Authentic Persuasion with Jason Cutter
How do you go from tagging sharks to being a sales success architect? Jason Cutter knows and shares how sales are like visiting your doctor!
Jason Cutter, CEO of Cutter Consulting Group, is a sales success architect. Anything from training, to scripting, to sales tech, he helps small businesses create scalable inside sales teams. His newest program is called Authentic Persuasion with the goal of helping salespeople go from Order Taker to Quota Breaker.
LinkedIn: Jason Cutter
Contact Information: http://jasoncutter.com/
Book Pre-Order: https://www.authenticpersuasion.com/
Listen to the podcast here:
Read Along as Karla and Jason discuss Authentic Persuasion
Karla Nelson: And welcome to the People Catalyst Podcast, Jason Cutter.
Jason Cutter: Thanks so much for having me. I’m super excited for what we’re going to talk about.
Karla Nelson: Myself as well. We are both very passionate about people and about relationships in sales. I know that’s a big passion of yours as well, Jason.
Jason Cutter: Yeah.
Karla Nelson: Including the animals and marine biology. So, we’ll get into that a little bit later. But Jason, I always like to start out just explaining your story. How did you get from where you thought you were going to be to where you are here in the entrepreneurial world?
Jason Cutter: And in the shortest time possible, so it’s not an hour-long episode. My path was really, really windy and the punchline is, right now I’m a sales consultant, trainer, coach. I have a podcast. That’s where I’m at now in my life. But as you mentioned, with animals, my bachelor’s degree is in marine biology. I thought I wanted to go into that. I was very curious as a kid, I was also a shy, awkward, only child and a late bloomer. So, I wasn’t really into people.
Karla Nelson: I would never have thought that. That is really interesting.
Jason Cutter: It’s interesting because I mentioned it, which we’ll talk about later as we get into more sales stuff. But I think it’s important for people who maybe didn’t feel like they’re born to be in sales or born to be dealing with people, but now they are. And to understand, hey, this is something I can do. But we’ll talk about that later. I was super, super awkward, super shy, only child. And then I was like, okay, let me get in … I really got into fish and sharks. So, I went to school, got my degree in marine biology. While I was there in Santa Cruz, I tagged sharks for about four years with a group. And couldn’t get a job in marine biology.
Karla Nelson: That is like tagging, like putting the little detectors, like GPS tracking thing on it?
Jason Cutter: That is it. Everything from two to three-foot sharks in the slew, which was part of my senior project. Where we would catch them by hand and then put little tags and measure them and weigh them, to 18-foot great white sharks where you’re putting radio tags in their back. So, you can track their movement around the Santa Cruz area.
Karla Nelson: Well, that’s a first, Jason, on the podcast. A shark tagger. That’s awesome.
Jason Cutter: Yeah. I was just super happy, because when I started with them, they upgraded boats. So, they had a 21-foot boat tagging 18-foot great white sharks, versus the year before they had 16 foot boat. So at least I felt a little better.
Karla Nelson: So, the shark was bigger than your boat?
Jason Cutter: In the previous years, yeah. And the sharks are big ones. Anyway, so I couldn’t get a job in marine biology because basically you needed a master’s degree. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wasn’t clear on where I wanted to go with life. Ended up moving to Seattle, got a job at Microsoft doing tech support for a couple of years, when that was actually still a thing in the world. And realized I didn’t want to do that either. By the second year, they moved all our jobs to China and India, which was the beginning of outsourcing and offshoring that now everyone just is used to and assumes. But in that day and age, it wasn’t a thing.
And then from there I was still a floating leaf, kind of lost without direction in the world. And a family friend suggested I get into the mortgage business, which was my first, I’ll say it “sales job”. It didn’t take much sales because at the time the housing boom, everyone was just wanting to buy and refinance. And it was just crazy. You didn’t have to have any sales skills-
Karla Nelson: No, you stood in line.
Jason Cutter: … I still screwed up a bunch of stuff. Yeah, you stood in line and they were just … some stuff I know we’re going to talk about on the show today that we talked about, I actually learned them because it was actually so crazy that you had to control people who wanted to get a loan. You had to keep them in line. But it was interesting because I still screwed up a lot of stuff, even though it wasn’t hard, it didn’t take any sales. Things that I still use ‘til today. So that was my first sales-ish job. Did that for a couple of years, then I went into helping people in foreclosure, avoid losing their homes.
That’s when you really get into sales, because while you think somebody would want help, most people just want to put their head in the sand. That’s where I really learned how to sell and persuade and help people and really, really come to a connection with wanting to help people. And shifting from solving problems with sharks, to solving problems with people and embracing people. Because I didn’t want to deal with people for the longest time.
Karla Nelson: I don’t know which one I’d pick.
Jason Cutter: Sharks. All day, every day. I would pick sharks if I had that choice. And everyone obviously is afraid of sharks and people don’t like sharks. But sharks are very predictable. They have one direction, they have one mode, they have one purpose in life. And as long as you understand that and you stay away from the business end, sharks are pretty easy to deal with.
Karla Nelson: That’s awesome.
Jason Cutter: People are messy.
Karla Nelson: Yes, we are. I always say, you know what? I should have gotten a psychology degree. Everybody goes to get a business-
Jason Cutter: I feel like I have a minor or some kind of honorary psychology degree at this point.
Karla Nelson: Exactly. Share with us a little bit … And by the way, I didn’t realize we had such a similar background, Jason, because I got my broker’s license at 20. I was in residential finance business, commercial finance, and morphed into a consulting firm in 2008.
Jason Cutter: Wow.
Karla Nelson: So maybe that’s why we just … my brother from another mother. So, share with us a little bit about that shift of the … I agree with you, there were people that you actually had to control the aspect of them wanting to borrow too much or the, I need to get in here like yesterday. There was this frenzy piece that was happening, that was more like, calm down, take it easy. Instead of trying to influence, persuade, like you were talking about, and support. And then that shifted. Share a little bit about what you learned during that shifting period. Because it was interesting for us. We shifted into a consulting firm because we knew the clients needed it. Not that they knew that they needed it, but they wanted to run away from their problems. That’s an interesting point. Could you share a little bit with us about that?
Jason Cutter: Yeah, for me … And there’s a lot of people who will do a job and it’s totally fulfilling, and they love it. For me, mortgage loan officer was not that. Helping people buy homes, get into debt, make these purchasing decisions. Nothing wrong with it, just for me, it didn’t click. It wasn’t something where I woke up every day and I’m like, this is exciting, and I want to do it. I still have some friends who are still in that business and they love it, and it’s a perfect fit for them. For me, it just didn’t feel right. It was the weirdest thing, I left it in 2004. I mean, if we think of the mortgage meltdown in 2007, it’s still at its peak and I’m like, I’m good. This game isn’t for me, I don’t want to play this game.
And I saw this need where people who … there were people looking to buy houses, so they’re on the investor side, and then there were people who were in foreclosure. And at the time there were 30 to 40 new foreclosure filings a day in the Seattle area in 2004 when it hadn’t melted down yet. And so, a partner of mine shifted and went into that and then took a different approach. And it felt different because it was helping someone avoid something bad that was going to happen to them, and then get them out of that situation. While at the same time helping, let’s say an investor or somebody who’s looking to buy property. Help them link up with that too, and being that, use your word, a catalyst and a facilitator in the middle.
Karla Nelson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh, I love that. Share with us what, in that space, then you moved into helping with short sales and attracting those. And I remember these times, it was trying. And it was actually during a time … so 2009, my husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and we were having our own issues. But I’ll tell you, everybody was … it put it in perspective for me, because I think we were able to help because it was like, well, our problems are pretty really bad. We don’t care about money and things at this point because we’ve been stripped of it, but you learn so much in that challenging time. Way more than you learn in the easy, good times. So, what shifted that for you? Where that light bulb went off, where the finance piece wasn’t … even though you could see that as helping people.
But then for you personally, helping them with their short sales and help when they wanted to put their head in the sand and getting them to change their mindset. I think we could talk a little bit about mindset, both on the sales and your customer side, and helping them shift their mindset. But what was that ting, that light bulb that went off for you that you said, okay, this one’s for me?
Jason Cutter: It wasn’t premeditated, it wasn’t in advance like, okay, I can feel it. My purpose, my mission is to help people. Even at my age right now, I’m still working on that. I have what I feel is my vision and my mission, they’ve been cultivating, and I know it shifts, it has shifted in the past. So, it wasn’t premeditated. It wasn’t like, hey, here’s what I’m going to do. It was, here’s an opportunity, here’s something, let me try this, let me go after it. And then in the process of doing some of those transactions and helping some people in ways that were significantly impacting. If we failed or if they didn’t do something, the sheriff was going to be at their door Friday afternoon telling them to move all their stuff out. That’s definitely more impactful than, hey, why didn’t my refinance go through? And this is terrible, and oh my gosh-
Karla Nelson: Oh my gosh, my carpet isn’t what I expected. And my washing machine doesn’t work.
Jason Cutter: Yeah. Real impactful. I want to say life and death versus the illusion of that, when you’re in a sales-
Karla Nelson: Honestly, many times if they’ve got … their credit’s been tarnished and you can’t figure it out, they are looking at a really rough time with their family. And I love that because you can see both sides, and I think you can even talk yourself into what truly helping somebody is versus saying, well, what do they really need? Because I remember back then that there were as many people that wanted to do loans that they should have never had. And I was like, no, they’re still going to go find the money somewhere. Right? And you’re just like, I really failed in helping that person. Trying to talk them out of doing one of those subprime loans that we knew the peak was coming. But sometimes you just can’t help people from human nature. That they want it and they want it, versus the avoidance of paying.
Jason Cutter: Yeah.
Karla Nelson: And I think the avoidance of paying … And we always say, here at the People Catalyst that, unfortunately, people will pay more for an aspirin than they will a vitamin.
Jason Cutter: For sure.
Karla Nelson: And so, you have to speak to the aspirin, but I think keeping in mind the best thing for them is actually a vitamin. So, they can avoid having to take an aspirin. So, can you share with us a little bit about your thoughts on that. About how the avoidance of pain is so impactful in the influence piece. But people don’t always know what they need, or they think they need something that even though they need a whole slew of things before they even get to that.
Jason Cutter: Okay. This is where you and I, the Karla-Jason show goes into our part-time unofficial. Please don’t take this as any kind of diagnosis or actual medical advice. Our part-time psychology psychosis analysis portion.
Karla Nelson: Yes. Both of us do not have a doctorate, but-
Jason Cutter: We do not have a doctorate, which I’ve never made that disclaimer before, but it felt appropriate here. I am a guy with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology though, so keep that in mind. I think the thing is that there’s a part of our brain that everybody has. Some people control it better, some people it’s more powerful than others. There’s a part of our brain that is the animal primal lizard part. You could call it what you want. I won’t get into the technical details, but there’s a part of our brain that still thinks-
Karla Nelson: Isn’t it the reptilian brain?
Jason Cutter: The reptilian brain. People call it different things. If they want to soften it, they call it the lizard brain. And then people get triggered and offended. So, use whatever term you want to be as offended or not offended as you’d like, but we all have this part of our brain. And it thinks it’s still on the Savannah or in a cave thousands and thousands of years ago, fighting for survival and worried about everything. It’s the part of our brain that if you imagine five, 10,000 years ago, you’re on the Savannah, you’re living in your little makeshift shelter. And what would be more important to you? Imagining you’re seeing five tigers throughout the day, around every corner, and jumping and worrying and always being on high alert but being wrong. Or not caring and not paying attention and missing the one tiger that is real and getting killed.
Karla Nelson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jason Cutter: And so, our brain is always in that mode. It still thinks it’s in that. It’s still worried that if I eat that berry, it’s the wrong berry, I’m going to get poisoned and I’m going to get sick and die. If you broke your leg 5,000 years ago, there was no doctor. You could get an infection, your tribe will leave you behind, you’re going to die under a bush, and that’s it. So, our brain wants to keep us safe in our comfort zone. And so, danger is bad. So, it will always default, for most people, to avoiding pain and danger, because we want to stay in our comfort zone. But what it doesn’t do for most people is go for gain, which is, hey, on the other side of my comfort zone is amazing stuff. If I’m in this cave now, maybe there’s a better cave or a better hunting ground. But the risk is, what if there’s not, and then I die because I made the wrong choice. So, I’ll just make no choice.
Karla Nelson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. And how do you, when you’re working in the sales, either … and you can answer this from a training and consulting side, or even you being on a sales call. How are you aware of that? And then influence … of course, they say influence, manipulation, it’s two sides of the same coin. And it’s a very thin coin, and it’s one of the reasons why sales is one of the most incredible professions. Because if we don’t sell things, our economy just dies. But then gets a bad rap because of that, right? And understanding it is critical. And then also having their best interests at heart. So, it’s influence, not manipulation. But how do you balance those two? Understanding that many times people are in avoidance of pain and don’t want to go out there and make the wrong decisions, so they sit in limbo. How do you balance that when you’re teaching training or on a call?
Jason Cutter: The first thing is you got to always understand that part of that brain that you have that keeps you limited. Your prospects have it, everybody has it, we’re all human. Again, some people are better at it, and some are not. The fundamental hardest challenge of sales is embracing understanding, and then overcoming your prospects’ fear of change. That’s it. There’s one fear. It’s not a fear of spiders, it’s not a fear of sharks, it’s not a fear of anything else, it’s a fear of change when it comes to your selling interaction. Because change equals risk, risk equals death. And so, the brain wants to keep us from making changes. That’s why you see some people, they eat at the same restaurant, they go to the same place on vacation, they stay in the same kind of hotel. They literally don’t like change. And then there’s people who don’t care.
There are people who … and this is fascinating. There are people who have no fear of change. They have no fear of certain things, but then they’re totally afraid of other things. I talked to a guy on a podcast recently and he’s like, I have no fear of public speaking. I have no fear of this and that. I’m like, “Well, what about heights?” He’s like, “No, no, no, I can’t do heights.” So, people have these bubbles of confidence, and then these bubbles of fear. And your prospects fear change, everyone fears change. Your employees, your team, people. Again, fear … change equals danger, which equals death, is what that part of our brain is saying. So, your goal in any sales interaction is to help your prospect feel safe. To feel that the change that you want to help facilitate is safe. It’s okay. It’ll be okay.
If we go try out this new restaurant, it’ll be okay. I promise. We’ll get through this together. That’s what you want to create for them. And you do that by building some rapport, showing them empathy, building some level of trust. And then being a professional who’s going to take them on that journey arm in arm, and then make it safe. And the reason I say all this, you think, well, no, people aren’t afraid of change, some people don’t care. You’re right. If those people didn’t care about change and weren’t afraid, they would have ordered it online. Or they would’ve called you up and said, here’s my money, I just want to buy this. And you’re now an order taker. But if have to persuade somebody, it’s because you’ve got to help them overcome their fear of change.
Karla Nelson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love that. And what are some of the strategies that you use, Jason? Or questions, or different maybe listening for responses, where you’re feeling like you’re having that? Because there is a flow, a sales flow, it’s an art and a science. So, you have to get over some pieces of the obstacle. But at the same time, you do have to get to that point where it’s, does it make sense for us to continue or does it not? Right?
Jason Cutter: Yeah.
Karla Nelson: There is a part where there’s a, end of the road. What are some of the strategies that you use through the sales process? And then when you get to that, end of the road, time to make a choice?
Jason Cutter: So working backwards, the one thing that you must know as a salesperson, again whether it’s, you’re a coach and you’re selling somebody to hire you as a coach or you’re selling knives door to door, it doesn’t matter. To me, sales is sales, so it doesn’t matter. But the one question you have to be able to answer is, why do they want or need what I have to sell? Once you determine if it’s a good fit, if it’s … you pre-qualified them enough, why do they need it? For their reasons. Not why do I think they need it, not why do I tell all my customers why they need it, not why I think my company is so amazing and the best and we have so many good ratings and reviews. No, why do they need this? What does it do for them? For their reasons.
Once you know the answer to that, then the rest of it is easy, because now we’re tying in the solution, the pricing, the next steps, the expectations. All the rest of that is easy, because you’re like, okay, well, you said you need to get here. I know how to get you here, any questions? That’s it. Now, to get to that point is tough because it takes building up enough of a relationship and then asking enough questions, whichever way the conversation goes. I don’t teach people to say, okay, ask this question, then ask this question. It’s more of, here’s the framework of the questions. And then also using active listening to have a conversation. Remember, this is what a lot of people forget. It’s not me selling to you, it’s two humans having a conversation. And I want to see how I can help you if I can. I’m going to let you know if I can’t, I’ll let you know.
But it’s asking questions enough to go deep enough to answer that question of, why do they want it? Which sometimes you’ll know in the first two minutes, sometimes it may take five phone calls to uncover why they really need it. But unless you answer that question, you’re just hoping.
Karla Nelson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, sometimes it’s discovery. And I think it’s interesting based off of how people … there’s three different ways people learn new information. And they’re, a thinker, a feeler or a knower. And understanding when you listen for someone to respond, some people there’s never enough information before they can get to a new idea. Some people, they love stories. That’s why people use case studies and those types of things when in doubt. And then some people just know, they get on the phone, hey, I have this problem, somebody referred me to you, and they said you could fix it.
Jason Cutter: Yeah.
Karla Nelson: So, it’s interesting. I love that people forget sometimes it’s a two-way conversation focused on them.
Jason Cutter: Yeah.
Karla Nelson: And then also if you can solve their problem. So, in that … and I love how you said that sometimes it might take five calls too. Because I think that sometimes it’s pressed too quickly to make a decision too quickly. When some people are actually verbally aware, they talk through it and then they go, oh, I got it. They don’t necessarily know. They might say, I’ve got a revenue problem.
Jason Cutter: Right.
Karla Nelson: But where is that? Is it your pricing? Is it you are promoting the wrong product? Is it a sales issue? Is it how many contacts that you’re making? Or is it your conversion ratio? Or is it your activity? What is that thing? And I think that’s … how do you get that from when you’re selling, so that you don’t feel like they’re putting you under a microscope? And of course, not judging. Because I always say when people have a problem, I’m like, “Congratulations, welcome to the club.” You know what I mean? It’s like, you’re normal. But how do you get to that point where they’re opening up, but then you’re trying to diagnose what they need? Because most of the time, in my experience in working with businesses, and this is from startups all the way to large organizations, is that they don’t always know.
Jason Cutter: No. And fundamentally keep in mind, and this is true for everybody, if you knew what you were doing incorrectly in order to get to where you wanted to, there’s no good, bad, right or wrong. It’s just about, where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? And if you’re not there, why? If people knew why they weren’t where they wanted and how to fix it on their own, they wouldn’t need other people’s help. If I just realized, hey, the reason that I don’t have X is because of this. I’ll just go get it, then that’s it. So usually when they’re interacting with someone who’s a salesperson or is some kind of service provider or has a product, there’s a good chance the prospect doesn’t even know what the issue is.
They might even know what the issue is, but they don’t know why or what to do about it. If they knew what to do about it, they would just do it. And so that’s the first thing to keep in mind. The framework that I teach is called, authentic persuasion. And the first part is that authenticity part. And I think that’s one of the things that has made me very successful in sales and leadership and interactions in business with other people. Even selling up the chain to let’s say an owner and getting my way with initiatives or things that I think are important. Is because I’m just authentic, I’m just me. When I have a conversation with somebody who … if I’m in a sales role, it’s just me. I’m having that conversation, I care, I make mistakes, I stumble, I talk about my past, I don’t try to hide anything. I’m not trying to present this perfect illusion of the slick talking-
Karla Nelson: I always look for that.
Jason Cutter: … Wall Street salesperson.
Karla Nelson: You know what? That is so critical. When people are … you just are attracted to them. You are like, because you know what?
Jason Cutter: 100%.
Karla Nelson: All of us are human. And anytime somebody is talking that big old talk, I don’t care if they’re a CEO of a company or a Fortune 500 company or they’re getting my coffee. We’re all in this boat together and we all have something different to contribute and we all have value. And that’s fantastic. Well, there is something that I learned from Jason in our short time together before this podcast. Let’s sign off with this, you have to share my favorite quotes. I don’t want to steal it and steal your thunder, but this I think is critical for anyone in sales to listen to this quote, and think about it anytime you’re on a call talking to a prospect and wanting to help and serve them.
Jason Cutter: Right. Here’s the quote and the line that I recommend everyone to memorize and then I’ll explain what it means. Is, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice. Once again, it’s, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice. And if we think about the medical profession, there’s a lot of rules. Actually, they have their Hippocratic Oath, they have codes, they have boards, they have certifications, they have everything that sales doesn’t have. And then we can look at the result of how people feel about the medical profession and how they feel about the sales profession. But a doctor has the standard to live by, and you would never … no good doctor, without getting sued like crazy, would allow you to walk in and say, hey, by the way, I was reading online and I went to WebMD and it says that I have this illness. Here’s what I need.
And the doctor says, okay, sounds good. Here’s the prescription. Good luck with that. Let me know how it goes. They wouldn’t do that. They would be on the line. No medical professional would ever do that. I know people who try, they try to self-diagnose. They become WebMDs and they think they know what’s wrong. And the doctor doesn’t care. It’s like, oh, I’m going to put you through the test. I’m going to put you through the paces. I’m going to ask you my questions. I’m going to poke and prod you. I’m going to diagnose you, and then I’m going to prescribe you. And then we’re going to move forward. Salespeople don’t always do that. When you start off a phone call, that prospect is scared and they say, okay, well, what is this going to cost me? The salesperson instantly just starts throwing out numbers.
Like, here’s what the fee is and blah, blah, blah. And they go into this long tangent. Instead of being a professional, which is, I don’t know. That’s what I tell people all the time, when they ask me. What’s the fee? I don’t know. What’s this going to cost me? I don’t know. What’s the agreement? I don’t know. What do you mean you don’t know? I don’t know, because I haven’t figured out if I can help you and what your situation is. And then which program makes the most sense for you. So, it would be, prescription before diagnosis, and that would be sales malpractice. And I’m just not going to do that. And I used that in the beginning when I was in the mortgage business. It was like, what’s your rate? I don’t know. What’s your credit score? What’s your debt-to-income? What’s all these factors? Well, I just want to know the rate. Well, good luck with that, because I’m not going to give it to you.
Because if I give it to you and it’s wrong, you’re going to hate me next week when it turns out I was wrong. And I just bait-and-switched you and I tried to get you in the door, which is what bad salespeople do. And instead, what I teach people is, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice. Don’t try to prescribe the solution to somebody until you’ve diagnosed enough to know if that’s the right solution.
Karla Nelson: I love that. Oh, my goodness. I don’t know. See, that could … that’s a great answer for a-
Jason Cutter: I say that one all the time. I don’t know. And it drives people crazy, but then it’s also … and this is what I teach a lot of people to do. Do the exact opposite of that salesperson you don’t want to be like, or that you don’t like working with or talking to. Do the opposite. Because the slick salesperson always has an answer, always has a comeback line, always has a something. I don’t know. But it’s true. I’m not just being an ass, it’s honestly true. I don’t know. What could it be? I don’t know.
Karla Nelson: And there you go, Blue Ocean Strategies. If you haven’t read the book, go read it because just by being different, I think it’s 66% more revenue when you can do something different, don’t be afraid to stand out. So, Jason, how can our listeners get ahold of you?
Jason Cutter: The easiest and best simplest way is, go to jasoncutter.com. That’s JASONCUTTER.com. It’s a hub right now for where to find me. So, the consulting website, my Authentic Persuasion site, the book that’s coming out soon, as well as finding me on LinkedIn, social media. Very active on LinkedIn, so I have a lot of content there as well.
Karla Nelson: Fantastic. Jason, sure appreciate you being on the show. This is fantastic.
Jason Cutter: All right. Thanks for having me, Karla.