Selling New Ideas

Series 2, Episode 8 | 28 February 2023

Show notes | Transcript

If I paint the picture for you, I’m convincing. If you paint the picture for me and answer my questions, you create your own context. On today’s Circuit Breaker Show, Bob and Greg tackle the myth of convincing and how it leads to buyer’s remorse as they talk about selling new ideas. Bob describes a case from the past where convincing someone completely failed.

You’ll understand why it’s difficult for people to change and how you can help people understand the context they’re in without convincing them. You’ll learn why they hate prefabricated presentations and why it’s important to understand and recognize the forces of progress.

They’ll go into detail about the tactical steps you should take when selling a new idea, namely understanding why you want to change, finding out who to talk to and developing a plan. You’ll discover their different perspectives on selling and why the sales process doesn’t end with a “yes”. Greg will explain what he calls “fake interactions” and why every conversation is an interview. You’ll discover why they want to be more transparent with their clients.

Join us for this thought-provoking discussion.


What You’ll Learn in this Show:

  • How do you sell new ideas?
  • The difference between convincing people and helping them see progress.
  • The importance of understanding your anxieties.
  • Why marketing, sales and customer success need to be aligned.
  • The two types of unknowns.
  • How to develop a plan.
  • And so much more…



Selling New Ideas – Transcript

Welcome to the circuit breaker podcast where we challenge the status quo of innovation and new product development. We’ll talk about tools and skills and methodologies used to build better products and make you a better consumer. I’m Bob Esther, and I’m the co founder of the rewired group, and I’m one of your co hosts. And we’re joined by Greg Engle, who is my co founder and chief Bob interpreter.


Join us now as we trip the circuit and give you time to reset reorganise and recharge your brain to build better products.


Hey, Bob, Hey, Greg, what’s going on, man? So today, we’re gonna talk about something that we’ve got a lot of questions on lately. And it’s it goes to jobs done, but it goes to anything you’re trying to sell. And so how do you sell in new ideas? It’s something that I think everybody struggles with at one point or another because we all have to sell in ideas, whether it’s our personal life, whether it’s our corporate life, whether whatever it is, right, we have to help people understand why we want to do something what why we want to change or and how does it impact them.


So the first thing I want to tackle before we get into the whole crux of it is a myth, or a belief system that most people have, which is sales or trying to get someone to change their behaviour is about convincing. Yeah, that’s a myth. And the reason why we say that is because when you try to convince someone to do something, that’s where you actually create a lot of buyer’s remorse, or second guessing or things like that, because they actually never see the reason to change. They’re just convinced to change or in the moment they give up, right?


In the moment, you actually create a context where they’re like, oh, yeah, I gotta do this. And then when they get out of that context, like, Why did I do that? So can you? And now I’m throwing you under the bus for a little bit. But can you can you come up with a situation in the past where you’ve seen somebody or you’ve tried to convince, or you’ve convinced somebody do something? And it’s failed?


Oh, yeah, many times. All right. So I think my first one was, basically, when I started my first businesses, I tried to actually spin out of an old business called American supplier Institute. And one of the things that I did is I tried to convince the owner who was, you know, basically that that this was a good idea to spin this thing off. And, you know, I could get them one on one in a room, and he could make sense of it. And at some point in time, it got to the point where, where, like, he was convinced. And we drew up all the papers. And when I got to the room, he fired me.


And so all of a sudden, it was one of those things where I thought I had convinced him and the reality is like, it went completely bad. And then ended up getting into lawsuit over. And generally, when you’re, you know, you’re convincing somebody when you’re talking more than listening, yes, when you are leading the conversation and not understanding where they’re coming from.


And as you’re defending what there’s, what they’re saying is you’re like, “No, no, no, that’s, that’s not it, let me tell you what I mean” it’s like you’re constantly almost like, you’re pushing and at the same time you’re descending. So if we’re not trying to convince people, what are we trying to do, or actually trying to get people to understand the progress that we’re trying to make and the progress that they can make? That’s correct. And that’s really what you’re trying to do. If you’re in a situation where you’re trying to sell into a company, an idea you have, you’re trying to do both, if you’re selling a product, you’re trying to show them the progress, right, you take yourself out of it at that point.


But so it’s about showing progress, or what life will be like, when you change, and how that benefits you, the company, or whoever you’re talking to whoever you’re talking to. But the other part is to also make people aware of the bigger context that they’re really in because a lot of people, they don’t want to change because they they don’t actually see the bigger picture or see the pushes, right. And so part of this is, is helping people understand the context of why you feel you need to change, and then understanding by articulating the pushes that are on you, and hopefully helping them see the pushes that might be on them as well. Right. And so part of it is, is most people again, I think have changed, nobody wants to change.


Right? It’s the fact is, is that at some point, they were more creatures of habit than anything else. And so how do we actually help people understand that it’s time to change? Well, and I want to change that just a bit because I think I think that I think people want to change I think change is hard.


And going back to the status quo is always easier than then keeping the change going. Right? So I have aspirations to change. And that’s the problem is I have aspirations to change most of the time. And until you make them real, with what’s going on now, what the future can look like, and what’s holding us back. They are just aspirations. They are just things, it’s easier to go backwards than forwards their aspirations of, if you will, fuel but at the same time is they have no, they have no friction in order to make it happen. They have no traction to actually make it happen.


So you start to lose where people dream a lot then, right? Yes, and you can dream and you can you can make small changes, but then how off? How long do they last? That’s the problem. Right? The other thing I wanted to touch on, from what you just said was, you know, helping people understand their context they’re in? It’s a very tricky thing. Yes. Because most people do that by just drilling people. Yeah, either. If they, a lot of times, you don’t even ask questions. What What do you mean by drilling? Well, that’s I’m gonna say.


So there’s two ways to do that, or the two ways we see people do that poorly, which the first way is, they just tell people their context, that people’s context, right, Bob, you don’t want to do that, because you are in this situation doing this and that? Well, that’s not actually getting people to understand their context. That’s a that’s a piece of convincing. When I paint the picture for you, I’m convincing. When you paint the picture for me, when I’m asking questions to you, then you’re creating your own context. You’re telling me what your context is. The other problem is just drilling questions without actually unpacking answers. So that would look like, Hey, Bob, what’s going on your business today? And then you would answer and I would say, Oh, that’s great. But what do you want the future to look like?


Well, you had no time to actually absorb your answer. So we need as we do this in sales, we need to give people the time and space to give us the answer, but then also swim around in the answer. immerse themselves in the answer, change their answer, yes. Or, or distort their answers, so they can actually be more articulate about their answer. Oh, so you mean, it’s this? No, no, no, I don’t mean, it’s that it’s this, right? Because our first answer is not always the best answer. Because I’m catching you off guard. Right? I haven’t thought about it. Right. So as you answer the question, and I give you more time to swim around in the answer, you might change, you might deepen the answer, you might give more context, the answer, there’s many different things.


But if I just shut you off and drill you with the next question, and this is why we hate pre planned presentations, or pre planned questions, right, is because your job then when you have all those in your head is just to get all the answers, where your real job is to get to the answers that are important to the person, not to your questions. And they will lead you if you do it correctly, they will, because there’s been many sales calls where I’ve only had to ask one question, and we talked about that answer for an hour. Right? Right.


So here’s the thing is you keep talking about this as a sales context. But to be honest, whether you’re a developer or you’re a designer, you’re, you’re a marketer, and you’re trying to actually help people understand what you’re trying to do, it’s, you’re still selling your idea. So the notion of when we use sales is not just for selling product or selling services, it’s for actually helping other helping to align others on the progress you all want to make. And so the same thing, this is the same thing true for for whether you’re putting in a new system, at a internal system is like you have to get alignment, and you have to understand the context. And they have to understand why you want to change the system. All those things are part of this. And so we talk about it, quote, as sales and sales is usually seen as a dirty word. Well, that’s why I said it selling in new ideas, we sell product selling, you have to sell your spouse, you have to sell family, everything.


But I mean, you you developed a course, you know a while ago around the whole notion of you know, non sales selling like how do you teach people who are not salespeople, how to sell their ideas. And to be honest, it’s one of those things where I think we resonate need to resurrect it, because it’s just one of those aspects. It’s just phenomenal. That’s the difference between like convincing and helping people see progress, right. And that’s an undiscovered progress.


And that’s the crux of a lot of what we talk about is trying to bust that myth of a sale. Anytime you’re trying to sell an idea whether you’re a salesperson, whether you’re a corporate executive, trying to tell people below you how to do something or discover something. You’re still selling, you’re still trying to do those things. And just to convince somebody is not getting compliance or not showing people what to do. So that’s the first step we want to we just want to get that out there that concept out there of when you’re selling a new idea you’re not trying to convince you’re trying to understand well, first, and let’s get to the crux of it. The first thing you have to do is understand why you want to change. If you’re selling a new idea, you’re not a salesperson, right pick it out of the sales person realm, but the forces of progress and you you have to you have to understand the force the progress of why


You want to make the change. And you have to look at it from you personally. And you also look at it further from the company. Right. So you have to do both. And, and what I tell people, most of the time when they’re doing that is, it’s very easy for us to describe the new, but I need you to spend less time on that, and spend more time on why you need to change. So the pushes, but then really, really the anxieties. And the habits, the habits is a big one. Because most of the time when we’re talking to people about let’s say jobs be done. And I asked them, well, what anxieties do you have about bringing jobs? We don’t they always tell me none? Well, that’s BS.


Because in the sales process, most people can’t see it until after the after the fact but this is where people have to get better at actually articulating, articulating and discovering and understanding those things below the watermark, right, that’s what you talk about is that below the watermark, because we don’t want to go there, that’s scary. But you have to go there in order to make sure you’re making the right decisions. And also to keep you on track. Because those anxieties will come up. When you go to sell your idea. When you go to implement your idea, those anxieties all perk up again.


And the thing is, is that any, any change has has unknowns embedded in it. And so there was like, Really, what are the unknowns that that scare you? And there’s two types of unknowns. There’s known unknowns, right? Like, oh, my gosh, I don’t know about this. And then there’s unknown unknowns. And that’s the bigger thing that most people aren’t aware of, kind of what they don’t know, or what’s those things as in they emerge as they get closer and closer to that change. And so part of it is to actually figure out how to tease that out. So ultimately, you know, this is about alignment, and about getting people together and defining the progress. Yep. So But first, you have to on yourself, so let’s, let’s stay there. So we’re gonna go kind of tried to do this linear, linear linearly.


And so the first step is to do that, and to your point of, you know, discovered unknowns, unknown unknowns, that’s why the Forrester progress is always a living, breathing document, when you’re talking about selling ideas and doing those things as you, you have to go back to this because you’re going to, the next step is to now discover who you need to go talk to. And most people do that. And it’s, they think it’s really easy. Well, I’m just gonna go talk to my boss, right, because that’s why I have to convince, right. And that’s wrong.


That’s actually wrong. It’s part of the step. I’m not saying you don’t do that step, but not necessarily the next step, you actually have to discover all the different influencers. And what I want you to do is I want you to look laterally, I want you to look up, and I want you to look down. And sometimes you actually have to look outside your realm to because you might be a product developer in, let’s say, pet food. But you know, there’s going to be somebody in snack food, that could be an ally, they should be on your list. Because you should, because eventually, you don’t want this to be in one place, you want to go all over, or you need support from other places. And as you’re changing it, you have to realise like, you’re going to change the label.


So you have to actually realise, like, the label, people should probably be honest, because they’re gonna they’re gonna be frictional coefficient, because, like, hey, we don’t want to change the label. It’s like, okay, what are we going to do? So, the thing there is, you’re going to, you’re going to sit, hopefully, by yourself, and you’re gonna think about who are the people that can help you? And then who are the people that you have to help along the way to get to understand their progress so that they will not be in your way? That’s right. Who’s going? To be honest, it’s just natural that there are people who will sceptics sceptics will have characteristics, you know, people that don’t want to I love the sceptics. Right.


But you have to identify all those people. Now, what do you do? Do you just sit in a room? And do you think how am I going to convince them? No, you go talk to them? And what do you talk to them about? You talk to them about the context, outcome, and then anxieties and habits. So you’re talking about the force of progress, you’re talking about their forces of progress, I would say you want to talk about your force of progress, why you want to change and then understand kind of how that aligns with their forces of progress. But you have to discover their forces of progress.


You can’t give them their forces of progress, they have to understand why would if you and that’s the point you’re making is, if you scope what you want to do. So you have to really, again, scope what you want to do. You have to have intention of what you’re trying you give that to them. And you put that into the light bulb for them. And then ask them questions about why would this be good? Why wouldn’t this be good? What about the future? Do you think this can help with what about the current? What do we need to change? And what scares them? What happens? Well, a team have to give up all those things you have to talk about. So you have to go talk to talk to however many people you need to go talk to and I will tell you it’s not about going and talk to 100 You don’t need to you don’t need everybody. You need you know the three or four at each level. Two or three…


Each level that will help you see and see the bigger picture and see alignment will do two things for you get permission to move forward. But it also shape your idea. Well, that’s where that’s where I say is like, what I like to do is actually I never always have with, you know, me, I never have one idea. But partially, I have usually two if not three ideas, because I want people to realise like, okay, doing nothing, what happens doing this, what happens?


And then what’s something in between. And so it’s that prototyping mentality that we have in there to say, instead of trying to tell people what I want to do, it’s like, hey, we need to change for this reason, here’s three different ways, which ones align with you and not and help understand and use it as a mirror to help reflect their their forces of progress. And so instead of trying to just give them one, because one is so easy to shoot down, right, so I’m gonna, you’re gonna, I’m gonna shoot you down a little bit, because I’m gonna tell you, yes, that works. That’s the advanced technique. If you’re an expert, yeah, and you know, and you, you’re confident that you can change, or be flexible or know a bunch of different options.


But if you’re not, you have to go with the one you think you want to do. Like, if you want to bring in jobs be done. Right? You have to put that one in there and figure out how it helps other people and understand why it doesn’t help certain people. Because it might be that there will be somebody, I’ve never seen something I’ve never seen, like gravity down or anything that we’ve done shot down by one person descending, right?


So even if you can’t get that one person on board with that, they usually will never say no, don’t do it. They’ll say, Yeah, do it. But with these constraints, and you need those constraints. So that’s okay. You’ve done the first step, you’ve discovered why you want to change, then you’ve done the second part where you’ve looked at other people’s perspective of seeing other people’s perspective identified other people, you’ve understand what where they’re coming from. Now, what’s next? Or what’s next, you actually have develop a plan, because you don’t just stop there, you develop a plan of how do you now go talk to these people and show them, what you’re trying to do actually helps majority of the people make progress.


And so this is where I want to take it away from a plan. But it’s more that you want to design the solution that aligns with, you know, where you want to go and where they want to go. And so it’s this just not just building a plan, like, here’s the, here’s the steps, but more like, here’s why we’re doing this and make it more comprehensive than yourself, and make sure that it’s including the progress they want to make. And so it’s about designing kind of what they want to design in the future, you’re gonna make me unpack the word plan. That’s what I’m trying to do.


Because what is planned, because plan to me is, what do you plan to do? And it’s not steps. It’s everything. It’s everything. And this is the problem where people go to a word, and they start taking your word, it’s one of my triggers of of what it is well, because what you described as a plan is steps. A plan should have direction, should have scope should have boundaries, should have metrics, should have resources, cities should have next steps should have all that into it. So don’t take plan as in this is a lecture to Bob and I so sorry, everybody. But don’t take the one word and say what is the functional cape that I wanted to unpack that because at some point is it’s like people think they know what a plan is, and what we mean by a plan and what other people mean by plan some time is very different. So you’ve done that you’ve you’ve, you’ve now come up with your plan, fine, you can use the word plan. Now, you’ve come up with your way to help people understand what they do, what this will do for them. Ultimately, it’s it’s implementing, it’s taking the first couple steps and monitoring how things are rolling out.


Well, I think the for this, so yes, but you might not be done someone yet. Right? Because there’s now you might modify the plan. Yes. Right. Because now you’ve got everybody’s everybody’s input, you’ve got everybody’s progress. And it might be you might have to change what your idea was, at first, you could still bring in that core thing, you’re still trying to get in that core thing you were trying to bring in. But how do you now modify it to make sure you’re hitting majority, not all because you can never hit everybody’s objective? It’s impossible. But majority and then make out that metrics of the plan, because you have to modify them. As you discover all these things you’re gonna modify those metrics of, we’re gonna get this out for this person, we’re gonna get this out for this, we’re going to be able to use the team is going to get the language, which is what the HR department wants, whatever those things are, you’re gonna map that out. So everybody can see it.


And you can actually monitor that progress as you bring in this new idea. Yep. As it’s rolling as it’s rolling up, because sales doesn’t stop when getting the Yes, that’s right. Once people Yeah, that’s exactly right. Yes, yes. It’s only the commitment to make the change. It’s not making the change, right. It stops when the project is over. When progress is made. Yep. Right when the habit is built. So that’s the thing that’s different the way we.


…look at sales as most people end the sales at the “Yes”. They don’t think about the implementing the getting people through it. The How does it look at the end, they don’t think of that things, which is very important because that’s actually consumption. It consumption is part of the sales process. That’s correct. That’s why when we talk about demand side sales, we talk about how marketing sales and customer success are all actually one system that not three different systems and that they need to be aligned, because at some point, I need all of them to help make that progress.


And so it’s, it’s the, it’s the alignment of that and making sure that we’re all aligned around what the customer wants, right, as opposed to what we want. So just to kind of recap this, it’s the the first step is kind of understanding why you want to change, identifying those forces of progress. Understanding them really spending time below the watermark of those habits and anxieties, because you have them, the excitement of the change, often clouds them, but they’re there, spend time doing it, then it’s identifying people that could be sponsors, advocates, and also detractors.


Get that list together. Try to make it as manageable as possible, because you don’t want to spend 30 hours trying to interview people. So get it down to the most manageable or the most logical list, you can then it’s go interview them. And when we talk about interviewing, we’re talking about trying to get out the forces of progress, then it’s taking those answers and developing a sales plan, implementation plan, whatever you want to call that, but developing a thing to take back to them and saying, Can we say yes to this. And then once you do that, that is making the plan or are implementing what you’re trying to do, and making sure you’re putting in milestones and metrics that align with everybody else’s kind of progress. So that’s kind of the steps in selling in a new idea. And I know it sounds easy, right?


We just made it we made it sound really logical, really, step by step. Easy, but it’s not because why is it not? Is it because you actually have to go interview and interviewing is hard. Because we always tend to listen with our ears. Why did you use words, just go talk to them? Why is it an interview and not just a discussion, because anytime you talk to somebody, you’re actually interviewing them. Anytime you talk to somebody, it’s about in last, it’s a pure social call, right? If your social calls, you’re not really trying to understand too much it’s in those are what I call fake interactions.


Real interactions are really where you’re trying to get an understanding of something. And there are very few false interactions, right? Most of our interactions are actually very meaningful. We just We just don’t know how to do them as humans very well. And the reason why it’s an interview to me is because you have to understand from their demand, not from your supply. And that’s convincing. Again, if you’re asking questions from your supply from you, what do you want to do? If you’re asking closed ended questions? Bob, don’t you want to get better? Yes. Well, you’re convincing. It’s right. Yes, no, is usually convincing. So you want to make sure that you’re having those, those conversations and you’re doing those things. And interviewing is hard. And that’s why when we when, when someone tries to buy something from us, we try to help with this with these steps. And we have not been as transparent with them as we probably should be.


And we’re trying to tell people, we’re trying to get your forces of progress. We’ve told people that know how to sell how that how they can sell it in internally, we’re not real clear on that we, we, we tell them things, but we don’t lay out the process. So we’ve kind of laid out the process. We’re trying to be more transparent in 2023. With that with with helping people do that. So what’s the homework? So the homework here is just the next time you try to sell something, and I would start outside of the business world, I’d start with your family, vacation, whatever, whatever the next thing is, because it could be a restaurant, to me a movie thing could be a movie.


It’s why do you you know, first just go through the steps and they can go very quickly. And that’s why I say start with a family because it’s usually one or two people. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. There’s a lot of well, that if it’s just you and Julie, so start with something small or you don’t have to go interview a bunch of people and where the second step is kind of defined for you. But just get used to and what I really want you to get used to is is discovering your below the watermark things because that’s actually the hardest part.


Then the second hardest part is getting people to tell you what their honour the watermarks are because those things are the things that really scare us as humans. And that’s a defence mechanism that we all have is let’s just talk about the future in bright shiny things. So I don’t have to talk about the uglies in the pit of my stomach. But once you get good at talking about the uglies in the pit of your stomach, you actually make progress faster.



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