Inception — make it their idea

Inception is the topic for today. Not the movie with Leo, but same idea.

Inception is putting an idea in a person’s head. Have you ever been sold something but later returned it? Well that’s what happens when an idea is forced into your head. It’s rejected like a bad transplant — it doesn’t stick.

How do you plant a seed that will grow into an idea?

Quick story: the other day I was ambushed at Juice Generation. A young Norwegian woman in business attire approached me and asked me a simple question about the bottled green drinks and its nutritional value vs. the fresh to order drinks.

Throughout our brisk chat, she qualified me (three times)

Her: “ Sorry am I totally intruding on you?” Me: “No”
Her: “What’s your diet?” Me: “I try to eat stuff where I know the ingredients so if anything closer to Paleo”
Her: Do you cook at home? Me: “I try to but often times just too busy and it’s expensive”

Wham Bam thank you, ma’am. She had me and I gave her all the ammunition she needed.

Too late to back out now, without hurting my ego, because honestly the only reason I wouldn’t buy now is:

1) I don’t have the money

2) I lied about being this healthy, Paleo diet, fitness conscious guy.

So I sucked it up and purchased a week’s membership. Honestly and I’m not just saying this because I got suckered — I got a great deal. I was getting my meals during this trial for $7 / dinner for some gourmet meals.

Fucking fantastic, so why was I did I cancel my subscription after the first week?

She forced it and It wasn’t my idea. She had perfect sales science and execution on her part, but it was not my idea.

No inception means it doesn’t stick. And in SaaS or subscription models it needs to stick.

Quick story: In the beginning of my selling career, I started off as a seller for a luxury brand targeting young professionals called Club Monaco. Within my first 2 weeks, I was the top sales person in the district. I continued that streak (on and off) for the next five years as I worked part time through college.

If I had to credit my success to any one thing, it was inception.

Now I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. It was just common sense.

I knew I hated how sales people talked to me. It was always something about a promotion or new deal and it involved following me around the store and trying to add more items to my checkout.

When it was my turn to sell, I did something different.

I offered suggestions on what other people were buying and popular trends.

I’d offer to call/text her when an item went on sale.

Go into the dressing room and give her honest feedback on her new fits.

I would genuinely care about the shopper’s confidence and self esteem leaving the store with the look THEY created (with my help).

Most people hate sales people and so you want to be the anti-sales person. Because of shitty sales people, most people now have their guard up so you want to bring that guard down.

People have two minds (analytical and reactive) —

  1. the cold lizard brain that has a run or fight instinct
  2. the brain that thinks big picture and makes decisions off impulse and emotion

(Guess who I want to sell to, Hint: it’s not the ice queen)

That means: If I tell you something, then you need to verify internally if it’s true. The problem is I have no idea what’s inside that brain and what filters you have that may be changing what you’re really hearing when I speak to you.

For example, let’s say your boss says to you

“I’m going home, need any help with extra work before I leave?”

Pretty harmless, right?

Unless you’re a person with a chip on his shoulders, then you might be thinking:

“He doesn’t feel I’m very capable of doing my job. Fuck that guy.”

You can’t know for sure without more situational information that you do not have the time to illicit. Again keep in mind: if they need to verify what I tell him, then it’s not inception. If however they think it’s their own idea, then it’s a indisputable fact for him and who likes to be wrong?

It’s amazing, so how do we do inception on a sales call?

Do you remember the anatomy of a sales call? If you don’t, here’s quick reminder: You have two things:

  1. Your tone (your presentation)
  2. Your pitch (the literal words you say)

To get the correct tone, you want to have the mindset that your job is to just run the prospect through a discovery call. Tell yourself “ I’m here to provide helpful information they need to make an informed decision that will drive value in their business. It doesn’t matter to me whether they buy or not.”

Have that mindset going into a call, and see if it doesn’t help you close more deals. For me, I personally know that if I can have enough of these calls with qualified companies to fill up my pipeline, then I have full certainty I’ll hit my rev targets.

In your pitch, here’s what you don’t want to do:

First, you don’t want details or numbers. Get them the fuck out of here! Think how you feel when numbers and details get worked into a conversation — you’re probably not making those impulse emotional decisions in that state, right?

Second, it helps in the intro of the call to let him/her know “this is just an introductory call, super high level, just going to let you know what we do, listen and hear what you do, and see if there’s potentially a fit. Just looking to see if the idea makes sense.

Finally, do not close. Don’t even go for the close or test close, because even if they love your idea like I did the Hello Fresh pitch — it’s not MY idea.

Important to note: don’t mention price (unless they explicitly ask for it).

If they ask for next steps, I’ll say

“I’m going to send you some notes on what we discussed and keep it super light touch. I’ll followup with you in a week or so and the balls entirely in your court.”

What we should examine is what happens behind the scenes now.

What’s happening is they really heard what I was saying. If the value is built properly, they will talk about it with their boss or coworkers (or spouse) and these people will probably ask some granular questions (and rightfully so!). The best part is, our prospect won’t have answers (as we kept it big picture) so who does he/she call?

I didn’t kill him with the details, so they’ll need to schedule another call. Now we have him where we want ‘em.

They are approaching me to setup another meeting , I know the questions they will ask because it’s the same questions every one asks. (see how that cold outbound lead turned into a hot opportunity?)

In any sales profession, your #1 advantage is you give the same pitch day after day and you receive the same objections day after day. So they come up with all these questions and you will be a total ace. You blow him away and now this is really looking like a good deal to him, because you have the “Local Star Power” and they trust you.

Most importantly it was “his” idea. This is when you can start closing.

On the third call or even in an email chain, you can say:

“Glad to be speaking with you again, were there any other concerns we need to discuss before we get started?”

Another way to say that is:

“Is there any reason we wouldn’t be able to go live (do a test) (go for a pilot), etc.”

Now some of you reading this might be thinking,

“But I told I should always be closing… you know ABC”

No, and the reason is that your “enemy” expects it, and we want to control the conversation and keep our enemy off balance.

Sun Zhu: “Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected”

Instead of the old mantra of “Always be closing”, I keep two other rules in mind:

  1. Manage the pipeline, not the opportunity
  2. You can’t be afraid to lose what you don’t have.

That’s the power of inception.

Make your prospect think it was his idea and he’ll champion the hell out of it for you.

What are your thoughts on the matter?