It’s time to talk about the quality of your sales calls. Are they coming across as too scripted, bordering on becoming robotic? Do you find yourself intimidated when calling C-Suite execs? Or does fear of using the phone cause you to stumble, or even worse, stop you from picking it up at all? Are you looking for sales call tips you can easily incorporate?

In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl is joined by Larry Levine, one of the world’s most sought after Career Development and Leadership Coaches today. Together they tackle the daunting task of making sales calls sound more human. Darryl and Larry offer up valuable tips such as ways to improve your personal branding and techniques to get over your fear of using the phone. They also share how you can enhance your conversational skills as well as gain equal business stature with your wish list executive prospects. Learn how to find your own unique voice and use it, on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!







Host: Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: Larry Levine, Selling from the Heart


Humanizing the Conversation

Darryl Praill: Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness. We are here. You there, me here. We’re talking. You, me, talking live, back and forth. Guess it’s not really live, is it, because, you know. And I you know, that when you’re listening to this the conversation already took place. So I apologize, I’m off to a bad, bad start of this podcast. Normally I would say let’s do that again.

Darryl Praill: But the challenge to do with that, its let’s do that again, is when you who make your money for a living being the consummate sales professional get on the phone with somebody and when you stumble out of the gate like I just stumbled out of the gate, there’s no do overs. Could you imagine?

Darryl Praill: Could you imagine saying, “Oh, oh, oh, I’m sorry, “I’m gonna hang up now, “I’m gonna call you back, “and if you could answer the phone again “and forget it was me “because I just don’t like the way I started off here, “I’m just gonna, I’m gonna do this again, okay. “You good I’m good okay, lets go.” Like a do over button, right. It’s like, when I record, I can just get rid of the crap that makes me sound stupid. And my editors hate me because that’s a lot of crap they have to edit out. Let me tell you that much.

Darryl Praill: But that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about… Man, it’s all about connecting with people. And how do you do that? Like, how do you… It’s not just even what do you say? It’s like, how do you connect? I don’t know, I am almost, you know me. I’m never lacking words. I don’t know how else to say ’cause when you connect, right, like you think about your buddies, think about a significant person in your life, a loved one. Maybe a relationship you are in or you’ve had, the reason I made a special is see you connect it beyond just words.

Darryl Praill: And when you connect beyond words, maybe it’s a good look. Maybe it’s what you say. Maybe you make them laugh. Maybe you’re just really smart at something that they care about themselves as well. So you have a shared interest. When you connect, the conversation flows easier. But the irony is that whole situation is that it’s really hard to connect with somebody so they know who you are. They know that you’re funny, or they know that you’re a subject matter expert, and they could get value knowledge from you.

Darryl Praill: It’s hard to connect with them, unless you physically make yourself known. Does that make sense? I’ll give an example. I’ve talked about this before, when I came here to VanillaSoft, nobody knew who I was, at least in this segment. And all my marketing, peers knew who I was, but the sales community didn’t really know who I was. And I knew what to say, I had the skills, I carried a bag. I’ve been a sales rep. I’ve been a sales exec but that was years ago. I’m a marketer now and there you go.

Darryl Praill: So how do I get visibility in front of that audience so that when I do finally reach out to them on email or phone calls, so I’m like, “Oh, man, Darryl Praill.” And that’s the challenge you guys face all the time, right? I mean, tell me if this makes sense. You guys make a phone call, and heaven forbid they actually answer your call. And you’re like, “Hey, this is Darryl Praill from VanillaSoft,” and they’re like, “Who? Darryl Who?” “Darryl Praill,” “I don’t, do I know you know?” “No you don’t.” “VanillaSoft what?”

Darryl Praill: And you spend these first few seconds just going back and forth, basically pleading saying talk to me. And I’m credible. And you really should invest some time because I’ve got something to share with you. That’s gonna make your life better because I think you probably got this pain because everybody else like you and my client base has this pain and after they met me, I made their life better and life is good, but you’ve already blown it.

Darryl Praill: So I sit and I say to myself, well, how do I solve this? For me, it took me a long freaking time, it took me probably a year, year and a half before I had enough street cred and reputation that I had in some parts of the community, some name brand recognition and the conversation will flow, and they would give me the benefit of the doubt, even if they didn’t know me that well, they might have heard of me, but you, fresh in a job, being there a month or three months or six months, even a year, you haven’t got there yet, and you’ve got quotas to hit, you got numbers to hit. And all you wanna do is you know that when you connect with them, that you’re credible, and that you bring something to the table.

Welcome Larry Levine

Darryl Praill: So how do I help you out with that? And then I thought to myself, well, what you don’t wanna be is you don’t wanna be perceived as an empty suit. And in fact, what you really wanna do is you wanna sell from the hearts so that they see you’re selling from the heart. And if you’re picking up on anything I’m putting down here, You know, I’m making references to the one the only Larry Levine. Larry my friend, welcome to the show.

Larry Levine – Hey, there’s absolutely, I was cracking up listening to the very beginning. There’s no pencil eraser in sales, right? You get no do-overs. So can you imagine using the phone and screwing up that very first phone call and saying, “I’ll call you back and I gotta do the do-over.” They may not make a past two or three calls in a day, right?

Darryl Praill: But sometimes you wanna do that it’s so bad. You’re like, “Oh, I’m an idiot. “And I don’t make enough connections as it is every day “and I had a connection and I screwed it up.” I wish there was a do-over button, let me tell you that. Boys and girls if you don’t know Larry, check him out at or just just Google Larry Levine. He is a best selling author, “Selling From The Heart” book kick ass. It’s got massive reputation. He’s got his own podcast, which I’ve also been on, him and Darryl, Amy work together and they talk about selling from the heart.

Darryl Praill: They say it’s the it’s the home for authentic, effective and socially integrated sales strategies to help you master the art of selling but at the end of the day, Larry truly owns this whole thing about the empty suit. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, if you haven’t look Google the empty suit, you probably see his name everywhere and I hope he’s very fan figured out but now, he’s actually part of the OutBound Conference that were a part of, we’ve been talking about with many of the OutBound speakers leading up to the show and Larry gonna be on stage again, Larry knows this is your second time or your–

Larry Levine – Third.

Darryl Praill: This your third time, I thought this was your third time so you know you’ve made it when the show that’s only four years old, and this is gonna be your third time on stage. So basically, I’m with royalty right now. That’s how I’m looking at as your–

Larry Levine – Oh stop it, Darryl. But I have to share a quick story.

Darryl Praill: Sure.

Larry Levine – Will you allow me to share a quick story.

Darryl Praill: Do it man.

Larry Levine – So so last year, it was the morning right before OutBound was gonna start. So it’s early in the morning. I’m sitting ready, I got into the venue early. And I’m just sat in my little area and so forth and up walks Victor Antonio. And we started talking and I’d met Victor my first year at OutBound. But we really didn’t… We didn’t spend a whole lot of time together but it was in between OutBound, my first year at OutBound and the second that I got to know Victor, at least socially and so forth. Victor came on the podcast and so forth.

Larry Levine – So is about five minutes into Victor and I just chatting over a cup of coffee he goes and y’all know Victor, right I mean, he’s just full of this humor. And he says, got one-liners like there’s no tomorrow. I just love Victor. And he goes, Larry, he goes, “You got to tell me this, how did your road lead to OutBound?” He goes, “I just have to know.” And I said I just spent the next 30 minutes sharing with him my road to OutBound.

Larry Levine – I share this with you, Darryl, because you brought up a couple things right? How do you get noticed and right? You’re new in your job or you’re new in your career, how do you get noticed? And it’s as simple as I always say, you know what? How do you all get noticed in the marketplace where nobody knows you exist? I understood who I was. And I understood my message and I stayed true to who I was. And I was consistent, and I was disciplined, and I just shared from my heart, what I was all about, who I was, and how I can help and I never veered from the message, which got me into OutBound.

Larry Levine – I never asked for OutBound. I never once, message Jab or Mark or Mike or Anthony or Victor and said, you know what, I’d sure love to speak at OutBound. It’s actually the other way around. It was just by my consistency in my messaging, and I always say words matter and message matters. It’s how you smash those all together. It was just how I did it that got noticed and they asked me.

Be Yourself and Find Your Own Voice

Darryl Praill: But what you were doing I mean, you’re already, you’re setting the stage for today’s conversation. You were being true to yourself. And part of being true to yourself and who you are and what you’re about. Means you put yourself out there, right? You actually are somewhat vulnerable, somewhat transparent, somewhat honest, when you’re having that dialogue, because I’ve seen so many reps project a certain persona, certain personality because they think that’s what they need to do to sell.

Darryl Praill: When the fact of the matter is, you’re more likely to have much more success when you’re you. And if you got bad humor, embrace the bad humor, right? If you’re short of stature, it make that part of your stick, whatever it might be. And I think that’s part of your secret sauce was that you truly… I mean, your book, “Selling From The Heart” speaks to that you have really captured that. And I love that because you were you, you were successful. So imagine what you would have missed out on if you had tried to be somebody other than yourself. And I worry how many reps right now are falling into that trap? And that really kind of– You go ahead, yeah.

Larry Levine – Well, and sorry, but you bring up a really, really good point that’s near and dear to my heart is I struggled with this. And I just wanna let people know, life wasn’t easy for me as a salesperson, I had to figure this auto way, Darryl. And I remember I was probably 10, 15 years into my career. And I still got sweaty palms, and I still got nervous, and I still, I’ll put full transparency, I hated using the phone as well. I got sweaty palms. I didn’t know what to say and all that.

Larry Levine – But I remember is one of my very first mentors. I shared a story with him and he goes, “Listen,” he goes, “Do you have any issue speaking to your friends?” I said, no. “Do you have any issues speaking to family members or people close to you in your inner circle?” I said no. Then I’m gonna ask you to do the same thing when you’re using the phone or when you’re face to face with people.

Larry Levine – And it was those little subtle changes that started to get me to think a little bit, and then they said the best thing ever. You gotta find out your own voice. And you gotta find out who you are, which, where I’m going with this is today. And I was in more dysfunctional sales teams than functional sales teams. And I had more dysfunctional managers than functional managers. But one of the things that I never was privy to is a manager or a leader helping their salespeople become the best version of themselves.

Larry Levine – And I see it today is I want salespeople to find their own unique voice, and use it. Don’t mimic or copy somebody else. I mean, it’s great to adore look up to somebody, but you all have your own voice. It’s up to you to uncover what that is. And that’s why when I wrote “Selling From The Heart,” the way I did is the first three chapters is all inward thinking it’s all becoming self aware of who you are by self reflecting and finding that voice and when you can find that voice. And you can deliver with confidence great things happen and how you start conversations.

Darryl Praill: So, folks that sets the stage, today we wanna talk about, how do we bring you? How do you bring you to life so that when you reach out to people they wanna buy from you. There’s gonna be by coincidence, there’s gonna be a little touch on personal branding. I know we’ve covered that before. So I’m kinda pre-empting that now. Because personal branding is about maybe drawing more eyeballs to your give me more street credit in so that helps.

Darryl Praill: But the bottom line and Larry said it best. We’re in the green room talking before we went live. It’s a cliche, we know it’s a cliche, but it’s a true cliche, which is people buy from people. So you want someone to connect with you. And the best way to do that is to bring out your inner you that people love and is uniquely you. So that’s the conversation today. It builds on the last podcast we did with Larry which where he talked about his premise of the empty suit and what that means, often he’ll say, that means three things. That means you lack sincerity, you lack substance and you lack sparkle. But we all know you’ve got substance, we know you’re a sincere individual, and we know you’ve got sparkle.

Sales Call Tips to Kick It Up a Few Notches

Darryl Praill: So let’s bring that out. So let’s start that conversation, Larry. The first thing that’s challenging is when you make that phone call, and you get a hold of them. Many people, many reps are intimidated ’cause maybe I’m calling somebody who’s twice my age, with twice their experience and a much bigger income and salary. And I’m trying to get equal standing with them in their eyes. I want their respects so they listen to me and take me seriously, how do I do that?

Larry Levine – I think the biggest thing and we even talked about it on the Selling From The Heart podcast was a couple episodes ago we talked about fear. There’s a lot of fear that goes on and using the phone because A you can’t see them. You don’t know what’s gonna happen. Am I catching them at a good time? Am I catching the bad time? Let’s just face you’re catching most people at a bad time. If even if they do pick up the phone, it’s uh, maybe they didn’t look at the auto dialer. And they thought they’re expecting a call from somebody else.

Larry Levine – And obviously they weren’t. And then here you are. But I think when it goes back to what you’re standing like to get equal standing this what I always share with people is how do you get equal standing or equal business stature with a business executive, you gotta walk, talk and act like them. It doesn’t mean that you have to be as smart as them, but know something about who they are.

Larry Levine – So for instance, if you’re calling in maybe you’re calling into the IT space, or you’re calling into the finance space, or you’re calling into the HR space, know something about that industry, know something about those individuals, know their acumen and be able to understand and drive a conversation with them and watch what starts to happen. They understand and will identify did there speak before they’ll ever identify and understand your speak.

Darryl Praill: It’s funny because our last episodes with Mark Hunter, The sales Hunter and one of the founders of the OutBound show, and we talked about that he uses the term my goodness, what the hell’s the term he uses like in avatar, but it’s persona, your idea of customer profile, you said, know their language know, their pains, I just what heard you saying? It’s like over and over and over again, I even when you mentioned Victor Antonio, and how you met him at the show, we talked to him two episodes ago.

Darryl Praill: And we’re talking about scripting, but again, it’s the same thing. It was know your idea of customer profile, know the target persona, so the script makes sense and you understand the pains and issues. How does somebody do that? How does somebody get to know because I’m 25 years old, fresh out of university, maybe it’s my first job, and you said IT, so maybe I have a business degree, but now I’m selling just to the IT world and these are technical people, maybe developers their background, who knows, and maybe I’m selling a hardware solution, or software solution and I’m a business person business product, I have no life experience. So how do I get to know them so I can connect with them?

Larry Levine – Easy, it’s called, go to Google. Because quite frankly, that’s what I did. So for instance, I came out of the office technology space. And I was calling into the IT space and the most non techie person you’ll probably ever meet. And there’s no way I was gonna out smarter, outwit an IT guy, it was never gonna happen. And I was full transparency. Said, “Hey, listen, you’re way smarter than I am. But I do know something about IT.”

Larry Levine – And the simple reason is because I took it upon myself to go to the internet and start educating myself on IT initiatives, IT speak, what concerns to IT people have, what are key performance indicators for IT people? What do they look at, and I tried to immerse myself in the IT world, I didn’t want to be as smart as them. I just wanted to know something so I can carry on an intelligent conversation.

Larry Levine – And that’s it, no different from today, right? So let’s just look at that 25 year old who might be fresh out of college. There’s no reason why they can’t go to Google spend a little bit of time and read finance related journals, find out what finance people speak about, where do they hang out at. Same with IT people, same with HR people, whatever vertical you all are calling into. In today’s day and age, there’s really no reason why you can’t self educate yourself at a bare minimum on the things that are important to them.

Darryl Praill: I’ll give you an example folks, so again, it’s a marketing example obviously. Every profession, if you will, any industry, there are certain websites you can go to where it’s just basically it’s the go to place. So one of the websites I go to all the time, it can be marketing profs or whatever. The I go to a lot is Demand Gen Report, Demand Gen Report, and I go there, they have all these studies and all these yada yada yada, and okay, so they’re always emailing them to me, he gets the latest study and what the issues are on compensation or on technology stacks, or what are the challenges for different demand generation in 2020, all those things I face as a CMO.

Darryl Praill: So if you were selling me as a CMO, you should go to Demand Gen Report and read their content. And then you’ll know exactly the pain that I’m facing to say that. So Google, brilliant idea. Industry sites, nether easy when there’s lots of sites to that. We’re gonna take a break, and when we come back, we’re gonna talk a little bit about how do you humanize your approach so that you don’t sound scripted? Because too many of you are relying on that script. And people know it. Don’t go away, we’ll be right back.

Darryl Praill: All right, so a big part of how to bring me to life or you to life is in the voice, Larry. I mean, I know you’ve talked about this before, I’ve heard you speak to it. But that’s easier said than done. Because if I’m nervous as hell, my voice is gonna be shaking a little bit, it’s gonna be and I’m gonna catch my breath. And I may stumble, and I may be in my own head. So, the voice and I’ll share this folks my own experience, the voice can get you out of a lot of trouble.

Darryl Praill: For example, my little trick, if I speak intentionally to you and that’s what I’m doing right now my pace just slow down a little bit. This gives me time to think in my head, so I’m buying time but I’m also setting a tone. That’s my little trick that I use. But over to you Larry, you are the acknowledged expert you’re number three at OutBound. How do you use your voice to humanize yourself so that not only does it not sound scripted, but dammit, I wanna talk to you ’cause I like what you’re saying, I like how you sound you just give off the right vibe.

Larry Levine – I think it goes back to what we were saying just a little bit ago as far as if… I’ll share secret that I mean, this was my secret sauce. When I was out in the field is I tried to understand industry trends. I tried to understand initiatives, challenges, right. I went back to my customers in similar roles that I might be calling onto, into understanding what they’re doing. How’s this all packaged together is I’m going to encourage young up and coming SDRs or BDRs know little bit about the issues and challenges that you help solve and turn those into conversations.

Larry Levine – ‘Cause quite frankly, we don’t, not enough of us deviate from scripts. But yet the way you humanize it is if you’re comfortable in understanding the issues and challenges of those verticals that you’re calling into, use those to say, “Hey, you know, what, I understand the issues and challenges “that you’re going through, quite frankly, “some of my customers in very similar positions, “these are the issues and challenges they have.”

Darryl Praill: Okay, so Larry, we talked about humanizing. And we talked about how do I bring me to life? I guess I have this, I still have a job to do I still to qualify you. How can I ask questions or when I get them on the phone as I try to be me and because give me the street cred. Part of that, I think we all agree, would be the kind of questions I ask. So I wanna ask intelligent questions, or I want to approach the call in a way that they go man, this guy, this gal has their act together. And then they open up, and then they share. So what tips and tricks can you share with me to make that happen?

Darryl Praill: I’m gonna flip this a little bit Darryl and say, Okay, what happens if they understood the issues and challenges they were helping their current customers with and they use those to open up conversations with new conversation. So in other words, Darryl, let’s that’s just say you’re a VP of sales. I might be an SDR, can we just role play on this one for a sec to do you care?

Larry Levine – Let’s do it baby. My phone is ready.

Darryl Praill: So, let’s just say, okay, so cool. So let’s just say for instance, you’re a VP of Sales I happen to be calling in because just like you, I mean, I got to use the phone as well. And I might just, I mean, we just roll through this, but you’ll get the idea is if you pick up the phone, I could just say “Hey Darryl, how’s it going? “In working with VP of Sales just like you, “there’s three things that I’ve uncovered “over the past six months, “sales reps are struggling mightily “to grab net new business. “They’re struggling to get equal business stature “and more importantly, they’re struggling to build better “and more deeper relationships with their current customers. “Hey, Darrell, I’m just curious “if any of these three resonate with you?”

Larry Levine – Absolutely, equal stature jumps off the page when I heard you say that one but they all they all clearly resonate.

Darryl Praill: Listen, so I’m just curious, help me understand when you when you say equal business stature when I said equal business stature, what’s that mean to you? Well, it means that you they dismiss us right. Oh you’re just another vendor as opposed to looking at us as a business partner that we’re equals that I have something that can help them and they can help me with the relationship and then that leads to a healthy conversation, where so halftime we spent our time just trying to get their attention and not get hung up on.

Larry Levine – Why do you again, I’m just curious so but why do you think your sales reps are struggling with this?

Darryl Praill: Oh my gosh, I honestly don’t know. I mean, that’s a brilliant question. Why they struggle with it. And I’m thinking it might be a byproduct of just today’s society. It’s a me, me, me society with a short attention span. But it’s easy to hang up. I don’t know, I honestly don’t know, you got me thinking, I don’t know.

Larry Levine – So, again, I just want you to put your thinking cap on, on this and hopefully we can set up some time to further discuss it. But I’m just gonna ask you just put on your thinking cap for a moment and just imagine what would happen if your sales reps enhanced their conversational skills, they enhance their acumen skills, they were able to think walk and talk like the people they were speaking to. What do you think the end result would be? Do you think you’d see an increase in conversation to possible next steps, maybe a little bit greater than what’s going on right now?

Darryl Praill: Oh my gosh, I mean, yeah, we’d have more conversations, which would make my sales managers happy. We’d probably have more deals, which means more commissions because you get past that starting point, which would make my sales reps happy ’cause they’re good at closing, and they just suck at getting that deal started. So clearly, I envision good things that we can do it.

Larry Levine – Do you see where this is going? That’s what I just said, just humanize these conversations. All I’ve done is I’ve shared with somebody who happens to pick up the phone that I understand you’re based on some of the people that I work with, here’s the issues and challenges that I saw, here’s how I’ve worked with them.

Larry Levine – Do any of these resonate, I’ve just kind of flipped it on it because we’re so scripted in nature, that we’re firing the scripts out and with pre asked questions and all that, why don’t we just take a step back, share that we understand their world over the last six months in working with people just like you. Here are three things that I’ve uncovered, do any of these resonate with you? And then just start asking questions. To me, that’s humanizing this. It’s flipping this around a little bit.

Darryl Praill: What I saw you do, was I saw you do some role playing, I saw you do some visioning, and I saw you leading me to outcomes. And all of that are not some pimply faced, squeaky voice kid, trying to sell their wares. What it was an equal, who genuinely was trying to help the person they’re talking to achieve a goal that they desire. And it was all in the way you approached it, you approached it like a peer, you want it to be treated as an equal, and you approached it with a humanity, but also with an intellect and a sophistication that allowed you to be perceived that way and it was actually really, really, really, really easy. So we’re out of time, we’re out of time, Larry. We need to get you come back and finish this conversation. This is your fault, I blame you.

Larry Levine – No, dude, sorry, but can I just layer one thing on top of it, If you don’t?

Darryl Praill: Yeah, do please Larry, quick, yeah.

Larry Levine – Yeah, no, this will be really quick and this is what I want young sales reps to really understand is lets get past the age, right? You can’t control that right? I mean that that’s it. But if you understood who you were, if you understood how to engage in these type of conversations, to me, it doesn’t matter, let’s set age aside, it’s just you having a conversation with somebody else on the other end of the phone.

Larry Levine – So regardless of that person’s twice your age, 10 years old than you, it shouldn’t matter. What I want people to think about is just engage in a business conversation in the most humanistic fashion, that you understand possibly the issues and challenges that that person has, and engage with them. It doesn’t matter, right? It doesn’t matter your age, it just matters, do you have enough self-confidence to engage in these type of conversation.

Darryl Praill: So let’s go back to some of the past episodes we’ve done. You see folks how it all ties together, right? Bernadette McClelland said, you gotta understand the psychology. So you gotta get out of your own head. Andrea Waltz said if you’re stuck on rejection, and this has caused you to be unable to connect and engage, you gotta go for no, you gotta actually get used to getting no you got to intentionally get used to having no. So you’re again, you’re out of your head. Victor Antonio, we’re talking about scripts, Victor said, you gotta make it about you a genuine, authentic voice.

Darryl Praill: It’s your voice, still a script. Like these questions could be, but it’s you. And then we got Mark Hunter said know your persona, so you understand the world they live in, which again, Larry talked about today. Larry’s talked about everything that four or five of my last guests have talked about. And the whole point is how to bring you to life, so that people want to buy from you.

Darryl Praill: If you liked what you heard here today, folks. He’s gonna be at OutBound, You I get more about Larry, follow him on LinkedIn, I do. He’s a regular, I love messaging him. You can learn more about Larry’s books “Selling From The Heart,”, get his book on Amazon. But in the meantime, we are out of time. And I’m so glad we had this time together. You take care folks, I’ll talk to you soon.