The Sales IQ Podcast

Help Buyers With Your Head and Heart, With Brent Adamson

August 10, 2022

The Sales IQ Podcast

Join us as host of the show Luigi Prestinenzi talks to thought leaders from around the globe about the art and science of sales and marketing, personal development, and the mindset required to sell more everyday. Luigi is a master of creating pipeline and breaking down targets, he specializes in helping sales professionals build the mindset to achieve greatness and #bethebestyoucanbe.

Sales pros come from all walks of life. In this episode, you'll find our how an ex-Linguistics professor became an influential thought leader, making a permanent impact on our industry.

Luigi is joined by Brent Adamson, researcher, academic, author of The Challenger Sale and The Challenger Customer, and Global Head of Research and Communities at Ecosystems.

They explore why how you sell is the differentiator that matters most, sense making and its growing importance, what's more important to your customer than information, and aspiring in your career to have a material impact on people's quality of life.


Connect with Brent on LinkedIn or at the Ecosystems website (where you'll also find the customer value community). Brent's books are The Challenger Sale, and The Challenger Customer.

You'll find Cialdini's book Influence here.

Connect with Luigi on LinkedIn.

Sell more with the Create Pipeline course here, or join the Sales IQ Community here.

Brent Adamson
Author of The Challenger Sale, and Global Head of Research and Communities @ Ecosystems

[00:00:00] Luigi Prestinenzi: By the Sales IQ Network, this is the Sales IQ Podcast. I'm your host, Luigi Prestinenzi, and each week we'll be going on a journey that will inspire you, motivate you, and help you be the best sales professional you can be. Our focus will be on mindset, tactics, and the strategies that will enable you to create more pipeline, and win more deals. 

Welcome back to another episode of the sales IQ podcast. I'm pumped and honored that you have joined us again for what will be a very challenging episode this week. And I'll talk a bit about why this episode is gonna be a little bit challenging. But if you're a first time listener, I just wanna say, thanks for joining us.

We hope that you take away some real positive insight and content. That'll help you be the very best you can be. And if you're a longtime listener, thank you for always showing up. and for helping us and for supporting us because you know, our vision, our vision is to help sellers be the very best they can be.

And I'm really excited about this week's episode because the person we have joining us this week, and I'll talk a bit about why I mentioned it's a challenging episode because the person joining us, when they wrote a particular book, a couple of years back, it really did create a lot of debate. It created a lot of debate around.

You know, there were some people that were polar, there was absolute polar opposites from an opinion perspective. Some people hated it. They, they said some negative things about it and others, it completely transformed their pipeline and their sales process. And I'm in the secondary camp. I actually really enjoyed the book and I took some of the concept, implemented them and it helped me achieve amazing results.

And. The one thing that I wanna say, which I find really interesting is if you look at all the books out there, there are so many different sales books. And the reality is like, I don't think there's any new content out there. It's just, people's interpretation changes. They read things differently. And then they come up with their own version of things and.

And this particular book that we're gonna talk about and the concepts, and, and we're also gonna talk about sort of how it's changed since the author wrote the book, but it probably wasn't original time that it started. You could even go back 20, 30 years ago when Miller Hyman wrote some books about certain concepts and say, well, you know what, this is some connection to that.

So I think the key thing for, for any of the content that you engage. Any of the podcasts, any of the webinars, any of the books that you're reading, there is always something that can help you get better. You know, where I'm going to with this is, think about this. Like don't necessarily look at a book and say, you know what, it was a waste, or I've read this before, use the opportunity to say, hang on.

How can I see things just a little bit differently? Right. And the reason why it's so important is because. In today's modern buying journey. What we're actually seeing is it's becoming harder and harder for our prospects to arrive at a point of decision. And we had the incredible gen Allen on our show.

A few months ago. And she spoke about the data actually said, the data that I have is that about 39% of deals end up in the no decision category. It's where the buyer couldn't come to a point of decision. They maintain the status quo and. Because there's a lot of complexities now surrounding the decision making process, even for the smaller size deals, there are more people involved in that decision making journey.

There are more people influencing that decision making process. So we as sellers, we need to be enabling our buyers. We need to be helping our buyers make sense of all the information that's being thrown at them and really help them develop the business case for change. So. When they do come to that point of decision, they've got confidence in the decision they're about to make

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[00:05:14] Luigi Prestinenzi: Now, this is where our guest this week comes into play. Brent Adamson authored the challenger sale, an incredible book. And I say this, as I said earlier, you either hated it or you loved it. , but what I really took away, me personally, what I took away from that book was the insight led approach to selling.

It's about helping the prospect learn and identify something they didn't know before they engage with us. And that's, that's a value creation piece. Right. And that's what I took away from the book I took away. That insight I took away. And it made me really think about how do I engage with my prospects?

How do I en engage with my buyers in a way that I can be teaching them things that I can be leading with insight that I can be educating them. It really did change my mindset around all this stuff. And even though there's been a number of years since the book was written, there is still. It's still relevant to today, even though you could argue that some of the concepts should be different.

And that's why we've got Brent on today, because we are gonna now talk a bit about the term making sense and why helping our buyers make sense of everything is so important in the modern buying journey. But we will touch on the book because there are concepts that Brent will bring into this. And again, for any seller, right?

That the markets are getting a bit harder to sell in, right? Like we know this most organizations are letting people go, they're calling it a, a reorg or an all structure change, or, you know, they're coming up with some pretty cool PR terms around it. Right. But the reality is it's because the market is slowing down a little bit.

Right. And so, as we, as sellers, try to continue to sell in a declining market, what's gonna start to happen. There's gonna be more scrutiny. There's gonna be more focus on that business case. And, and the questions are gonna be asked, you know, is this something that we need to make a decision now on? Or can we delay the project?

So from a seller's perspective, helping our buyers make sense to really come up with a strong business case for change is crucial. So I, I think you're gonna walk away from this episode going, wow. You know, I'm thinking differently, it's given me some ideas. And if you do wanna dive deeper on this particular topic, In September.

We have Brent attending one of our community sessions where he'll be talking live to our audience, answering any questions and really bringing his topic to life further. If you want to check that out, check out the show notes, the links there for you to join. And so you can check out not just Brent session, but we've got a whole ton of other guests, a whole ton of other experts and a whole ton of other content. That'll help you be the very best sales professional you can be.

Welcome to the show. Brent Ji, how are you today? Yeah, I'm going very well made, you know, it's, it's interesting, Brent over my career, I've read some amazing books. There have been some incredible thought leaders that have helped me take my career to, to the next level. And I'm actually really excited to have you on our podcast because you are one of those.

Authors the challenger sale for anybody listening to this, the challenger sale is one of those books that has helped me close many deals. So I just wanna say, thanks. Coming on our podcast, mate, we we're really excited to have you on.

[00:08:28] Brent Adamon: Oh no, I appreciate that. It's you know, it's that book, we, we kind of knew we had something pretty special when we decided to write the book.

I don't know that we knew that we had what we turned out to have. It was kinda lightening in a bottle. It was the right message at the right time for the right group of people. But I'll tell you, I mean, it's humbling. I have been able to do my career or something that all of us aspire to do, including you, I imagine, which is have a material impact on individual's quality of life in a way that I could never imagined.

So if the book has touched anyone out there listening in a positive way like that, man, that that's awesome. It's just super cool to hear. So thank appreciate it.

[00:09:01] Luigi Prestinenzi: No thanks. And you know what I also found. it's one of those books where you get polar opposite opinions. You get people like, I love the book and then people like you can't do you can't challenge people and tell customers.

I'm like, mate, that's not the concept of the book. I think you've just missed. Yeah. The whole concept of the book, right? You had people coming from polar opposite ends of the spectrum. So I love the debate that the challenger book created.

[00:09:24] Brent Adamon: There's story. So the, the language for those who like to follow this stuff closely, the language of the book and in the book was chosen very carefully to mirror the actual concepts.

Discussed or presented in the book. So the, the word challenger is actually challenging, right? So they, and the reason we did that is we actually had a long debate way back when, when we were putting the work together and there was a discussion around, do we just call this the new relationship builder or the new seller?

And that was actually on the whiteboard for a while is one of the options. And ultimately we didn't go with that because what, what I found was, and what we all found collectively is we began testing this idea with, with a. Is, we would get too many what I call false positives. In other words, too many people say, oh, you're so right.

That is so important. I do that too. That's why I do that. And you look at what they're doing. It's like, you're not doing any of that. So I mean that diplomatically, but so, yeah, so I, but there's a lesson. And I think for all of us, which is particularly with my background, I'm a trained linguist of all things.

I've I was, I was a linguistics professor and German professor before I got into this stuff. And so I love language. I like to play with language, but language could be so important for sort of chalking the pitch or chalk. Field of a discussion and, and staking out a certain perspective. So, so there are times when you actually want to name something closer to what people already expect, and sometimes you wanna choose language that's farther out from where they are, because all of that language choice is actually part of your challenger.

Stories part of your reframing and part of your mental model making and breaking. And so don't over for those of you like geek got on the stuff like I do. Don't overlook that opportunity to think about the actual words you use and the things and how you name things as a way to challenge your customer thinking.

[00:10:56] Luigi Prestinenzi: Yeah. It's very interesting. And, and, and. I just wanna, we have, we've gone past that point, usually at the start of the podcast. B I say, look, tell us a bit about how you got into the world of sales, but yeah, for those of you, for those of you that might not know who you are in your work, do you wanna maybe tell us a little bit about.

You know, how you started in this, in this world, in, in, in the sales world?

[00:11:16] Brent Adamon: I was bored. So I've been, so I'm getting up there in age. I've been doing this for about 30 years in some fashion, other, so my background in Luigi is actually as I mentioned as an academic, so. I ultimately went to school to become a professor of, well, first political science that didn't work out and then eventually became a German professor and applied linguistic, which is how to study and learn foreign languages.

And then I got a business degree and then came joined a company called corporate executive board or CEB. And that's kind of where the journey that you guys are all collectively mildly interested. And that's where it started. Where we spent I spent the last 19 years, eventually CB became acquired by Gartner about five years ago.

And there, I just spent all that time, researching sales and marketing and service and success, and trying to understand what world class looks like. So, so you put all that together. There's this weird transition about 15 years in, on that career, but basically I've made an entire professional life out of researching stuff and teaching stuff, which is what I, yeah, it's what I love to do.

And then about three months ago, I left Gartner and I'm at a company called Ecosystems now, which is a. Everything's a software as a service provider. So it's a software as a service provider. We can talk a little bit more about them if you want, but that's, that's my story. Yeah. Awesome.

[00:12:21] Luigi Prestinenzi: Well mate, thanks for sharing. And so look, I, I, I think we'll touch a little bit upon the book, but something that I really, really, really excited about talking to you about, and it's something that I'm starting to, to get my head around. Right. I've really seen the buying journey change dramatically over the past. , you know, pre COVID it was changing, but then all of a sudden we've seen this, you know, huge shift in the way that companies are buying.

In fact, it's getting more difficult than ever before. Right. And yeah, there's a graphic that Gartner share of the modern buying journey. And I put that up into my training sessions and yeah. People are like, yeah, that's what it looks like. And it's just. You know, it's overwhelming when you look at it, right.

And you think to yourself and, and we know the stats and, and Jen Ellen who, you know, well, and I love the, some of the stuff that she quotes, you know, 38% of B2B engagements end up in no decision. And I can see why I can see that buyers are kind of going, man. And then on top of all of that, all the information.

That they've got access to today is fantastic, but it's also, well, how do we actually collect all this information and help us make an informed decision to move to the next step? You wrote an article sense making mm-hmm and I love the, the, the term, you know, making sense of things. So being a sense maker.

Yeah. Can you just help us sort of understand, you know, where did this concept come from and why is it such an important concept for sellers?

[00:13:48] Brent Adamon: Hundred percent. So Z just to be clear that the idea of sense making as a concept, it predates anything we did at Gartner. Yeah. But this is a research and I was, you know, Nick Toman, who's now at SBI and a bunch of researchers put together this body work called sense making, starting at about 2018, I guess it was so is, was before the pandemic, but it's, I think become more important now, but.

What happened was back up just a tiny bit. So about six years ago or so, as we continued to study selling and what world class selling looks like, the thing that became really clear to us as a research team, I think particularly to me is. If we really wanna understand how to sell effectively today, Luigi it's not that we need to study selling and how selling is changing, cuz frankly selling hasn't changed that much, which is actually kind of problematic because when you look at buying, buying has changed dramatically and the way that the buyers engage in a purchase decision go on the purchase journey is so much is so incredibly different today than it was in 2010.

When we wrote the challenger sale that I. Offers at the very least opportunity even to go back to challenger work, which I still stand by. I think all of us do and say to reinterpret it in the context of today's purchase decision. So the, I. There's a couple things that have really changed dramatically on the B2B side.

We can pick 'em apart and talk about each, if you want, but the sense making. So there, well, let me, I'll tell you what the three are that come to mind first is, is the complexity of buying. Just the number of people involved, the number of steps you gotta go through. That's that slide you were talking about.

I call it the spaghetti bowl. The title of the slide is a long, hard slog, which I think is the perfect name. For a B2B purchase. It, you know, it's 12 to 24 months of misery. Yeah. Not because of you the seller, but because of the comp the customer's own internal silos and complexity. So there's buying complexity.

There is also just the rise of digital and how digital has changed and allowed customers to do things more on their own than ever before. So that's a whole nother story we could. But the sense making story that gets at sort of the third leg of this table maybe is is this is the role that information plays in our world today in a radically different than it did in 2009, 2010.

So back if you go back to 2009, 2010, and particularly a little later, when you wrote the second book, the challenger customer, the story then was like, there's more information out there than ever before. Customers through digital channels are empowered to learn on their own so they can do their own discovery.

They can do their own. Long before they ever proactively pick up the phone and, and reach out to you, the sales rep to get your input on what you're doing or what they're doing. So by the time you get involved, oftentimes a lot of their thinking is, is kind of coalesced around an idea and you're there to right.

You know, to, for hinder for an RFP fast forward to today. What's, what's really interesting. I think the challenge, it's not that we cause this with challenger, but I think we certainly caught the wave. And we're all as part of this ride in the late 2000, what would those be? The, the S right from 2000 to 2010 one of the things we, we saw pretty clearly in the research is that C's ability to differentiate based on their solutions, like the fact that they offer this wide range of different capabilities.

That opportunity to differentiate was diminishing. Not because it wasn't a great strategy is because their competitors were building out similar sets of capabilities. So my solution was competing against your solution. And while it was a great solution, it was not a, it was still a somewhat of a commoditized solution.

I think. You know, global logistics companies like ups, FedEx, DHL, they've got great companies, great solutions, but they still all kinda look alike. So right about that time, I think there's this really interesting shift in mindset of like, you know, the best way to differentiate today. Isn't so much on what we sell, but how we sell.

And that's really the heart soul of a lot of what challenges about go to market, not just with this world class. So. But with a game changing insight that changes the way that customers think about their business. All right. So that's, that's the backdrop now fast forward from 2010 to 2020, what happens?

Well, one way or another, whether you've gotten on the challenger journey or not, most companies realize this closing opportunity. To differentiate based on solutions. It's not, it's, it's diminished. It's not vanished, but it's diminished. Yeah. So I gotta find a new way to compete. I compete on content on insight and is round about right about this time Lui, you are part of this, right?

The it's about every CMO, every head of maybe every head of sales, most heads of sales is certainly every CEO woke up at some point around 2015 and. You know what we need to do. We need to be a thought leader, cuz if we're a thought leader in our industry, then we're gonna demonstrate to the marketplace that we're smarter than everyone else, that we have better, deeper insights that are more tailored to our customers, mission critical priorities.

And right about the time marketing got on the bandwagon of content marketing, we had more mark MarTech. You think about Scott Brinker's diagram with all the logos on it, of all the different MarTech solutions. And so now we've got not only a mandate. To produce content. We've got the means to produce content and we've got the means to do it at scale on massive in, in massive volumes.

And so everyone sort of jumped on the thought leadership bandwagon. And, and that sounds mean, but, but there was good reasons why we all did this and I called this smartness arms race. Right. So we all decided that we're gonna compete with each other and demonstrate to our customers that we're smarter than everyone.

and what happens is in a smartness arms race, it turns out it kind of ended in a tie. And the only one to lose is your customer. Because from a customer's perspective, it used to be. My goal or my job was to go through all this information and sift it to, to separate signal from noise or wheat from Shaf.

Find the stuff that mattered most, make my decision, call up the rep and ask how much of a discount I could get to buy that thing. Now in this world, Luigi, everybody's out there, whether they're saying, you know, commercial insights based on challenger, or just saying really smart stuff based on data and.

Just about, everybody's gotta take, everybody's got some content, everybody's got a smart perspective. And so when you talk to customers, what you find is virtually every one of in the research we did at Garda was 90. The most recent number I think was 92%. A customers said that the, the information they encountered as part of a purchase was generally of high quality.

It was relevant. It was backed by data. It was well researched. It was supported by experts. But where that leaves your customer is not like, oh my God, this is great. I've got so much awesome information where it leaves them is completely overwhelmed because you're telling me to Zig, they're telling me to zag, you've got data, they've got data.

Now. I'm just confused at a higher level or even some ways worse. You're telling me to Zig, you've got data. They're telling me to also Zig and they've got data. So now you're not differentiated. You're all just saying this you're smart, but you're equally smart. Yeah. So I can't get the quality of the information to make a decision.

Well, I I'll stop and take a breath here in a second. I promise. But the backdrop of this I think is really important to understand is this was not our reality in 2010 when challenger came out, but it is today. Whereas what we're finding through a lot of research and data is that customers are confused at a higher level.

They're just overwhelmed with high quantities of high quality information. And the thing that ultimately gets them stuck. isn't it is their, you know what it is, it's their lack of confidence in making a decisions, their lack of confidence in knowing what to do next, because they've got so many different people telling them so many different things that, yeah, I dunno if that resonates with you, but I'll tell you that's we're seeing a lot of that going on right now.

[00:20:40] Luigi Prestinenzi: No, it absolutely. Because again, you know, when, when you go down the search bucket, whether it's Google or you go into communities and communities are playing such an incredible role today, right. In how people search and look for things. It is interesting because you're like, well, this is great. I've, I've got all this info, but yeah, again, in selling transformation or selling change, I'm not talking about widgets and transactional stuff, but in selling transformation and, and selling change, and this is something that I've historically learned, selling large projects, you know, with large enterprise organizations, it's not a practice.

It's not something that they buy all the. Yeah. So it's not like they've got the knowledge and go, Hey, this is how we get all the stakeholders around the table aligned. This is how we get, you know, under really clear on the problem we're trying to solve. Like, this is how we implement. They don't have that expertise to some extent.

And yeah, I can, I can see why they sit there. Sometimes scratching their head going. Maybe just we can see the fire burning. it's okay. Let's just leave the faring for a while because going through these process gonna be difficult because the headache.

[00:21:53] Brent Adamon: Yeah. The stress, the headaches, the frustration, the awfulness of trying to herd the cats in our own organization.

At some point, it just not worth it. It's not worth the, the personal credibility I put online. It's not worth the, just the, the adjective having to do it. So there, there's kind of, again, there's two dynamics at play here. One. Customers are overwhelmed with their own internal buying complexity or decision complexity.

Mm. And simultaneously they're overwhelmed with all sorts of people telling them really smart stuff that just makes them that much more confused. And so I think when we think about the single biggest opportunity for a sales professional today in this kind of environment, if you really wanna differentiate yourself is to adopt this role of.

Of guide. So it's not what we sell. It's not how we sell. It's how we help. Right. So how can I help you? I, I tell them when I talk to CEO, CSOs, we've talked to like, just about anybody, anybody to listen. Other than my kids, cuz they never do. But the it's like if you're gonna do one thing in sales and for that matter marketing today, It is to, to solve for customer confidence, but is not customer confidence in you, your product or your person, or your capabilities or your experience or your brand it's to solve for customer's confidence in themselves and their ability to do two things.

To navigate their own internal complexity and come to a decision with their colleagues and two to come to some sort of conclusion that they feel good about based on all of that confusing and overwhelming information. So the solution to one, this internal complexity, we call that buyer enablement. So how can I become my customers buy and guide, take them by the hand and coach them, guide them through their own internal, you know decision making complexity.

So, yeah, that might sound like, have you, have you, have you included the procurement office because when you do. They're gonna have some questions and we, you probably wanna get them involved early, not later. Cause when they get involved late, they blow everything up. It's gonna drive you nuts. You know, we find and work with other, I love this line and working with other customers like you.

Yeah. One thing we find is if you bring them in early, they're gonna have three questions. Here's the questions you're gonna have to be able to answer. I I've already put together the deck to help you have that conversation. All that would be examples of what I call buyer enablement to coach your customer.

Cuz you might think. Dude it's their organization. It's I dunno if you'd say dude or not, but you say it's their organization, it's their complexity. It's their problem. Why is it on me? Or how am I supposed to know how to solve this? And the thing is, it's your point? They're going through this probably for the first time or the first time in a long time, you've got 10 other customers over here that just went through the same thing, learn from them to teach to them, right?

Yeah. And then, so that's, that's by enablement. Now sense making is over here is the, is the other prong of this, of, of this two prong approach of making your customers more confident sense, making lands in a really interesting place, Luigi, which. if you think about, I'm gonna say the number one thing, but I've, I've got two things on the table.

So one of the number one, if one of the crucial things that's overwhelming, your competitors is too much high quantities of high quality information. That's what, that's your bogie. That's the thing you're competing against is a sales professional. Isn't your competitor's capabilities is that massive amount of information.

So when you sit down with your customer virtually in person figuratively, or, or literally. I think the thing that we, every one of us really should and could have today as a sales professional, which was not nearly so important five to 10 years ago is an information plan. Mm. So just like we have or an information strategy.

So just as we have an engagement strategy, we have a stakeholder plan. We, we build all our strategies and plans and account plans. Who we're gonna talk to what we're gonna say. You need to have a plan for information. How am I going to engage this customer with information? How am I gonna talk about information?

And the high level lesson, again, the, the article sense making for sales, it's an HBR, which is kind of cool. It's in the January issue of the print magazine, and it's called sense making for sales and the And the, the upshot of that work is what we found in doing this research. We found most sales professionals have one of three approaches to information.

This is not a profile. It's not a personality type, but when you think about how I engage customers with information, it's either giving, telling or sense making. So giving is. , you know, there's plenty more information where that came from. They ask me for a white paper, I give them two because I think I see it as my role as a sales professional.

Now, the, the way that I create value for my customers is, is the provision of information. So if providing them some information is good, providing lots of information must be amazing. And every time they wanna talk to me, they're asking me for something. So I need to this, that same sales rep that comes back to sales enablement says, I need another insight.

And you say why? I just gave you one. Cause I gotta talk to him again. I need something new to. And all you're doing, I call this indiscriminate generosity. All you're doing is just adding fuel to the fire of their confusion. So then there's the telling approach and legi for someone like you or me has been doing this for a long time.

The trap here is to fall into this sort of. I've been doing this for a long time. I've been selling for 30 years. Let me tell you the one thing you need to do. So we kind of adopt this role of expert. Like in my opinion, you should, as opposed to a role of connector me, that phrase, I give you a little bit ago in working with other customers like you.

One of the things we've learned is notice I'm not the expert there. I'm just the connector. I'm connecting you to the information we're over here and I'm just a conduit. But if I say I've been doing this for 30 years, and I think I've gotta boil down to three things you need to focus on now, I'm now I'm positioning myself as an expert.

Yeah. And what we find in this world where you can backstop and check everything. And I can, I can learn from multiple sources taking on that role of the telling rep of the doesn't actually, it actually kind of backfires. Mm. So and there's a lot of data bar charts behind all this, but the role that really wins is this sense making role.

And, and the way that you adopt a sense being approach is very simple in terms of a phrase, the way it sounds at least as simple, which is, yeah. It's just acknowledge the challenge. You know, there's a, there's so much information out there. I would imagine. It's pretty overwhelming. Why do we sit down and go through all of it?

And let me see if I could just help you make sense yeah. Out of, out of it for you. So, so again, my role is not to tell you my role is to guide. It to create a, so if, if challenger is all about frame breaking Lui, I think this is all about frame making. So how do I create a framework for you, the customer to come to your own conclusions that are best for you and relevant for you, such that you feel more confident in the decisions that you make.

So I can narrow that information. I can steer you. I can guide you and say, there's probably three questions you may wanna ask yourself, but I, I leave it up to you to come to your own answers to those three questions. How can I just narrow that down? So it doesn't feel so overwhelming. That's what sense making is all about really?

[00:28:04] Luigi Prestinenzi: And you know what, I'm buy that for a dollar. What do you think , we've got about five podcasts in that, in that section, we could go to completely different path here, Brent, but I love this and I just wanna go back a step, right? Because something that you said is very important. We see patterns when we engage with our clients, like we are seeing.

All the time. Right. And I love that. That's one of my go-to phrases. I connect, you know, Hey, you know, my clients that have gone to this stage usually do X, right. It's a perfect frame up, you know, it's a, it's, it's a CALD special if anybody's ever watched influence. Right. You, you frame it up. It's

[00:28:42] Brent Adamon: amazing.

Book influence is brilliant if you haven't read it. Yeah. I'm, I'm a big

[00:28:46] Luigi Prestinenzi: fan of it and yeah. And, but, but I think with what you're saying there is, is, is I love it because. You know, I've been guilty of that, that you go, man, I've done this before. I'm telling you, this is a recommendation. That's perfect for you.

Right. I've been that telling sort of guy person before, but I love the way that you are explaining around the guiding process, the, Hey, when you get to this stage, this is usually what happens and here's some stuff that can help you. So again, yeah, absolutely love that buyer enablement, but then, you know, getting to that sense, making.

This is where I find, or this is where I see this moves us from one side of the table to the other. I agree. The sense making component is when we walk around and we sit them side by side in a virtual world. Yeah. But we're actually then helping them go, let's get everything that we've got on the table and let's formulate how this all works and how this can help you.

And one of the, one of the strategies that I've used and it's been quite a successful strategy is I actually told them, look, let me help you. Come up with the plan, whether you choose me or not, let's not make that the focus let's make the focus of actually making this a successful implementation first.

Yep. When we get that plan together. Then you've got the confidence to make the decision. And if I'm part of that decision, great. If I'm not, well, at least I've made a positive impact and I've delivered some


[00:30:10] Brent Adamon: Right, exactly. Right. Yeah. That usually kills attention. Yeah. And what's interesting, you mentioned Robert child Dini's book influence what's happening.

There is actually at a very human level, not at a commerce level or a sales level at a very human level. There's something going on there. That's really interesting to me, Luigi. Cause I'm a social scientist right by training. So it's, it's It's effectively, what's known as a value exchange. Right? So it's something that we is like hardwired into our DNA as human beings, which.

I am more than ha well, I'm more than happy, but I'm more, I'm more willing to, to provide you something of value because you've provided me something of value. Yeah. And what's interesting here is the thing that you provided, the valuable thing, Luigi, that you provide me in this scenario. Isn't information.

It isn't a framework. The valuable thing you've provided me is confidence. Yeah. You've, you've changed the way that I think about myself. This is literally how marriages and dating and like all human relations are kind of built on the same sort of set of physics, which is when I'm around you Lu. you make me feel better about myself.

Mm. Do you know what I mean? It's like, and so almost subconsciously I kind of wanna be around you more. I wanna do something with that I wanna, and so, you know, that does that guarantee you're gonna get my business. Absolutely not. But it guarantees that we're gonna have the kind of relationship that where I want to do business with you.

Do you see what I'm saying? It's exactly. That to me is really interesting and it, and the thing, I think here's what, let me get your thoughts on this. Cause I, I mean this sincerely cause. When I talk about this stuff, it's so easy in my mind for it to start to sound like really cynical, like, you know, E to do you need to say it like this.

So they're gonna, you trick 'em into things. Like, I, I think that the thing that you gotta mean it it's gotta be sincere. It's gotta, you gotta really actually want to help them. And not just, it's like Brent, what's the five step playbook of being helpful is not the right question here. It's. It's like instinctively, I think in some ways, you'll know how to help, but, but it's gotta come from the heart as much as the head.

I think you think, I don't know. That's

[00:32:01] Luigi Prestinenzi: that's where I'm at. No, no. And I tried and you know, what's interesting, right? Because often, and, and again, when I, when I'm coaching sellers, it's its interesting, the type of responses you get. I, you know, we show them the data. Hey, the biggest thing that influences the buyers experience with you, you know, not product, not service, not price.

Yeah. I. . Yeah, but then what if all, most competitors are doing selling exactly the same as me. And I say, Hey, you know what, the best thing about this? And I'm a seller, so I can say this. Yeah. Most sales people don't wanna spend the time selling in this way because it's hard work. It's not easy. Right? Yeah.

And again, I've sold into transformational deals. It's freaking hard, right? When you're trying to get 15 people, you're you, it's the, it's the ebb and flow. You're like I'm there. And then all of a sudden you're. Oh, my God. I feel like I've gone back six months in a deal, right? Yeah. So it's hard work, right?

Yeah. It, it takes emotional energy to really care about your customers.

[00:32:57] Brent Adamon: I agree requires an emotional investment. Right. And, and particularly if I'm managing a pipeline, right. Managing a pipeline feels like a very tactical thing to do. Right. It's a very mechanical thing to, and by the way, it's important too.

So I'm not suggesting you don't need a pipeline. Don't need to make too. Right. But the, but, but there's certain, there's certain aspect of what we're talking about here. Luigi, it sounds like you're, you're like we're vibing on this. So I just, you kind of have to feel it. You have to like, if I'm going to help you feel, if I want to help you feel better about yourself, I gotta, I, I, I, your win is my win.

I feel better about myself when you feel better about yourself. And by the way, if you don't feel better about yourself, I don't feel good about my, I mean, there's, it's, it's kind of like a relationship you have to emotionally invest here and that's, that's not only hard. It's like, it's risky, right? Just like relationships can be risky.

Right. So it's, it's, I could see why people might get

[00:33:45] Luigi Prestinenzi: away from it. And I, I know because I've been at that point, right. Where I've invested this energy, right. I've invested my emotions. I've built great relationships. And then you get the, your call to say you haven't been successful when you're. Mate. I've just spent six months.

[00:34:04] Brent Adamon: right. I, I pre

[00:34:04] Luigi Prestinenzi: over jump on planes or whatever it looks like, and it hurts. Right. Just like a relationship breakup. It's like, oh, like I had this

[00:34:12] Brent Adamon: expectation. Yeah. What, what hurts more Louis? Is it when you're, is it when you're you, the person you're dating says we need to talk or when your customers calls and says, it turns out that right.

Those two phrase, we need to talk. And it turns out that are two of the worst phrases you can hear in this kind of world. Right. It's like, but it's true.

[00:34:28] Luigi Prestinenzi: And then, you know, what's also interesting is, and sometimes you see your champion, right? You see the person who built, so they're actually disappointed.

They feel, they're also feeling that sense of. Yeah, look, and you go, okay. And for me, that's an indicator I've just had, I've had this, I've just had this experience, right. So I can, I can tell it firsthand. I'm so sorry.

[00:34:49] Brent Adamon: It's become a therapy session though.

[00:34:51] Luigi Prestinenzi: but then you, you review and you know, why I found was I actually didn't invest the right level of time as well, influencing other people around the table, because what I'd found through, you know, because we had a great relationship, he was actually.

outvoted on the decision making for somebody else. Yeah. And again, for me, that was a bit of a okay. Luigi. Well, let's look, do a deal review as disappointed as I am. I need to go back and assess that. You know what? I didn't spend the required time with the people, or I didn't enable him to help them get the confidence in the decision.

Right. So it's on me. Yeah. It's not on them. So, you know, as difficult as it is.

[00:35:35] Brent Adamon: So think about it. Great is the complexity of the buying decision is so high and we're saying, oh, help your customer that cuz like, I don't wanna deal with that complexity either, but. That's why you all get to go to the gold coast or Cancun or wherever it is that your prisons club takes you is because you step up and raise your hand and say, I'm willing to Wade into that mess.

Yeah. And I'm willing to help my customer navigate what they themselves, in their own organization, declare that they are unwilling to do that. That's why sales. It's it is an not only an honorable profession that has my mad respect because it's freaking hard and, and not just like, like rationally, but emotionally and I, so yeah, I'm, I'm just agreeing with you now, but yeah, I hear you.

[00:36:14] Luigi Prestinenzi: Well, mate, this has been awesome. And as I said, I think we're gonna have to have a part two and possibly a part three for those listening, cuz I think there's so many topics that we connect on Brent. Yeah. But mate, now that you've move. You're doing a few things differently. Where is the best place for our listeners to find and connect with you?

[00:36:29] Brent Adamon: So a couple things. So I'm at this company called Ecosystems. The, the website is, at least for now, I realize for a non-US audience, that sounds kinda annoying. So we'll, we'll on that. So, but for now we're It is a software as a service platform, Luigi. That it's really interesting what you said about the other side of the desk and sitting with your customer, because what this is, is.

It it's a software platform that allows customers, suppliers, and customers to sit down and collaboratively, identify, discuss, examine the dimensions of value along which they wanna measure relationship, and then track that over time. So it is, it is exactly what you're talking about. This is why I'm here, because I just, when I see what this software can do, in terms of collaborative discovery, collaborative value management, It's super, super cool.

And, and it is sort of, it's a software embodiment of everything that I'm talking about. So right now it sits under this umbrella called value management. But I think it's actually much bigger than that, but watch this space when you live in a renewal world and you've gotta have that monthly conversation with your customers around, why is it worth them to come back and have it sign up for another month?

You need to be able to clear crystal clear on the value that they're getting in the first place. And the best way to figure that out with them is exactly what you said is to don't do that across the table. But to do that together on the same side of the table and the software at Ecosystems, which is where I'm now am it's, it's the only, it's the only vehicle I've ever seen to do that and do that well.

So we're, we're building, so I'm, I'm doing so basically I'm doing the same job. So 30 years in, and I'm still research I'm I'm researching. So my title is head of research and community. Yeah. So my job is to, to continue research in this world of buying and selling and value and to build a community around it.

So you'll find out, you'll find me on LinkedIn and you also on the. On the website, under the, of all places working on this too. But under the resources tab, there's a link to our customer value community and we have got a great robust slack channel and webinar here. So if people are interested in hearing about that or just hit me up on LinkedIn and I'll I'll point you to the right place.

[00:38:21] Luigi Prestinenzi: Well, awesome. So we'll put links in the show notes where everybody can find you. I'm gonna check this. I love for me. You know, the term value for me, I think is thrown around a lot in sales, but when you truly really think about it, so I'm gonna go and check this check AK systems out. But again, Brent, I just wanna say mate not just for myself, but I know, you know, there are thousands of people in our sales community that have benefited from your work.

So I just wanna say thank you mate, because, oh, thanks. You've helped me. You've actually helped me just through your book. Alright. And through your through the content that you, that you put out there, so. Very grateful for the contribution you've made to our community.

[00:38:56] Brent Adamon: Oh, well, thanks. And you know, it's it's, like I said, we're all in this together, man, and it's it's humbling. So cheers. Appreciate it.

[00:39:02] Credits: This show has been recorded remotely produced by Sales IQ Global, audio editing and music production by Stefan Malliate. Show notes by Victoria Mathieson and graphic design by Julie Marshall. Don't forget to leave a rating and review on your podcast player. And if you want to find more about the programs that we offer at Sales IQ, head to

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