Skip to main content
How to Develop Salespeople

The New Psychology Of Selling


David Kerans: Hello I’m David Kerans, I have a few moments with Todd Holzman from Holzman Company. Todd’s going to open our eyes to a few dimensions of business that we don’t really think enough about. New things regarding how sales processes do have management of sales processes and execution can be improved. Todd, in order to help the audience understand why I think I’m lucky to have you for a moment, tell us about your background.

Todd Holzman: Last 30 years, I have been studying the psychology of influence. What does it actually take for one person to challenge and change the mindset and behavior of another person? In my pursuit to understand this very deeply, I dusted off some research that my field had seemingly willfully ignored because it challenged conventional wisdom. And it demonstrated that whenever a person goes to try to influence some other person and you’re feeling some anxiety or some pressure, you end up doing that highly ineffectively, in a way that prevents you from changing the person’s mind and behavior.

Chris Argyris researched the guy who discovered this pattern of human behavior. His research with 15,000 people, my work with people across the globe, demonstrates this to be problematic pattern of human behavior, and it’s consistent across companies, cultures, and countries. I developed an antidote to this problem. I’ve given it to over 20,000 leaders and salespeople at some of the best companies in the world at all levels of organization.

David Kerans: I know you’ve had success across a number of industries. One of them that comes up more often than others is pharmaceutical. If you can help me understand why?

Todd Holzman: What does it take to be a good salesperson? And one of the most important tools is how well they handle the conversation. And so what we are doing is fundamentally reinventing the way salespeople and sales reps have conversations with their customers and there’s a huge need for this. I do think it’s a conversational crisis. The reps don’t understand why their access is eroding. Access is just a term for the amount of time I get in front of my customers.

They largely see it as because the doctor simply have less time and there is truth to that. I mean, the doctors make time, make money, by spending more time with their patients. In some ways they want to spend as little time with reps for the most value they can get from those conversations and as much time with their patients to maximize their revenue and the profits of their businesses. So you definitely have that dynamic, but what the reps often don’t see is what it is about the way they’re having those conversations, which doesn’t create the value for the doctors and therefore erodes their access and the amount of time the doctors want to give to them.

David Kerans: So what is it exactly that’s different about your training of sales reps? The on the ground sales reps?

Todd Holzman: Before I do that, let me pick up on something I really liked about what you said. This is what the research is showing. Doctors are complaining that the reps don’t create enough value for them and therefore patients during the conversations, they complain the reps are too focused on their own agenda versus trying to serve them. That they’re not willing to have the authentic, honest conversation with them. And if you’re an oncologist, the market is rapidly evolving. There are some new indication for a drug every month, sometimes every week.

There is no way as a doctor, I can actually keep up with it. I need a knowledgeable rep who can actually help me and give me the valid information I need so I can better serve my patients. But what I don’t need is somebody who’s been programmed to say a certain set of things and was only interested in meeting their numbers. I got to work with somebody who is authentically interested in serving me, but that is not the default and the conditioning and the way these folks have been trained and delivering the message has created some benefit, but the world has become more complex and then when everybody is doing it, then that way of selling becomes less of a differentiator and therefore removes any source of competitive advantage that a salesperson has.

David Kerans: What is it about your methodology that’s really good to change that?

Todd Holzman: So first of all, you’ve got to have help them jumpstart the journey and get a win on the board very quickly. And during the program, they understand what it is about their own behavior that’s holding them back. They learned the new skillset, we teach them how to apply it.

So I’ll give you two examples right now. Oncology sales rep, big blockbuster product, working hard for six months to get this doctor to buy. It’s a well-known immuno oncology trial. And no success, numerous conversations and no progress whatsoever. Brings the situation to the workshop, two weeks later gets three scripts earning them in this one example, $250,000.

Another client, 600 pharma oncology reps went through this breakthrough conversations program in January. For the first quarter of 2018, they exceeded their revenue targets by 20% and they attributed to the application of this new way of handling these conversations.

But it’s also beyond pharma. A Fortune 100 technology company claims the application of this particular methodology, abled them to reclaim the largest telecommunications deal in history to the tune of $5 billion. And that year they exceeded their profit targets by 130% and their revenue targets by 120%. It’s not just sales people to be more authentic with their customers, leaders need to be a lot more authentic with their people around how they’re performing.

My programs actually change behavior and solve real business problems. And that is a huge departure from the way most training is done, which neither changes behavior nor solves business problems. Because most sales training, most leadership training, is glorified infotainment, but all the research coming out of Harvard and McKinsey demonstrates that this infotainment paradigm, while it may make people more knowledgeable, it doesn’t actually make them more competent. At the end of the day, training needs to make people more competent and better handled to handle real life circumstances under pressure, which is what my training does.

David Kerans: I started this interview by announcing my confidence. You were going to open our eyes. I state my confidence was warranted. So I’m going to thank you, Todd Holzman.

Todd Holzman: Okay. Thank you, Dave, for the opportunity.

Leave a Reply