The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode 62 · 1 year ago

Getting Comfortable with Uncomfortable Conversations w/ Antonella O'Day


Great conversations only happen when salespeople aren’t afraid to be uncomfortable.

Being elite often comes down to being the person who can ask great discovery questions with patience, empathy and confidence. Force Management Facilitator Antonella O’Day shares how to dig deep in discovery conversations in a way that creates a healthy tension in the conversation, including:

- The biggest misconceptions when adding positive tension to sales conversations

- How to prepare to drive interest from buyer

- Best practices for helping sellers dig deep in a way that’s empathetic

Here are some additional resources on discovery:

- Executing Effective Discovery Podcast


- Our Most Popular Content on Executing Effective Discovery 


Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

If you really want to ultimately keep that client engaged. Tension, positive tension, actually keeps that person in the pocket and focus on what's actually happening, because you're challenging the point of view and they're thinking in a way that they probably aren't being challenged by most other sellers. You're listening to the audible ready podcast, the show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. will feature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine that helps you fuel repeatable revenue growth, presented by the team at force management, a leader in BTB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello and welcome to the AUDIBIL ready sales podcast. I'm Rachel Club Miller, and today I'm joined by force management facilitator Antonella, O day and Sanella. Welcome. Hi, Rachel, thanks so much for having me today. Yes, I'm excited for this conversation because I know, Antonello, you spend a lot of time working with the force management clients your career, working with a lot of sales teams, helping them really to move from that product focus sale to selling on value, and we talked about this topic so much on the podcast, but it really is a challenge that organizations are trying to work through time and time again. How do we build those sales capabilities on our sales team? And it just comes down to having great sales conversations, and I know that something you're passionate about. Yeah, I am really passionate about that, Rachel. I mean I think you know what's interesting about having great conversations. So when you really think about it, it really ties back to one critical piece of it, and great conversations only happen with great discovery. And this is really, when you think about it, where the magic happens in a lot of these conversations, especially when you in today's environment, think about how clients access information...

...before they even interact with you. Right they have access to a ton of information. They develop a point of view before they even sit down and talk to you for the first time, and masterful discovery really allows for a seller to ultimately impact and change that point of view. So when you think about some of the best practices that we talked about, two sided questions, questions really designed to help the client uncover, you know, the depth and breath of pain and really what their point of view is. Based on open ended questions, giving on the opportunity to really express in depth what they're trying to accomplish. Good flow, making sure that there's a good balance of back and forth where they're talking and you're talking and you're insert inserting your point of view and they're inserting their point of view, and then getting them to that at point with good discovery questions where you ultimately compel them to take action. If that magic doesn't happen, it really limits us in terms of the sale that we can potentially close or make in that particular situation. Yeah, I was just recording podcast with our colleague Patrick Blufflan, Patty macnen too, a many of you, and we talk specifically about how those early conversations are so critical in the deal like that is going to set the stage for how that sales process is going to get executed. Yeah, absolutely, and so we talk a lot about executing just discovery in a way that doesn't feel like an interrogation. You mentioned open end of questions. Part of that is having a roadmap for the conversation, but you also need to be comfortable asking tough questions, sitting in a tough conversation, and so I know that's where we're going to focus our time today. How do you get comfortable with that uncomfortable conversation as a seller, because that's what really is going to separate elite sellers from the... Yeah, I agree with you a hundred percent. I think elite from everybody else very often comes down to the person who can ask those type of questions. But I think you know to help in that process of how you get there. I think it would be great to just kind of to dispel some misconception. I think one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to adding some positive tension to that conversation is that as sellers sometimes we think our job is to keep things as comfortable as possible for the client, that if we keep things comfortable, things will kind of roll along and the conversation will flow, and I'll assert that it's quite the opposite. If you really want to ultimately keep that client, engage tension, positive tension, and actually keeps that person in the pocket and focus on what's actually happening, because you're challenging, you know their point of view and and they're thinking in a way that they probably aren't being challenged by most other sellers. So, you know, you make it engage and you make it intriguing for them. You're asking really good, thought provoking discovery questions that force them to think and that forces them to want to stay in that conversation we have seller. You know, we really don't want things to be comfortable because we got to think about what we're trying to accomplish at the end of the day. I mentioned before that clients come into these conversations with a specific point of view. Right, if we keep things comfortable, if we keep things the same, what happens? Nothing, nothing changes. Their point of view remains the same. We don't allow them to consider a different option, a different way of looking at things, and the deal doesn't move forward, and that's, you know, lose lose really at the end of the day. We really want to get the customer to think about things more deeply and start to think about the depth of they're pain in a way they haven't before and really ultimately force them to stand in...

...that moment of pain. I think the worry sometimes is this if I ask a more thought provoking question, I'm gonna disrupt the Apple car and quite the opposite happens. You are more likely to engage that customer to deeper conversation that they actually want to be a part of. That's great. I think you make a really good point of wanting you're not wanting it to be comfortable. I think you sometimes you get on the phone and you want to have a great rapport and you're talking about where everybody went to college or the game that weekend, and all of that's well and good, but, like you said, your intent here is to create tension in the conversation that motivates action and while that might be uncomfortable to execute, that's really going to help you move your sales process forward or find a problem that that you can solve, because it's really what we're ultimately doing. So what best practices do you have Antoneller or how do I get comfortable with this as a salesperson? What am I doing in my prep and my execution to create that necessary tension that's going to be beneficial for me? I think the first US practice is not surprising. Plan these questions out like plans. Some questions that are really designed to be two sided, really get into the customers mindset and what they're thinking and what their point of view is and force them to think about it in a deeper and maybe different way. And, related to that, plan questions that you want to ask. Sometimes we kind of hold ourselves back from asking the questions we really want to get answers to, thinking that it might be perceived the wrong way or it might elevate the tension too much in the conversation. We need to trust our gut a lot of the times, because our gut usually directs us to the right questions that we need to ask and not worry so much about fluffing it up to the point where the question is not really delivered in the way it was intended to deliver and and would get the response we...

...were trying to truly get from the customer. So I think, you know, that's definitely a good point to start at in terms of you know how to get comfortable with it. Be Comfortable with silence, be comfortable with being slightly uncomfortable. I think very often, and I've seen this unfortunately happened so many times, we ask a really good question and we hear nothing from the client for a few moments. It may seem like a lifetime, but most of the time it's only a few seconds and then we feel this need to fill in that space versus letting the client think through the end. Sir, what's really their response, having them kind of struggle internally within themselves because maybe they don't know the answer off the top of their head, and that is a good thing. Like when you're starting to get into questions that they can't just respond to instantaneously, that actually forces them down the road that they hadn't considered before and as a seller, that's a lot of value bringing to the table because you're forcing them to go someplace they couldn't get you on their own. So, you know, giving them the time to answer through it. Be Comfortable with uncomfortable. You know, be comfortable with like empty, you know, nonspoken time in the conversation. That really helps move things along. Yeah, it's just thinking maybe I should do some podcast where it's just silence for three minutes to help kind people. That's to you mentioned a couple things, but I'm curious. I know you that you you working with a lot of reps on this. Where do you think they most often go wrong and trying to execute this well? One of them, probably most common things that I see is that they see discovery as a hurdle that they need to overcome to ultimately talk about themselves. And discovery is not a hurdle if you truly like, are genuinely interested in the client, if you're truly buy your focus...

...and have that outside in approach and you know, live in the moment. It's so fulfilling on both ends of the spectrum in terms of what you get out of the conversation and they get out of the conversation. And sometimes what we lose sight of is the answers to how to move this deal forward, or, in the customers words. So don't look at it as a hurdle, look at it as part of the journey and enjoy that part of the journey and really immerse yourself into it. I think that's very often where these conversations go wrong and they become more of like a checkbox versus something that's going to deliver value to both you as a seller as well as the client. And it goes to that appointment we're making earlier that this is the most important part of the deal in a lot of ways, is that discovery stages. You talked about creating this tension in the conversation and in some cases you have to earn the right to create that tension. You don't want to start out with your most uncomfortable question. I'm getting cost a little bit about how we earn that right to have those types of conversations. I think some of the things that you talked about earlier, you know, building your port, spending some time on those higher level opening questions just to get some inside in terms of where the clients point of view is. I think that kind of helped ultimately lead you to getting into some of those more thought provoking questions. But I think more often than not, as long as you genuinely come from a place where you are asking questions to not benefit yourself but to ultimately help benefit the client, they can see that and they can feel that and therefore that gives you the right to ultimately ask the more thought provoking questions. So always be about the client. Always have that outside and mentality start with some of...

...the questions to kind of break the ice, but, you know, don't be fearful of asking those more thought provoking questions because if you're coming from, you know, a genuine place where you're trying to ultimately help the buy or get to where they want to get to. They're going to know that and feel that and they'll be happy to answer a lot of those questions. Yeah, concept that at we've covered a little bit on the podcast is empathy, having empathy for your buyer, and I think sometimes it can be helpful to talk about other customers that you are also talking to that are having the same issue. You know, when we're selling force management, we have common business problems that we saw. So when we're talking to a new prospect, we've talked to hundreds prospects were of that same issue. So that can be a really beneficial way to show empathy to make them comfortable with these uncomfortable topics. I'm curious what tips you might have to help sellers show empathy in those conversations. Yeah, I think kind of started off like tension does not passive. Tension does not equal not having empathy right and I think that every conversation has to be a very good balance. It can't be the client constantly giving you answers to numerous questions, no matter how good those questions are. You have to give something back to the client and I think a great way that we have sellers. Could give them something back is sharing some of those great stories of where we have had similar situations with other clients and the type of outcomes that they potentially achieved. I think that helps balance things out and it also, you know, allows them to feel like, you know what, I'm not the only one. Number One, I'm not the only one who has this challenge. There's others that have been in a similar situation. But boy,... know, it sounds like this organization is really comfortable handling those types of situations and they're truly experts at it. So it helps them feel comfortable and confident that, you know, it's something that's solvable and that it's something that the company that they're speaking to could potentially solve for yeah, I've solutely. I mean the discovery process you mentioned. It's likely more than one conversation right. This is, course, where you're trying to build up that business case and if you're having such a great conversation and you're nearing the end of that time window availability that you have, you really want to make sure that you're closing that conversation in the correct way. How do you push for the best next steps, and I ask that to knowing that the next steps that you think you might be pushing to when you start the conversation may have shifted if you're having a great conversation. So how do you push for the right next steps? Yeah, so I think a couple of things need to happen. Obviously, we go into every conversation hoping to meet the sort of objective if certain criteria are met, and I think being upfront about that helps you know navigate through the process. Having said that, we talked about being audib already all the time and maybe, based on how the conversation may have proceeded, you know you exceeded. You know the objectives that you are trying to achieve in that particular conversation. So number one, I think leveraging something like the mantra to make sure that we're all on the same page. You have a good understanding of what this particular conversation has captured as it relates to positive business outcomes, as it relates to required capabilities, as relates to metrics, or maybe, if you haven't gotten that for plane, back some of the pain points than the before negative consequences that you may have uncovered up to that...

...point and then, you know, ask permission to for the next step of what and and explain what that might look like. If they know about what that is up front, that makes it very easy to move in that direction. But sometimes, you know, based on the situation, that might have changed and it's okay to say hey, you know, I know that one of the, you know, next steps that we talked about prior to this conversation, if all these criteria were met, was x, Y Z. But based on the conversation we're having right now, I'm thinking that a best next step is this. Maybe it's you introducing me to somebody else, maybe it's, you know, getting more people involved in the next meeting, maybe it's talking through how you're going to present this in some of the things that we talked about today to the economic fire and just get their buying on it. You know, what do you think about that? And getting them to agree that that is a positive next step and making sure that that's and how that's going to ultimately get executed on. Great. That's great, such such an important part of planning these conversations and being audible ready. If we wanted to sell this topic up in Tonella into a bottom line when it comes to this tension getting through these uncomfortable conversations. What would you say? A couple of things that I would love our listeners to kind to take away. Number one, live in the moment of discovery. Don't short change it's so much magic happens here and it'll allow us to organically get to the logical next step, which is ultimately talking about us. And the second thing I would want everybody to walk away with is be comfortable being uncomfortable. It's actually a really good thing in the conversation and it's it's sometimes really surprising what the client walks away with when we really challenge their current way of thinking and allow them to get someplace that they wouldn't be able to get to without us. That's great. Be Comfortable with the uncomfortable. Thank you so much for his conversation today and Toonella. Thanks so much, Rachel. All right, and thank you... all of you for listening to the audible ready sales podcast. At force management, we're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite teams. Are Proven methodologies deliver programs that build company alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute the growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proof is in our results. Let's get started. Visit US at force MANAGEMENTCOM. You've been listening to the audible ready podcast. To not miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

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