Bold vs Humble: Sales Philosophy

My guest in this episode is Andrew Deutsch, CEO of Fangled Tech.
We discuss some philosophy behind sales and marketing.

How do we deal with the differences in selling with humility vs selling with boldness?
Should we be mindful of adhering to culture differences when selling internationally?
Is there a drawback to being too humble?

And somehow we found ourselves discussing tactics behind selling a pig.

Marketing Helsinki | Episode 28

➤ If you meet somebody new and they ask you what do you do for a living how do you respond?

I have a global marketing and sales consultancy. We help companies grow their business in their own country and around the world in a way that converts everyone they touch into a voracious advocate for their brand. 

➤ Wow! Now that’s what I call a one-liner. How important do you think it is to have a prepared statement to describe what what one does?

It’s extremely important. When you meet someone for the first time, I really don’t care what part of the world you’re in, if you can’t concisely capture their interest and help them understand who you are and what you do in the first moment, you may never get a chance to do that.

➤I’m going to lose some friends in Finland, but a lot of the Finns that I know—well maybe not a lot, some Finns that I know—they see that as disingenuous. Like, if I’m preparing a statement to give you then it’s not authentic. What do you think about that?

Let me make up really quick what a disingenuous one would sound like. Please, whoever’s listening to this, this isn’t who I am. It’s the kind of one line pitch that will destroy your ability to really connect with somebody. So here it goes: My name is Josh and I am the best marketing and sales advocate in the world and if you do business with me I will make you a king. That’s disingenuous, it’s crass, it’s rude, it’s chest pounding like Tarzan and it will destroy your ability to connect with people.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing the story of who you are and what you do in the business world in a way that’s genuine and truthful. As soon as you start losing that bit of humility that I love in Finnish people, where they’re not out chest pounding and saying I am the king—

There’s a certain kind confidence that I get out of Finnish people that always sort of made me interested in doing more in Finland than less, I think it’s a trait that’s positive. The challenge is how do you get to that middle point where you take that and also add confidence to it that helps people to really understand that you are good at what you’re doing. 

➤ But you know humans being human, once we accept that you don’t want to be too chest pounding and shouting and exaggerating, then there’s a danger of going too far the other way—which is self-deprecating. There’s a danger of going too far that way.

Absolutely. Yeah, there’s a happy balance that separates the professionals from the amateurs. I listened to someone on a podcast [recently] and this guy was talking about how the most important trait is being humble, showing humility and then he went on to say, ‘…And by the way the reason I’m so successful is because I am so humble and the people who work with me are so pleased to have me as their boss because they appreciate how humble I really am!’

➤ [Laughs] “Out of all the humble people in the world, I’m number one!”

Yeah. “As a matter of fact, if there was an award for humility…” [laughs]

You know there’s a certain natural balance but the other side of it is that if these things make you so uncomfortable based on your core culture and you’re not getting success in being able to do things, there’s some adjustments that you got to think about in terms of whether that is really serving you and what your goals are, where you want to go.

➤ I’m really interested in finding the balance between humble and truthful and also, let’s face it, we work in sales and marketing which means that we can’t just say the truth straight. One of my favorite quotes, I think it’s from David Ogilvy, is, ‘Good advertising is the truth made fascinating.’ So there is a skill. Like, you can’t just go out and just say, ‘Buy my car. It’s okay.’ We do have a responsibility to make the sale right? So I’m really curious about finding that balance.

I think it goes back to the core of who you are as a person and the job you’re doing. If you’re selling a product that you feel the only way it’s going to sell is through deception, probably you’re in the wrong place and working for the wrong people. I think that there are ways to enhance and speak about a product in a way that matters.

The core of our technique really is to meet people at their model of the world and bring them towards yours. You brought up the example of a car. So in Germany for example, and I’m going to speak in stereotypes because stereotypes are a shortcut, but in Germany people tend—on a general basis, not everyone—to be far more technical in their thought process about the things that they buy.

So if we’re building a sales model and a marketing campaign to sell in that type of a country we really do want to talk about the ins and outs, the nuts and bolts, ‘What is the performance?’ ‘What are the features in terms of technical areas?’

On the same note, there are other countries where the the technical part isn’t as interesting as the aesthetic of the product. In those places if we’re building a campaign, although the features will be there, they won’t be prominent as the first thing that you come across. We’re going to talk much more about the the excitement of the drive, the curves of the vehicle, the beauty, the comfort.

So it’s not about whether you’re trying to be deceptive or not deceptive. It’s about understanding who’s your customer and sharing what’s in it for them based on who they are at their model of the world.

➤ Yeah, definitely agree. You said deception. Obviously that’s not what we want but there is enhancement right? There is a skill. Otherwise there would be no difference between a good salesman and a bad salesman.

Yeah there’s an expression in American English, I don’t know if they say it in Britain or not, they talk about putting lipstick on a pig. I personally avoid being in situations where I get accused of that: even though the thing’s horrible and smelly and otherwise like a pig maybe put lipstick on it, make it pretty.

Dress it up. OK, let me stay with that example. If we need to sell this pig and you’re saying we’re not allowed to make this pig pretty, how are we supposed to sell it?

It goes back to understanding your customer. What is it that your customer would really want in a pig? At the end of the day, unless they’re looking for a pet nobody cares what that pig looks like. If it’s a vegetarian you might as well move on to another customer because you know that that vegetarian has no interest in the nutrition they could get from a pig because that’s not in their mindset. Now, if you’re going to somebody who actually consumes pork, what is it – are they looking for tender? Are they looking for one that’s been fed in a certain way so that it’s organic and doesn’t have hormones and steroids and other things in it? Are they looking for one that’s highly fatty? Are they looking for one that’s lean? And if you understand the kind of pig that they want to consume then speak in that language and show them that in fact, not deception, in fact this pig meets all the criteria that they want in their pig.

➤ I love it. I can’t believe we just used a pig as an example and you illustrated how the importance isn’t in trying to make this pig out to be something it’s not. It’s to understand what the customer needs and find the right product market fit. Find the right customer for this pig.

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