How revenue leaders maximize impact with Daniel Pink, NYT Bestselling author

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This is a podcast episode titled, How revenue leaders maximize impact with Daniel Pink, NYT Bestselling author. The summary for this episode is: <p>Leading sales professionals is challenging. There are many best practices available, we all possess one thing that can give us a massive competitive edge — time.&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>Daniel Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author, reveals the secrets revenue leaders need to know to drive maximum impact. These insights will leave you with a straightforward approach to making the most out of your valuable asset. </p><p><br></p><p>Key Takeaways</p><p>08:29&nbsp;-&nbsp;10:05 How to maximize your productivity with limited time</p><p>19:27&nbsp;-&nbsp;20:21 Data Breakout: Impacts of a break</p><p>20:47&nbsp;-&nbsp;23:26 How your sales team can start creating urgency in their sales</p><p>27:32&nbsp;-&nbsp;29:21 The key to effective selling is finding problems</p><p>34:12&nbsp;-&nbsp;36:53 The most effective sellers are ambiverts</p><p>42:05&nbsp;-&nbsp;42:58 Micro Action: Observe yourself</p><p><br></p><p>Want to explore Revenue Intelligence for your org? It starts here: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Connect with Devin Reed: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Connect with Sheena Badani: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Connect with Daniel Pink: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
How to maximize your productivity with limited time
01:35 MIN
Data Breakout: Impacts of taking a break
00:53 MIN
How your sales team can start creating urgency in their sales
02:39 MIN
The key to effective selling is finding problems
01:48 MIN
The most effective sellers are ambiverts
02:41 MIN
Micro Action: Observe yourself
00:52 MIN

Devin Reed: Welcome to the show. You are now part of 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. It's an unfiltered view of your customer reality. In other words, making data- driven decisions based on facts instead of opinions or guesswork.

Devin Reed: And it's made up of three success pillars, people success, deal success, and strategy success. The things all revenue teams need and care about. Every week, we interview senior revenue professionals, and they shared their stories, and insights on how they leveraged 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: Welcome to a very special episode of Reveal: The Revenue Intelligence Podcast, and it's extra special because we are hanging out with Daniel Pink, best- selling author. He's written a handful of books that feature research and data that reveal how people behave. So, salespeople can be more effective, along with many other topics. Many people know him from To Sell Is Human. That's the book that I've read. It's one of my favorites. He also has a masterclass on, you guessed it, MasterClass, all about sales and persuasion, be sure to check that out. And today, he's going to share his insights and expertise on Reveal. And here's what we dive into. First, how to use your time to be more effective across your life, both career and personally. And speaking of timing, you'll also hear his take on driving urgency. Is it real? And if so, how do sellers create it? And last, we talk about the counter intuitive research around success in sales, and why being an extrovert is not necessarily a good thing. Plus, how to use that insight for hiring sales talent. Okay. One more thing, it's also a special episode because I'm flying solo. Sheena couldn't make it. So, it's just me and Dan today. But don't worry, my partner will be back in the studio for next week's episode. I'm excited to share this conversation with you. Because as you can probably tell, and I think I said a few times in an interview, I'm a big fan. So, what do you say we go hang out with Dan Pink? Daniel Pink, I am very, very excited for you to be joining us on the show. Like many people, I have read your book, To Sell Is Human. I've seen your masterclass. And I'm honored that you're on Reveal. Thanks for hanging out.

Daniel Pink: Devin, it's so good to be with you.

Devin Reed: So, you've written multiple books, When, Drive, A Whole New Mind, To Sell Is Human, just to name a few. I'm curious, what have you learned about sales and more specifically, sales leadership over those years?

Daniel Pink: Wow. Okay. Well, you could write a whole book about that, but then I did. No, I've learned a lot, and let me start at a very high level. One of them is, is that, and I think sales professionals understand this. But for your listeners who might not be in the explicit sales function, I think is really important. We're all in sales. A huge portion of what we do every day on the job as white- collar workers is influence, convince, cajole, persuade, try to get someone to go from here to there, try to get someone to join our team versus another team, try to get our boss to stop doing something. And so, it's pretty fundamental, not only to the lived experience of work, but also to our effectiveness. That's one of the big things that I've learned. Another big thing that I've learned in doing the research is that sales today is qualitatively different, different in kind than I think sales was even 15 or 20 years ago. Because of these massive changes in not only we tend to get technologies a little bit of a head fake, it's all because of technology. It's really because what technology has enabled on information. We used to be in this world of information asymmetry, where sellers always had more information than the buyer. And that's truly how commerce was for almost all of human civilization. Now, we're in a world closer to information parity, and whether you are in B2B, whether you're in b2c, no matter what you're doing, that has changed the game substantially. So, those are the two meta things that I've learned. The other thing, I'll simply say one more thing, is that sales as a profession, and sales leadership as someone who manages and leads these professionals, it's really hard. It's a really intellectually sophisticated job. One of the things that got me on this subject having written about different aspects of business is that in other books, and other magazine articles and whatnot, I would talk to people who were in sales. And they were nothing like the stereotype that the smarty pants think of as salespeople, like the glad- handing slick folks. They were the smartest, savviest people around. And that disconnect for years always bugged me. It's like what's going on here? And I think it's because sales today is an incredibly sophisticated profession, and to lead professionals is even harder than leading people who are doing more routine work.

Devin Reed: I couldn't agree more. And I think too, maybe it's why a lot of people fall into sales is because of that stigma, but I know too, not a lot of schools, not a lot of universities have a sales program. I know a lot of them have started recently, and there're some good ones out there. But you don't go to school to be a salesperson. So, I think because it's not a common education track. When you end up in sales, it's like, "Oh, you ended up in sales."

Daniel Pink: I still find it astonishing that every MBA program or even undergraduate business program doesn't have a course in sales.

Devin Reed: I wish I had.

Daniel Pink: I think it's verging on educational malpractice, for business education not to include something in sales, and the same way that it would be educational malpractice not to include something about basic accounting, and finance, or organizational behavior, or even leadership. It's so fundamental. And for many people, it is the... many individuals, it is the point of entry into a professional life.

Devin Reed: I agree. I picked that up from you, was the information asymmetry, which is like I went to buy a car a couple weeks ago. And I think that's still one of those examples where even though there is so much information parity, and you can usually get your hands on a lot of information, it can still be one of those really challenging interactions, and then it goes back to what you said, which is like, "What do you think of salespeople?" People say, think of used car salesman, which is what I bought, and it's like, "It was such a bad experience for me, unfortunately." Despite literally, using what you and Chris Voss have taught me, I got a good deal. But I still spent a lot more time there than I wanted to.

Daniel Pink: You know what, that has changed much more slowly than I've thought. And I've wondered why that is. I feel like some enterprises like CarMax are reasonably good about not having a lot of BS. But a lot of the traditional dealers are not. And I think it's the muscle memory of one way of doing things is part of it. And also, the fact that people don't buy cars very often. So, what happens is, is that you forget that negative experience, and so there's less of an impetus to change. I've been surprised why there haven't been more no BS, no haggling, here's the price kind of car arrangements. But I think that it's a legacy industry, and someone is going to come in and turn it upside down.

Devin Reed: I'm waiting for that. Hopefully, I'm still buying cars when that happens.

Daniel Pink: Well, that's the other thing is like are we still going to be buying cars? Are we going to be simply having autonomous vehicles come and pick us up to take us from point A to point B?

Devin Reed: Yeah. I'm sure Uber might share, but Lyft's vision statement, I remember reading theirs is basically like, we're wasting so much time, money and space on cars. What if we just stopped owning them, and started sharing them? But okay, I've got a few questions here. And we're going to bounce around because you've written about quite a few different things here. Senior executives, folks listen to this podcast, for the most part, their lives are a never- ending stream of when decisions, when to roll out a new strategic initiative, when to schedule SKO. How to structure your team sales day for max productivity, and that sort of thing. How can senior leaders capitalize on their limited time to maximize productivity?

Daniel Pink: Okay. Such an interesting question and a really complex question. And so, let's divide it into two pieces here. When you look at timing, there are two kinds of timing. At least, as I look at it. One of them is daily timing. So, how do you configure the day for maximum output? And then, the other one is episodic timing. That is beyond the unit of a day, you have a project, you have a quarter, you have some other kind of unit of time, those things. Particularly, projects have beginnings, they have middles, they have ends, and each of those exerts a different influence on our lives. So, on the daily timing, what's really important to understand is that, and again, all of this is rooted in this incredible body of research spread across multiple different disciplines. This is not some kind of concocted philosophy of timing that I came up with. This is based on a couple of years of research, looking across 25 different fields, about the science of timing. And one of the things that it tells us a daily timing is that our brain power doesn't remain constant over the course of the day, it changes. This is the most important thing. And it's extremely important for leaders to allow people to put themselves in positions where they're able to do the right work at the right time. And we can go further into what that might mean. But I think that's the important lesson. I think that's the most important lesson for leaders, allow people to do the right work at the right time, because we know from a pile of evidence that our brain power changes over the course of a day. Now, with episodic timing, I think the key recognition is to recognize that each of these stages of a project or any enterprise has different influences on our behavior. So, you have to look at beginnings one way, midpoints another way, and endings another. So, if you want, Devin, we can go deeper into all or any of those.

Devin Reed: So, let's go with the first part on the daily basis because I admittedly noticed this without having read the research, where I'm just like, I'm really good in the morning, I'm okay after lunch, and I'm pretty bad around 4: 00 to 7: 00 PM. And then, I do usually get another win around 9: 00, 10:00. I don't know if I'm a night owl, or if that's normal, I doubt I'm special there. And so, the research, I think you're going to enlighten a little bit more, mixed with the, why don't we just let people work remote? Why don't we just let people work whenever it makes sense? Now, if you're in sales, obviously, there's a certain time of day that you're going to get meetings done and so on. But there's also times you're doing" independent work." Putting proposals together, strategizing, and thinking. So, maybe we start on that bit first.

Daniel Pink: Okay. So, what we want to do here in the science of timing is matchup our type, our task, and our time, okay? So, type, type is what's called a chronotype. Chronotype is a term from chronobiology, which simply says, what's our inclination? Do we naturally wake up early, and go to sleep early, wake up late and go to sleep late? Here's what the distribution looks like. About 15% of us are very strong morning people, larks. About 20% of us are very strong evening people, owls. About two- thirds of us are in the middle, but we tilt toward the lark. So, to oversimplify a bit, but in the name of takeaways, we'll just divide the world into owls and non- owls. Okay. So, there're 20% of our population naturally wakes up pretty late, and goes to sleep pretty late. They are outliers in a way. Eighty percent of us, now, let's assume that 80% of the people listening to this show, move through the day in three stages, a peak, a trough, a recovery. A peak early in the day, a trough in the middle of the day, and a recovery later in the day. Now, people who are owls, you owls who are listening to this through your headphones at 3: 00 in the morning when you're doing a workout at the 24- hour gym. You hit your peak much, much, much later in the day. Late afternoon, evening, mid evening, late evening. Now, here's what we know, during the peak, key aspect of the peak is that's when we are most vigilant. What does it mean to be vigilant? Vigilant means we're able to bat away distractions. So, there's just incredible evidence showing that we do better in the peak, which for most of us is early in the day, on analytic tasks. Those are simply tasks that require heads down, focus, and attention. So, in the example that you just gave, Devin, that would be things like maybe carefully going through the steps of a strategy, maybe it is writing a proposal, the things that require heads down and focus, where you don't want to be distracted. Those can be some of those certain quantitative things. Certainly, writing is that way, strategizing is that way, we do better on that during the peak, which for most of us is the morning. Now, you mentioned, you alluded to the trough, you didn't use that word, but you've talked about your own experience, this trough. Early to midafternoon, it's a terrible time of day, okay. We joke about it. We think it's a sign of personal weakness. It's not. There is all this evidence from declining performance and screw ups in hospitals, more traffic accidents per capita, all kinds of downdraft in performance during that trough period. So, during that trough, what we're better off doing is doing more of our administrative work, work that doesn't require a lot of creativity, or brainpower. And so, for sales professionals, that's, I don't know, expense reports, or filling out forms, or that kind of stuff that just sort of, you don't have to be that sharp, you don't to be that creative to do it. Now, you also mentioned something really interesting, Devin, in your own experience, which is, in the late afternoon or early evening, that's when we have a period I call the recovery. And it's a really interesting period, because our mood is up. But our vigilance is down. And that is a really good combination for things that require some kind of mental looseness. It could be things that are maybe a little bit more social, a little bit more iterative, brainstorming, coming up with ideas, solving non- obvious problems. And so, what we want to try to do, and I really want to talk to the managers out there, the leaders, you want to allow people to do the right work at the right time. In general, we should be doing our analytic work during the peak, our administrative work during the trough, and our insight, creative social work during the recovery. And if we just make small adjustments, or even better, give people the freedom to make small adjustments on their own, they're going to perform better. Really, just one more point in this ramp, just to try to drive this home is that there is evidence showing that time of day explains about 20% of the variance in how people perform at work. Now, let's think about that for a moment. Okay. So, there's variance in how people perform. If we think about it, statistically, or we're going to map people out on one side of the line, on one part, we're going to have a zero to 100 chart here. And we're going to say some people are zeros, and some people are hundreds. And we're going to have dots all over the place. And that's variance, all right. Why are some people better than others? We have all kinds of reasons for that. Some people are more conscientious than others. Some people are smarter than others. Some people have more social advantage than others. Some people have fewer life stressors than others, whatever. But 20% of it is the time of day, and that, we can do something about. And so, to me, what excites me about this research on timing is that these are interventions that cost almost nothing and it deliver a result.

Devin Reed: Okay. So, this is very validating to me, because my worst trough, I've noticed, is 4: 00 PM on Thursday. If someone puts a time on my calendar, I literally tell them, I will be of almost no help. I promise you, it's worth waiting for. I wonder if it's almost two things, Dan, which is the time of day. We said that's that low point. And also, mostly, if you look at it, like you're saying not just a unit of a day, but of a time period of a week, if almost like there's a trough like on the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I don't know if there's any research to back that up. But it would make sense as maybe, you burn through some of your focus, your energy as you may be rested from the weekend. I don't know, I'm just hypothesizing here.

Daniel Pink: It could be. I think there's something even bigger that you're pointing out here though. And what you're doing is what everybody should do, which is notice, observe ourselves. Core principles here, if we want to apply the science of timing to our lives is A, to take the win seriously. We're very intentional about what we do, how we do it, who we do it with. We're not intentional about when we do things. And in a given day, it matters. It matters a lot. And so, there's intentionality. But the other thing that we need to do, which you are exemplifying here is we need to be better observers of our behavior. We need to understand, it's like, do I have times where I feel super sharp? That's worth knowing. Do I have times when I feel less sharp? That's worth knowing. Telling other people about that is really useful. And even things like, so if you know, okay, 4: 00 on Thursdays, I'm a dead man. But you have your super, super- duper boss, all right, saying Devin, Sheena, she comes in and says Devin, " I need you in my office. I need to have emergency meeting at 4: 00 on Thursday." You can't say, " Oh, sorry, big boss, not my ideal time." But knowing that allows you to do things like, okay, we know a huge amount of evidence about how effective breaks are. What I want you to do there, if you know that about yourself is to take a 15- minute walk break at 3: 30, man, before you go into that high stake meeting at a suboptimal time. And so, that self- observation is so, so, so important.

Devin Reed: Well, you're validating me because I have a block every day at 3: 00 or 3: 30 called 2L, which means second lunch. I just am embarrassed that anyone can look at my calendar and see that I'm eating two lunches a day. But it's exactly that. Sometimes I eat, sometimes I don't. But it's like let me break the monotony of the day for a little bit before I go in for that last sprint.

Daniel Pink: Can I give you even greater validation here? Because what you're doing there is also important, which is scheduling these things. Here's what we know, breaks, for instance, are completely undervalued. I totally messed this up before I looked at the research. I always thought that professionals didn't take breaks and amateurs took breaks. And it's the exact opposite. Professionals take breaks. And they take certain kinds of breaks. We know a lot about the most restorative kinds of breaks. But particularly, people in revenue, whether it's revenue ops, or sales management, or even reps. They have this notion, this old fashioned, puritanical notion that I once had that, " Oh, no, you don't take breaks, you power through." And that's wrong. And the only way that these hyped- up people who feel like they shouldn't take breaks or going to take breaks is they do exactly what you do as they schedule it. I have this mission where I think that the American workforce would be materially more productive, and materially happier, if every afternoon, people did a version of your 2L. Especially, if everybody in the American workforce in the afternoon took a 15- minute walk break outside with someone they like, talking about something other than work, and leaving their phone behind. I'm not joking about that. I think that would have a material effect on productivity in this country.

Sheena Badani: Dan is not the only one who knows that taking breaks strategically helps increase productivity. Forbes shares research from Tork on the impact of lunchbreak can have on employees. Before we share the impact, here's a challenge employees are experiencing. Nearly 20% of employees worry their bosses won't think they're hard working if they take breaks. While 13% worry their co- workers will judge them. As Dan supports in our conversation, strategic breaks can actually reduce mental fatigue, boost brain function, and keep us on task for more extended periods. Take it back to L1, lunch one for those of you following along, the Tork survey also revealed that 81% of employees who take a daily break had a strong desire to be an active member in their company, increasing engagement right alongside productivity. Before you take a break, let's look ahead as Dan and Devin talk about creating urgency in the sales process, and his book, When.

Devin Reed: There's one thing I think that comes up in sales a lot that I want your opinion on, which is, no, there's people that say you can create urgency in sales, and people say you can't create urgency, there's fake urgency. And the way that most people in sales create urgency is what, financial incentive, right? If you buy today, if you buy this week. I would love to hear from you, what's your take on creating urgency in sales? Is it real? Is it not real? If it is, I'd love your take on how sales teams can start to do it.

Sheena Badani: That's a tough one, Devin, because it depends. And I think a lot of it depends on the kind of selling you're doing. For things that are short cycles and pretty transactional, it might work reasonably well, because you do it a lot. And you have a lot of shots on goal. And it increases the number of goals that go in. For projects that are higher- ticket price, longer duration, involving more relationships, it could end up backfiring. So, my advice on this is to test, to be much more rigorous about chronicling what we're doing, and what works, and what doesn't. I think a lot of time in sales, people just assume that they are learning from their experience, but they're not deliberate enough from memorializing what they've learned, and then using that going forward. Again, I'll burn it up on you. My wife allows me one sports metaphor a day, so I'm going to use it here, which is imagine a basketball team or a football team that doesn't watch tape, that doesn't go over, and review what they did. And they're just, " Oh, yeah, I know." Like, " Yeah, you know what it means is typically, I'm not that good. I'm pretty good moving to my left. So, I'm going to keep moving to my left. And that backdoor play always works." And then, you watch the tape and you're like, " Wait a second, I suck moving to my left, and the backdoor play failed two times out of three." And so, you want to actually memorialize what's working and what's not. And you don't have to do this in an elaborate way. That's the thing. Your people's mileage may vary. But I always have with me a tiny little notebook that fits right in my pocket. And I like it better than doing it on my phone. And just memorializing what works and what doesn't, I think is the real answer to that. I really do believe, and this is also something for the sales managers out there, is that we want people thinking like scientists. That's how the world works today. We want people thinking like scientists, and by thinking like scientists, here's what I mean. What do scientists do? Scientists have a hypothesis, and they test the hypothesis. So, have a hypothesis. " Hey, you know what? Urgency is effective." Test the hypothesis for a little while. Record your results. " Oh, wait, a second, urgency is important for this kind of prospect, but not for that kind of prospect." Great, you've learned something, rather than go for that one universal thing. Urgency or not urgency, I would test it. I think there's going to be incredible variance based on a whole range of factors.

Devin Reed: It makes a lot of sense on the transactional side. And like you said, if you get a lot of that bats, like today, two hours ago, I bought one of those wrist pads when you're typing, or you got your mouse. And I'd realize I probably see on every website, which is like pop up, if you buy now, 20% off, if you buy it now, 10% off. Now, of course, that's ecommerce, but that is quite transactional, and probably works, right? It didn't work on me. I was like, I'm not giving my email. But for enterprise software, or enterprise sales inaudible, it's harder to get a CRO or CMO to move if they're not ready just because a 10%, 20% discount.

Daniel Pink: Here's the thing, it depends. So, we can go to some of the research on endings. And endings can have that effect. So, if they're at the end of their quarter, and if they don't spend their budget now, they lose it the next year, that's a different kettle of fish. But again, I think what you have to do is you have to be conscious of these things, but test, test, test, test, test. There is some good evidence that when people feel an end coming, whether again, it could be end of a quarter. In your case, you're suggesting the end of a deal could be the end of a project that they can kick a little harder.

Devin Reed: There's a saying our CEO says because revenue intelligence is all about capturing what's really happening in the field, what sales reps are saying, what the customers are saying. And for folks who are reluctant to listen to their own game tape or to listen to their own sales calls, he always says, " Hey, even LeBron James watches game film."

Daniel Pink: Listening to your sales calls is extremely important. Listening to podcasts interviews, you do, painful though it may be, at least for me, is worth doing. We just have to, and this really goes together. And I think that these are actually in some of these broader lessons, what we're talking about here, which we're talking about, actually, at some level, taking ourselves and our profession seriously. And I do think that sales professionals should treat themselves not differently from professional athletes. You have a difficult complex job to do. So, one way to do it better is to observe yourself in the moment and watch a little game tape however you can do that.

Devin Reed: I was talking to Arianna Huffington for another event that we had at Gong, and she called the us corporate athletes, and it stuck with me, made me feel good.

Daniel Pink: Yeah, that's an idea. That idea has been around for a while. There's guy named Jim Lehrer and Tony Schwartz did a whole program on corporate athletes in the 1990s. It makes some sense. I think the bigger thing is taking ourselves seriously, not too seriously. But taking yourself seriously as professionals. It doesn't even have to be athletes. It can be musicians. You think that great musicians don't listen to their performances? You don't think great musicians play around and say, " Hmm, if I hold the guitar like this, what does it sound like? If I hold it like this, what does it sound like? What is it like playing in that kind of venue? What does it sound like playing in that kind of venue?" They're great observers. And they take themselves seriously, as professionals. I think it's even true if you were going door to door selling encyclopedias. You should get somebody to follow you around with a video and see what your interactions are like. I'm convinced that somebody could watch 12 door knocks selling encyclopedias, and is going to do a lot better on the next 12 if they watch that tape.

Devin Reed: I'm going to do it after this, even though it will be a little painful. But I will be listening back to this interview.

Sheena Badani: It's always painful. Here's the thing, and I resist doing it because I can't stand it, because I feel like, " Oh, why did I say that?" And, " Oh, did I talk too fast? And did it sound like I just mainlined five cups of espresso there?" And, " Oh, why was that explanation so complicated?" But you get a little bit better next time.

Devin Reed: I'm with you. Okay. I want to move over from the... we're going to leave timing, and go to the favorite thing you taught me, which is in To Sell Is Human. You mentioned that problem solving used to be the key to effective selling, but today, it's actually about finding problems. Can you break that down for the listeners?

Daniel Pink: So, here's the thing, let's talk about the reason why. And then, we'll talk about what it is. So, today, because of the changes in information, if your customer prospect knows exactly what their problem is, they don't need you. Okay. They don't need you. They can self- serve. They need you to be one of two or three multiple bidders to lower the price. And so, what you see, especially when you get to the higher levels of sophistication is that if the customer, the prospect has a distinct, clearly- stated straightforward problem. Their solution is probably something close to a commodity, which means it's not that valuable. And they certainly don't need you very much so that it ends up being a price decision. Where do they need you more? And this is where the sophistication really comes in. They need you more as many of the sales folks listening to the show can recognize, when your customer, your prospect is wrong about their problem, when they don't know what their problem is, when the problem they think they're solving is not their real problem, there's something around the corner. There is something hidden. There's something latent. So, for instance, you mentioned the pad to prevent carpal tunnel or something for your typing. It could be that you need a new keyboard. It could be that you need a different computer. It could be that you have a problem with your chair. It's like you think your problem is that I need a pad. But a really good sales professional is going to say, " Okay, what is? Let's find Devin's problem." He thinks his problem is a pad. So, find a pad, you just do pure price comparison. But maybe your problem is actually, you need a new chair. And that's problem finding, and you're much, much more valuable. And in B2B, it is essentially all problem, not all problem finding, but a heavy dose of problem finding. B2B sales today is essentially management consulting.

Devin Reed: It's interesting, because I'm not just saying that because I'm talking to you. As I was buying it, I'm like, "This problem started when I got that standing desk." Probably the angle. And then, I went, " Pads, only 20 bucks, maybe this will solve it." But I thought, I'm like, " This keyboard is basically flat." The Apple keyboard is like flat on the desk, that probably isn't ergonomic. So, I'm like, I'm going to buy this thing. Maybe I'll bring it up to Dan later, and I just feel this is great. I got the real deal here.

Daniel Pink: But that's the thing. Think about that, not for your$ 20 wrist pad, but think of that if you're selling multimillion dollar enterprise software, where the contract is this many pages long, and the implementation is going to take a year, and the material consequences to the buyer are in the tens of millions of dollars. The difference between finding the right problem, or simply solving the problem they think that they have. That's a huge difference.

Devin Reed: I think that's going to answer my follow- up question. But if we can get tactical for a second, because the way you teed it up, you're like, buyer comes in, maybe they come inbound, and we're talking to enterprise software purchases here. They come inbound, let's just say, or they know what their problems, or they think they know what their problem is. Let's say they're talking to two companies that are direct competitors. What would you say is the best way to differentiate yourself? Because, like you just said, maybe it's not to solve the exact problem, even though they just told you from a C level executive? Is it reframing the solutions or reframing the problem?

Daniel Pink: There are a few things that you can do here. I do want to get just appropriately tactical here. One of them, it's annoying, but it's a technique that works. I'm telling you, which is the Five Whys technique. So, you ask somebody why they need this... let's say I'm selling a software, why they need this software? And then they say, because we're inefficient. Well, why are you inefficient? And just keep asking those why questions to get to the heart of it. So, the Five Whys technique, which was created, I think, originally by Toyota, embraced by IDEO. You can try it with three whys and things like that, but trying to get more to the heart of the issue. That's one thing that you can do. The second thing that you can do is have them narrate. So, instead of saying, what's your problem, we say, tell me the story of how you discovered this problem. And in the narration, you might see moments where there are facts, there are incidents, that suggests something else is going on. The third thing that you can do, tactically, which is a technique I really like is actually, to start a conversation without being respectful of time, start a conversation about something else altogether, or at least something adjacent. So, the way to do this would be let's say that you are a, I'm calling on you your CIO. And I say, " Hey, Devin, how's it going?" Maybe a little tiny bit of small talk. And if I say to you, " Hey, I've been calling on CEOs all month, and you want to hear what their biggest headache is." And every single CIO is going to say, " Yes, I do want to hear that." They want to hear what their peers are doing. And so, you can offer some insights there. And that could yield, that could end up in a conversation saying that the person essentially discovering for him or herself what their real problem is. So, again, I want to keep coming back to this. I know that I'm preaching to the same, the people who are listening here, but to the extent that anybody is driving in a car with them, who aren't in sales, I want to just emphasize, again, the intellectual nimbleness that you need to do this job well. It's really hard. You have to be really smart. You have to be really, really versatile. And I think that makes it an exciting job, too. So, if you think about the intellectual nimbleness, you need to have conversations like that. It's super challenging. The old days are gone, where you're not like, you come in, and it's like, let me take your order. And you fill out a form, and you say, " Oh, I'm not ready to do it.""Well, I'm going to have to talk to my boss, but the 10% discount is only good for the next 12 hours." It's like, that's not what sales is now. It's actually more beautiful than that.

Devin Reed: Going back to being the observer and timing, it's about knowing which, if you will, like tactic in your toolkit to use and when. You can't use the same thing every discovery call or every proposal, it's knowing, like you said, playing that conversation on, and knowing which to use. Okay. I've got one more question, maybe two, depending on how time goes here. But another thing that was just very interesting to me, and one of the reasons I really like reading your work is there's a lot of things that are counterintuitive, and usually backed up by data, if not always with some research. And one of the more counterintuitive things that you shared, is that the most effective sellers are not extroverts. I hope I say this correctly. They are ambiverts. Can you define what that is, and some of that research that you had in-

Daniel Pink: This is very interesting stuff, is that we start at the level of personality. What personality psychologist, that is the scientist who study personality know, is that introversion, extroversion are not completely binary. It's not one zero. Myers- Briggs totally messed this up. Myers- Briggs says you're either an I or an E, when in fact, it's a spectrum. One of the personality psychologists I heard recently talked about this saying, in Myers- Briggs, they would have a cutoff for tall. And so, if you're five foot 10 and over, you're tall. And if you're five foot nine and three quarters and under, you're short. And so, that somebody who's five foot eight, would have more in common with someone who's four foot one than they would with someone who's five foot 10. That's not how it works. It's a spectrum. Okay. And so, what we know is this, some interesting research out of Wharton showing that the best salespeople, if we match up, we're on the spectrum against sales revenue, that strong extroverts were not very good. Strong introverts were the worst. But strong extroverts were almost as bad as strong introverts. Now, it makes intuitive sense. Strong introverts would stink at sales. They might be shy, they might be uncomfortable in social situations, unwilling to assert, that makes perfect sense. But strong introverts were almost as bad. And the reason for that, which I think the sophisticated listeners of your show would understand is that they talk too much. They're too pushy. They're too gregarious. They're too narcissistic. They don't listen. And the people who do the best are exactly as you say, what are called ambivert, which are people in the middle of the spectrum. Why is that? Just go back to our prefix here, ambi, right? You think about ambidextrous. They can go left. They can go right. They know when to speak up, they know when to shut up. They know when to talk, they know when to listen. They know when to push, they know when to hold back. So, this idea that strong extroverts are better at sales is a total myth. There is no evidence of it. There is evidence of the contrary. But the thing is because Myers- Briggs has so perverted our understanding of this concept, it doesn't mean that strong introverts are better, they're worse. The people who are the best are ambiverts. And the good news, I think in all of it is that most of us are ambiverts. Relatively few of us are insanely strong introverts or insanely strong extroverts. Most of us are in the middle. And so, that's what you want. The best salespeople clearly are ambiverts. And so, you should aspire to ambiversion, hire for an ambiversion to the extent you can do things as managers to move people a little closer to the center, because that's where the action is.

Devin Reed: That makes sense. And especially, " Hey, not being a little superlative. But everyone is in sales and everything is sales." It's like, " Well, great, because everyone's an ambivert." So, we're all built for it.

Daniel Pink: But I think that should be, especially for the non- sales people, listening to this, I think it should be heartening, which this idea. The myth has been like, " Oh, you can't be in sales unless you're a super strong extrovert." You got to be this backslapping gregarious person. And that's just not true. Nearly all of us have the native capacities to be effective in selling and persuading. Again, we have to take it seriously. We have to be good at understanding someone's point of view. We have to be good at being resilient and buoyant in the face of rejection. We have to be good at not only finding information, but taking this wealth of information, and boiling it down, and making sense of it. We have to be good problem finders, as well as good problem solvers. But most of us have the innate personality to do that very well.

Devin Reed: I got one more thing. And then, we do have a final question we ask all of our guests, Dan. So, this was a quick hit, though. So, on this podcast and the Gong, we're all about data. Looking at data, like you said, observing what's really happening, what's really working? You've done a lot of research. And I'm curious, what is the most surprising or counterintuitive piece of research that you've come across in your career?

Daniel Pink: In terms of the persuasion research, I think one of the things that has really stuck with... I don't know if it's the most counterintuitive, but to me, it's the most compelling, which is the extent to which making it easy for people to act is the most important persuasive skill that you don't have to always change people's minds. That you can bypass changing people's minds if you just make it easy for them to do something. The people resist changing their minds. And so, you can do an end run around that by making it easy for them to act. I think that in some ways, the most important persuasive lever you have is ease.

Devin Reed: Is that like an example, is a fair example? Like, if you buy something on Amazon, and you can swipe the purchase, it's like you don't even have to think. It's like if you just swipe your thumb, things are going to be there in two days.

Daniel Pink: That's part of it. It's things like some of the research showing, it's a famous now in the world of behavioral economics, where let's say you want people to put money into their 401(k). And you can do all this messaging to try to get them to do it. And it doesn't work very well. But then, if you just simply opt them in and require them to opt out, the registration levels for 401( k) s goes through the roof, because you just made it easy for them. So, we spent all this time trying to change their minds. " Oh, let me show you the importance of retirement savings. Let me give you the optimistic view of a bright retirement. Let me show you a picture of somebody in destitution because they didn't put the money in their 401(k)s." It doesn't do anything. Check the box for them. That does it.

Devin Reed: Can't change someone's mind. Make it easy for them.

Daniel Pink: You should put that bumper sticker on the car you just bought.

Devin Reed: There we go. Yeah. Dan, I'm going to ask you one final question, and it's a question we ask all of our guests. How would you describe sales in one word?

Daniel Pink: Betterment.

Devin Reed: That's a good one.

Daniel Pink: What you're trying to do is you're trying to make things better. You're trying to make things better for the other side and by extension to the world. And I guess if I had a hyphenated word, if I was allowed to be promiscuous with hyphens, I might say, non- hyphens, zero hyphen sum, nonzero sum. Or I could say positive sum, maybe that's what I would... it's a positive sum.

Devin Reed: To be honest, I'm still stuck on the fact you said if I can be promiscuous with my hyphens, and I've finally found a way to describe how I am with hyphens because I will jam hyphens in to make something a phrase. The thing you wish you had, and it's like, that doesn't need to be hyphenated, but I'll try.

Daniel Pink: I don't think I've ever used the word promiscuous and hyphens in the same sentence. And believe me, I use both of those words a lot, just never within a couple of words away from each other. So, it's a tribute to your ferocious interviewing skills.

Devin Reed: Hey, I try to bring out the best in people. So, I appreciate it. Well, Dan, that brings an end to our conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I probably said a few times here, and I know our audience as well. So, just want to say thank you. Last thing, do you mind sharing a little bit more about that book that you mentioned, and when it will come out? How folks can get it? That sort of thing.

Daniel Pink: And so, I've got a new book coming out called The Power of Regret. It's about our most misunderstood emotion, regret, and it talks about why the no regrets philosophy of life is complete BS. And why reckoning with our regrets can lead us to make better decisions, improve our performance, deepen our sense of meaning, all kinds of ways to transform our regrets into a force for good. So, it'll be out on February 1, The Power of Regret. But of course, if you're listening to this before February 1, you can preorder it from any reputable online bookseller, even some disreputable ones too, but I prefer the reputable ones.

Devin Reed: Don't get any bootleg versions of his book, okay? Go to the reputable ones, and go get that book. All right. Well, you got a buyer in me. I'll go find one of those books on Amazon. I try to support local bookstores. If they've got it available, I'm going to go get it. Dan, Thank you, again. I enjoyed the conversation.

Daniel Pink: What a pleasure. I really enjoyed, it was fun.

Sheena Badani: Every week, we bring you a micro action, something to think about or an action you can put into play today. After this conversation, you might be feeling overwhelmed with which step to take next. But we all know that keeping it simple makes it easier to act. So, if you only take one action, do this, observe yourself. Jot down the various ways you feel at different times of the day. And do this for an entire week. Your goal here is to understand your peak, your trough, and your recovery to help increase your own productivity. So, to reiterate, Dan shared do your analytical work during the peak, your administrative work during the trough, and your creative, or your social work during the recovery. So, this week, start small, and become an observer of your behavior. And share the results after watching what happens when you arrange your day in a time- savvy way.

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.


Leading sales professionals is challenging. There are many best practices available, we all possess one thing that can give us a massive competitive edge — time. 

Daniel Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author, reveals the secrets revenue leaders need to know to drive maximum impact. These insights will leave you with a straightforward approach to making the most out of your valuable asset.

Today's Host

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Dana Feldman

|VP of Enterprise Sales at Gong

Today's Guests

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Daniel Pink

|NYT Best Selling Author