No matter how many tools you have in your sales toolkit, if you don’t know how to be present in that conversation, you still won’t get much from it. That is Judy Hoberman’s secret sauce that helps people be more productive, engaging, and sell more. In this episode, she sits down with Penny Zenker to take us deeper into the power of presence during conversations and other important situations—be that in sales or in building relationships in general. As an award-winning international speaker, bestselling author, and leading authority on women in leadership, Judy has the extensive wisdom to help us become better at sales. She shares some key sales questions, body language pointers, and learning to be intentional. Tune into this great conversation and find how it’s a lot simpler than it actually is. Cut through the complexity with Judy and Penny.
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The Power Of Presence In Sales Conversations With Judy Hoberman
I’m excited to have Judy Hoberman with me. She is an award-winning international speaker, bestselling author, trainer and leading authority on women in leadership. I’m sure this isn’t just for women. If you’re a man and you’re reading, I guarantee you’re going to walk away with something too. She has over three decades in business and she combines her wisdom and humor with her behavior, shaping insights that impact audiences of 10,000-plus as well as small groups and individuals. Men and women lead, sell, manage, and recruit differently as a result. Judy is the master at improving performance in company culture and empowering both genders to better support each other’s success in more productive ways. That’s what you’re going to talk about Judy, productive ways. Welcome.
Thank you. I’m excited to be here. I couldn’t wait.
Me too because I love talking and hearing different perspectives. One of the keys that people take away from this program of Take Back Time is there are different perspectives on how to approach your business and be more productive in that. What’s your secret sauce? If I had to say there’s one shortcut that you have and use that helps everybody that you work with to be more productive, engaging, and sell more, what’s your ideal quick shortcut?
Be present. That is the number one thing. I don’t care what else you’re doing. If you’re present and you’re showing somebody that you’re interested in them, not interesting to them, it’s a whole different ball game. Whether you’re in sales leadership, it doesn’t matter. Being present is one of the most important things. When I see people constantly looking at their watch or whatever, it’s because it’s an Apple Watch and they’re reading their emails.
There are people who are reading, going, “I am present.”
I will tell you that I come from the insurance world and unless it was blood or bones, it wasn’t an emergency and you could wait. You could wait for the 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 hour unless it’s an emergency. If it’s your family and there’s an emergency, it’s totally different. When you’re one-on-one with somebody or in a meeting, no.
I always tell people that they’re not a brain surgeon so they don’t have to pick it up. They don’t have to check it and the business is not going away. Is that exactly what you mean by blood and bones?
Exactly. You’re not delivering blood plasma. If you are, go for it but other than that, you don’t need to do it.
What do you think is behind that for people? As easy as it is for us to say that and somebody to say, “I know that,” we don’t do it.
Some of it is, we’re instant gratification. Everything has to come now. When you’re sitting and talking to somebody, somebody asks you a question and you don’t have the answer, what’s the first thing you do? You pick up your phone and you look it up. Growing up, we didn’t have this. You had to wait or you went to an encyclopedia, which didn’t give you the correct answer for that moment. You don’t need to know everything at that moment. What’s part of it is we want to know the answers like that.
Open-ended questions get the other person involved in the conversation. It's not a monologue; it's a dialogue. Click To Tweet We’re impatient. How does one practice being patient?
I don’t know about being patient but I do know about being present which is almost the same thing. When I talk to my clients or when I was an agency manager for insurance, I would say to them, “When you’re sitting with somebody, ask them a question.” Ask the question, “Are you okay if I take notes?” The person is going to say yes or no, but when they say yes and you take notes, you have to be present and you have to be listening because they’re telling you things that you need to understand in their words. That’s the way you’re going to be able to create a relationship and close a sale. It’s not going to be where you’re thinking about the laundry list and what’s for dinner, you’re 100% present. If you start like that, that’s the easiest way to get started. I do it with everybody.
I’m taking notes. Judy, is it okay if I take notes?
Of course, but that’s the truth.
That’s interesting for a couple of different reasons because it puts you on the place to be present. That’s what I hear you saying but it also lets that person know that you care enough to make sure that you get their information. If it seems like you’re distracted, because if you’re taking notes and you don’t ask, they may think you’re doing something else. It also lets them know that it is about them. I liked that as an intro to a conversation in identifying and clarifying that presence for everybody.
When you ask an open-ended question then they give you some information, they’re going to tell you some things that you wouldn’t have gotten unless you were listening. It’s usually the why that they’re doing something. When you have someone’s why, that whole conversation changes because now you get it and they think you listened to me because you repeated it back in their words so you were present.
In order sometimes to get that why you have to listen for what’s being said but also listening for what’s not being said. What would you say around that?
First of all, it starts with body language. They’re saying things and they’re not saying things. When somebody is sitting there like this, you know that they are not comfortable with anything that you’re doing until they put their arms down. You have to watch what they’re saying and what they’re not saying. If they’re not being present, you have to try to get them not to be distracted so it’s a conversation. I used to say to people, “Let’s look at each other eye-to-eye and let’s get down to business here.” It wasn’t anything that was drastic, I knew that they were being distracted. There are kids running around, there are all kinds of stuff.
What that leads me to think about is how do you protect your presence if you’re in an environment that has a lot going on that’s not conducive for a good meeting? We have to take a look at the environment that we’re setting up for ourselves.
Look at now. Everybody is doing Zoom or some platform. What’s happening is you’re watching a cat go across the keyboard, watching the kids come out, do whatever the spouse or the partner comes through, and off goes through the door and goes over here. I always tell people, give yourself some slack. We’re doing the best we can and we’re getting to see how people live. It’s not going to be as focused as you think it’s going to be, but it’s cool. I do a panel and every week, there’s one woman that comes on. She brings her son on and he only wants to wave, say hi, and then he leaves. Almost every week but that’s part of life. He couldn’t do that before when she was working from an office. If we give each other a break and cut some slack into it, we’re going to be as focused as we possibly can in this environment. I still take notes though. I do.
With everything, there’s a balance. There might be some other tips that you could bring to us like that. You’re saying that part of being distracted by the family is if you give your children or whatever that one second of your presence and give them that attention that you’ll get more focus for the rest of the time. Is that right?
Right, because you’re stressed now. You want to say something and you feel like you can’t. If you say, “Can you hold on for one second? Now I’m back. I can be focused again because before, I was totally stressed out.” What if they walk past? What if one of my kids is doing something they shouldn’t be doing?
Since we’re talking about presence and then we’ll shift a little bit because this is important. I’m on a sales call. I’m on Zoom. What are some things that I can do to protect my presence or to do the best I can with the situation that I’m in?
I like to begin the conversation by saying that and being real. You have to give people the credit where credit is due like, “Everything is great.” When we get down to the business portion of the program, I like to ask lots of questions. I was dubbed the question queen. For me, asking questions is no big deal. I like to ask certain questions because it’s a different conversation. Sometimes I’ll ask like, “What do you still want to accomplish?” It’s a different type of question because when you ask it, a lot of people will say, “No one’s ever asked me that before.” The conversation goes into a totally different halfway. They’re telling you things that they may not have said to anybody out loud and all of a sudden, you’re hearing what’s going on. I love those kinds of questions but I come up with lots of different questions to get them involved so we’re staying like this.
It’s creating that engagement and focus on both sides. Let’s move into questions because as a salesperson or anything that you’re doing, and you’re having a two-way or a multi-way conversation. What would you say are coming up with those key questions? What’s the value of that? Let’s talk about some example questions like good and better.
Questions are going to get somebody to start a relationship with you. That’s how it starts. Listening obviously cements it but questions start it. You have to be careful not to keep asking the yes or no questions because one question can shut you down totally. “Do you need this?” “No.” Where do you go from there? I always say it’s like being a talk show host. If I said to you, “Penny, did you like being in so-and-so’s podcast?” you can say yes or no. If you said no, I could say why not, then it’s over. If I said to you, “What was the best thing about being on their podcast?” now you have a conversation. I like to do open-ended questions.
However, you can’t eliminate close-ended questions because those are your tie-downs. Those are the ones that are going to get you that little detail that you need. When I was in insurance, I would never ever ask anybody, “Do you need insurance? How much did you want to spend? What’s the face amount? Who’s the beneficiary?” I didn’t ask that question. I would say, “Tell me why it’s important for you to have insurance put in place now.” They told me everything else but they also told me that reason. For me, you have to think about questions and who you’re talking to, but I always love the open-ended questions because it gets the other person involved in the conversation. It’s not a monologue, it’s a dialogue.
There are some things that you put in that question that enhance the question, yes?
That’s the point. I get them thinking, “I’m going to put a policy in place and I’m going to do that today.” They’re not saying that out loud but they’re thinking about the reasons why it would be important. If I asked that question and they said to me, “I’m not going to do it today.” I would say, “Okay. Tell me the reason why you want the policy period.” I’m not going to back away from it.
I would imagine that that almost never happens. It’s unconscious that word ‘today’ that goes in and it works its way. I’m sure there’s a percentage that doesn’t do it today but it puts that suggestion into there.
Keep an eye on what you love because you're going to end up there anyway. Click To Tweet I used to have an agent and she would call me from every single appointment when she was new and she’d always use one word that I told her she needed to stop saying. She would say, “Judy, it’s Nicki. I’m visiting with Penny.” That word ‘visiting’ means that you’re not there to do anything but visit. I would say to her, “Don’t say visit, say I’m on an appointment with Penny.” It took such a long time for her to get that. When she finally did it, she said, “I’m writing more business.” You’re getting somebody I’m visiting. I can be back. I can come ten times. We could have coffee. You have to change somebody’s mindset and it’s not manipulation, it’s actual studies that people do.
There are nuances to words and they do matter. I say to people with that whole study that words are only 3% of our communication. I don’t know how you feel about this but it’s only when we’re out of alignment that those words are less. If our body language is completely not in alignment, then our body language is going to tell us more but those words are so much more power and influence than the 3%.
Think about the words you say to yourself before you walked into that appointment. “I’m never going to do this. I’m never going to get it. They don’t need it. I don’t know enough.” All this nonsense that we tell ourselves which is another story, another whole conversation.
That will be another show. You have to come back and do that show separately. I want to stay with the questions because it’s amazing to me. The best strategies are simple.
I know but people make it hard.
Tell me, why do we do that? How do we break through the complexity that we’re creating?
I personally believe that when you have the ability to go out with somebody and watch what they’re doing, you will learn more lessons than you could ever imagine because what happens on both sides, the person that is taking you out is on their best behavior. Even though they’ve been doing this for twenty years or whatever, they’re on their best behavior. They’re showing you exactly how it needs to get done. You are sitting there taking notes and then having a follow debrief in the car afterward or on Zoom or whatever and learning why did they say this instead of this? You realize it isn’t that hard to do, but then you say, “If I didn’t close it now then I must be doing something wrong so let me make it harder. It’s got to be harder than this.” You have this whole thing in your head that you say. “It’s too hard. I don’t think I could do it. Nobody wants to talk to me.” Somebody has to talk you off the ledge. We make everything more difficult.
It comes back to that self-talk then.
Without question, I’ll give you a perfect example. When I first started on insurance, I hated it. I hated everything about it. I was a single mom. I had no idea what I was doing. There was no training. I talked to myself every day how much I hated this. It’s a wonderful start. I hate this so much. I was the only female and nobody in my office would talk to me and say, “This is what’s going to happen. Here are a speed bump and whatever nonsense.” Nothing. I’d be fine when I went on an appointment, but I wasn’t fine getting to the appointment because I would be sabotaging myself. One morning, I got up, I looked at my kids and I said, “This is my one and only job in the world that I have to protect my children.” This light bulb went on and I thought, “If I could protect my family, why can’t I protect yours and yours?” I dropped them off at school. I remember it was like yesterday, I took my rearview mirror. I looked in it and I said, “Now I have the privilege of protecting someone’s family.” I put the mirror back where it was and off I went. From that day on, I wrote more business because I always told myself, “I have the privilege of.” It wasn’t ever hard. I made it hard and that’s how it changed because I stopped the nonsense.
You talked yourself out of it.
I did because nobody else would. Now, everybody has coaches.
It does help. It helps to have somebody see your blind spots and help you get past them quicker. Sometimes, it takes long for us to recognize it so we need someone else to see it.
That’s why it’s hard because it takes long. We can’t get it right and we can’t do it.
When you’re working with people on the sales side, it might be an entrepreneur who’s running their own business and they might be a solo entrepreneur, they might have a whole sales team that’s working for them. What are your top two tips? We talked about presence and questions. What else would you offer as an important focus for them?
I was going to say focus.
Tell us about focus. What’s focus to you?
Let’s change the word. Let’s talk about being intentional. Everything you do has to be intentional so you have to focus on being intentional. Who you speak to, the appointments you make, the places you go to look for clients, you have to be intentional because otherwise, you’re going to be running around and making it harder for yourself but running around, talking to people who are awesome people but have nothing to do with who you’re supposed to be working with. If you’re not being intentional, it doesn’t work.
I use a different word there but we’re saying the same thing. I want to clarify. I like to say to be strategic so you’re saying the same thing. For people who are reading, their eyes are tuned up for different words. Intentional, purposeful, strategic, getting clear, and then following that path.
Do you know there was a study about the word strategic?
No, tell me.
Men and women are different—not better, and not worse, just different. Click To Tweet They said that a lot of women are not being taken seriously, so they tell women, “When you’re in a meeting, use the word strategic or strategy. It doesn’t matter where you’re using it, just use it.”
It went to overall the men in the audience.
What to hear is what is said. You say, “John, what a good strategy you came up with.” They’re like, “Okay.” Honestly, that word makes people believe that you know what you’re talking about so there you go. Strategy, intentional, whatever it is, you have to be focused on that because that is going to give you much more of a pathway to success than anything else. If you are talking to the wrong people or you are going to the wrong places, it doesn’t work so their frustration comes in.
I call it to spray and pray approach. It’s not productive.
The other thing I would say is I do my three Rs and I do it every quarter. The three Rs are Review, Readjust, Release. I review what I did for the quarter, I readjust what didn’t work, and I released what didn’t work after I readjusted it. The release is the hardest part because you don’t want to give something up, but if it’s not working, you clearly need to so I do it every quarter.
Give me an example. A lot of people learn from examples too. What’s something that might be that process?
This is exactly what happened. I decided to put out an online program a couple of years ago because it was the thing to do. I didn’t want to do it but I thought, “I’m going to do it.” In the first quarter, I did it. In the second quarter, I reviewed it and I thought, “The results were not what I wanted so let me tweak it.” I readjusted it. The next quarter, I reviewed it again, I looked at everything I readjusted and it still wasn’t where I wanted it to be so I released it.
What does that mean? You decided not to continue with it?
What I did was I pulled it apart and I repurposed it for other things. I didn’t lose it altogether but I took it away from what it was that was making me absolutely insane because it wasn’t what I wanted and it wasn’t doing what I needed it to do. That’s what it is.
We do stick with things sometimes much too long because we’re afraid to release it. We don’t like to lose anything. We don’t even like to lose weight.
That’s a big word again. If you lose it, it comes back. If you release it, it doesn’t.
I know people who use different language around that.
I’m releasing 10 pounds instead of saying I lost 10 pounds. I lost it, let me find it.
I want to find it. Nobody likes to lose anything. We want to win. We want to gain. How do you define productivity and why?
I define it as it’s not being busy, it’s getting things accomplished. I’ve always been a list person. I can be busy looking at my list and trying to do things but when I get to check things off as completed, not that I just started and started twelve things, I like to start something and finish it. Being productive is having the list, being able to go through it, finishing the project, and then moving on to the next one. That to me is productivity.
I love this question because I’ve never had the same answer out of all the years I’ve been doing this. It’s starting something to simplify it. It’s starting something and finishing it and that a lot of people don’t do like, “I’m a great starter and not as much of a finisher but it’s got to get finished.”
Otherwise, you’re busy all the time.
Is there anything else that you wanted to share with the audience before we take a look at where people can reach you? I think you had a free gift for everyone.
I did. I would say that you have to be able to be doing what you love and if you can’t do what you’re loving right this moment, do what you have to do but keep an eye on what you love because you’re going to end up there anyway. I knew when I wanted to leave my business or the company I was with but I knew it wasn’t the right time so I kept taking the paychecks that they gave me and depositing it into an account that said my business. I had no idea what my business was so I didn’t resent anybody. I would say do what you love and try to get there as quickly as you can because it’s a different feeling when you’re doing something that you truly love and you’re passionate about doing something. It’s almost like busy productive.
I heard you say that you shifted your own mindset even when you were doing something that you didn’t love so that you could, in a way, love the one your way.
Women want to be treated equally, not identically. Click To Tweet I have a lot of clients that want to leave their corporate position which is what I did. You were making a lot of money or whatever else you’re doing, but you’re also leaving money on the table. For me, I knew that the bonuses that I earned were from the year before. It wasn’t like they were going to pay me a bonus and then I was leaving. This was earned before. I knew if I left I would lose that. I always say to people, “Are you leaving something on the table? Don’t leave something on the table but don’t take what’s not yours.”
Tell us about your free gift and where people can find out more about you.
My company is Selling In A Skirt and it has nothing to do with a skirt honestly because it’s an acronym, but because it is what it is, you have to be careful how you brand yourself. My company is about empowering women and encouraging men to be champions for women. I never leave men out either. The gift is a mini guide and it’s called Skirting the Issues. It talks about being a female in sales and how men and women are different. It’s a very profound statement when you say men and women are different but they are. Not better and not worse, just different. If you go to SellingInASkirt.com/special-offer, it’s right there. You can download it.
This came up for me so let’s ask you. Is there a quote that stands out for you that you could share with the audience before we say goodbye?
I have a quote and that’s my quote. My quote is, “Women want to be treated equally, not identically.” It means give us the same opportunity and let us do it. We’re not asking to be treated as men, it’s confusing for everybody but give us the same opportunity. It’s a short little quote but it means a lot.
Thank you for being here.
You’re welcome. Thank you.
Thank you all for being here. I got a couple of nuggets there. Make sure that you took notes. You didn’t have to ask for permission first when we’re not reading on the other side but take notes. If you didn’t, go back and read because the nuances are there and we aren’t present enough. If you were to bring it back to what we were talking about in this show, if you were reading something else, you were doing something else, that’s awesome but at the same time, you missed a couple of the nuggets that were here that’s by a couple of words or the way that you ask a question could make all the difference to increase the number of leads that you’re getting and increase the number of sales you’re making. That’s huge. As you’re reading this blog, remember to be present. Be present for those who you’re speaking with and how to be more productive with that presence, with the questions, and then also with the idea of what you’re focusing on, being intentional, purposeful, and strategic. Thank you. I will see you in the next episode.
About Judy Hoberman
Judy Hoberman is an award-winning, international speaker, best-selling author, trainer and leading authority on women in leadership. With over 3 decades in business, she combines wisdom and humor with her behavior shaping insights impacting audiences of 10,000 as well as small groups and even individuals through her 1:1 executive coaching and mentoring. Men and women lead, sell, manage and recruit differently and Judy is the master at improving performance and company culture empowering both genders to better support each other’s successes in more productive ways.
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