Demo Therapy with Julia LMFT: Consent to Sell explores how we can work with our audiences so they’re ready for our sales pitches or demos. This is our first session in a three-part, and likely many more part, series with licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Julia Alperovich. Alperovich is an LA-based professor and therapist who specializes in addiction and sex. Why a sex therapist that specializes in addiction and relationships for SaaS sales demos and presentations? Some of the most important lessons we train include communication techniques, authenticity, and understanding how to get a prospect to change behavior or their mind about a product or service. Julia LMFT offers really valuable therapeutic insights and applies her knowledge to hypotheticals and the expertise of Demo Solutions’ Founder Ed Jaffe.
We have three more parts, so please click to view below.
How to Create an Authentic Connection
AVR Communication Game Changer
Watch! Demo Therapy with Julia LMFT: Consent to Sell
Transcript for Consent to Sell
Ed: A lot of what I see salespeople do is “find the pain,” but then push the pain and really make people feel pain because that’s going to get them to change.
How do you react to that? I can see in your face, you don’t agree with that very much.
Julia: It sounds like bullying. It sounds like you’re in a courtroom litigating something. It feels like one-upmanship and that doesn’t land well with me. I know that if I was to encounter that , I would be really turned off, even if I desperately needed whatever this person was selling. It would still encourage me to go find it elsewhere because that just doesn’t feel good.
And I, because it doesn’t feel good. I wouldn’t want to give them a win of any kind, but maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m spiteful, but it doesn’t sound good.
When somebody starts to remember pain, you know, they’re not in a really good mood.
They’re not in a great head space- it’s not optimistic. It’s, it’s sort of woeful it’s maybe. There’s some regret or remorse. And also when you bring up a pain point or something that is painful for them, business-wise my concern would be, are you trying to make this person feel stupid for having made the decision that they made?
So you’re going to start out with an insult as your opener. How’s that going to work? What do you expect?
People still do it…
I know they do. Listen, people do lots of things -it doesn’t mean that they are the best way to do those things, but I don’t think that’s the best tactic out there. I think there are other ways to go about it that are a little more mature and understated yet effective.
Ed: What are some examples of those tactics?
Julia: Connecting with a person, to me, it’s about safety, creating a safe space with that person, helping them to feel comfortable with you and not feel like there’s somebody there kind of doing this, like urging them to take out their wallets and where there’s a strong connection that is trying to be established where this is a human being. We’re trying to build a relationship more than make a sale.
I think there are certain ways to go about this. Keeping it kind of informal helps to disarm people, right? It’s not the stuffy business interaction necessarily. It’s two people talking.
The other thing is open-ended questions. I think this is such an underrated communication skill. A lot of people come in and ask yes or no questions, closed-ended questions, or very specific answer versus asking an open-ended question because, it actually gives the person you’re speaking with an opportunity to give you not just information about what you’re asking about, but typically if it’s, open-ended, they’re going to give you even more than that.
And that’s information. Information is always helpful and useful, and it’s something you can put in your back pocket and refer back to later. “You know, I know we’ve been talking about this, but earlier you also mentioned blah, blah, blah. I’m wondering if there’s also a solution I can offer you or help you find in that regard.”
And I think the other piece of it is rather than taking the approach of this sell, “I’m trying to convince you, I’m trying to sell you,” right? To me. sell is synonymous with convince. I think it, there should be more of this approach of, I want to help you. And even if that means it’s not making a sale, but I give you some information or a referral to some other service that’s unrelated, but clearly you have a need.
And I know about it, you know, offering something extra where it’s not just about me getting something in return. I will tell you that has actually had a really good. Turnaround for me where I’ve had people call and they either can’t afford my services or they need something else or they, for some reason, just don’t want to be in therapy and I’ll give them information.
I’ll give them resources. I’ll take the time to speak to them and understand what’s going on. Let them tell me all about it. And then I’ll give them a referral to something else it’s not me. And a few months later, I’ll get a call back. “Hey, you were really helpful back there. You didn’t pressure me to make an appointment.
I really appreciated that. You know, I’m in a different position now, and I’m wondering if maybe we can set up, uh, an appointment?”, So, you know, offering to be helpful and human again, human. I think that’s the most important thing for salespeople is sometimes it can feel robotic and opportunistic, without giving off that human component in showing a willingness to get to know the person and to connect with them, not just convince them.
Ed: I like that. There is part of sales, it’s about persuasion and getting someone to do whatever it is you’re trying to do.
And I know a lot of your work, especially around, addiction or substance abuse, tends to be that same thing where you need to drive change. What are some ways that you can do that without making people just feel like you’re saying they’re being like, stop doing that because that obviously doesn’t work.
Julia: No, it doesn’t. It never does. . There are different ways to elicit change. I will say the reason why I don’t do that, it doesn’t work is because it feels like you’re in a parent position, they’re being scolded… there’s limitations being placed on them versus them feeling like they’re the ones who are in the driver’s seat, they’re making the decisions they’re in control and that they’re doing something that benefits them versus they are about to have something taken away from them.
It’s reinforcement versus punishment . Reward versus punishment. So. I think that’s the most important thing is going about it in a way where the person feels like this is their decision it’s coming from them , where they are not being strong armed into anything or pressured or bullied.
That’s where that connection piece comes in because it’s really easy for a customer or a client, in my case, somebody who’s not a hundred percent comfortable with you to meet you. And, within a few minutes, you’re telling them what to do or what not to do. That would be a turnoff for me personally, I would want to feel like this person knows me.
I didn’t exactly ask them for that. At no point did I say, please tell me what I should do
Ed: You didn’t give them permission, if you will.
Julia: No, consent, I think, more so than permission because again, permission feels like a parent child thing. Consent is such a huge topic nowadays, and I think it’s relevant in more contexts than just romantic exchanges or dating or sex, it’s everywhere. It exists in the workplace. It exists in sales environments. It’s everywhere. And I think that’s exactly what it is. You’re kind of coming at somebody hard and fast. And at no point, was there an indication that this is welcome or desired even.
So you didn’t get consent. Maybe, cause I deal with sex and sexuality, it feels like walking down the street in a park and a flasher runs up and opens this trench coat and then runs away. They didn’t get your consent.
Ed: There’s a visual… I mean, you’re right. And we’ve thought about that word a fair amount as well , and how it applies. It is kind of this idea of like, I’m trying to get something from you as a salesperson. I think it is actually a very similar thing. And so what are some things that in this context then to try to get that consent or to try to see, like I’m starting to get it without feeling creepy.
Julia: You can ask, and feeling your way through the conversation, getting a feel for cues from the person you’re speaking with, that they are looking for information. They’re looking to hear your sales pitch versus you just sort of shoving it down their throat. There are things to look out for.
I think. First off. If they start asking questions, that’s a good sign. It indicates a curiosity. Also after speaking with them and establishing that comfort level that we just talked about, you and I. Once you establish a little bit of this rapport, a bit of a back and forth, and it starts to feel a little more comfortable.
The person seems to be a little more relaxed. Maybe they’re bringing in some humor. I think that’s a good opportunity to then see, you know, it’s been so nice talking with you. You know, I am here selling this product. Is there anything you’d like to know about it? Would you like to hear about it? Is there something specific you’re looking for?”
Ed: You’re actually asking for consent to sell them something?
Julia: 100%, but consent doesn’t have to be this awkward, “may I please take the next six minutes to give you my elevator speech, right?
It doesn’t have to be so firm and awkward and out of place, it can be something that just kind of flows naturally. I mean, you can also speak to some of the person’s nonverbals.
If you’re standing in a store next to a display or whatever else, and you see them glancing over. I mean ask: “Hey, I noticed you’re looking at something.
What, what are you checking out back there? Do you have any questions? Is there something you want to know about?” I know this is going to sound manipulative, but instead of you trying to get them to want it. Well, no, it is. Instead of you trying to sell them and get them to be interested. You’re kind of standing here with this product and you’re not pushing it on them. You’ve got it, but the priority. Isn’t the sale. But if they’re interested, I’m happy to tell you about it where it’s almost like, well, now I want to know, I want into this thing where they now have a desire versus you trying to create this desire in them because that’s much harder.
And I think that that comes about when you establish some type of rapport connection and part of that rapport and connection is that the person is going to want to continue speaking with you and continue on connecting with you.
Ed: What are the, some of the non-verbals then? The retail one is a good example of sort of that B to C or business to consumer, but in the B2B environment where you’re more like these types of conversations, you’re on zoom.
I mean, who knows how much longer we’re still going to be having zoom instead of actually in person. So what are some of the non-verbals that we can look for that are kind of that similar, someone coming up to you, looking at a product.
Julia: There are a few. Losing a person’s eye contact. If they start glancing away, when this whole time they’ve been pretty engaged and making eye contact, and all of a sudden they start avoiding it. It’s kind of a good cue that you lost them. When they start looking at their watches, that’s a good cue. “I’m getting bored.”
I also think there are some verbal cues when people start answering.
Several questions in a row with, “I don’t know,” most of the time, that’s not true, not to say that a person’s lying and by all means do not accuse them of that. ” I don’t know” often is “I don’t care to say” or , “I haven’t thought about it and maybe I don’t want to.” So, I don’t know, has just sort of become this, this expression that we use to redirect a conversation.
So when you start getting a lot of, I don’t knows, that’s a cue for you to redirect.
As far as non-verbals also, I think we all, this is basic social skills stuff that most of us utilize in regular, everyday conversations, the same way that you gauge a person’s reaction to whatever you’re telling them about.
If they start kind of, you know, hanging their heads and they haven’t said much in a while, you’ve been doing all the talking, they’re starting to look kind of bored. You see their eyes wandering, their mind is probably wandering too. They’re no longer following and tracking what you’re saying. So maybe reengage ask them a question.
Take a different path, do something different in that moment rather than staying on your monologue.
Ed: Unfortunately, a lot of times you see either somebody is scripted, so they’ll just kind of read down like, “Oh, let’s just go to the next part.” Or they’ll say ” do you have any questions? No. Okay, let’s move on.” And so they almost don’t even give them the opportunity to say, “I don’t know,” because they don’t have any questions. It almost sounds like they’re kind of setting people up to do exactly what you just described.
Julia: Do you have any questions is a close ended question. If they say yes, they’ve answered your question, but that doesn’t give you any more information, you still have to ask another one. So why not save yourself a step and say, so how is all of this sounding to you? It’s open-ended. Now they have to give you some type of answer of, well, this doesn’t really fit with what I’m looking for, or, I’m interested in this aspect, but I’m concerned about this other aspect.
That’s the beauty of open-ended questions is they’re not limiting, they’re not confined. If you ask the yes or no question, the appropriate answer is a yes or no. Nobody owes you any further explanation and it’s on you for asking that type of question. That’s your mistake.
Ed: Well, and usually you don’t even get a yes or no. It’s this weird, awkward moment of like, do you have any questions then no one comes off mute. Okay. You don’t, you don’t even get that much. Think about a scenario where you’re selling something. I think a lot of times what happens is it’s not just one-on-one, you have maybe a junior person in the room who maybe set up the meeting, but then their boss is in the room.
So you have all of these dynamics you didn’t even know about on the other side of the conversation. So how do you manage all of these things when you have multiple audience members and you have to kind of manage lots of people?
Julia: I’m a little bit unique in this regard- not a lot of therapists like this, but I prefer groups the more the merrier, because it gives me more to work with there’s more going on in the room than just one person. And a lot of times. People can’t, even if they’re remaining quiet, they can’t entirely hide what’s going on in the room.
They can’t entirely hide their thoughts and feelings. That’s where non-verbals come in. Unless somebody is a really good poker player.
Ed: Or just off video
Julia: Yeah, but even on video, I can gauge and tell when I’m losing their interest, when they’re getting annoyed with something.
And I think part of it is also, I have a trained eye to read those cues, but with enough practice, anybody can, this isn’t something that’s secret, only therapists can know about. In a group. I tend to use what I call the 80/ 20 rule. So basically it’s process versus content. Content is only 20%. The rest is process, meaning, if I’m sitting in a room, whether it’s with a family, a couple or a bunch of executives at a conference room table, and there’s several of us in there. There’s the content what’s being said. And the rest is the process, which is the non-verbals the cues, the dynamics, the power differential, who has a bigger voice, who tends to be a little more reserved, who feels intimidated, who doesn’t want to be there, who maybe is resentful because they have to be there, but they don’t have any real decision-making power. All of that is visible when you are in front of people. And that is all really useful information. So when you have a situation where you have a group and there’s one person who’s clearly in power, clearly in control- they’re accustomed to leading the conversation. And when you see some of those other dynamics going on, that’s that 80% the, you know, the resentment, the power differentials, maybe there’s some tension between a couple of people. It’s an opportunity for you to not necessarily bring it into the room, but engage all of them, and win all of them over. What I like to do is I like to take the voice, the mouth of the group, and I will try to generalize out whatever it is they’re saying. So they may have a really valid point.
And it seems like everybody’s in agreement, but I’ll say, “yeah, you know, you make a really good point and it sounds like a valid concern. Is that a concern for other folks in here too? And just engage them. Sometimes it’s easier, not as nerve wracking, to just agree and nod then to speak up and, make themselves heard in that dynamic.
So even that is information for you, but I also think that the reserved ones aren’t necessarily… Not interested. A lot of times those folks are, it’s a personality trait. They’re just not the type of people who like to interject, who like to have a big presence, but they tend to be observers and they tend to be absorbing what is happening.
They’re listening, they’re taking it in, they’re processing it and analyzing it. And that may just be the way that they make decisions. So it may be worthwhile, not necessarily to put them on the spot and call them out to, with an open-ended question, to speak in front of the room, but at least to pay attention to their non-verbals to that process.
I tend to use that rule. Whenever I’m speaking with groups. I’m watching the process and I’m speaking, I know what I’m going to say, but I want to see what’s going on. And that gives me a gauge of whether I should sort of transition or pivot or do whatever.