How to negotiate like a boss, with Chris Voss
Devin Reed: Welcome to Reveal: The Revenue Intelligence Podcast, powered by Gong. We're your hosts, Devin Reed-
Sheena Badani: And I'm Sheena Badani. Revenue intelligence is a new way of operating based on customer reality instead of opinions, making data- driven decisions based on facts instead of opinions or guesswork.
Devin Reed: It's made up of three success pillars, people intelligence, deal intelligence, and market intelligence, you know, the things all revenue teams need and care about. Every week, we interview senior revenue professionals and share their stories and insights on how they leverage revenue intelligence to drive success and win their market.
Sheena Badani: You'll hear how modern go- to- market teams win as a team, close revenue with critical deal insight, and execute their strategic initiatives; plus all the challenges that come along with it.
Devin Reed: What's going on, everybody? If you are listening to this on Monday, I hope that you're enjoying your Memorial Day break. Whether you're out of town on a much- needed vacation, maybe you just went and visited your in- laws, or, inaudible, maybe you're just hanging out on the couch taking the day off; I hope you're enjoying it. And while we're talking about Memorial Day, I want to give a big thank you to anyone who has served and who has made a sacrifice. We do want to take time to remember why we get the day off. It's very important. And if it's not you that's served, but maybe someone in your family, your inner circle, pass along the gratitude from the Gong team. We really are gracious. And for Memorial Day, we are bringing back our most popular interview ever, and that is with none other than Chris Voss. If you don't know who Chris is, he is a world- famous FBI hostage negotiator. How's that for a mouthful? But he's also a New York Times bestselling author for the book titled Never Split the Difference. He's also got the most viewed MasterClass. If you're familiar with the MasterClass series, his session on negotiating is the all- time most viewed. So he's quite popular. As you can probably tell, I'm a fan. So if you're familiar with any of those pieces of content that I just mentioned, you're in for a real treat. You're getting some behind- the- scenes extra footage here. And if you're not familiar with them, don't jump. You're really going to enjoy it. This will be a great intro into some of his fantastic hostage negotiation tactics and stories. You're going to get both some great entertainment here, as well as things you can take and use in your personal life and in your sales approach. So, again, hope that you're enjoying your Memorial Day break, and let's go hang out with Chris Voss. Chris, we are very grateful for your time. Thanks for joining us on Reveal today.
Chris Voss: Yeah, it's my pleasure. I'm happy to do so.
Devin Reed: I'm sure you hear it all of the time. You've got some big fans here. We've read the book, watched your MasterClass, now I get to meet you in person. So I got to say, it's a big day for us.
Chris Voss: You need to have higher goals.
Sheena Badani: Well, based on the input that we got from Celebrate, I think it is a goal for many, many folks to meet you. For those who are listening, we had a little happy hour with Chris also, and there were many attendees who were holding up Chris' book during the happy hour, which was pretty fun to see that too.
Chris Voss: That was fun. It was a lot of fun to be with you guys. As I said, based on the times on those, too early for me, I was just drinking water.
Sheena Badani: Yeah. Same here. Well, let's get into a little bit of your personal story, you have a really interesting career and journey. But tell us your story around how you built your career around negotiations?
Chris Voss: Yeah, it really came out of left field for me. I was a SWAT guy, I was a SWAT in the FBI; which is crisis response. I've always liked crisis response because it forces decision- making. Indecision is the bane of mankind's existence, if you ask me. And crisis, you got to make a decision. So I was on SWAT, but I had a recurring knee injury and I wanted to stay in crisis response. So we had negotiators, I thought, " How hard could that be? I talk every day. Negotiation, that's talking right?" It's a lot more complicated than that, but that's what got me started on it. And then when I got into it inaudible, the ability to influence people. What really blew me away was I was initially rejected to become a negotiator because I was eminently unqualified. But the person that I said, " Okay, how do I become qualified?" I got a good answer. There's a saying, " Never take advice from somebody you wouldn't trade places with," or another version of that is, " Don't take directions from somebody who's never been where you want to go." Well, the head of the negotiation team in New York, she's going to tell me how to get on the team, I'm sure as heck going to listen to her. What she was shocked by... I remember when I told her I'd followed her advice to volunteer on a suicide hotline, and literally she said, " You're kidding? I tell people that all the time. Nobody ever does it." But I got on the hotline and they said, " You're going to get people to a good place in 20 minutes or less." And I remember thinking, "You got to be kidding me? You're not in the movies, they're on the phone with people for hours." And then I thought, " Wow, if you can hack the process with these skills in a crisis, what can you do in normal situations?" And when I did this way back when, we didn't know it was just emotional intelligence, that's all it is, and it applies to everything you do. So that really got me started on it. Then I literally started changing my approach to everything I was doing because I like saving time, let me get to the answer quicker. So that was really what got it all started.
Sheena Badani: Do you think that you were born with some specific skills that make you an amazing negotiator? What percent would you say is train versus born with it?
Chris Voss: That's a great question. I don't know if you remember the movie Man on Fire with Denzel Washington?
Devin Reed: Yeah.
Chris Voss: And by the way, Denzel has played me, in one version or another, in several movies. He doesn't call. He doesn't write. I don't get invited over to the house. Doesn't buy me a drink. Nada. But he's bodyguarding this little girl and he's trying to coach her into being a better swimmer. And she says, " I'm not any good at this." And he said, " There's no such thing as good, there's only trained and untrained." And I'm pretty close to agreeing with that. Academically, a guy named Daniel Coyle wrote a book called The Talent Code. And Coyle contends that, other than height, everything is trained. Everything. So what does that have to do with me? I think if I possessed anything, it was coachability. I think I'm coachable. I want to learn how to do something better, how to keep a problem from reoccurring. You can deal with the problems you imagine might happen or you can deal with the problems that are happening. Because if they are happening they'll reoccur, so let's be proactive. And I think I'm coachable and I want to be proactive. And great negotiation is about, really, just being proactive in your conversations and getting everybody into a better place sooner.
Devin Reed: That's interesting. I have to ask, are you a trained author or writer? Because your book, Never Split the Difference, is a New York Times bestseller and it also quickly became a staple in the sales community. So is that something that you practice for? Or what motivated you to write it?
Chris Voss: All right. You're going to get a lot of platitudes out of me, all right? And this is one of them, " You want to go fast, go alone. You want to go far, go as a team." I pulled together a team to write the book. It took me a while to get there, but the book is ridiculously well- written because of my co- author, Tahl Raz. Tahl is a genius business book writer. I don't know that I would read a poem that he wrote, or a limerick, " There once was a young maiden named Sally..." I don't know how that goes. I don't know Tahl could do that. Tahl writes the best business books on the planet. Every book he touches is a New York Times of Wall Street Journal bestseller. And the cliché was, go to the book store, find the book that you would like to emulate, hire that guy. And I had read Never Eat Alone, which Tahl wrote with Keith Ferrazzi. It's one of the best business books on networking ever written. It should be on your must- read list. And I was just blown away at how well- written it was. So after going through four other writers, I finally decided... take my own advice... I reached out to Tahl, we pulled him into the project and he wrote a phenomenal book.
Devin Reed: And what motivated you to share your story and your background?
Chris Voss: Well, it was two things. First of all, as soon as I left the bureau... if you're a consultant and you haven't written a book, people go, " You must not be any good because you haven't written a book." And they also say, " If you are any good, why haven't you written a book?" Now, my son and I were really working together. My son is the uncredited co- author. And you'll hear some more, because I know you guys are going to ask me about whether or not we got another book coming out. But we worked together until we decided that we had the system from A to Z. I left the FBI, I started teaching at Georgetown in the business school. And my son was involved every step of the way. And when we felt like... after doing that for about three years, and the business school students had been applying our concepts in the real world negotiations for three years... now we got a book. And that's when we started the process, pulled a team together; Steve Ross was the agent. He was a great agent, he got us to Harper Collins. We got Tahl Raz onboard. You pull together a team and you go a long way.
Devin Reed: Myself and others are glad that you did. And you kind of called it out, but should we expect a sequel?
Chris Voss: Yeah.
Devin Reed: Maybe you're going to get a hold of Denzel and he'll finally play you officially in the movie? What do we expect next here?
Chris Voss: I keep mentioning this in interviews, and eventually I figure the phone's going to ring, that he's going to say, " Stop giving me a hard time." But yeah, we're working on... between what we've learned since the book came out and how we've evolved some of the ideas. We got a book that should be coming out in May of 2021. Collaboration with my son, me, another gentleman we've been working with, Jonathan Smith. Because Jonathan was saying, " Look, I get most of this but here are the holes in it, for me. Here's what I'd recommend you guys address." So the subtitle of the book is going to be The Missing Manual for Never Split the Difference. And it's going to be a collaboration with me, and two non- hostage negotiators, about how regular people make this more accessible.
Sheena Badani: Chris, you're going to have to put Devin and myself on that early access list for that book, please.
Chris Voss: Yeah. Can get a competitive advantage, right?
Devin Reed: Absolutely.
Sheena Badani: Exactly. I have to ask, how many copies of your book have been sold? I'm curious how many people you've touched through your story and through your tips?
Chris Voss: Domestically, as of last June, just the Harper Collins sales... which doesn't include the 30 overseas publishers... we were at 1. 4 million.
Devin Reed: Wow.
Sheena Badani: Wow.
Chris Voss: My guess is, rough ballpark, the overseas is probably another 200,000 or 300, 000 on top of that. So globally, probably about 1.6, 1. 7 million.
Sheena Badani: That's amazing. And that doesn't even count folks who've benefited from your MasterClass and videos and all of that. So thank you for doing that for everybody that can benefit from what you've already learned through your career.
Chris Voss: Yeah. The MasterClass was cool, got a big kick out of doing that. And they're a phenomenal partner and they did a really good job pulling that instruction together. Here's what's the coolest thing about the MasterClass: it skews heavily towards women. And by and large, that's the only environment, venue, if you will, that skews towards women. The book sales, conferences, our YouTube channel, our subscribers; heavy, heavy, heavy in the direction of men. Since women pick this up faster than men do, that's always been annoying to me. Because if there are natural skills, women possess them for negotiation. Women pick this emotional intelligence based negotiation up faster than men. I think, for whatever reason, their high end potential is higher than me. And I'm like, " Awesome." Women are perfect clients, customers. And we struggled to crack the code of getting women to buy the product. But in MasterClass they love it, love it, love it, love it, love it. And when we got that feedback from MasterClass, not only was MasterClass blown away by it, but we were kind of like, " At last."
Sheena Badani: Yeah.
Chris Voss: Because this just going to make the world a better place.
Sheena Badani: All right everyone, in every episode we have a data breakout; a quick sidebar to look at the data. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is directly tied to success as a negotiator. Chris mentioned that, in his experience, women tend to pick up EQ- based negotiation skills faster than men. Here's some additional data to back that up. A study by the Korn Ferry Hay Group found that women outperform men in 11 of 12 emotional intelligence competencies; including coaching and mentoring, organizational awareness, and adaptability. Of course, that doesn't mean that men can't have high EQ or that women can't continue to develop their own EQ. As Chris mentioned earlier, the key is to focus on training rather than relying on natural talent. Stay tuned to the micro action at the end of the episode for tips to help you boost your own emotional intelligence. So you have an organization, Black Swan Group, where you train companies and teams on negotiation skills. What's been most surprising to you and your team as you coach these companies on business skills, sales skills; as related to negotiation?
Chris Voss: And we focus more on high performance individuals than we do on companies. A lot of companies have culture problems. That was one of the points in Coyle's other book, The Culture Code. And I think he threw out the stat that only 6% of corporate executives actually know their company's core values, which is horrifying. I mean, that's horrifying. But it is, you can't change what is. And what does that mean? That most companies, their internal cultures are mediocre at best, which makes them not great clients; unless they have defined their culture as a learning culture. Which the Black Swan Group is a learning culture, we prize getting smarter. If they walk the talk, also. And a lot of companies will say, " Well, it's on you to make yourself smarter." Because the CEO took it upon himself to make himself smarter, and he's like, " If I did this, you got to do it." And that is not the way to run the ship. You got to really nurture people and really encourage them to get smarter, and live it. So we focus on individuals. Now, the original question was: what's surprising to us? We're coaching a lot more than I ever expected us to be. When I first started out I just thought we would train companies, I didn't think we would go after top performers versus going after companies. And I figured we would just train people and that'd be it and they would run with the ball, or whatever cliché you want to go with; we'd hand them the baton and they would run. And that is not the case. High performers and coaching people... if they're coachable, then high performers are coachable. And they will come to us and we will get them on track really fast. I got some great coaches on my team. Derek Gaunt is our best coach, and he is a superstar. Derek will help you unravel a ridiculously complicated negotiation and set you on to win in short order. And, to me, that's been really cool.
Devin Reed: When you say top performers or high performers, Chris, are these individuals at a company or maybe business owners coming to you on their own? Or are these companies saying, " Hey, here's my top performer, make them better"? Or maybe both?
Chris Voss: It's individuals coming to us. Now, the second thing, that's really interesting. I mean, I would love for companies to designate their top performers but I think most companies are so scared of leaving people out.
Devin Reed: Sure.
Chris Voss: That they would be like, " Ah, we can't designate our top performers because somebody else is going to feel left out, and then they're going to claim it's a hostile environment." I mean, the problematic nature of all of that is it's a mess, I mean, it's hard. I would love for companies to send us their top performers. I don't know how they'd pull that off. But no, it's top performers, top performing individuals, CEOs, presidents. We'll get people who are on their way to being in charge. I can remember we had a woman come for our training one time, and she is a superstar in the making and very fair- minded, so it made such an impact on her ability to contribute. She goes to the head of sales and head of sales was like, " Yeah, maybe." And I get on the phone with her and the head of sales, and he's just a bad leader. I mean, he's a bad leader. And we didn't want the business because, based on his leadership, they were not going to implement what we needed. And I don't need them blaming us for their failure to execute. And I sent him an email to that effect afterwards saying, "Thanks, but no thanks." As a condition for us working for them he said, " I want you to introduce me to people who will give me private testimonials." And my answer was, " We guard our client's confidentiality too closely to give that up just because you want it." And he said, " Well, how do I know that you can train us?" And I thought, " Your top salesperson came to you and told you that her success, her breakthroughs, are due to what we train. So if you're stupid enough to disregard your guidance from your top salesperson, you are not going to listen to me." So I said, " No, we're not doing this." And she sent me an email saying, " I think I know why you fired us. But I'm curious, would you please tell me?" And I sent her back an email saying, " You will be... not just the head of sales one day for a company... you will be the head of a company, you got that much talent. And where you're working right now is not that place. And that's exactly why. So when you're in charge, come back and we'll teach your team. But while you're still working for someone who's that inadequate of a leader..." and I realize that I'm making the story out that it's a man, men do not have the market cornered on incompetency. I worked with a female cop a long time ago and we were talking about men and women on law enforcement, back when people were having those discussions. And she said to me, " I have no illusions about the competency of all women, nor the incompetency of all men." And I thought, " That's a great approach." So men do not have the market cornered on incompetency. But this guy was a poor leader. And it could have been a women, it just happened to be a guy this time. We were not interested in doing business with this company.
Sheena Badani: I mean, it kind of sounded like this was a real life negotiation and you had to know when to step back, like no deal, you were fine with no deal with this firm.
Chris Voss: Amen. Amen. Yeah, absolutely. If you're going to be a pain in the neck as a customer, our chances for overall failure are high, than if somebody else who's not going to be a pain in the neck and we'll succeed together.
Devin Reed: For the teams, Chris, that do make it through the gauntlet, Mr. Voss accepts them as a client, and you start training these sales teams, what are the biggest mistakes that you see them making when they come to your training? The worst habits or the things you're like, " Let's start there, because that's got to go"?
Chris Voss: If they're yes addicts; most people are. The most famous negotiating book in the world, probably still, to this day, is Getting to Yes. Every academic, there isn't anybody teaching a negotiation course anywhere, in any institution, that I've ever heard that doesn't assign Getting to Yes. I mean, I think they think they have to. They're scared not to. But there's this idea that yes is success, that yes is nirvana. Robert Cialdini wrote a book called 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Get To Yes. Before I knew any better, I bought that book. So everybody thinks yes is success. And if you think yes is success, then no is failure. So demystifying both words is the first big issue. If you made me guess, that's a problem with 70% of the people out there; they're yes addicts. And then the problem with that is this momentum selling, or the yes momentum, is a trap. And 100% of the people out there have been trapped with yes at some point in time. Doesn't matter what group I stand up in front of, I'll say, " All right, so what's your gut instinct? Voice on the other end of the phone says,'Have you got a few minutes to talk?' That's a simple, respectfully intended yes- oriented question. What's the harm in that, especially if yes is so wonderful?" And universally, if I ask them as a group, people go, " No." I mean, everybody's gut instinct is to immediately act if they're being led into a trap. Everybody's gut instinct. But nobody knows that. And so that's probably the first big problem that everybody's dealing with, is they don't know how bad the reaction is on the other side, they try and get somebody to say yes.
Devin Reed: That's interesting. And I remember that from your book... if I'm remembering correctly... was the negotiation really starts when they say no.
Chris Voss: Yeah, in so many ways. I mean, and people feel safe when they say no. And when I first started waking up to this... I look back, my son, who's the president of my company and co- author of the books. When he was 17, " Dad, can I..." " No," before he'd finish his sentence. But every single time, having said no, I'd go, "All right, so what was it that you wanted?" Because I said no, and now I'm willing to listen. So we started looking for that dynamic. And it's not just parents and children, it's human- based. Once you say no you're willing to listen because you feel safe. You said no. I put barriers up. I can't be trapped now. It's a game changing idea for a lot of people.
Sheena Badani: Is there also something about control, like when you get the other person to say no they feel like they're control as well as safe?
Chris Voss: 1000%. You're dead on the money. And so many people, they've been tricked into stuff and they feel like, " I got to get control back to keep from getting tricked." So give them the illusion of control. Seek with the gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is giving the illusion of control. And so, why not? If you're not going to exploit them. And we don't teach people to exploit, this is about long- term collaboration. It's about never been afraid to reveal to the other side your motives, because if you're afraid to reveal to them your motives, they are going to eventually find out and you are going to pay with interest.
Devin Reed: Which leads us, essentially, to what The Black Swan is.
Chris Voss: Yeah. Exactly. What's the impact of the little things, the impact of the highly improbable? Absolutely inspired by the concept of Mr. Taleb's book, Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan, from 2007. I loved the metaphor. Loved it. The impact of the highly improbable. Pieces of information that change everything, or changes in your behavior that change everything. Deference is a black swan, there's great power in deference. It's a tiny little change in your behavior that could change the entire outcome of the negotiation. So yeah, black swans are a great metaphor and a great thing to think about as you're moving through negotiations.
Sheena Badani: Chris, in your book you talk about empathy and how great negotiators actually practice empathy in order to gain that trust and uncover obstacles that come about. So talk to us a little bit more about that role of empathy. And how do you actually practice it?
Chris Voss: Yeah. Practice is the real issue. Because while it's a word that's used all the time in common society, it's come to mean sympathy, the synonym for sympathy. And it's not, it's not, it's not. It was never meant to be that way. And you restrict yourself if you restrict it to that definition. Empathy is just demonstrating understanding. And you know you've done it when the other side feels understood. And there's very little practice. I mean, in today's society we're so argumentative. But media has always amplified argumentativeness. It always has. I mean, when Lincoln ran for president, they had the media, but it was just a newspaper. But, I mean, the names they called each other and the newspapers call people in the media. So this isn't a particularly new invention, it's just being applied in a different way. But it's argumentative. Or we're taught to be argumentative, like lawyers are taught to make arguments. I'm watching A Few Good Men the other day, and there's a line from a Tom Cruise... his character, his father was revered making an argument, making a great argument. I mean, this continues to exacerbate argumentativeness in our society. And empathy is not argumentative. Empathy is just demonstrating complete understanding for the other side's position. And it sounds so simple and it so are. And so you got to practice. Because you're not wired to do that. You don't get any societal reinforcement to do that. The only demonstration of empathy would be if Donald Trump, in the debate with Joe Biden, was to say, " Mr. Biden, you think I'm unfit for office." Now that would be empathy. And people would lose their minds if he said that. But that would be empathy. He wouldn't be agreeing. And so the critical issue there is it's not agreement, it would be stating the other side's position.
Sheena Badani: Mm- hmm(affirmative).
Chris Voss: I guarantee you, people are so leery of saying yes, that if Donald Trump said that to Biden, Biden wouldn't just say. " Yes." He'd be like, " Well, there's probably some good things that you've done." It's crazy the way that triggers that. And I'll give you a flip side in a personal interaction. A couple years ago, I'm sitting down with a young lady that our relationship had fallen apart. And she was tough. She was every bit assertive as I am, so no shortage of counterproductive conversations between the two of us. And she was a wonderful human being, it just wasn't meant to be. And I grew from the interaction. But we sit down... I just didn't want to argue with her anymore because I didn't want to argue and she's just a decent human being... and I look at her. So I decide to overstate her position. And I go, " I was a complete jerk..." and I didn't use the word jerk, I used a much stronger multi- syllable term. Two syllables. And I said, " I was a complete jerk the entire time we were together." And she kind of relaxed, and she said, " You know, I did a lot of stuff wrong too." And I remember going like, " That is not what I expected." I expected her to go, " Yes, you were." But she just relaxed. And she was willing to concede, if you will, that she hadn't been perfect either. But these are scary moments, without trying this stuff out. I never would have said that if I hadn't been practicing. If I hadn't been doing it, if I hadn't been experimenting with it in small stakes conversations. Because when you get into the big conversations, you're not prepped when there's so much on the line. A small stakes practice for a high stakes result. No championship athlete ever tried a new technique for the first time in a championship game. While we're talking right now, the World Series has started between the Dodgers and the Rays, I think. Right?
Devin Reed: Yep.
Chris Voss: Nobody's changing their batting stance in game one of the World Series, no matter what their coach told them. The first time they step up to the plate, in the game, that is not when we're trying a different grip. Nobody does that. So you need your small stakes practice before you step into the big game. And that's all I've ever gotten.
Devin Reed: And speaking of being argumentative, you're known for your late night FM radio voice to calm situations and disarm who you're talking to.
Chris Voss: Yeah.
Devin Reed: Chris, what is the importance of tone in negotiating?
Chris Voss: It's massive. It is so massive. The Brits got a saying, " You can be as rude as you want, as long as you're polite about it." And I quote a person that has been exposed to that culture, " They just got a polite way of saying stuff." And anybody can master that. So tone, it impacts the mirror neurons. This is neuroscience. And we didn't know it was neuroscience when we started doing this in a hostage negotiation, we just knew it worked. Human biology, that we all share, extends into the biology of our brain. And there's a limbic system in every human being's brain. And there's neurochemicals that every human being possesses and hits in their bloodstream. And every human being, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or diet, has mirror neurons. This even works on vegans. It works on vegans, it'll work on anyone. So if you can see me or if you could hear me, I can hit your mirror neurons, and it triggers a neurochemical reaction. And when I use the late night FM DJ voice, it hits your mirror neurons and actually physically slows your brain and slows your emotional response, which creates a calming effect. Now, you can fight it. But you can't stop me from initiating it. It's an involuntary neurochemical response. So then it starts to beg some questions. If you could do that, what else can you do? And then Shawn Achor's got a Harvard TED Talk, Harvard psychologist, that says you're 31% smarter in a positive frame of mind. Really, do mirror neurons trigger a positive frame of mind? When you walk down the street, you smile at somebody, they smile back. It's a neurochemical response. You've triggered putting them into a more positive frame of mind. I mean, the questions that begin to be begged and the tools that you begin to have, you can override your own system. They did an experiment, there's a hardwire between the muscles in the face and the mirror neurons. You can force a hit of dopamine into your system by forcing a smile on your face. I do that to myself all the time. I'll be at the end of a day and I'm running out of mental gas, and I'll start forcing a smile on my face. The only problem is, if somebody sees me doing it they think I'm a serial killer. I'm scaring my Lyft driver. The funniest thing that ever happened was, we're doing a training just before the pandemic hits. I'm in the back of the room, my son is in the front teaching. None of the attendees can see me. I'm out of gas. I'm deciding to give myself some hits of dopamine. I'm sitting back there, forcing a smile on my face, looking like the Joker in the Batman movies, I look like a psychopath back there making smile on my face. Now, I forget the one person that could see me is my son who's teaching. And he thinks I'm reacting to him. And after about the third of fourth Joker smile on my face, he finally goes, " I can't take it anymore. What are you doing back there? What's wrong with you?" inaudible turns around and looks at me. And I go, "Oh, oh, oh, I'm just giving myself hits of dopamine. I'm sorry."
Sheena Badani: That's awesome.
Chris Voss: And he comes up to me at the break, he goes, " I can still see you, you drive me crazy."
Devin Reed: That's hilarious.
Chris Voss: "I'm sorry.I'm sorry. I'm a psychopath, I'm sorry."
Devin Reed: And in the real world too... and actually, Cialdini... to redeem him a little bit... I don't know if you've read Influence by Cialdini?
Chris Voss: Everybody that's studied human interaction has to read Influence. Yes.
Devin Reed: Phenomenal book. There's a part... I think of his is mirroring... where he talks about your comedy sitcoms and they use that fake laughter at the corny jokes.
Chris Voss: Yeah.
Devin Reed: They use it specifically because it triggers viewers at home to think, " Oh, this is funny," and, " I'll laugh too." So there's other applications outside of just negotiating that we're all probably actually really familiar with.
Chris Voss: Yeah, there you go. And that's why there's certain things, laughter is contagious, calm is contagious. Okay, yeah, and then what does it do to our ability to think? And I'll circle back around on this one more time, just because you're 31% smarter in a positive frame of mind. The flip side is you're at least 31% dumber in a negative frame of mind. You got to wrap your mind around the implications for that. And in human interaction it's not emotions that are bad for us, it's negative emotions. And when you can make that distinction, you can now impact your ability to perform and also make better deals. If somebody that you're dealing with is in a negative frame of mind, or you are, you're both dumber. What does that do to your ability to optimize a deal? You've got to deal with that.
Sheena Badani: I think a lot of what we've talked about today, whether it's leading into empathy, the tone, all of this is relevant in- person as well as in this new world where we're using Zoom more, we're on the phone more. We have to negotiate through those mediums now. What may be different over a virtual negotiation than an in- person one that should be mindful of these days?
Chris Voss: Dial in more to tone of voice. For 70% of the planet, that's harder for. About 60% of us, our primary sense, the information our brain takes data from first, is our vision. About 30% is our hearing. About 10% of us are feel. So if your principle source of data for assessment of reactions of other people is vision, you feel awkward on Zoom because you're aware that a significant portion of the body language is gone. The 10% that's in feel, I very much believe there's something to the feel of being in- person. Quantum physics is now beginning to define that our energy fields from our body, our heart energy, extend probably at least 10 feet away... and there's hard science now that's backing that up... that means we can feel each other when we're in person. If you're the 10% that's kinesthetic, that's been cut off from you and it's throwing you off. Even smell, if you're kinesthetic, if you can smell you'd pick up on that, that's data that you've lost. But the verbal data, the tone of voice data is just still there. Now, I'm in the 30% that's auditory. My first sense is my hearing. Again, your first sense is not your sharpest sense, it's just where your brain is taking data from first. So it's easier for me to make the transition to tone of voice, because I'm inclined in that direction to start with. But, again, there's no such thing as good or bad, there's trained and untrained. If you start dialing in to tone of voice, it's a ridiculously rich source of assessment data that's still there. And it gives you the opportunity to add to your skills on Zoom, start dialing into tone of voice. The other fun thing is, though, that nobody's picking up on, if there's more than one person on your team or on their team that's on Zoom, anybody who's off target for the communication, their body language is going to be insanely unguarded. So watch the other people that you're not talking to, they will almost have epileptic fits of body language. We were on one Zoom call and my son said to me... Bobby's not the guys name, but he said, " Did you see Bobby when you asked that question? I thought Bobby was going to throw up." The unguarded body language of the people off target, is hysterical. On my team, our coach, Derek, when he's off target, I love telling really bad... we call them dad jokes.
Sheena Badani: Oh, yeah.
Chris Voss: Derek will always fall out of his seat if I tell a really bad dad joke. I might be talking to Devin and telling Devin a bad joke, but I want to watch Derek fall out of his chair when how bad it is impacts him. So you can have a lot of fun with that. Tell really bad jokes on Zoom calls and see who falls out of their chair, that's who you want to watch.
Devin Reed: Okay. So I'm a big fan of dad jokes, everyone on my team knows it. Chris, what's your go- to dad joke? I got to know.
Chris Voss: Oh man. All right. Well, because of the pandemic, I'm only telling inside jokes.
Devin Reed: I'll take that one. And I'm probably going to steal that as well, but I'll credit you.
Chris Voss: inaudible inaudible three times and then you can make it your own.
Devin Reed: I'll tell the world Denzel taught me. Last question before we get into the wrap- up. It sounds like being in a positive mind frame is important, seeing is important, tone is very important. Often times, in sales, we run into hard nose negotiators, people who lowball us or are really aggressive in their communication style. What advice can you give us to overcome those scenarios and those tough negotiators?
Chris Voss: Yeah, you know what, that's a timely question, because I'm working on a blog post for our negotiation newsletter, The Edge, as we speak. And so you guys will get a preview of this post, it won't be out for a couple weeks. But here's the preview. All right, so they need to feel they got the best deal. They don't need to get the best deal, they need to feel they got the best deal. This is the same way, that when we dealt with kidnappers, the ambassador is saying, " When they going to release the hostage?" And I'll say, " When the kidnappers feel like they got the best deal." Now think about how stupid that is, we're talking about a kidnapper's feelings. How does the kidnapper feel about the deal? " Mr. Kidnapper, does this feel right for you?" But that's what it really is. And so I'm like, " All right, all I got to do is make them feel like they worked really hard. How do I make them feel it sooner? It'll be over quicker." So, what and how questions, exhaust the other side. You get good with what and how questions. How am I supposed to do that? For the other side to even think about that is a way of saying no. I mean, it wears them down, you're wearing them down. Now the tough hard nose bargainers... here's the nuts thing... they've actually been trained to continue to pound you until you've said no and meant it, emotionally, two times. They found that in order to know that they push you to your max... they view it as squealing... you got to squeal twice. All right, squeal twice. Or make them feel no twice sooner. And one of the things that I put in the blog post was that you squealing is their gauge of feeling a solid no. So in a deferential way, in a polite way, say no in a way that they feel it. But you got to say no. And there's some people out there that they just feel horrible because they feel that no is rejection, no is failure. I mean, they're scared of no. And that's how they gauge it. They're going to make you say no, so say it, and mean it.
Devin Reed: It sounds like they make you call, " Uncle," twice before showing any mercy?
Chris Voss: There you go. That's a great analogy. So call, " Uncle," and then you make a better deal. Because they got to go back to their boss, their boss is going to check to see whether or not they pounded you. I mean, the procuremen, the contracts people, the amount of pressure that they are under most people just don't really appreciate because they tend to be such difficult people to deal with. People are scared to death of procuremen. But the pressure that procuremen are under, no wonder it distorts them into such hard nose negotiators, because they're under a massive amount of pressure. And the job, they got to buy everything, from paperclips to drums. And how you going to know what you're doing? I could be an expert on paperclips, I could be an expert on drums; but not both. But that's what they're expected to be. So it's a tough job.
Devin Reed: That's a good way of putting it.
Sheena Badani: So Chris, we ask all of our guests one question to wrap- up every episode, so we're going to ask you the same. And that is: how would you describe sales in one word?
Chris Voss: Well, challenging is the first word that comes to mind.
Sheena Badani: Very true. Why do you say challenging?
Chris Voss: Well most people aren't trained properly for it. There's a massive amount of really bad training out there. And even bad training is superior to no training. So you're a salesperson, you can't close any deals. And then you come across some training which might happen to have a really low close rate, but you go from 0 to 2%, and you're like, " Ah, success." And then you get addicted to success. The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belford, teaches a straight line method. And he talks about a 2% success rate. And he's saying, " I realize this is really low. But over the course of year, you talk to enough people, you make$1 million." And people are like, " All right. Wow." But then they become addicted to success and anything that is different than that, then they're like, " Oh, that's not how I make deals." And it's one of the reasons Jim Collins wrote that book Good to Great. You feel like you're good, you get comfortable there. And becoming great takes you out of the comfort zone and you don't like it. And that was really the point that Collins was trying to make. You got to get massively uncomfortable to get better. And most people just don't want to do that.
Sheena Badani: I totally agree with you. And I'll have to add that the negotiation aspect of sales is also what makes it challenging at heart. And it's another one of those skills that you need to put in that time, and practice, and train yourself on to level up your game.
Chris Voss: Yeah. And that's why one of the cool things... I didn't really ever see Never Split the Difference as this massive sales book. And it probably has hit hardest with salespeople, and been most utilized and made more differences in more salepeople's lives than we ever expected it would.
Devin Reed: Yeah. I actually listened to the audiobook in 2018 in Q4, which is end of year for salespeople, I was in sales before my current role. I was getting my... forgive me Sheena... I was getting my ass handed to me by one of these three deals I was working. And I was listening to your book, and you broke down the... I believe it was three... types of personas of the types of negotiators.
Chris Voss: Yeah.
Devin Reed: And it was just perfect because each one of these people was one of these types. One was the hard nose, one was analytical, one was the nice guy. So I was able to use the book and... I'm going to toot my own horn a little bit... all three closed. All three closed.
Chris Voss: Great.
Devin Reed: So I give you some of that credit Denz... Chris, for helping me with that. So, shameless plug. If you haven't read the book, it is extremely helpful and immediately applicable to salespeople.
Chris Voss: Nice, man. Well, you're coachable. I mean, that's one of the things I was talking about earlier, if you're coachable you could do it. So, nice work.
Devin Reed: I appreciate that. Well, Chris, we'll wrap- up here. Again, big thank you for joining us, thanks for sharing your expertise. And hopefully we'll hear from that second book sooner than later.
Chris Voss: Yeah. And I'd love to remind everybody how they can keep up on everything.
Devin Reed: Please do.
Chris Voss: I mean, subscribe to the newsletter, The Edge. It's complimentary. But even more valuable than complimentary, it's concise. Concise actual advice. I get the daily 10- Point briefing from the Wall Street Journal. That baby wears me out. I mean, I got to go take a nap after I read that. So we send you one article, it's concise and actionable, it comes out on Tuesday mornings. Easiest way to sign up, there's a text to sign up function. Text Black Swan Method, three words, spaces between the words, it's not cap sensitive. Send that message to 33777. That's 33777. If you execute that properly, the message you'll get back asks for your email address. The newsletter is a gateway to everything. It's the gateway to everything we have and I highly recommend it. A lot of people get a long way with just the book and the newsletter inaudible.
Sheena Badani: That's terrific. And we can put it in the show notes as well to make it easy for folks.
Chris Voss: Thank you. Thank you very-
Sheena Badani: Thanks again, Chris. It was great to have you. I am sure this is going to be one of those episodes that folks come back to and relisten, to refresh on some of the topics that we talked about today. So it was great to have this conversation with you.
Chris Voss: I enjoyed the conversation, you guys were a lot of fun. Thank you very much. Have a good day.
Sheena Badani: Every week we like to bring you a micro action, something you can think about or put into play. What can you do right now to start strengthening your own EQ? One way is to take a step back, get a sense of your current EQ, and assess your willingness to adapt and grow. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself. First off: am I actually coachable? Am I open to receiving the feedback about my communication and empathy skills? Next: what are my real motives as a seller? Do I see sales as aligning with customers needs and desires or is it just about convincing people to buy? And last, and probably the hardest, is: am I willing to do the work, practicing empathy in daily conversation so that I'm prepared to act empathetically during emotionally challenging high stakes situations?
Devin Reed: Did you like today's episode? Subscribe now so next week's episode will be waiting for you on Monday.
Sheena Badani: And if you really like the podcast, please leave a review. Five star reviews go a long way to help get the word out there.
Devin Reed: And if you're not ready to give a five, check out another episode and see if we've won you over by then.
Sheena Badani: And if you have any feedback, or you want us to interview one of your favorite revenue leaders, just email us reveal @ gong. io.
Chris Voss, negotiation master and best selling author of Never Split the Difference, dives deep into negotiation skills required for sales today. Topics discussed emotional intelligence, how to practice negotiating, and even how to hone your late-night radio voice just like Chris Voss.
Connect with Sheena Badani: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheenabadani/