John Jantsch: Hello, welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape marketing agency podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Bob Burg. He is a sought after speaker at company leadership and sales conferences on topics at the core of his series of Go-Giver books. That’s what we’re going to talk about today, a new Go-Giver book called the Go-Giver Influencer: A Little Story About a Most Persuasive Ideas, so welcome back Bob.
Bob Burg: Hey thanks John, always great to be with you.
John Jantsch: We were talking before we got started, this is fourth in this series and the third one that is a parable.
Bob Burg: Parable.
John Jantsch: I’m always intrigued by the story format because I actually think it’s harder to do well and how have you felt the parable has served you?
Bob Burg: Well I agree it is harder, and so I got very lucky by knowing John David Mann. He was the editor and chief of a magazine I used to write for years ago. When the idea hit for the Go-Giver in making it into a parable I asked John right away if he would be the lead writer and storyteller. I’m a how-to guy, but yes I agree with you. It’s worked out well because I think parables, being stories, I think stories connect on a really heart level. I think we can have a premise that we want to get across and when it’s put into story form I think people just relate to it. I know I love reading business parables, and I just grow so much from reading them so yes.
John Jantsch: Well and I think, like a true story, you can have a bad guy and you can have tension. You can have things that maybe keep it a little more interesting than some of the how-to stuff can.
Bob Burg: Exactly, yes.
John Jantsch: In this book we’re introduced to two main characters and kind of setup maybe the conflict that they have that you’re really trying to resolve in this book.
Bob Burg: Sure, well one guy Jackson he’s an entrepreneur and he’s kind of a reluctant entrepreneur, but he’s good at something, has a love for something, but really not a lot of business savvy, and doesn’t realize that that’s two different things. Despite himself he’s been able to sort of build up a following with this brand of delicious, really healthy dog and cat food. Then there’s his counterpart, Gillian, who is the buyer for a huge chain of pet supply stores. He would obviously like them to carry his line in all their stores but they really want his food because it’s really growing and they want to get there before the competition.
It would seem like a match made in heaven, but it turns out to be anything but that. You’ve seen that happen right. Every conversation, rather than getting closer to a solution, they seem to grow further apart and neither one can understand the thought process of the other and it’s just maddening to them. They individually both come upon a couple of mentors who sort of then guide them through the process, and there’s even a twist when it comes to that as well.
John Jantsch: That’s actually one of the things when I was reading through it, the title is Influencer, the Go-Giver Influencer, but I think what’s interesting is it’s as much about being influenced as it is about influencing, or at least that’s how I read it. I think in my career some of the people that have influenced me the most probably didn’t even realize it.
Bob Burg: Oh I think that’s probably true, with me as well because we tend to … As we often say that, in a sense, influences is about what you say, but more important than what you say of course is how you say it. Even more important than what you say and how you say it is who you are. That’s really where character comes into play. We’re so influence by people’s characters that we just want to either emulate them, and I think Jim Rohn once said, “From some people we learn what not to do and from others we learn what to do.” I think that’s true, but when there’s a person of high character that we are able to observe, wow we can learn some great lessons and become a better person. Yes, they often don’t even realize it.
John Jantsch: I would say that they’re not even trying to influence.
Bob Burg: Right, oh exactly.
John Jantsch: I mean and I think that’s a big part of this because we’ve all seen people who are trying to influence us. Sometimes that actually has a negative appeal.
Bob Burg: Yes, especially when there’s an attachment to doing so, yes exactly.
John Jantsch: I’m curious in the parable process, do you sit around kind of like a fiction writer might and say, “Oh I know, we’ll have it be a pet chain and then we’ll do this.” Do you kind of map all that out before you start going or did that just kind of come to you as you were writing?
Bob Burg: That we knew, we wanted to do some kind of story that involved animals. John and his wife and both big animal lovers and I’m an animal fanatic. Yes, we wanted to do something in that line. You know it was really cool because we both love animals and entrepreneurship is a love of both of ours and the whole thing, and so it was great to be able to put that all into the story.
John Jantsch: You ready for the loaded question?
Bob Burg: Sure, actually no I don’t know if I’m ready or not but I will do my best and I’m just glad we’re friends.
John Jantsch: Is this a sales book?
Bob Burg: I think only in the way that everything in a sense is sales. When you think of selling an idea, whether you’re selling a product, a service, an idea, a philosophy, a way of being. See I look at sales as a good thing. I look it as a positive thing. I see articles by people that say, “Sell without selling,” or “Don’t sell, serve.” Well I believe selling is serving. Is it sales? Yes, and I like that.
John Jantsch: Well and I think when you add the word influence because I mean you think about how you can apply that. I mean I hope that I’ve had a positive influence on my children just by them watching how I’ve gone about my business, and so I think like you said, you bring that into every situation possible.
In this book, let’s go back to … We could talk in generalities about this idea, but in the book where do the characters go wrong?
Bob Burg: Well they’re both so involved in their own dramas and in their own wants that they’re really not taking the other person’s needs into consideration. Isn’t that really what we see at the basis of all sales failure?
John Jantsch: Sure.
Bob Burg: John I know you speak at a lot of sales conferences and conventions, and a lot of times when I do I’ll start out by saying, and I don’t say this in a dogmatic fashion, but in kind of a joking way. I’ll say, “Nobody is going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet.” They’re not going to buy from you because you need the money and they’re not even going to buy from you because you’re a really nice person who thinks they should have this. They’re going to buy from you only because they believe that they will be better off by doing so than by not doing so. That’s why we, as the salesperson, as the influencer, the persuader, what have you, we’ve got to understand that when it comes down to it it isn’t about us, it’s about discovering what that other person needs, wants, and desires. Then we can match the benefits of our product or service or our idea or whatever with what they need, want, and desire, and that’s the only way they’re going to make that decision.
John Jantsch: It’s a really common theme and you address it in the book. A lot of times I think when people negotiate there’s always like well you’re going to have to compromise, or somebody’s going to have to compromise to make this deal, and how does that get in the way?
Bob Burg: Yes, well certainly there’s a time and place for compromise but we don’t want that to be the first option for someone. One of the characters in the book, Coach George, tells Gillian, his protégé, that compromise comes from the Greek word for nobody actually gets what they want. Now it probably doesn’t really come from that word but maybe it should because I think compromise, by it’s very nature, is lose lose. Both sides are giving up something in order to appease the other person or get things done. What we want people to go for is collaboration, not compromise. Collaboration means you’re expanding the pie for everyone. The key in this is that we want people to get the results they want when dealing with others, and in such a way that everyone comes away a winner. That we can get the results we want while making that other person feel genuinely good about themselves, about the situation, and about you.
John Jantsch: We’ve all had the experience of buying a car, and it doesn’t always happen this way but the cliché is you want it, you want it for this price but you get emotionally attached to that red little number out there, and all of a sudden you’re getting taken you feel like almost because you’re so emotionally involved. You talk about that component a lot. I mean a lot of negotiations get derailed because people can’t stay calm.
Bob Burg: Right, and that’s why the very first principle that is shared is to master your emotions. The Sages asked, “Who is a mighty person?” And answered, “That person who can control their own emotions and make of an enemy or are they potential enemy of friend.” This is where it all begins John because it’s only when we’re in control of our emotions that we’re even in a position to take a potentially negative situation or person and turn it into a win for everyone involved. On the other hand, when we allow someone based on what they say or do to push our buttons in such a way that we become agitated or angry or whatever, now only are we not part of the solution, we’re just as much a part of the problem if not more so than they are. Yet, how often do we do that, or buy something because we feel an emotional pull even though we shouldn’t? The reason why comes down to the fact that we’re human beings and we are emotional creatures.
We’d like to think we’re logical and to a certain extent, of course, we are but we’re pretty much emotionally driven. We make major decisions based on emotion and we back up those decisions with logic, or we rationalize which simply means we tell ourselves rational lies. We do that to justify that decision that we either shouldn’t have made or what have you. Here’s the thing, when we say master your emotions we don’t mean deny your emotions, we don’t mean forego your emotions. That actually would not be logical because we are emotional. It means you need to control your emotions rather than your emotions controlling you, or as one of my great mentors [Donde Scumache 00:11:40] puts it, “By all means take your emotions along for the ride, but make sure you are driving the car.” That’s really the key.
John Jantsch: One of the things I’ve seen over the years is a lot of times in a selling situation maybe there’s some tension because you really want the deal or you think you do at least. You know what I’ve seen many times is when you start mastering your emotions you actually start asking the hard questions that might kill the deal but for the better of everybody. I think that that’s where I’ve seen it really go wrong for people.
Bob Burg: Yes, and it all comes down again when you’re operating out of a logical base, even though you know that emotions have something to do with it. One of the characters, the judge, tells Jackson, “Make believe that you’re a company. You’re a company and you have a board of directors, that’s your emotions. You have a CEO, that’s your logical mind.” Now the CEO certainly takes the advice of their board of directors right, but the decision needs to be made by the CEO, the logic part. That’s how you know you’re on the right track.
John Jantsch: My father was a long time, back when people got in their car and went around and sold to town square, that kind of sales guy. Excuse me, and he used to always tell me that the biggest sales skill is empathy. Instead of showing up and saying, “Here’s what I want,” that you got the sale by being better at listening to what they wanted. You address that directly. I didn’t write the quote down but something about the better listener wins was the gist of it. You want to talk about that?
Bob Burg: Well yes, and there’s two aspects. One is, as George told Gillian, when you listen to someone don’t just hear, don’t make it just a physical act. Listen with your entire body. Actually what he says is, “Listen with the back of your neck.” Actually John came up with that and I had to have him explain that to me. Once he did it’s now become one of my favorite sayings. Try to practice this sometimes, and I wouldn’t do it with a perspective customer or client. I would do it first with a family member or a friend. When you’re in a conversation really lean into the listening, not just physically but emotionally. Listen with your arms, listen with your legs, listen with the back of your neck, actually get your entire being into listening to this person.
First of all watch how much better of an understanding you have for what they’re really feeling and watch how much they appreciate that and they can tell. When it comes to empathy and the definition of such is the identification with or vicarious experiencing awe of another person’s feelings. It’s a great definition but the challenge with that is we don’t necessarily know how that other person feels. We come from different belief systems, different ways of looking at the world. I don’t think empathy means you need to know exactly how they feel. I think empathy is communicating that you may not understand exactly how they feel but you understand they’re feeling something, and that this something may be problematic, may be distressful, may be what have you and that you are there to work with them. It might be, again going back to what you said earlier, it might be what you say but it also might just be the presence you have, that resonance with them.
John Jantsch: Yes, in a lot of selling environments I mean let’s face it, the objectives are I want your money and the other objective is I don’t want to spend any money. We start off quite often in completely different camps. I have discovered over the years being willing to ask, “Well what would that look like? Why? Tell me more about that.” Is really kind of how you get there because I do think a lot of people are sometimes a little guarded or if you’re in a situation where you couldn’t have empathy because you don’t know that much about that person. I think we have to be willing to ask what maybe feel like uncomfortable questions.
Bob Burg: Oh absolutely, and you know we need to ask those questions and we need to listen and listen not just to be able to have an answer as much as listen just to really be able to understand that person and get what they’re coming from.
John Jantsch: One thing you do in the book that I think is kind of a neat vehicle. You have the story of course, but then at the back of the book you have a discussion guide, so it might be like a group might use as a discussion guide. Then you have a Q&A with the authors. I’m curious if that’s something that you’ve done in the past? I didn’t notice it if you had but I found it really useful.
Bob Burg: Well the first printing of the original Go-Giver we didn’t have that, but then when we brought it back we did an expanded edition. The story stayed the same but we brought it back with a discussion guide and a Q&A because we found that so many people were using the book, whether in schools, as part of religious discussions, within companies, on sports teams, all these different places and there were a lot of times when we would hear from these people that I kind of felt that maybe we needed to give a little bit more of a deeper explanation of what we meant. In a story you can only say so much, and so then came back and did that with the Go-Giver, with the Go-Giver Leader, and then for this one the Go-Giver Influencer we decided to do the same thing. We think that’s going to be helpful again with book club discussions and other types.
John Jantsch: Especially like you said in the parable, I mean there’s some metaphor that is necessary. Being able to then maybe spell it out for somebody is going to help somebody appreciate it, understand it, go deeper in it. I thought it’s a neat technique.
Bob Burg: Thank you.
John Jantsch: One of the things I kind of want to end with is because I think this might sum up a lot of what you’re getting across here is that true influence is more about pulling influence rather than pushing. I don’t know if it’s even very subtle, but I think it’s certainly counter to what a lot of people interpret influence as.
Bob Burg: We like to say that influence, the essence of influence is pull as opposed to push. You never hear someone say, “Wow, that Dave or that Mary, she is so influential. She has a lot of push with people.” She sure is pushy man, that is just great. No, she has a lot of pull and I think that’s what influence is, it’s pull. It’s an attraction. Great influencers attract people first to themselves and then to their ideas, sure.
John Jantsch: Bob where can people find out more about the book and your work, really all of your work?
Bob Burg: Thank you, they can visit the GoGiver.com without the hyphen. The GoGiver.com and on the home page it will have the new book and they can just click on that. It will take them to where they can get two chapters if they’d like and read those, and if they like where it’s headed they can click right through to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or get the book wherever books are sold.
John Jantsch: That’s right, well by two chapters you will clearly have them hooked.
Bob Burg: Thank you.
John Jantsch: Well Bob thanks for joining us. As always it’s great to speak with you and hopefully we’ll see you soon someday out there on the road.
Bob Burg: John I love the work you do. I’m one of your biggest fans my brother.