Podcast

243 Beat The Bots with Anita Nielsen

Anita Nielsen serves as a trusted partner to C-Level Leaders providing business and sales transformation advisory services through her company, LDK Advisory Services.

Anita has over 20 years of experience, expertise, and business acumen in the B2B technology space. She is recognized as an industry thought leader and is the Author of “Beat the Bots: How Your Humanity Can Future-Proof Your Tech Sales Career” which was named one of Book Authority’s “Best Sales Books of All Time.

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Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Free Gift: High Impact Questions

Book:

Beat The Bots: How Your Humanity Can Future-Proof Your Tech Sales Career by Anita Nielsen

3 Key Points:

  • How the sales process is evolving today with humans vs bots. Are human salespeople in danger of being replaced?
  • In sales, what matters is YOU, being yourself.
  • Learn how to ask those High Impact questions that will land you a sale

Show Notes:

[4:29] I believe that this book, “Beat The Bots: How Your Humanity Can Future-Proof Your Tech Sales Career”, is like my love letter to the salespeople out there. Let’s get these things in your mind and win in the long term.

[6:54] The biggest salesforce tool is for you to always remember who you are and what you stand for.

[7:27] Be authentic and have a genuine desire to help your customers be more successful in whatever product or service that you are selling.

[12:52] When you work and earn your own money that’s when you recognize the value of money and what it takes to get it.

[14:03] I think there’s a natural way in a conversation where there’ll be a moment where that customer realizes that they have to make that purchase.

[15:39] I think when you’re selling yourself, you’re more vulnerable. And it’s different to feel like someone’s rejecting you. So I think there is probably some fear there. But once you know that, that fear is there, you know that you have to work around it.

[16:23] If you want to be successful, and if you want to do the things you love, you have to ask for it. So that’s kind of how I trained myself to do it.

[19:30] People buy on emotion and they rationalize it after the fact and they find reasons to justify that purchase.

[20:12] Ultimately what’s going to get that signature is that emotion, and that inspiration that has to drive them to make that positive buying decision.

Transcript:

For FULL Transcript click here:

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Christine Schlonski [0:01]
Hey Gorgeous. This is episode number 243 with the wonderful Anita Nielsen.

Anita Nielsen [0:08]
Hi, this is Anita Nielsen, you’re listening to Heart Sells! Podcast with Christine Schlonski. Enjoy.

Christine Schlonski [0:14]
I am so looking forward to an amazing conversation with Anita Nielsen today about a humanity and bots and how the sales process is going to evolve. And Nita Nielsen serves as a trusted partner to C-Level Leaders providing business and sales transformation advisory services through her company LDK Advisory Services. She has over 20 years of experience, expertise, and business acumen in the B2B technology space. Anita is recognized as an industry thought leader, and as the Author of Beat The Bots: How Your Humanity Can Future-Proof Your Tech Sales Career which was named one of Book Authorities the Best Sales Books of all time. I’m so super excited to have the conversation with Anita. So let’s get started. Well, I am so super excited to have, Anita, on the show today. Welcome.

Anita Nielsen [1:12]
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Christine Schlonski [1:14]
Yeah. I love the title of your book. We have to start with the book. Yeah. Because it really gives you the idea of humanity, so to speak of being human in the sales process. It’s called Beat The Bots. And sometimes we do feel at the sales conversation like the person is a bot, which is?

Anita Nielsen [1:37]
Yes, yes, yes.

Christine Schlonski [1:38]
And so the quality. Yeah, tell us a little bit about it, why did you have the idea to write the book like, what was the, maybe the challenge or the frustration that led to that piece of work?

Anita Nielsen [1:50]
I think there were many things, I’ve been working in sales and sales support all for many, many years. And I think over time I’ve seen the role change so much and the requirements and the needs of a salesperson have changed. Fundamental things haven’t but in terms of how much they need to know what they deliver? And technology has been a huge part of it. So as technology has gotten more sophisticated, traditional salespeople that aren’t doing something differentiating, they’re getting more and more scattered. And that on top of the fact that you read, I was reading several different pieces of research that said, you know, by 2028 50-million salespeople are going to lose their jobs, B2B salespeople, and I just got very annoyed with that. And I said that is not true. That’s not the full story. And so that just was always in the back of my mind. And then flash forward. I was doing a customer right along with one of my clients. I’m an embedded coach, so I get to actually go into their customer calls with them, which I love. And we finished the meeting. It went really well. We walked out of there we went to go have a drink. And so as we’re having a drink debriefing the meeting, there was a really good conversation with the sales rep, and I call him Neil. He’s also in the book, but as a couple more drinks came in. We started talking more about, you know, personally like, what’s our goals and things like that. And he, he shared with me, he really opened up and he said, I’m, he’s like, I’m nervous things are changing like, you know, robot can do what I do if I don’t do it differently. And he’d always been a high performer, he never had to worry about anything. And now, he was scared that he was gonna have to tell his wife who hadn’t worked in 10 years to go back to work. And I mean, that’s going to really hurt his confidence. Like psychologically, that’s a big blow as the provider so of course, hearing that and some of the other things that he was worried about in my empathy sensor just went crazy as like, oh, man, this is happening to all my guys out there, my gals, that salespeople that I work with and served. So that’s what finally motivated me to do it, to actually bite the bullet and go through the process of writing a book. And it took about a little bit over a year. But now looking back and getting the response and feedback from my audience, which is sales professionals. Now, I can say it’s all worth it. Going through it? I probably wouldn’t have said that, but now, absolutely can.

Christine Schlonski [4:01]
Yeah, well, I guess it’s the same writing a book then and then selling it’s like all these ups and downs. The yes, the maybe, how do you deal with it, like sticking to it and trusting that the process will somehow work out, right?

Anita Nielsen [4:17]
Exactly, exactly, and it did for me, right? It was just sticking to the process which that was a challenge for me anyway, sticking to the process, but it was, it was an educational experience, but it was also just a labor of love. I think for me, I’ve joked about it, but I truly believe this book for me is like a, it’s like a love letter to my salespeople out there that I worked with and even the ones I don’t work with, if you guys this is what you have to do, I want you to win in the long term. So let’s, let’s get these things in your mind and help you do that.

Christine Schlonski [4:42]
Yeah, I love it. And you know, speaking of like writing this love letters. One of you amazing readers and someone who follows both of our work that we are putting out is, Joon, and he actually also put us together.

Anita Nielsen [4:58]
Ooh! Joon, thank you so much!

Christine Schlonski [4:59]
Yeah. You’re a rock star. And so that’s why we can have the conversation because people share about their experience in such a beautiful way that it inspires others.

Anita Nielsen [5:11]
That’s right. And people love to hear from others, right? People love to hear from others what they’re using and what’s working for them. So it’s awesome that we were able to connect.

Christine Schlonski [5:19]
Yeah, totally. So when we talk about, like sales in general, because it’s not just the professional salesperson that needs support. It’s also all these entrepreneurs who are going into business for themselves and think they can make the world a better place with their wonderful gifts, and really enjoy freedom and lifestyle and you know, all the reasons why they went into business. And then they figure out, oh, all of a sudden, now I have to sell my offers. Like I have to sell my products and services. And usually, it doesn’t feel good because they are fearful of having to be like the pushy person or the person that uses all the tactics and strategies to get the sale into the door. Can you speak a little bit about those emotions? And what you have seen an experience and how people can actually have a better experience when they are selling?

Anita Nielsen [6:18]
Yeah, that’s right. I love that question. So, you know, for entrepreneurs, in particular, I think when we come out, I’m one too, and I’m a solopreneur. I guess that’s how you would call it and, you know, even if you’ve sold in the past, it’s still difficult because now you’re not selling a product. What you’re doing is essentially, you’re selling yourself, right, even if you’re the leader of a startup. Now we know that it’s the visionary that runs a startup that’s what sells the company, right. Everything else follows the process and, you know, sales professionals but I think that’s the, that’s the thing I would want people to remember is, you know who you are and what you stand for is your biggest salesforce tool. So use that don’t go in trying to be somebody else. Don’t go in and trying to follow some sales methodology that you read that’s 10 pages long. Don’t do it. Go in, be yourself. Let your passion as entrepreneurial, your passion that got you there, help drive the sales conversation and people, people love that, people want to hear that passion. And passion resonates right when you go in and you are reading a sales pitch that, that doesn’t resonate, the passion, the stories, all those things that matter. And I say even to sales professionals that are B2B tech, I say, guys, you have to, who you are and what you stand for, that’s what matters. And you have to find a way to take that and make it meaningful and valuable to your customer. So in either case, I think it boils down to authenticity, and a genuine desire to help customers be more successful through using whatever it is that you’re selling.

Christine Schlonski [7:44]
Yeah, I totally agree. So what would you say to people that might be in the position that they struggle and that they really need the, you know, finances that reward pretty fast because you know maybe in the sales position they haven’t sold for quite a while so their job is at risk. And then as an entrepreneur, well if you don’t sell the same thing it’s not your job but you have probably had to fire yourself and, or go for a job. What would you say about that shift of the mindset because it’s so much more difficult to them, come in and just serve and be yourself when you have all these concerns running in the back of your head?

Anita Nielsen [8:26]
Yeah, when you’re running a business there are thousand different things that you’re doing at any given point in time and I think for me, I kind of learned this a little bit the hard way so I started off on my own I’ll just share my story and I was doing everything I mean I got my first couple customers and I was loving serving them and then I was trying to build my website in the background doing it myself all DIY and, and then cut, you know, flash forward three years later, all my business was by referral, hundred percent, which was amazing. And I took all different kinds of business. But then I sat down, I thought, you know what, you don’t have a really good marketing strategy. Like it’s been a blessing that I’ve had these referrals and been able to get customer after customer. But it needs to be a lot more than that. And so, way far late in the process, I sat down and decided to work on those things. But what I realized quickly was, in order to do those, well, I had to outsource I had to hire people who were able to help me do that. Just like I asked people to bring an outside consultant in me to help them it was the same thing. So early on, I think it’s important to make those investments when you do have the cash because later on, you’ve got the hustle. It is, it’s 100% hustle, it’s making the calls, it’s reaching out to people, and it takes fire in your belly and you can’t get distracted from that. So you have to have a system in place early on and have people that know what they’re doing, do the things that you need, and you focus on what you’re really good at. And if you’re an entrepreneur, learn how to sell if you don’t already know.

Christine Schlonski [9:51]
Yeah, I think that’s one of the most important tools, even if you’re not an entrepreneur like if you really know how to sell you, you’d be better off in any situation.

Anita Nielsen [10:01]
That’s right. Everybody sells, and I look at my kids, they’re teenagers, they’re selling to me every other day, right? Like, there’s always something. But yeah, and then when you have those skills, which to me, at the end of the day, it really is people skills. I think, you know, that’s what it boils down to is the ability to communicate with people and to inspire people and motivate people. It’s all those things. And once you get good at those things, I think it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, you’re going to be able to sell it. And again, that’s a function of who you are and what you’ve learned along the way.

Christine Schlonski [10:27]
Yeah. So when you, when you look back in your life, do you remember the very, very first thing that you ever sold? Like not necessarily in a professional setting, like ever?

Anita Nielsen [10:38]
Yeah, so ever. Well I’m, I was one of these kids who everyone thought was gonna be a lawyer. So I was always trying to sell something. But I think probably the thing I remember most is when I was in high school, I worked at a retail. It was like a clothing, a women’s clothing store, and back then there was no internet, so people had to come in and buy their clothes there. And I was just doing it as a part-time job. But I think that was probably the first time when I realized that I’m selling, made me know at that point, it was just I’m going to be working at the store and doing a job. I didn’t realize that that was the act of selling. And I realized I was really good at it. So I think I was very lucky that my earlier experiences with sales were so positive because I think a lot of people who don’t do so well, in the beginning, give up on it. And I think it’s, it’s a profession where you have to kind of stay at it.

Christine Schlonski [11:26]
Yeah, totally. Yeah. It’s the consistency that makes it happen.

Anita Nielsen [11:30]
Yeah. And it’s, even in working in, and I look back on this now, even working in that retail environment. I had a different approach than the majority of the people they’re like they would, they would say, oh, can I help you? And I would see a customer reaching to, a certain dress, for example, I’d say the hanger doesn’t do that justice. You really need to try that on, right? And it was genuine. I wasn’t going in there to sell them. I was telling the truth. That this is, this looks much better on. And people respond to that. And so before I knew it, I was eating the people that were full time in that job. And it just was like, hey, I might be onto something here. But I wasn’t smart enough to recognize it then still. So I kept on going and ended up wanting to go to med school and all these. It took me a long journey to figure out where I belong, but here I am.

Christine Schlonski [12:14]
Yeah. Awesome. And do you remember the first time where you then received money? And how did it feel?

Anita Nielsen [12:22]
So the first time I received money was probably just before that in high school, I was a swim guard. And so I got my first paycheck. And it was amazing. I mean, my parents had funded everything in my existence till that moment, and it was $300 or something ridiculous for a month and a half. And, but that was the most proud moment because I knew that this was something that I put in the effort and work to get and it was mine. And it also shifts the way you think about money, right? When you earn your own money. Now it’s not so much, hey, Mom and Dad, can I go buy this? Now, is well, I work so hard for that so I really want to spend it on that. So that’s one of the things I’m looking forward to with my children is putting them to work, because I think that’s when you really recognize the value of money and what it takes to get it.

Christine Schlonski [13:02]
Yeah. That’s so cool. So it hasn’t been always that easy for you to ask for the sale because it came so natural?

Anita Nielsen [13:11]
Yeah, it’s hard for me to ask for the sale even today. Because again, for me, I’m a consultant, I sell myself. And so there’s always a moment where I’m like, this should be a no brainer for you now, by now, right? Mr. Customer was this customer, but I do have to ask for it. And so that’s something I’ve had to train myself on over the years because that, that wasn’t natural to me because I just go talk to someone and I’m selling I don’t even know I’m doing it, which is such a blessing, but also a curse, because then when you have to put discipline behind it, it takes a lot of work. And that’s the part that I’ve been working on most over the past couple of years.

Christine Schlonski [13:44]
Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. And so when you ask for the sale, do you think that is something everybody needs to do no matter how good they are?

Anita Nielsen [13:56]
I don’t. I don’t think that you have to. I think there’s a natural way in a conversation where there’ll be a moment where that customer realizes that they have to make that purchase. And it’s almost it’s like, they have to be able to answer certain questions. And I coach this to my sales professionals as well. You know, I’m a customer, I have to be able to say, with confidence, that I want to buy XYZ product because. I need to buy XYZ product now because I have to buy it from this sales professional because. so if you’re giving that person all the information to answer those questions with confidence, ultimately that sale will happen. But you have to have the flexibility to know that and recognize this is a customer that I might have to ask, as opposed to this is a customer that I know after our next meeting, it’s going to be done. So that takes some practice as well to be able to do that.

Christine Schlonski [14:44]
Yeah. Because I have seen in the past that people forget about, to ask, right? They have this wonderful conversation or they teach whatever they teach in their webinar, and then they don’t ask and people don’t even know that they have an offer.

Anita Nielsen [15:00]
That’s right. That’s right. And that, that happened to me. I mean, earlier on, it was like, I would go, I would go to a conference, for example, and I’d give my card and I talked to someone. And then I would think about it, why didn’t I just say, hey, let’s set up a meeting or, you know, why don’t, why don’t I follow up that way? But then I realized I was doing it. And then I said, okay, this call, you have to ask at the end of this call. And so you kind of train yourself, I think over time, but it is really important, and it’s easy to forget, and especially if you’re someone who is, who isn’t as confident doing something like that, and some people are born hunters, and they have no issue going in and saying that, but I think when you’re selling yourself, you’re more vulnerable. And it’s different to feel like someone’s rejecting you. So I think there is some fear probably there. But once you know that that fear is there, you know that you have to work around it.

Christine Schlonski [15:44]
Yeah. So how did you work around it?

Anita Nielsen [15:46]
I mean, it was just, tell yourself, it’s like you don’t have a choice. You chose this. You want to do this, you know that your message matters. So go, do it. I mean, go ask for the sale. And the other thing for me was, I knew that if I went in there with these customers, I would make them successful. That’s always my mission. And if there’s somebody who I talked to that I don’t feel like I can do that, and I’m kind of done with that conversation. I just won’t bother. And it’s, I’m good at really good at qualifying, right, I think at that point. But yeah, it’s just you have to tell yourself that this is what you do now. And this is your role. So if you want to be successful, and if you want to do the things you love, you got to ask for it. So that’s kind of how I train myself to do it.

Christine Schlonski [16:25]
Yeah, that’s so true. And I think that’s something we all need a reminder, well, sometimes. So we talked about high impact questions. I just love that. Can you share a little bit and then also, we will have a link in the Show Notes and the Resource section to actually get some high impact questions that you provide us. Why is it so important to have these questions in the first place?

Anita Nielsen [16:52]
So, High impact questions are interesting. I think whenever we go into sales, almost all of us learn when, the minute we carry the bag, we go to our first sales training. And it’s like, don’t ask closed-ended questions, you have to ask open-ended questions. We all know that but open-ended questions can be, they can help you get more than a yes or no. But they aren’t necessarily always going to get you a lot of information unless you’re strategic about it. So, for example, if I’m an IT technology salesperson, and I go sit down with a leader within a company, and I say, I could say something, like, who reports to you? Right, that’s an open-ended question. Now they’ve got to tell me, you know, and that would give me some answers. But if I did that differently, and I said, you know, help me understand your organization, your role in the organization. So now they’ve got to tell me who they are. They’ve got to tell me who they report to. They’ve got to tell me who reports to them. So it’s just thinking that way of how can I ask this different to get me something more. Now what ends up happening when you ask that kind of question is, emotions seep in. So if I ask someone, tell me about your role in this company? Immediately, I’m going to know whether or not they’re confident in their role, I’m going to know whether or not they feel like they have an adversary in the company, whether they feel like their boss understands them. And that is the gold, that is what I need to know to differentiate, I cannot differentiate anymore on just my company, my product, I have to differentiate on how I process that valuable information and turn it into something that matters to that customer. So that’s the difference higher-tech questions are designed to get you all the information you need, plus the emotion that colors that content.

Christine Schlonski [18:32]
And maybe we both know the answer, right? I just want to make sure we talk about it as well so the audience can really get the hang of it, so to speak. Why are the emotions so important?

Anita Nielsen [18:43]
Yeah, emotions are so important because people bought, people buy from an emotional place. I think there are so many different things that motivate individuals and you will absolutely have logical, rational components when you’re selling, but the emotion is the most powerful piece of it. I think that’s been proven time and again, however, you have to have both. At the end of the day, though, if you have to choose which one you really got to work hard on, that’s the emotional piece because you’ve got content, you’ve got specs, you’ve got features and benefits that you can tell that customer about. But if you don’t know who that person is, and whether or not they’re looking for a new job, or they’re, you know, trying to get a promotion, you can’t differentiate that’s the kind of knowledge you need. And people buy on emotion and they rationalize it after the fact they find reasons to justify that purchase.

Christine Schlonski [19:32]
Yeah, yeah, I love that. And it’s so important. I always say like the people buy you in the first place.

Anita Nielsen [19:38]
Exactly right.

Christine Schlonski [19:39]
Just the connection, the emotion and then they find the excuse in the logical things.

Anita Nielsen [19:45]
Yeah, exactly.

Christine Schlonski [19:46]
The product or service best for them.

Anita Nielsen [19:49]
Yeah, like when you buy something if I’m not going to go say to my boss and I bought this because I have a feeling it’s gonna get me a promotion. That’s why I’m making that decision. But I’m not going to tell my boss, my boss, I’m gonna say this is going to benefit the company by XYZ and our ROI is ABC. So there’s a, there’s a major distinction, but ultimately what’s going to get that signature is that emotion, and that inspiration that has to drive them to make that positive buying decision.

Christine Schlonski [20:12]
Yeah, and that’s so true for every person who wants to sell something doesn’t matter the product, we choose that technology because that’s the field you’re in. But that can, that happens for every single coach and healer, consultant, solopreneur. You got to figure out what the other person needs to be motivated.

Anita Nielsen [20:34]
That’s right.

Christine Schlonski [20:34]
Right? That means you have to understand the pain, you have to understand their WHY. And then if you can help them, if you have the right service, then you can show them how you can support them and getting over that hurdle.

Anita Nielsen [20:50]
Absolutely. I think even simple things like I’ve worked with customers in the past where previously when I was selling IT and you go in and you’d meet with an IT leader, and you could sense by asking these types of questions that there’s insecurity there, they’re insecure about their job, they’re worried about how they’re perceived. And so once I understand that then I know that my job is not just to sell my product, but it’s to give them the confidence and to show them that buying this product is going to help address that insecurity because they can feel the confidence that it is going to make them successful. So it’s very much to let me understand what their motivators are, and their emotions are and then find a way to talk about my product in that context and put it in a way that matters because of what that emotion is.

Christine Schlonski [21:34]
Beautiful. Well, thank you so so much. This was so much fun. And while I’m so excited to have you for another episode, so we can even go deeper, and I do have a ton of more questions. But I also want to drive people to the high impact questions that you will find in the Show Notes because they are so valuable when you read them, think about them and adjust it to your business, you will definitely get better results because you are asking in a different way that is more meaningful to the person who wants to buy. And then you can help them in making an informed decision. Because they now have everything they need. And they know it served them well.

Anita Nielsen [22:17]
Exactly.

Christine Schlonski [22:18]
Yeah. Thank you so much, Anita, for the interview.

Anita Nielsen [22:20]
Thank you. I’m so glad we finally did this. I’m so glad we finally did this. Thanks, Joon. Thank you.

Christine Schlonski [22:25]
Thank you, bye.

Christine Schlonski [22:27]
Well, there were so many golden nuggets in this episode, and I really hope, Gorgeous, that this has helped you, right? It’s different to sell for someone in comparison to selling for yourself being your own boss, and giving your gifts and services to the world. So I think I need to really get this across in a beautiful way of how we need to show up and how we need to recognize? There is a difference in selling. And definitely the more human, we can make the process, the better it is.

Christine Schlonski [22:59]
Hop on over to christineshlonski.com. Find the Podcast tab. And there you will find her episode number 243. And I also have her back. So check out 244 as well. And yeah, once you’re over there, you have the Show Notes, the Transcripts, all the Resources, and all the Links to Anita are just one click away. So hop on over to get your high impact questions. Also to have a link to Beat The Bots and to have a link to all of Anita’s social handles so you can actually connect with her. Thank you so much for having been here. Once you’re over at christineshlonski.com. And you found the Podcast tab, also Sign Up for the Empowerment Notes. That’s Empowerment right into your inbox, where you also get the updates on Heart Sells! Podcast with amazing speakers. And yeah, I also share some content that I usually do not share on social media. So see you over there. Thank you so much for listening. Have a wonderful day wherever you are in this beautiful world and I’m saying bye for now.

 

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