborg and how the community around it has grown.
  • The power of admitting that you’re an interruption and immediately adding value.
  • What Justin considers to be the biggest changes in sales in the past twenty years.
  • Why he now needs two full days to achieve what used to be possible in ten phone calls.
  • How sales has become a quality over quantity game.
  • A scenario where an AI caller is effective, with a premium charged to speak to a human.
  • The goal of closing in today’s selling landscape: opening rather than closing.
  • How Justin thinks of selling as a sport.
  • Courage as the most important value in sales.
  • Why Justin thinks of doing sales as change management.
  • Why passivity is a problem and selling is about detective work and curiosity.
  • Why Justin likes spin selling: implication versus payoff. 
  • The first step to sales: getting customers to admit they have a problem.
  • Why it’s a myth that you cannot become technical and you should always be learning.
  • How you are your own greatest limitation.


“Much like Jeff Bezos, everything on Amazon is data-driven and you can’t buy your way there.” — Justin Michael [0:02:00]

“If you’re in sales right now, the majority of your time is spent doing something that a machine could do. Why wouldn’t you give it to the machine and spend time talking to prospects?” — Justin Michael [0:03:11]

“A lot of the greats used to telemarket. Johnny Depp was a telemarketer. George Clooney was a shoe salesman.” — Justin Michael [0:06:58]

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” — Justin Michael [0:09:06]

“You have to have a system where you admit that you’re an interruption and immediately add value and show respect. There’s a lot that has to happen psychologically in three seconds.” — Justin Michael [0:09:18]

“It has become a quality game. If you can bring insight, and if you be a trusted advisor, if you can synthesize content and stand out, you can truly stand out from the herd.” — Justin Michael [0:13:36]

“If you have a belief about yourself that you can’t do something, you’ll never get there. You are your own greatest limitation.” — Justin Michael [0:42:40]


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Justin Michael on LinkedIn


Tech Powered Sales

Sam Capra on LinkedIn

VP of Sales for flexEngage 

Sales Samurai

Title Sponsors:


Speaker 0    00:00:01    Coming to you from Orlando, Florida, Orlando, Florida, and streaming around the world around the world. You're not tuned in to the sales samurai podcast. The only B2B sales podcast, providing unfiltered unapologetic views and tactics directly from the sales trenches. Here's your host, Sam Capra,  
Speaker 1    00:00:28    Justin man. Welcome to the shell. How are you?  
Speaker 2    00:00:30    Yeah, I'm doing great. Life is good. I'm living the dream. I always say I'm living the life of a Don Henley lyric out here in California. So pick one, right?  
Speaker 1    00:00:41    I think all of them have some kind of reference to that. Don't they all Don Henley songs.  
Speaker 2    00:00:44    I think he says one. Let's kill all the lawyers, but that's actually Shakespeare and he's got, you know, you can check out any time, but you can never leave. Um, what was it terminally pretty. That's a good one from life in the fast lane.  
Speaker 1    00:00:59    Is that what you're saying? Justin? All of them.  
Speaker 2    00:01:01    He was a hard-headed man, brutally handsome. She was terminally pretty. I just love that. I love, I love that lyric. I'm getting us way off the topic, but I love Don Henley.  
Speaker 1    00:01:15    That's part of SAS. That's part of our industry. We pivot a lot so we can pivot this podcast real quick.  
Speaker 2    00:01:20    I'm a wordsmith. So anything really well-written, you know, like I sit around and I read like, I'll reread dune before I watched the movie, people send me weird stuff. Let me tell you, life has gotten strange. You know, someone's like, Hey, I made this for you, you know, woodcut. So I obviously need to create more free time to get woodcutting.  
Speaker 1    00:01:41    That's awesome, man. Hey, so before we hop in, I want to congratulate you man. Number one, tech powered sales achieved superhuman, number one, I think right now, just digital number one, new release on Amazon, right?  
Speaker 2    00:01:54    Yeah. Worldwide. It's the top book on Amazon and sales and everybody dreams of that moment. And it's not easy to do because much like Jeff Bezos, everything on Amazon is data-driven and you can't fake the funk. You can't even buy your way there. So yeah, it's been great. It's been, you know, moving, you know, hundreds of units every day, all over the world in Kindle and audible and the book is it's radical. There's never been anything written. Like it took a year of research, about 400 hours of work from the editing, the interviews to the citations, to the audible. I narrated the audible myself. And it's about this world. We're living in where technology has hit the sales function, big time. There's 500 vendors, a thousand vendors, and it starts to indicate to everyone, well, look what we're doing now we're on this Riverside platform. We got the amount of technology just for us to get on this podcast is staggering.  
Speaker 2    00:02:47    Compared to 10 years ago, the computing power in our cell phones, the wifi speeds, the data moving around. So artificial intelligence is really kicking off the fourth industrial revolution. It's is the trend since electricity, it's transformational. And we're still doing, you know, 70% to 80% of what we do as salespeople is automateable. Yeah. So if you're in sales right now, it means the majority of your time is spent doing something that a machine can do. So why wouldn't you give it to the machine and spend time doing this, talking to prospects, somethings about 36% of the time. You really think about, if you sat on a sales team, you've done outbound prospecting. How many humans do you really talk to? Now? It's pretty hard unless you have a system like connect and sell and you can do hundreds of dials and you can get around it with technology. And that's what the book talks about. It talks about ways to leverage tech stacks, to unlock more face-to-face selling, which is what we're doing. I think that if you're not talking to someone or interacting directly, it's really marketing the marketing function, which is also important, but I just don't know how I can call it sales. If I'm waiting for an email to get responded to just seems a little passive to me, right?  
Speaker 1    00:03:58    Yeah. That's a good segue. Cause I know you recently launched sales AI, obviously talking about the API subject line. Tell us a little bit about sales books. Cause there's some really cool stuff I tried to do. How well I know the tech stack. I had a feeling it wasn't going to stack up very well. So I just debated in it. So I'm sorry, Justin, but tell us a little bit about sales book. Really cool idea. Things that you're doing on that side as well.  
Speaker 2    00:04:20    Yes. So sales boards is a seller and a cyborg and it was just hilarious where that came out. Cause I was a case study in a book called combo It'll be re-released combo prospecting. A sales Borg is really someone with a high TQ, which is technology quotient. So I created a TQ test, which is really trying to gauge human and machine fusion. Your ability to use these rev ops systems, these tech stack systems. Then, um, we launched a discord server with 2000 people on a discord. It holds 550,000 to gaming platform. Imagine if zoom and slack had a child, you go up in there and you can do email tear downs and cold calls championships. You can do all this stuff in there and watch each other and talk as it's the crazy gaming chat room and have you only want to be, to be, and it's massive.  
Speaker 2    00:05:08    I have 2000 people in there going all day sharing their email addresses. I have a WhatsApp group as well. So these mastermind groups and just to try build a community of people that are testing tech stacks and testing the automation, that's highlighted book, I released some guides and I went really open source. Right? It was awesome. I just, other trainers will charge a couple hundred bucks for this and just give it away like Radiohead, just all for free. And so the community has been booming. You know, I've got 42,000 followers on LinkedIn and I just had this really rich, robust, highly engaged community of people that they don't want to manually send email one at a time. They don't want to call one at a time. They want to figure out ways to increase their efficiency and effectiveness, leveraging technology. And it's a bit of a lunatic fringe. I mean, I have all the sort of the Motley crew, the island of the misfit, like, come here, they're come out. So I have like amazing people that are five years ahead. They're building software, they're splicing software together in these crazy ways. If you hear this and you're excited about that, just ping me just to Michael on LinkedIn and I'll bring in awesome.  
Speaker 1    00:06:12    And we're going to definitely include all this in the show notes as well. And so I'm always curious, I love the origin stories of people like yourself, kind of where they kind of cut their teeth from a sales perspective. What got you a interested in sales, Justin, just out of curiosity and then what was kind of your very first sale.  
Speaker 2    00:06:29    Yeah. Wow. Great questions. I can say that when I started at sales, I wasn't good at it. Someone said, oh well, you're good at talking to people. You got the gift of gab go over here. It was about 10 minutes north of where I am now in Santa Barbara at a call center when I was 21, I'm 41, 20 years ago. And I sat there and there's, I mean, this job had a tenure of two weeks. There's a bunch of college kids give them packets of information, which are now available in a lot of, a lot of the grades they used to tell the market. I aspire to that. Johnny Depp was a telemarketer who was at a George Clooney was a shoe salesman. I mean, it's all good. I worked for Nordstrom for a minute. I, uh, I had just basic sales jobs where, you know, selling shoes or selling packets, just the worst just to get hung up on and screamed at for a credit card for $9.  
Speaker 2    00:07:16    It was awesome. These five guys, they were making big money and you know, they'd come in with their sport coats on and they go to Vegas all the time. Like, ah, I got to get into that and I didn't have a college degree or anything. And so I decided to go see what they did. So at 3:00 AM, 6:00 AM on the east coast, I'd show up at 3:00 AM. Bleary-eyed I'd sit down and I listen to, these are the days I couldn't even get a phone. I'm waiting to make cold calls. I'm sitting on a chair trying to get in. So I finally, I show up every day at 3:00 AM and the supervisor, you know, he takes pity on me. He puts me in and I'm just bombing. But what happened is that the traffic from the east coast was really strong. These people are waking up.  
Speaker 2    00:07:51    So I started get some confidence. Well then a couple of months it could have even been six weeks. I was one of those top six. And I think I always had a gift to study a top seller and atomize it and look at them and go, well, they're doing this for their downtowns. And this was their top script and this was their rebuttals. And I had a way of sort of deconstructing the psychology of someone while selling, right? So all the systems that I built didn't come out of other sales books. It came out of observing top sellers, right? And one of my friends, he's a boxer. He'd come in at lunch for an hour and he would drive more pipeline than the entire STR team. And I was like, I don't understand what this guy's doing. Right. He would send his emails out of Salesforce.  
Speaker 2    00:08:31    He almost had a way of boxing with his words. He had this super assertive, aggressive style that worked. And that became an inspiration for combo prospecting because I learned that if you just do what's natural and sales, it's funny, you know, I want you to get in the ring with Mike Tyson right now and it just try hard. Okay. Give it all. You've got good luck. I mean, right. You get knocked out three seconds. Probably kill me. If I got in the ring and feel it was not a life and death. Well, why is everyone studying Chris Voss and negotiation? Because it triggers people when you end your abrupt powerful people on their cell phone. In the middle of the day, everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth. And if you don't have system and you're not ready to get that punch you, can't just be like, oh, hi Doug, how are you? Oh, Hey solicitor, get off. You know, it's immediate rage producing. So you have to have a system where you, you know, admit that you're an interruption and immediately add value and immediately show respect. And there's a lot that has to happen psychologically in three seconds. And it's very similar to taking a punch.  
Speaker 1    00:09:31    No, you know, Justin is funny a, when you say that reminds me of the old Seinfeld episode with a telemarketer called Jerry Seinfeld. He said, oh, Hey, I'll call you back. I can get your number. He's like, no, she's say, well, you don't want to be interrupted. So it reminded me of that. And then B one thing I've heard as I've kind of gone through my tenure in sales, like I kind of equate it to a pilot, like an air force, like the split decisions that you've gotta be able to adapt and evolve on your feet. I, you should be prepared. You should have a plan. Like you said, Mike Tyson, everyone's got a plan until they get knocked in the face, but you've got to be able to read and react pretty quickly in sales. And so I, 100% agree with you. I'm curious. I asked this question to you specifically, what has changed the most in sales, in your opinion, one for the better, and then two for the worse you've been doing it for 20 years. I know you're probably gonna lean to technology, but I don't want to put words in your mouth, but what's changed for the better in sales.  
Speaker 2    00:10:30    So 20 years is a long period of time. The prospects are exactly the same. I talked to Todd, Caponey about this. We go back and look at sales history. This version of our brain, we can all agree whether we think the world is 4,000 years old or 4 million, but this version of our brain is baked. So 1910, it's the same prospect of the vacuum seller going door to door with knives. You know? So you still have to, there's a speed to trust. There's a way to create trust. What has happened is a ton of noise and a ton of distrust. So the human being checks, his cell phone 250 times a day because the social media alerts and the amount of alerting that's happening, the digital onslaught, it's like a white wall of noise, right? The white walkers in game of Thrones. It's like that scene where it's like the salespeople coming and it's, everyone's weaponized.  
Speaker 2    00:11:26    Everyone's sending hundreds of emails and you have companies like target to shut the switchboard. You have people with their executive assistants, the C levels, and the EA sits in their LinkedIn. They won't even use their social media, their mobile phone they've turned up. I have my voicemails full on my mobile phone. So no one can leave a message because I would rather, they just text me if they need me. Otherwise my voicemail just loads and loads and loads and loads of useless technology. I leave voicemails when I can send me. That's not fair. But you know, the biggest thing that happened is that at least, because I deal a lot with high technology in 1999, Marc Andreessen said software is eating the world. So now we have trucking SAS and shipping SAS and property, SAS and healthcare, SAS software as a service, right? As that eats the world, you have 600,000 STR it's going to go up to a million.  
Speaker 2    00:12:16    You have a book called predictable revenue that came out in 2011 and it created a supply chain, Henry Ford model to say, we're going to have openers sales, development reps, and closers account executives stre. And that created a industrial complex where those are really the only two rules that are happening. Then we've had a Cambrian explosion of sales technology last year, alone, sales tech, 1 billion in investments. There hasn't been a billion into sales tech tools. The last, you know, three to five years, we're going to see up to 5 billion invested, probably more in the sales tech stack. So the marketing tech stack revolution was specialization for the CMO is hitting the office of the chief revenue officer. So the biggest difference today when I started out is I'd call 10 years tactical. I called 10 phone numbers in 2007, I would get seven people out of 10.  
Speaker 2    00:13:02    No problem. Now I have to call 200 numbers and potentially even work two eight hour days to do what I used to be able to do in 10 calls. It's that brutal? So you can win with volume and you can call enough numbers. But what if you have a very narrow target addressable market? I have 200 enterprise accounts. Maybe I have, my whole job is to hit 25 enterprise accounts. Right? And that's it. If I don't make my quote on this 25, what do I do? Right. So it's become a quality game. If you can bring insight, if you can be a trusted advisor, if you can synthesize content and stand out, you can truly stand out from the herd. So, I mean, there's so much to impact that question, but I hope it was helpful.  
Speaker 1    00:13:51    It, it was. I mean, so I think what you're saying, just kind of boil down the ocean is what is improved. The negative is there's just an insurmountable amount of noise out there because technology for the good side of technology, it's also created a lot of noise. People doing it, the wrong way, 200 emails, 10,000 calls, things of that nature. But so quality over quantity is a shift in leveraging technology to accomplish that through automation, like you said, Hey, how do I automate this? So I could be efficient and putting more selling time in talking to actual customers.  
Speaker 2    00:14:25    Exactly. Yeah. So we're going to see the artificial intelligence revolution and machine learning hit sales tech. It's already so advanced in MarTech that you can buy media like advertising campaigns for $10 million. And you could just give the machine a campaign and it starts to run it for you like a self-driving Uber. We're not there in sales tech. We have something called a GPT three or the open AI initiative. And it can write emails for you, but it's not configured into any selling system yet. There's some testing it. It's going to get to the point where you hit a button. So you bring up some of your ICPM personas. So here's some VP of sales, like a hotter, not you swipe left and right. You configure the algorithm, it starts running the campaign. Sure. It creates what to write to them, how to personalize. It creates different sequence variants.  
Speaker 2    00:15:12    It does the AB testing and you're just analyzing what's happening. And you're handing at work because that's already the marketing paradigm. Yep. So once the machines can, right, and then once the machines can train themselves and then once the machines can speak and then the machines can train each other. While speaking, we start to get into some really wild blade runner scenarios. Now the beauty is you're thinking about the federal trade commission. Okay. I'm now getting called by Google duplex by an AI. Well, you know what, Sam, if a robot calls me, I don't mind if it identifies itself as Sam Capra's AI robot. And if I speak to it and it gives me information about your podcast and helps me book a time on there, I'd probably just take the robot call and say, yeah, I want to be on Sam's podcast. Do you have time Thursday share?  
Speaker 2    00:15:57    Would I fight the robot? Would I be really incense that your robot called me? No. Right. Because I wanted to set that up and we put it down in an email. You could do it yourself, but do I need Sam himself to book me on the pockets, but it's nice. But I mean, I know you have a good podcast. I'm trying to promote this book, right? So I'm just trying to highlight a very real scenario in which you could deploy your AI color and that'd be fine. So there's a, there's a scenario now in about 20, 30 years, maybe 15, where you say, well, here's a premium to speak to a human. We see that with American express, right? You know, you get a gold card, you call someone, boom. They pick up, you've got a human here on shore. They're helping you. You pay a premium every year for them. So in the future, the human vinyl record, the nostalgia, there's a human in sales. It's going to be a premium,  
Speaker 1    00:16:43    You know, you're right. I mean, as I've kind of seen the shift a bit in the sales landscape, the sales environment, those things I've seen, I felt like the Google thing. I don't know if you ever saw the founder, he placed a call. It was through the Google AI bot. And I couldn't tell the difference. I really couldn't tell the difference at all, confirming and doing different things. Can I get an appointment? It was a doctor's appointment. They were booking. I can't remember, but it was staggering the level. And no, that's not completely in line with what we're talking about, but like you said, it's coming down the road, how we're equipped for it is key. Hey, so just, I want to kind of transition into our subject matter because it sounds like you're a movie, like, you know, your movies, you know, your Seinfeld, you know, the lingo and all that kind of fun stuff.  
Speaker 1    00:17:28    So I want to talk about closing because closing has always historically been with trainers, teach closing skills, closing techniques, you know, assumptive closes all this stuff around closing. And I remember Glengarry Glen Ross going back to my 1992 days. I think it was a requirement of a sales person. You had to watch that before you can get into sales, there was always be closing. So I want to get your thoughts on closing in 20 21, 20 22. Like, how do you define closing? Like, what's the importance of closing. What's really the thought process or what's the goal of closing in today's day and age? Is it that hard by now? Give you 20%? Like what is closing in today's selling landscape?  
Speaker 2    00:18:11    I like to say opening is the new closing there's camps that have formed a sale. The STR job is the hardest job in the world. I've worked on some AA teams and been a VP of sales. And I've seen some people that are closers. It is real, there is no such thing as closing. If you set it up, it just closes itself. Right? There are people I have seen sellers that have a horrible deal. Everything looks wrong on this deal. It's wonky. The customer is angry. The tech does not fit and no one's getting along. And this person walks in and closes the deal. And you feel like you watch David Copperfield. I have seen folks that have political skill. Like they have the ability to like Cesar Milan, like the dog whisper. Like I've seen it now because I've been in the business 20 years.  
Speaker 2    00:18:55    Is it something you can teach for? Not sure you can enhance it. You can kind of give some factors of closing, kind of like Chris' boss does the negotiation training and you can teach it, but there's, some people have a real natural persuasion ability. You know, that bill Clinton factory, they could just sell ice to an Eskimo. Now it's not con artistry. I'm talking about just leadership, controlling a group of people, getting them to the table, dealing with the change management, calling them up, having hard conversations, you know, really being brave and bold and getting them all to get along. And they were all on the same page. It takes a lot of leadership, a lot of power, a lot of bravery, a lot of knowledge, it can be done for the rest of us, mortal humans. The problem is that you can't rely on, you know, being a cowboy or a superhero to get deals closed.  
Speaker 2    00:19:40    So the truth is yes, if you're looking for closers because nothing's closing, it is a beginning of the funnel problem. And that was the old guard was you just throw everything in the pipe and then you rely on these Cowboys to come in and do backflips and bass jumps. And isn't it amazing at closed, right? The better system now is things like product led growth with product qualified leads, where, you know, everyone's already in the tool using the SAS, getting the value, and then you're corralling them getting the case studies and elevating that to the C-suite and showing how it already works. Right? The modern enterprise sale is, Hey, this stuff really works. Let's grow it. The old sale is it's combative, it's an RFI. And then finally we install it and who knows what it's going to do. We've now spent $300,000 or even a million dollars on the software and it better have the ROI or the vendor lied.  
Speaker 2    00:20:27    You know, it's like, it's too much pressure now, right? Enterprises buy through pilots and testing and proof of concepts because they've been burned innumerable times, right in that sector, being a trusted advisor and being really skilled at opening and positioning and first impression and building the business case early and, you know, getting MSA, going and getting all the stakeholders together. It's almost like a political skill of running a campaign. Like it takes a village. There's, you know, 12 different stakeholders in these enterprise deals now. So you're not going to get the deal if you're talking to two people or single-threaded, but I am actually a proponent of sales is a sport like Moneyball. And there are closers just like there's power forwards in soccer who can juke the GoLean like get an amazing ball handling skills and rainbow the ball and kick the ball, you know, backward of the left, like Kareem, Abdul-Jabbar just like throw it in on the left.  
Speaker 2    00:21:17    They're looking at the stands and they're hitting a three-point. I don't know that's miraculous. There are people. And so you can strengthen that muscle. But the muscle I focus on is much earlier stage because the vast majority of people aren't doing deals because of things happening much earlier in the cycle, even up to the marketing side and the GTM side, and even right up to the UVP, the MVP product market fit, like they're just, they're going to market wrong. And you know, there's not a prayer to ever close that deal because everything's a symptom of a deeper root cause analysis coming way back to the top.  
Speaker 1    00:21:50    Right? So you bring up a couple of good points there. A so help me understand. So you're right. I've had the opportunity. I've worked with some people that are just natural born closers. Like they you're right. They could sell ice to an Eskimo. They could convince you to buy ocean front property in Arizona. They could sell anything. But for the most of us that, like you said, a us mortal humans, there's gotta be something that we can replicate that we can lean on. And I agree with you closing, in my opinion, you may disagree. And please tell me if you do is a natural evolution to the process. Like if you're doing it along the way, like if you're qualifying, if you're getting the stakeholder, you're understanding the pain points, whatever the case might be, the natural into that should be some type of close. Whether that's a, whatever you want to call it, but that's the natural process to a close, but where do most reps go wrong in the 20 years you've been doing this. If you say opening is a new closing, where are reps missing it, primarily in that gap of area, like in that Delta, where are you seeing? Is it qualification the wrong questions? Just don't know what they're talking about. They're not prepared like all the above. Give me some thoughts on how they're dropping the ball a bit.  
Speaker 2    00:22:59    It's like it's gravitas. It's being able to carry yourself at the C level. It's being able to have that equal business stature. The EBS that's David Sandler talked about, no matter which process they're using, they are not earning the respect of the prospect because they're not bold enough and brave enough. And courageous enough, Winston Churchill talked about a courage was the most important virtue because you can't have all the rest. Right? The challenger sale found this in the early commercial conversation, talking money up front when reps are timid and overly friendly and more customer service we're hunters. So I'm not endorsing killing animals, but this metaphor, if you're a hunter and you go in to the Sahara and you go brush the line's hair and give it a baby bottle and feed it, you know, like a zookeeper, I love how Mike Weinberg says this.  
Speaker 2    00:23:48    It's great. You're more of a CSM. You're more of a, you just, you have a different profile, right? Doing deals is about change management. Scott LEAs talks about this. The addiction model, no human being can change organization till they admit they have a problem. And it's uncomfortable. And Jake Dunlop talks about this uncomfortable conversations with adults that's selling. And so if you're not doing that, if it's comfortable and friendly and ah, went so well, everyone got along. There's no money there. And we all know no pain, no sales. So there's a lack of pain development because a lot of pain is Leeton. They don't know what they don't know Steve jobs from. They never knew what they always wanted. The best sellers I've seen. They go in and they have provocative challenger conversations. They have hard conversations. They get into uncomfortable problems. They get people to open up.  
Speaker 2    00:24:34    They build the trust and then they get a few layers deeper. You know, that iceberg thing, you see the tip of the iceberg that's comes down to questioning skills, cognitive reasoning, skills, listening skills. But it's just a bravery to ask the kind of questions where we're going to get down deep into something that matters. Why doesn't the deal? The qualification there's no compelling event, right? There's no compelling reason. Well, a master seller comes in and starts digging deeper, peeling the onion, getting deeper into the iceberg until they find the root cause of what the problem actually is. They're meeting you for a reason. They're not perfect. Every business is a mess with Gordon Ramsey. He goes, he flies in the sassy helicopter flies in. He's like, oh, our restaurants going great. We're number one on Yelp. Okay, cool. Let me go down into your seller.  
Speaker 2    00:25:20    Oh, you've got rats in your basement. All your produce is frozen. Like, well, that's fine. We're packed every night. You see it's the status quo. They don't need to change it. The customers don't know, but if they want to become excellent in Michelin star, they've got to change that. So salespeople are too passive, too timid. The reason that cold calling has gone away is because it's a bold activity, right? Do you want to call up powerful people and have them treat you bad all day? No, thanks. I'll sit on LinkedIn and do social selling. I'm not saying social selling doesn't work or I'm just going to automate a thousand emails and then I'll get a few meetings. Great. Low-level analysts will respond. I don't respond to cold email unless it's done in a certain way. Right? That's the way I teach. So  
Speaker 1    00:26:03    Hey, Justin, on that, cause you, you brought up something, Hey, good sellers. Like the tip of the iceberg. They can get a couple of layers deep. And then you can just keep drilling down to find that compelling event to try and find that pain point because you're right. People don't know what they don't know. Right? They don't know how you have the opportunity or the pain associated in many times. It's not like, Hey, here's my pain point. They didn't, they're having to articulate that in layman's terms 95% of the time, they're going to make you work a bit for it because maybe they don't know it. But I think Jesse, you would agree with this, but there's also that flip side where that good seller also identifies quickly, Hey, I've dug and dug. There's nothing here. Cut bait. Like my time is too valuable. I need to move on. Right? I think that's a fine line for a sales rep as well. They, those timid people, they, they typically find an opportunity and they hunker down with whether it's a true opportunity or not. You agree with that or with my way off,  
Speaker 2    00:26:55    It's a lot of happier. I see that a lot in the forecast. There's a lot of fluff in the pipe. There's a lot of aging. There's a lot of deals, deals decay in 90 days. If there's no heat and interactivity, you got a deal in there. That's you know, oh, they said Q4. They said, you know, next stage two. You're not going to do the deal. You haven't talked to them in 90 days. It's still in the forecast. You're not going to do the deal, but great sellers can uncover pain and then they might get the price. Objection. There's a reason the other person is on the phone week. Sellers don't uncover anything. Wow. It's nothing there. I disqualified and they're happy. I just disqualify them are qualified. Great seller will find the issue. There is a reason. And then there'll be disqualifying. For other reasons, you gotta be like a detective or a doctor. You gotta get way more curious, understand spin selling, you know, learn specific types of question frameworks that uncover what's really going on.  
Speaker 1    00:27:46    Hey, recommendations on that, Justin. You're right. There's a ton out there. And there's no reason why you can't go find this information by the way, books, podcasts, webinars, trainers, fantastic thought leaders, but anything from a questioning stamp when you found has been really good that you've leveraged, you've utilized, maybe you've woven in to your consulting, your training, like anything that just jumps out at you from a effective question. Like maybe question based selling. I can't remember who wrote that, but just curious.  
Speaker 2    00:28:14    I really like spin. I think the implication need payoff is a great path because the next order of questions, I think they spend a million dollars in that study and looked at twenty-five thousand sellers. Try to go to the tape here on Wikipedia because Neil Rackham is awesome. He's a bit of a scholar and yeah, this study was incredible. There's 35,000 sales calls, a team of 30 researchers, 35,000 sales calls in 20 countries spending 12 years.  
Speaker 1    00:28:45    Yeah. That's amazing.  
Speaker 2    00:28:46    It's amazing. There's been nothing done this rigorous ever before. And then he gets this questions thing and all it is is you, anyone can find a problem or a symptom. And usually a problem is the symptom. Right. But the best questionnaires in the world, they can without interrogating go one level deep. And that's like, oh, my car's broken. Okay. When did that start? I'm not sure. When did you notice it? Two weeks ago. Oh, there's some smoke coming out of the front. Okay. Well what happened before that? Oh yeah. Check engine light came on a month ago. All right. Oh yeah. I decided not to take it in and get the oil change. Right. And you start peeling and feeling and feeling well, why that happened? Oh, well I actually got sick and I missed a day at work and I didn't get a paycheck, so I couldn't afford that.  
Speaker 2    00:29:28    And you just peel it all back. So you find out that the reason the car is broken is because he had a fight with his boss two months ago. So the real problem is his work experience had nothing to do with the car and everything is like this in life. Yeah. There's something that's dis related to what you're dealing with. That's the real driver for the sale. I love diagnostic business developments by Jeff Tull. It's really powerful. You think like a doctor or a detective, you build these value quantification qualification. I also love the Fox method, which is Jim toll, where you start looking at a political power base. What's like, well, Sam is the nephew of the CEO and he's an it. And he's just like an it person. But in this sale, he's the CEO of the problem, right? He's the only person in the company that understands Kubernetes and edge computing.  
Speaker 2    00:30:14    So all of the people in the prospect based perspect Sam's knowledge, he's going to be the Nick break on this deal. The CEO is rubber stamp because he has no clue what this tech does. So the whole idea of a situational Fox and a power base and it moving and there being frenemies in there and the military strategy pieces are really powerful. I've looked at hundreds of systems. I love Sandler, please. Like the king of reverse psychology, right? I met with like an elite Sandler trainer, this guy, Matt Benelli 20 years at Oracle, everything he did was Sandler. And you couldn't tell it was like Bruce Lee, like, he's just, he'd just start running a pain funnel. And no one could even tell him having a conversation. He's guy. I asked him, I said, what's the secret to all Sandler. He said, whatever you're going to do in a sales cycle, naturally, whatever your instinct is, do the opposite.  
Speaker 2    00:30:59    So calls and says, you know, I'm not interested in your products. You know what? You're not ready for the product. That's fine. You know, like call us back when you're, you know, you just do this opposite thing. It's like, can you send me a proposal? No, I just don't think you're ready for the proposal. Thanks so much. Right. It's you're just, it blows your mind. Cause it's, you know, he had this expression stand there. Don't spill your candy in the lobby and everybody thinks, what does that mean? And you know what it means? It's the Netflix show style cliffhangers. They set up nine episodes and you like, you're sitting there watching the Queen's gambit and you're just like, am I, is anything ever going to happen in this television show? Like, come on, please, episode two. And then you're like investing your time to try to get to that next plot nugget.  
Speaker 2    00:31:37    And then it hits. And you're like, ah, the dope. I mean the average person now, when they do a deck, they shouldn't even do it or demo. They just show it all. They just spill all the candy here. Here's every feature and it does this and it does that. And it does this and it just starts to feel like those automobile ads for used car, like in the eighties, these guys would come on. I think there's a welfare on movie where he plays a car salesman. It's hilarious. Or like eastbound and down, like just, you know, people are going in, it's a full dog and pony show, but wait, there's one more feature, you know, and the waterboarded and it feels like, you know, one of these movie trailers for Kevin Hart, you know, you've seen the whole movie, it's like sixth grade scenes and now you've seen the preview and then you watch them and be like, ah, everything funny I already saw. Right? So I talk a lot about old school techniques because they're nowhere now and they work, right.  
Speaker 1    00:32:27    I'm glad you brought that up because I've always found that that's part of the issue in sales. The issue is we get enamored by the new shiny thing in sales. And we forget the blocking and tackling. We forget the fundamentals, the things that in some cases it might be good that we forgot some of the fundamentals because I remember being thrown a phone book and saying, Hey, dial for dollars. Good luck to you. That wasn't a great approach, but there are a lot of, you said old school techniques. So are still a lot of those are, they're a highly applicable that work very well. But for some reason in sales, we always say, get back to the basics. And that is a fundamental issue that I think we have in sales. Justin, do you agree with that or is that kind of going along with your thought process or am I off there?  
Speaker 2    00:33:09    You're seeing my work, you know, I partner with Tony Hughes and he's savvy on tech, you know, but we do the old school, new school philosophy and dance, you know, and that's what I love about Todd compony too. He's out there and he's saying, well, this stuff's in the 19th century, 1890 Todd says that most of the modern selling techniques are pre 1900, right. Which is really interesting old school techniques. I mean, understanding human psychology, dealing with C-level executives. I hear reps say all those techniques from Oracle in the nineties don't work. I'm like, well, what was Oracle in the nineties? It was companies buying, you know, $10 million mainframe system or some kind of database server that's could break deals that are, you know, super high pressure where someone could lose their job. If they pick the wrong hardware, it could backfire cost a company, tens of millions of dollars. So high pressure, big ticket, you know, definitely a different climate from an HR perspective. So there's not the easiest business climate either. There's a lot you can learn from those times.  
Speaker 1    00:34:05    Hey Jessica, real quick on that note, because we're bringing up a lot of things with Oracle and we've been talking about deal management and stakeholders in the consensus purchase, you know, buying like six, eight stakeholders is a transactional sale from a closing standpoint, how does that differ from a complex, I call it a complex enterprise sale, six, eight buyers, where transactional is $5,000. Hey, buy our annual license. One buyer typically could pull the trigger. Is the approach different in your mind? Like you're not doing, you're not trying to herd cats. Like, is that different for like, for those people that are saying, Hey, listen, I sell $5,000 solution. Typically the VP of marketing can sign off on it's on his discretionary budget. Is that approach different in your eyes, Justin, from a closing standpoint?  
Speaker 2    00:34:50    Yeah. There's definitely a difference between a transactional sale, which means you can close on the first call. Right. You know, I'm just selling you a smoothie or a shoe. I've done it. We've all done it, right. Retail. And it's powerful to be good at that. You know, there's also transactional software SAS, like the king of that is Scott Leese. He wrote a book called the transactional sale. It's called addicted to the process. He ran these SAS startups in Austin, where they did real quick turnarounds, where these were, you know, still a lot of art. It's not easy. It doesn't make it easier. It's just different. It's a fast moving sale. When you have a complex enterprise deal where there's a decision making committee where there's a set budget where there's different profit and loss P and L, where there's a lot of security and privacy and concerns and master services, agreements, these MSCs and PSA's and there's legal responsibilities.  
Speaker 2    00:35:37    It was a lot of time. It is just different. It's like a political campaign. It's so different that Sandler came out with the Sandler method for enterprise and most SAS companies have an enterprise team and a mid-market team and an SMB team. And they work in different ways and there's different KPIs. But my philosophy, when I read Scott Lisa's book is it's still the same thing. It's still change management. First step is they've got to admit that they have a problem. The biggest enemy in sales is do nothing. It's the status quo. And I quote Tony Hughes. So yes, the two different types of things. And honestly, opening business is a totally different sport than mid funnel and closing, being an account executive versus being an SDR to do it at an elite level. It's not the same thing at all. There's actually a ton of books to read about opening the funnel.  
Speaker 2    00:36:21    I've written one called tech powered sales, and there's a ton of books about closing. Um, ultimately if you want to be great at the game of sales, you should know both, but one of the mistakes is to think it's just all one thing. Now a great rep is full cycle. I talk about when I was 26, 27, I joined a SAS company. They teach me how to demo the product, the technicals of the product, customer support, onboarding tech configuration. I do cold calling. I do emails. I do webinars. I did events. I wore every hat. I played the entire sport of sales and SAS evangelism. We're losing some of that now with over specialization. We're not teaching people, all of sales and everyone has the aptitude to learn. I don't know if you want to keep someone for two years clicking buttons and doing SDR work when they just came out of Stanford with a degree in applied statistics, why don't they learn to code at night and have them help you on your products? Right. Wasting the aptitude, a very talented, smart humans should write books about that too.  
Speaker 1    00:37:17    Yeah, I appreciate that. So, I mean, I think one of the things I'm getting from you and what I've seen is that good salespeople have a natural curiosity to them. Like there's a genuine curiosity that allows them to dig a little bit further. I love the analogy of the doctor and the investigator. Cause that's what I was always taught. Like adopter. They don't just prescribe you medicine. They ask you questions like when did this start? How long has it been going on? And I know that's a very high level, top track. And we got to dig in deeper than that. But the thought processes is the same, right? They diagnose what the issue is before they start prescribing what a solution or a medication would be. And I think you're right, Justin, all too often, we just hopped directly to throwing up on them. And here's everything we do versus actually hearing what the pain points are or the potential problems in the business.  
Speaker 1    00:38:06    Hey, so my thought process, I wanted to pick your brain. One last thing as people are approaching closing, like you said, there's people that are fantastic at closing. That's might be more of an a non-millennial saying anomaly, but for the most part, our mere humans have to approach it at a different level. If you were coming up now, not 20 years ago, you're coming up in the new day and age. You're starting with all this technology. Like where would you tell a rep, Hey, learn this first. If you're trying to get out of the gates fast, you're trying to learn and build the right habits. What are the tips, techniques, thoughts that you would share with them, Justin, to set them up for success coming out of it,  
Speaker 2    00:38:44    Gates, stay hungry, stay foolish. I think this was jobs. Steve jobs be technically curious. It's a myth that you can not become technical. I'm not a coder. I did a little bit of code, like basic code. When I was 12, my brother did code. He ended up working for Google. Trust me, he's a coder. I am not. It's a different animal. If you're not interested in learning how to computer, to code computers to do engineering, then what I would be interested in is technology. Stacks is revenue operations. If you have sales force, get the trailheads. If you have outreach or SalesLoft, go to the universities, watch a bunch of webinars. If you have sales navigator, go to YouTube and type in sales navigator training become the expert on the tools of selling and learn sales ops. It's not even math or science. It's just a bunch of configuration.  
Speaker 2    00:39:31    It's logic and common sense of analytics and KPIs. I became so incredibly technical by just being curious and allowing myself to sit in and take notes and learn where other sellers at all, I'm not a techie. I'm not taking it. And they just pushed back. I'd go in and just start looking at it and figuring it out. So after 15 years in mobile marketing with sales development kits, I knew so much about SDKs, which are these software layers inside the mobile apps that I was considered. One of the most technical salespeople in the entire world. And I got to interview on a very famous company on the product side. I'm sure you can guess it in one way, there was a peak of my career, right? Because I didn't limit myself. I worked for some companies in Tel Aviv, sit everybody demos. You can not work here.  
Speaker 2    00:40:10    If you know, technically demo, it took me a month of practice to then demo for the CTO. If you just started in your one year in tech, read a lot, read a lot of books, not just about sales, read about entrepreneurship, venture capital, building SAS companies, and become really invested in how has the sausage made learning business models. You just, you have to take a real interest in business to be good at it. It's not like, oh, I learned how to read an annual report. And I learned how to, you know, you have to understand it. Understanding is the basis of mastery, not just the knowledge, not just parroting off speeds and feeds and acronyms, right? It's when you understand the client's business, how they monetize, what their balance sheet looks like, walk a mile in their shoes of their job. It's work. It's not play.  
Speaker 2    00:40:56    What does this person go through to run their business? Because then you can help them because then you interrupt them. And you'd like, come in with a helping hand, you know, they're, they're literally painting a fence and you walk up and start painting it faster with the exact paint color. Like thank you. Right? Right. And it's a funny DIY analogy, but you know, someone's building a deck and a master carpenter comes up to help that person. They're going to be like, thank you, you know it's but anyone else would be super annoying if your neighbor just showed up and started, you know, whacking down boards on your deck. But if you knew it was like, you know, Bob Vila, when he shows up with the home Depot and a bunch of words, like this is a godsend. So can you get yourself to a level where you can add value where even meeting with you would be worth $200 and maybe in high tech verticals, a thousand dollars, right?  
Speaker 2    00:41:41    Become a subject matter expert. By being curious about the use cases that technology your customers and genuinely be curious, then the job isn't boring, then you're not making monotonous calls. You're adding to your knowledge bank. Every call is a chance to get smarter. Okay. How does this VP of finance handle this situation? Right? Talk to 50, learn something. Yeah. You can't learn if you're talking, listen, learn, take that in the next call. That's kind of what I did. I'm self-taught self-made you know, I remember I got rejected by Salesforce, hundreds of times, LinkedIn, a hundred times. And I ended up working for both companies, but I just kept getting better at sales and sales management until one day I got in. I didn't give up. So that's it be persistent and don't limit yourself and don't think you need some MBA or perfect degree. Or I didn't go to Harvard. I'll never succeed in tech. Right? It's not true. The majority of like the biggest tech stories are college. Dropouts people from different countries are just, are hungry enough and persistent and passionate enough, but they didn't limit themselves. If you have a belief about yourself that you can't do something, you'll never get there. Right. You're your own greatest limitation. That would be my advice.  
Speaker 1    00:42:47    That's awesome, man. Hey, so for the listeners, how do they connect with you? How they learn a little bit more about Salesforce, AI, and obviously how do they find the book? That's a number one right now on Amazon.  
Speaker 2    00:42:58    Yeah. So it's really easy to just put in tech powered sales, just go to tech powered sales type in Justin, Michael tech on Amazon. And I narrated the audible painfully a thousand takes and mastered. I have a bunch of guides on neuroscience. You can hit me up on LinkedIn just to Michael and I have two mastermind groups, WhatsApp or discord, pick your poison, these sales borings, or go to sales., B O R G S. I pretty much give away everything for free. Maybe the barrier is a 9 99 Kindle. And then yeah, I'm also available to train teams and I work with a lot of CEOs and consulting them on their go to market strategy at the bigger picture. As a matter of fact, I don't just train SDRs. I work on the entire tech stack problem, the full funnel. Yeah. So it's an exciting time. And I hope the book holds grab it. Give me a review, even if give me a two star review. I want to know if it helps you. If it's a lot of hot air, let me know,  
Speaker 1    00:43:54    Looking forward to it, by the way, we'll put all of that in the show notes to make it easy on everybody to get to sales board, find the sales boards, AI, uh, get to the book, uh, to support Justin also Justin's link on LinkedIn or profile LinkedIn to make it super easy for our audience. Hey Justin, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time. I know you're out there on the west coast killing it, but it's around 6, 6 30. We started this. So I appreciate you hopping on, man.  
Speaker 2    00:44:20    Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. Thanks Sam. Have a good one.  
Speaker 1    00:44:30    Thank you for listening. The sales  
Speaker 0    00:44:31    Samurai podcast with your host, Sam Capra, be sure you subscribe to our podcast and visit sales and join the conversation, access shownotes and discover bonus content. 

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Justin Michael

Co-Founder @ HYPCCCYCL

Justin Michael has set records over the past decade for full-cycle revenue creation in cutting-edge AdTech / MarTech and SaaS startups, both as an individual contributor and global team leader (leading teams of field-based and inside sellers). He also received a prestigious 10X Award from a top 20, Tier 1 VC-backed, Seattle Startup. Justin was the inspiration behind COMBO Prospecting, an acclaimed sales pipeline methodology used by some of the most successful brands globally. He lives in California where he consults with leading corporations on top of funnel revenue operations.