Tim David started his career as a magician. He was traveling and doing up to 350 shows a year. But being a traveling magician and parenting a child wasn’t a great mix. So he sought a career change that could bring about some life balance. But he’d never had a real job—so how could he help people in their real jobs?
He realized that the lessons that he’d learned from a life on stage could be transformed into an occupation. His lesson is simple: it’s all about human connection. It’s not about the magic tricks or the skills—it’s about connecting with people. Learn all about this magical skill in this episode of Negotiations Ninja.
Connection: truly understanding someone else’s perception
Tim’s biggest takeaway from magic was one thing: the ability to see another person’s perspective. You practice magic in front of a mirror so you can see what other people see. Tim requires anyone he’s coaching to record themselves so they can see what the audience sees. Magicians obsess over this. 90% of all tricks he learned, people said “watch your angles.” You have to consider what every person in that auditorium is looking at. It’s a game-changer.
His book “Magic Words” came from seeking to understand what is happening in the brain of the listener. How can you understand that more and intentionally push the buttons? When you are communicating—whether you like it or not—you are manipulating or persuading. So why not do it more intentionally and understand what’s happening in the brains of the people around you?
So many people believe that you can learn by reading something in a book and that’s just not true. You have to practice it. Joan Rivers said, “You need to have a place where you can go and be bad for a while.” In other words, you don’t become great by reading books and studying. This is an interpersonal skill. Skills like that aren’t downloaded into the brain.
To get great you have to get practice in. Create a connection and see where it goes. Then you learn where you can improve. The difficulty of influence is the resistance to try. It feels scary and awkward. Those moments only break down when you have repetition. Tim’s favorite thing to tell magicians is “Get good, get gigs, get great.”
What is Tim’s T.R.U.E. hierarchy? Listen to hear him explain how it influences the sales process!
How to understand someone else’s perception
Julian Treasure—who Tim interviewed for one of his books—gave one of the top 10 most viewed Ted Talks of all time: How to Speak So People Will Want to Listen. His phrase that Tim loves is “You always speak into a listening.” In a sales context, you should do 80–85% listening and 15–20% talking. When you talk, it should include three levels of asking questions:
- What got you excited about our offer enough to reach out to us?
- What would that do for you?
- What would the benefit of the feature be for you? If you had that benefit, what would it mean for you? What would it do for you personally? What would that allow you to stop doing? What would people think?
That third line of questions is when you’re digging deep into the emotional benefits that truly drive buying behavior. You ask, you listen, and then you ask a level deeper. Great salespeople are great askers of questions. If you get to that third level, that’s where you find the goal.
Why salespeople don’t reach an emotional level with prospects
Most salespeople don’t get to the emotional level. When you can connect the emotion to what you’re selling, that’s when conversion rates go up. Are salespeople just lazy? Why do they seem to glaze over the most important part of the process?
Tim’s first reaction is that it can’t be laziness. After all, if you know the right way to do it will result in the outcome you want, you’d do it. But that’s the logical part of Tim’s brain. The truth? He has no idea why salespeople don’t reach that emotional level with prospects.
He notes that the brain is divided into two areas. One small area is your level of consciousness and what you’re aware of. The second larger part of your brain is what happens on an unconscious level. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that your brain doesn’t tell you about. You can’t access the part of your brain that makes decisions and creates behaviors.
When Tim did a show, he would ask an audience member to think of a number. They would always think of the number 7. How? With influence strategy. He got them to say the number 7 almost 90% of the time. He’d always ask them why they thought of 7 and they’d come up with some BS reason like, “Oh, 7 is my lucky number.” Tim emphasizes that “We make all of our decisions with emotion, but then we justify them with logic.”
The goal must be connection—not persuasion
Tim believes that if you care about the people that you’re serving, you’ll find the best option for them. “If your goal is persuasion, then your outcome will be manipulation. However, if your goal is connection, if your goal is service, then influence follows.” There has to be a goal of making a connection first, then everything follows. Influence—at its core—is communication between two or more people.
Many salespeople don’t engage on that level because it isn’t cut and dry, black and white, or logical. Tim shares that humans are starved for true connection. But when you input genuine connection, magical things happen. Focus on serving first and selling second. Learn more about the science of influence and human connection in this episode of Negotiations Ninja.
Resources & People Mentioned
- Negotiations Ninja Episode #51 with Brian Brushwood
- Negotiations Ninja Episode #131 with Banachek
- Julian Treasure’s Ted Talk
- Book: Thinking, Fast and Slow
- Book: Predictably Irrational
- Book: How We Decide
- Book: Common Sense Selling
Connect with Tim David
Tim David’s Books
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