Nailing the Problem, Asking Great Questions & Overcoming Confirmation Bias with David Priemer, Founder of Cerebral Selling

10/10 GTM Episode 30
Transparent sales process - working together
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Welcome to Season 3 of 10/10 GTM: The Podcast for Revenue Leaders!

Our guest for Episode 30 is David Priemer, Founder & Chief Sales Scientist at Cerebral Selling. David began his career as a research scientist before pivoting to sales. He brings more than 20 years of sales experience to the conversation. 

In this episode, Ross and David discuss why it’s important to nail the problem rather than jumping to solutions, the art of asking great discovery questions, and strategies to eliminate confirmation bias. 

Listen to the episode here, and get the key takeaways from our conversation below.

Nailing the problem — not the solution

As David says, “People love to buy things, but they hate talking to salespeople.” The question is, how can you change this?

The key is not to lead with products, features, and benefits. This causes customers to tune out. The market is already saturated with solutions in almost every category. So, when a prospect asks, “What do you do?” make it your mission to understand their pain points so you can address their specific needs.

This approach will help you understand each prospect’s primary challenges so you can shift the conversation from selling to solving, which is key to building trust and rapport.

Asking great discovery questions

“When you see a company that’s struggling to sell, 99% of the time the issue that they’re experiencing lies in the messaging and discovery phase,” says David. “It’s not about the discovery questions you ask, it’s also the way you ask them.” 

Oftentimes in discovery, reps ask questions such as: 

  • What’s the problem?
  • How long has this been going on?
  • What solution do you use currently?
  • How long have you used this solution?

These questions are fact-based and may not be particularly engaging for prospects. More importantly, buyers might be reluctant to answer them, and even if they do, the responses might not uncover the root cause of the problem they are experiencing because these questions are somewhat superficial.

Great discovery questions go deeper, prompting prospects to consider aspects they might not have thought about before. "I refer to this as the signs of self-disclosure," says David. "It involves getting your prospects to reveal things they might be reluctant to disclose." The reality is that having questions doesn't guarantee that your prospect will answer them. That’s why it's crucial to spend as much time as possible on the science of self-disclosure. Your goal is to get your prospects to feel comfortable enough with you to open up and share their deep-rooted pains and challenges.

Stamping out confirmation bias

Imagine walking into a department store and being greeted by a salesperson. When they ask, "Is there anything I can help you with?" your natural response is likely to say no, even if you are looking for something specific. This reluctance often stems from the fear of feeling pressured to make a purchase before you are ready.

Similarly, when prospects speak to a sales rep for the first time, they often experience this feeling. That’s why it’s crucial to adopt a calm approach and ensure that you aren’t pressuring your prospects to buy. Aim to make them feel like you are a friend who they can trust, reinforcing that it’s okay for them to walk away without making a purchase.

This is a research-backed approach that has been proven effective. For instance, there was an experiment conducted in a Paris mall where individuals asked passersby for bus fare by saying, "Excuse me, do you have 50 cents for bus fare?" While some people complied, many did not. The experimenters then modified the request to include a statement allowing refusal: "Excuse me, do you have 50 cents for bus fare? If the answer is no, that's okay too."

This simple amendment led to a 400% increase in compliance. The takeaway here is that when selling something, applying less pressure and focusing more on how you can assist your prospect can make them more open and willing to discuss their issues and the solutions they need.

Rapid fire: David’s fast sales insights

In a rapid-fire Q&A session, David shares his insights with us on a wide range of topics: 

What’s the main reason most teams miss their ARR goals? Lack of emotional alignment with their prospects. People won’t open up about their challenges if they don’t feel comfortable. 

What’s your favorite resource for revenue leaders? I just wrote a book on this topic called,The Sales Leader They Need: Five Crucial Skills to Unlock Your Team’s Potential.” 

One of my favorite books is Daniel Pinks’ “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others.” 

What’s the number one challenge for revenue leaders in 2024? Selling customers on why they should change, invest, or not solve the problem themselves. 

SMB, Mid-market, or enterprise? I’m SMB all day, every day. 

Best way to unplug from the demands of leadership? Sometimes, you have to force yourself to take a vacation or architect your environment to focus on other interests

The road to successful leadership is paved with what? Learning. 

About David

David is the Founder and Chief Sales Scientist at Cerebral Selling. His sales experience includes holding leadership roles at four high-growth startups and spending five years as a VP at Salesforce. David also authored the bestselling book, “Sell the Way You Buy,” which serves as a guide to modern selling techniques.