Vertical IQ’s latest eBook, entitled “Unlock Sales Readiness: Advice from the Experts,” is available now! Along with it comes valuable insights from Sales Readiness experts, and in this blog series, we will bring you some of the highlights from our conversations with each of them.

larry levine coverThe sales landscape is constantly evolving, and being “sales ready” is more important than ever. But amid all of the hustle and bustle surrounding competitive markets, there are a lot of important aspects of “Sales Readiness” that can fly under the radar – and can even be overlooked.

With the recent release of our new eBook, Unlock Sales Readiness: Advice from the Experts, we sat down with Larry Levine – author of Selling from the Heart and co-host of the Selling from the Heart podcast – to discuss Sales Readiness and what it means to him.

Larry began his career in the highly competitive Los Angeles market – a dog-eat-dog market, as he calls it – where he sold office technology for 28 years. In 2015, he shifted his focus to entrepreneurship, and by 2018, published his international bestselling book, Selling from the Heart. He also began his podcast with the same name alongside business partner Darrell Amy in 2017, which has seen ample success and can be tuned into every Saturday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or YouTube.

You also can check out the Selling from the Heart website here, which is rich in information and resources that will help you sell with authenticity and connect with customers on a more personal level.

Q: This may be the first time some of the eBook readers have an opportunity to “meet you” and get to know you. Can you tell us a little more about Selling from the Heart and the story and messaging behind it?

Larry: In 2015, I had a life-altering career moment: I found myself without a job at 50 years old. And it was at 50 years old that I decided I could do something else, so I jumped into the entrepreneurial ocean, not having ever done it before. I had never written a book, never publicly spoken in front of anybody, never started a podcast. But I wanted to broaden my message, and I was willing to try new things.

So, I got Darrell to agree to start a podcast with me under one condition: I had to come up with a really cool name. And I said, “We’ll call it ‘Selling from the Heart’,” upon which he replied, “I think you’re onto something.” The podcast was started on April 28, 2017 and has done very well, which helped me launch the book.

I’ve always brought my heart to what I do – I’m about building deep relationships with my clients, my inner circle, my friends – and I wanted to bring that to the sales world, doubling-down on it. Selling from the Heart is all about bringing sincerity, substance, the emotion, and the heart back into the sales profession, as well as walking with integrity – exhibiting high character.

Q: The topic of this eBook is “Sales Readiness,” and Sales Readiness might mean different things to different people. When I say that phrase, what does it mean to you? What comes to mind?

Larry: When I think of Sales Readiness, I believe it’s our responsibility to be sales ready and not rely on somebody else. Now, I say this as someone who grew up in a world where I didn’t have any of the modern tools at my disposal – so I had to plan, prepare, and practice in different ways. And I’m not here to discourage sales enablement by any means.

But what I ask everyone to think about is: How “sales ready” are you? What are you doing on a daily basis to prepare, plan, and practice? Where’s your accountability? Where’s your self-discipline? What are you doing to hold yourself to high standards when it comes to how you coach and train yourself, as opposed to relying on somebody else?

Again, when I think of Sales Readiness – it all starts with us as salespeople.

Q: How important is it to understand your prospect and their industry when going into conversations with customers and prospects?

Larry: We must be able to create equal business stature and speak the language of our decision-makers and influencers. We don’t have to be as fluent as they are – but it’s about getting on the right side of the table.

And if you want to get on the right side of the table, you have to understand the people you’re speaking with. What are their goals? What are their initiatives? What do they deeply care about? Share that you’ve been speaking with people just like them, and you’ve been solving issues for people just like them, or you’ve been helping people just like them create better situations. You have to deeply immerse yourself in being as knowledgeable as they are, and you have to be able to carry on a deep business conversation with business substance.

The only way you can do that is by understanding the roles and the language they use. And it’s not your language, it’s their language. That’s what they’ll identify with.

Q: You hear a lot of sales professionals talk about “winning,” as in, how they “win” sales. And so many salespeople seem to be focused on “winning” as the outcome of a sales opportunity. What are your thoughts on “winning” when it comes to sales?

Larry: Buyers today are a lot smarter than many salespeople think they are. And your clients are a lot smarter than you think they are. And they can sense really quick, as their B.S. meters are at an all-time high, especially when you’re leading with dollar signs as opposed to doing what’s in the best interest of your clients and prospects.

I don’t think you “win” a sale. I really believe that you “win,” or that you advance to the next stage, based on how well you open the very first conversation with somebody. I was never the world’s strongest “closer”; I despised the term “closing.” I just knew that if I opened the conversation the very first time in the right manner – and I made these people feel comfortable with me – it just became a natural progression of what’s next. And next. And next.

It’s the competitive nature of sales to “win.” We want to close, and we want to do all of this, but what I’d ask people to think about is: How do I establish? How do I create? How do I open up new relationships and advance them based on trust and credibility? And how do I continue to advance this conversation in a way that gets to a mutually agreeable state that says, “We’re the right fit, and I’m the right fit for you”?

Once you establish that, it’s easier to mutually agree on next steps. It just goes back to how we use the words and the messaging around winning and “closing.”

Q: You’ve often brought up authenticity and integrity when it comes to sales. Can you dive into what you mean by that a little bit more?

Larry: I always say authenticity is a lifestyle, not a light switch. As salespeople, we have to overcome the perception that the sales world has created, which is more negative than positive. I’m a big believer that if you want to build trust and credibility, it’s about connecting and relating to people in a human way.

One of the most notable and trustworthy professions out there is the nursing profession, the reason being they lead with their hearts, and they’re empathetic in nature. So in Selling from the Heart, we deeply believe that the way you build trusting relationships – the way you build trust and credibility – is understanding how to bring authentic relationships to the forefront and combine that with meaningful business value. So in every conversation that we have with somebody – whether it’s that very first conversation, the second, the third, or you’re very deep into the sales process – if you don’t establish some kind of trust and credibility in the very beginning, it is difficult to establish that later on.

We’re all humans. It just goes to show you how we’ve dehumanized the sales profession because we’ve made it about products. We’ve made it about our companies. And we often lead with more “commission breath” than anything else. But when you can connect to somebody’s heart and get them to open up by making them feel comfortable, I promise you this: They’ll open up their wallet.

>> You can read more of Larry’s insights in our new eBook by clicking here. Stay tuned to our blog for future installments of our “Advice from the Experts” Blog Series!

Image credit: Vertical IQ

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