By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific.  It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg.  Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise.  Recent Guests: Jim KeenanJoanne BlackAaron RossJosiane FeigonMeagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes.  You can listen to full recordings of past shows at and subscribe on iTunes.

This week, Deb Calvert!  Sales and sales training have been her passion since she was a child earning money for extra weeks at summer camp. You need to catch the beginning of this show to hear how she was originally motivated to get into sales.

She talked about 8 reasons we’d ever ask a question are summarized in DISCOVER (this is an acronym). Most sales people only ask questions for 3-4 reasons. If you open it up to all 8, you open yourself up to be of real value in the conversation and prospects will share the same with you.

Let’s start within the first five seconds of meeting someone to make you more elegant and effective at advancing sales.Shoot her an email and she’ll send you this list of questions.

Listen in below:  

Matt:  Excited to be here. I am in San Francisco this week for the Dreamforce conference for those of you in sales probably know intimately and for many of you who are at the conference today or are listening to this after work on demand on or you can find our podcast on Google play and the iTunes Store as well. But yeah boy me and about 160,000 of my good sales friends here. It is as advertised, it is always a great conference, it is always good content, good networking. Only at times soul crushing in terms of the volume of people and the inability to get around.

And the area around Moscone, if you’ve been to this year’s show, I mean it’s all under construction like half of the roads are shut down for a variety of reasons. So a little more difficult getting around but certainly has been an interesting event. And I know or guest today is a veteran of sales conferences and speaks a ton, is one of the top 50 sales influencers in the country and very well may have been at this show as well – 160,000 people. You don’t always run into everybody but Deb Calvert is our guest today, Deb thanks very much for joining us.

Deb:  Matt thank you. Yes I am local-ish, I am in Tennessee so get in and out of Dreamforce every year. And you are right, it can be mind blowing the number of people and the choices that you have of how do I even begin to make the most of my time here. So I’m with you.

Matt:  It’s crazy! It’s totally nuts. But I am excited to have you on here, glad we could grab some time. Deb Calvert folks is the author of the book DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected. She’s an author, speaker, trainer. She leads the Stop Selling and Start Leading movement. We are going to talk a lot more about that over the next few minutes. But Deb I want to start with just a little bit of your background. You’ve been in sales, sales management and sales leadership training for a very long time so just give our guests a little bit of a background on who you are and where you are coming from.

Deb:  You bet. Well sales all my life. I was the kid who at five was walking around with the little red wagon filled with vegetables from our garden and I’d go door-to-door and sell vegetables and I’ve always done something in selling. I was always the top campfire candy salesperson because the incentive was to earn a week at camp and I was one of two or three weeks at Camp Shawnee in Kansas City Missouri.

And then I sold advertising and then I went to a corporate Fortune 500 and oversaw sales training and sales development. And I’ve been in business for 10 years now, People First Activity Solutions. We teach sales trainers, we work with sales managers, we consult on sales productivity. But my first love is always the first line front-line seller and so I spend a lot of time working as a sales coach in the field and doing buyers research to help sellers improve what they are doing.

Matt:  So talk a little bit more about this Stop Selling and Start Leading movement. So for folks who want to learn a little more about this you can check it out at Deb’s website it’s just\stop-selling-start-leading and we will put that in the notes for the podcast as well so everyone can click on that. But help me understand what this means because you’re basically… It sounds like you’re telling salespeople to stop selling; which sounds counterintuitive. Talk a little bit more, I am sure that’s not what you mean in reality but tell us a little bit of what you mean by stop selling and start leading.

Deb:  You bet. So stop selling does not mean stop making sales. Stop selling means maybe it’s time to abandon certain kinds of stereotypical sales behaviors that we all know aren’t serving us well anyways. And if I were to abandon some of those behaviors what would I replace them with? And what we are hearing loud and clear from buyers and that we just finished a huge buyer research study, I’m in partnership with University of Santa Clara and with Barry Posner and Jim Kouzes who are the leaders of The Leadership Challenge, we know what buyers want and what they want are certain leadership behaviors. And we’ve been able to identify exactly what those behaviors are and how they would replace selling behaviors in a way that buyers would then be motivated to meet with you more often more readily and more likely to buy from you.

So buyers themselves are giving us this feedback and we’ve got it broken down into 30 behaviors that buyers find to be more desirable from their sellers. And I think that’s kind of cool because there have been a lot of mixed messages out there. This research validates many of those other bodies of research and it also gives us a slightly different point of view because it elevates some behaviors over others so there’s a ton of clarity that comes out of this whole movement.

Matt:  That’s fantastic. We’re talking today with Deb Calvert on sales pipeline radio. She is the author of DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected and an instructor at UC Berkeley as a certified master of leadership challenge and so not a lot of people if anybody that is as qualified to be talking on this topic.

You mentioned 30 specific focus areas, can you give people like insights? We will definitely make sure we send people off to the website as well but give people a little taste of what they are going to find there.

Deb:  You bet, okay so first thing I want to say about that particular page on the website, I really do hope a lot of listeners will go there because we have just opened up another aspect of our research and that’s the part where we want sellers to come in and tell us their personal best, your story, that’s all we are looking for in this survey; your survey about when you were at your personal best in selling. Because we are going to interface that with the buyers research and be able to see how those behaviors line up. And for sellers to tell us their story.

There is an incentive, you are sellers after all. We will do a prize drawing. Now this is going all the way through March 2017 but when it wraps up we will do a prize drawing for everybody that’s eligible and we’ve got some cool prizes like a $500 travel voucher at some other good stuff. All of that’s right there on that webpage. When you go to that page the other things that you will find are the written articles that we are releasing and those are going to start coming hot and heavy and you will find this podcast as well as some other ones, this radio show, some other podcasts and some bits and pieces of the research. There is also an info graphic and you will start to see a lot more so not only come to that page but bookmark it and stay tuned for more to come.

Matt:  It’s amazing and we know this is an amazing time when all this information is available. I think here at sales and marketing you are not taking advantage of some of this, just the free content available from folks like Deb and others we’ve had on the show, you’re just missing out. I think this is the kind of stuff that that I think you always have at least had to buy a book to get access to some of this or attend a workshop or spend a lot more money. And clearly Deb, you’ve got business to run as well so kudos to you for being so generous with some of this content that you’ve got here. Talk a little bit about the topic and I want to make sure we also talk about the book – DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected. I was really impressed with this book as a kind of really walk through it help me think about a different way to engage with folks. Talk about the idea of DISCOVER questions and what that means for you.

Deb:  Okay, and it does interface so not two entirely different topics but DISCOVER is an acronym and this was my initial buyer research. That book represents 20 years of research with buyers interviewing buyers to see how they were reacting to the questions the salespeople asked them.

And as I was doing that research with buyers and as I was observing sellers, it occurred to me that there were only a finite number of reasons why we’d ever ask a question, not just buyers and sellers but people, why would ever ask someone else a question. And I landed on the fact that I can only find eight reasons, purposes that we would ever ask a question and that made for a nice acronym – DISCOVER. Each of those letters stand for a purpose or a reason why you would ask someone a question.

And the point is that you now have a nifty little acronym, the point is most salespeople only ever ask questions for three or four reasons and if you open this up, if you then start to access the other five reasons for asking questions, you can be super efficient in getting to exactly what you need to move the needle to advance the sell with your buyers in a way that is high value for them. So these questions also create real and meaningful value – poof – like in an instant just because you are making them think and you’re opening up the conversation to some very critical information that they need to discover for themselves too.

Matt:  I am sure you get sold to on a regular basis, I certainly get a lot of sales pitches and I am constantly surprised and a little dismayed at how many salespeople go straight for the product conversation. They want me to be immediately interested in the product without providing any kind of context. What are some of the keys you found to help sales reps and even sales managers and sales trainers understand the need and the value of asking those types of questions in advance to set the stage for what becomes more of a presentation of a product and service.

Deb:  I love that question Matt. You know first I want to emphasize a little bit with salespeople because it’s hard, it’s hard if you are working your pipeline, it’s difficult to even get somebody on the other end of the phone and when they do you get that adrenaline rush and wow, you want to just get them to buy, get them to pay attention because it’s so often that we don’t get somebody on there. So at a minimum we are trying to qualify.

I hope you won’t mind me doing something unexpected here. There are questions you can ask someone in the first five seconds that you work with them, but you meet and connect with them and those questions will open the conversation up and pique their interest in a way that you can be a lot more elegant and a lot more effective in advancing the sale.

And I did put together a one sheet that I have used for some other purposes but if anybody’s listening and actually want to get those questions that are pretty cool in terms of opening up the conversation, they can just email me, my email is on the website so you are already connected to it. And I will send you the one sheet. I will send you a free chapter of the book. I will send you whatever you think is going to be useful. And the reason Matt that I do give away a lot of content, you mentioned that earlier, is people helped me. When I was selling early on in my career, I got good because I had lots and lots of support and help and for me this is just about giving it back out there. So I encourage people to be in touch.

Matt:  That’s great, no thank you for that offer. For people who want to take advantage of that you can visit the PS stands for Productivity Solutions, that’s Deb’s business. And there is so many great resources on the site, great content, great tools, just fantastic stuff.

And I think you are right, I think it’s a matter of sometimes helping your prospects or your sales team understand that the key to getting more presentations and getting prospects to the point where they want it, to get prospects to the point where they want to hear more about the solution and you’re not going to get there unless you get them curious, unless you get them to challenge the status quo they are working on.

Certainly it’s been interesting at the last couple of days here at Dreamforce walking around the trade show floor and getting a sense for how people do that, we get a lot of serious reviews as well, we get a lot of bad sales rep phone calls and emails but unfortunately I found that many of those folks are apparently live on the trade show floor trying to do the exact same thing – it doesn’t always work.

We are going to have a lot more with Deb Calvert as we get back from our commercial break here. We are going to talk about something she’s talking a lot these days, the idea of the all new needs assessment, we are going to talk more about that, share a few more pieces of feedback from what we are seeing here on the Dreamforce floor with some trends in sales we are seeing coming up and lots more. Thanks for joining us today, this is sales pipeline radio.


Matt:  Awesome, thank you very much but thanks again everyone for joining us here on Sales Pipeline Radio live every Thursday at 2:30 Eastern 11:30 Pacific. You can always catch replays of all of our shows on You can get a shortened transcript of every one of our conversations with our great guests at our website at and subscribe to our podcast. It’s just replays of these great events that come straight to you and if you can’t make every episode live it’s just at the Google play, the iTunes Store and you will find those there.

Coming up we’ve got some great guests. Next week we will have Jamie Shanks. I am super excited to have Jamie, he is one of the pioneers of the social selling movement. His just published his first book Social Selling Mastery. It is masterful, it is a very good primer on social selling and putting that into the context of modern selling overall today.

So I would have Jamie Shanks followed by Matt Benati who is the CEO of a product called the LeadGnome. If you want to make better use of the out of office messages we always see on a regular basis, put those to work for you, getting more leads, updating your database are going to want to check out what he’s got to say as well so I’m excited for a couple upcoming guests.

I’ve got a few more questions here for Deb Calvert our guest today on Sales Pipeline Radio who is the president of People First Productivity Solutions and is the author of the recent book – DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected, founder of the Stop Selling and Start Leading movement.

And Deb I did want to talk about this on your needs assessment, you’ve even spent a lot of time talking about that. Give people a sense of what that means and what that entails.

Deb:  Sure. Needs assessment for ever in selling has been about diagnosing the need, it’s a diagnostic process. It’s no different from walking into the doctor’s office and expediently the doctor asks you a couple of questions, write you a prescription and sends you on your way. But that’s not appealing to buyers anymore. Buyers we all know they are empowered, they are exposed to many more choices and options than ever before and they are demanding and they want something different. They don’t want to be asked those canned quick questions and set on their way with their ready prescription.

They want to have a dialogue. They want to participate in creating what they want. They want to have a voice in the whole process and so in the needs assessment, they want you to listen, they want to be able to expound on their answers on the things that matter to them. They want their value to be front and center just like we do because we are buyers too and when we are at the doctor’s office getting frustrated by those canned questions, that’s how buyers feel too by our canned questions.

So there seems to be not a diagnostic needs assessment but a dialogic needs assessment, the kinds of questions you ask are actually fewer but they are higher-quality, they are elevated and they bring to the surface much more quickly, what matters to the buyer and why. We’ve got to get there and that goes hand in hand with Stop Selling and Start Leading because what I’m describing enabling, creating a vision, challenging, getting value to the surface, all of that, that is work that leaders do too.

Matt:  The diagnostic process is something that I think a lot of salespeople have been thinking about for a while is familiar to many people who have been especially following the challenge or sale. The dialogic is a new topic for me. Can you break that down a little bit and maybe give an example of what that means in the field?

Deb:  … That and it does also dovetail with challenger selling – so leaders challenge. And that particular point of view resonates with the Stop Selling and Start Leading movement. Dialogic means I am not going to ask you five questions that are qualifying questions and then three questions that are going to funnel you into a certain product solution, that’s diagnostics. Dialogic is going to have a different sort of a funnel and it aligns with the buyer’s process. It gives credence to the fact that buyers have probably done a little research, they understand their need, they understand your products better than you think they do so they are impatient with your qualifying questions, we need to get more aligned around that.

And then buyers, since they already have thought some of this through and they are pushing you to do something a little different, we align with where do they want the product demo? Where do they want to be in terms of the conversation that we are having about price? We can’t delay it the way we use to until it suits us, until we have what we perceive to be our value proposition in front of them. Instead it’s flipped. We are a aligning with the buyers’ process, we are asking the questions to determine where they already are. We are hearing them, listening to them.

An example of that would be tell me more about your process and your decision-making criteria; what got you to this point where we are meeting? – Very different from the way it used to be where we would never consider asking this question until perhaps we were about to close. We need to be aligned with the buyer so we need to understand the buyer and ask questions that are little bit vulnerable for us to open up the dialogue.

Matt:  We are talking to Deb Calvert here about more buyer centric selling on Sales Pipeline Radio. What are some of the key obstacles or key challenges that you see in facing sales teams that want to adopt this as part of their 2017 plan? I guess another way to ask that would be in Q4, people who are listening to this, what are things sales teams can do to prepare themselves for this kind of a shift in selling?

Deb:  First understand, understand your buyer. There is a lot of research that most companies are already doing about the buyer journey. So pay attention to that, it’s not just for the marketing folks, it’s not just for the social team. This is for the frontline sellers to understand really in-depth B2C or B2B.

And then when you understand your buyer, begin to put yourself into their shoes. Really think about what kinds of questions you might be asking that are offsetting to them., With some different kinds of questions, take a look at discover questions and stop selling start leading and tons of other great resources that are out there to help you get this kind of mindset.

And then be willing to try something different including enabling your buyers. This is one of the most important findings out of the Stop Selling and Start Leading buyer research. Your buyers want to participate in creating what they want just like when they go to Chipotle and build their own burrito, how can you help them build with you, beside you? Not that you are bringing insights to them but that they are co-creating insights with you. Get yourself ready to do that work and you will be a rock star in 2017.

Matt:  Absolutely, that’s great advice. Well if anyone wants to learn more about Deb and her work you can definitely check her out at If you want to get a copy of her book – DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected, you can certainly find that on her website as well and as well on Amazon. And Deb I guess we have to wrap up here in a couple of minutes. Give us a sense as we go into 2017 as a lot of organizations start planning for the resources they need to hit their number and beyond, what are your recommendations to start to operationalize this in the organization?

Deb:  I think so much of this work has begun. If you are not familiar with Forrester’s work on customer experience, get familiar. There are many steps to there that are easy to operationalize and if you don’t have those in place you need them, you want them. And then think about the steps that would get you closer to your buyers, the vulnerability, yes but the actual steps that will get you through the uncomfortable part of that so that you can be more responsive and so that you become the seller and the sales organization of choice to your buyers because we all know word-of-mouth has become more powerful.

I even think that the buyer process has a new step and that’s the step of reviewing the people that they work with. And so let’s stop resisting that, let’s just get on board with it and make us the one that’s going to be chosen. That’s what buyers tell me and going back to my questions, research over and over again they kept saying something like this – well I choose this to do business with that seller because I felt dignified, I felt respected, I felt like they really listened. Operationalizing the steps to create that sense of who you are with your buyers, it’s essential. We can’t dodge it we have to do it.

Matt:  I agree, I absolutely agree. I want to thank our guest today Deb Calvert who is generous enough to join us. Deb you can check her out at If you want to hear our conversation with Deb again you will want to check that out in all its full glory at as well as the podcast that is available on Google play and the iTunes Store. Make sure you tune in every Thursday 2:30 Eastern 11:30 Pacific next week we’re going to have Jamie Shanks the author of Sales Social Setting Mastery. We’re going to talk about how that’s evolved into a pretty critical element for selling for a number of B2B professionals.

With that, thanks so much for joining us from San Francisco and Dreamforce. This has been Matt Heinz, thanks very much for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio.



Deb’s site has a lot of free tools to getting prospects to the point of curiosity fast to learn more about what you are offering. Visit

Deb also has a great book: DISCOVER Questions(tm) Get You Connected – LISTENER SPECIAL! BOOKMARK this page. It is continuously updated.  Some of what she and Matt are talking about the survey that asks you “When were you at your personal best?” This goes through March. This is how she gathers valuable information.

A bit about Deb Calvert:

Deb Calvert, “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” author, Top 50 Sales Influencer, UC-Berkeley instructor. Deb leads the Stop Selling & Start Leading movement and offers sales training, coaching and leadership development programs. Deb is certified as an executive and sales coach and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®.
Building Organizational Strength by Putting People First. We focus on the people parts of business, including:

– Coaching for Executives, Managers & Sales Teams
– Leadership Development for Leaders at Every Level
– Training for Managers and Sales Professionals
– Consulting on Team Effectiveness, Sales Productivity, Sales Selection
– Keynote addresses on DISCOVER Questions®, sales productivity, leadership connectivity


– MBTI Certified Practitioner
– Certified Executive Coach, the CEC (ICF)
– Full curriculum for sales team training, customized to your industry & market
– Author of the DISCOVER Questions® book series and questioning model