The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 4 years ago

Larry Levine on How To Remain Authentic

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Authenticity is one of the biggest challenges for salespeople in a profession that’s so laden with rejection that many fear it. Yet, authenticity is what separates the sales reps from the sales professionals and it's what buyers want.

We sat down with Larry Levin, co-founder of The Social Sales Academy and host of the Selling from the Heart podcast to talk about how authenticity plays a role in sales.

You were listening to the BB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping the executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the BB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about what's turning out to be a pretty serious challenge for sales reps today, and that's how to remain authentic, almost vulnerable at times, and approach it enough in a profession that's so laden with rejection. Most people won't even begin to do it, let alone admit that it's something we have to be doing today. It's what buyers want. To tackle the topic, we have Larry Levine, Co founder of the Social Sales Academy and host of the selling from the heart podcast. Larry, thanks for taking the time to be on the show today. Awesome. You're welcome. Looking forward to this. So, before we jump into the topic of the day, we like to start with an odd question. Right, I get people to understand you a little bit more, think about a you know, turning point in your life, some events, something that maybe change the trajectory of your career or your thinking kind of what was that event and what did you take away from it? Yeah, it's you know, I think I'd like to go back, and this is probably Chad. I'd say mid two thousand. So that's just called two thousand and five, two thousand and six. So you know, even before that, I'll give you an idea. I came out of probably the most old school, traditional lagguard backward sales channel that ever existed, topic channel. So you know, there's going to be probably some listeners are going to slap me for calling the copy your channel backwards. That's the channel I came up but it was. It was about the mid two thousand. So I'm in the southern California marketplace in the copy your space and there's mid two thousand and that's the time that I really started seeing it was difficult to get people the answer the phone right. People are hide behind voice mail, people are not returning emails, expression they don't know you. It became a challenge for me as a as an that bold school, you know, old soul traditional salesperson to go. Okay, how do you start identifying to when people are screening you out even more so than ever? And my defining moment, and people who know me really well and in my inner circle know that I always like staying one step ahead of the curve. And what I did is I heard a business coach and that was probably the best thing that ever did. Chat I spent, you know, sizeable about a money, my own personal money, and I went out and I saw, I just saw a business coach. I just need somebody to help me write, somebody can get to know me, not my inner circle, not anybody else, but somebody who can really get to know meansa okay, here's how I might be able to help you. And this business coach taught me a life lesson that just change the whole trarectory of my sales career. Is He taught me how to brand myself as a sales RAPP and I was a season sals or by the Times, I give you an idea. I'm fifty three years old now, so we're probably going out for one forty two, forty three. At the time that I just kept an open mind and this person taught me how to brand myself. He taught me in a way that even though I'm in a facetoface world, leveraging outbound prospecting, that you can still learn how to brand yourself. And that was the biggest life lesson, because he helped me build a website. So by now we called a landing page because it was just a simple but it. But what it did is he was guiding and coaching me on how to get visible and validate my existence online with my current clients. So he built out a little story, built out my value proposition, how I line to the issues and challenges that were out there in the marketplace. And every time I sold some to somebody, Chad, but I took a picture of them, right. So there's a copier, printer, some kind of solution. My arm was around him and I put the pictures up on my website and I'd learned how to drive traffic to it because that was visibility. So that was like an Aha moment for me. Is I look, he started coaching, guiding me and how to play in the online sandbox and you were ahead of the curve then. I mean now today, it's kind of required right. Well, and it's kind of required but what was really...

...interesting no one is really doing it, and I remember the company I was in there going what the heck are you doing right? Are you in time? Are you going after deals? What is this internetsting? Well, well, the exactly. But I said just watch this, watch what's happening. And sooner or later I started building that brand. And I'm a firm leaver. Chad that every single sales professional out there has a brand. They just don't know it because they don't really to do it right. And I said you can either develop your brand or you can have somebody develop it for you, and if somebody develops it for you, you may not like it right. They're so role of that exactly. So that's what I did and that's why I was taught. So, you know, I have this website and I went back to my client base and I started driving my client so my website. Hey tell me what you think of this, and they start going this is kind of cool, and then they started telling their friends and then I was prospecting, driving people. This is before you know, I'm a sales guy. I don't know anything about marketing, but I think said people, but I think salespeople need to know how to market themselves. Right. That's something they're not taught and that's a that's a whole nother topic of another conversation. But he taught me how to start marketing myself and being proactive with it, and before you know it, I started creating some awareness out in a marketplace. So we're talking the size of southern California, so you know where I'm going. It's a huge population. You got to get to know Yep, in a niche market, like to copy your market. And that was my defining moment because we fast forward it today, what I learned ten, twelve, thirteen years ago help me, you know, catapult my career, but it also helped me start what I'm doing now. And I look back and it's so difficult because sales reps, I think, are struggling with how to brand themselves because we have such a black eye out in the marketplace. That's that's my we do right, I mean, you know, I would I say to a lot of clients city know, thank you for the current political climate, because sales people are no longer the most loathed profession on the planet. Well, it knows. Well, funny you mention that, because I enjoy going to the gym every day and I was walking on the treadmill. This is probably about thirty days ago, and my buddy walks in. So I you know, I go to the gym at some weird hour, called for thirty in the morning. So I'm sorry, I'm Sittinger, walking on the treadmill and my buddy starts walking next to me and he knows I've been in sales my whole life. So He's a banker. Okay, he goes, Larry, he goes. I think the banking I think bankers and the banking community is right up there with the most hated positions outside of sales people. I go. We high fived each other, so that's kind of funny. That's very true. Everybody has to control their band and it's the only way that we'll see. You know, things change in terms of the perception of salespeople. It's becoming critical today. The credibility, the ability to demonstrate you can be empathetic and authentic online and in different venues is something. You're right. Nobody's teaching these reps how to do it. No, and and that's and see, that's the thing is everybody's waiting for somebody to teach them how to do something. As opposed to that's just flip this. salespeople need to take it upon themselves to grow themselves and not wait for anybody else. Well, that's one of the things I love about sales is that it is a lot of it's on me right, first and foremost. Success is black, is fairly black and white. It's a number. It's this is a number, this is my target. Either hit it or I don't, and there's a whole bunch of subtlety in there right, but it's up to me, nobody. You know, I'm one of those guys. is like, nobody's going to outwork me, nobody's going to hit the phones harder, nobody's going to talk to more clients, nobody's. It's just who I am. I see a lot of reps today, though, that don't take that own self accountability and into into account. Maybe they weren't told May, they weren't taught that that's really what it is that they need to do that. But it is one of the things that I love about sales. It's you benefit for being in a team, but at the end of the day it's are you doing? What you need to do in a discipline manner in order to be successful. Well, and it's so true, because I was,...

...and don't be surprised, as something comes out of right field on this podcast, but I was ask salespe you know when I'm working with them, and I'll I'll throw it out there to him, why the heck are you in sales? And you'll be surprised because he catch people off guard and some of them may not even know. Right, this guy just fell into it. Right, I know I can make a lot of money. Right, my dad was a salesperson writer, my buddies a salesperson, kind of wrote me into this position. I go no, why are you in sales? I mean, and if you break it all down, you know the reason why I got in the sales as I just love the art of conversation. I learned and I'd like building relationships and if you can't do that, then don't be a salesperson. It's but it's truth. But you know, the other thing too, is you're almost technically, you're almost running your own business, even though you might you know you're going to grab a paycheck from somebody right, or you're going to be in some kind of organization that provides you something in return for your position. You still, if you run it like your own business, then you're going to be professional about it, you know, and that's why I said there's a huge difference, in my opinion, between a sales rep and a sales professional. Right, a grade one hundred percent, one hundred percent and that and that. Sales professionals going to take their job extremely serious and they're the ones are going to learn something new every day. They are the ones. They're going to pay for their learning. They're not going to wait for somebody to say, Hey, Chad, guess what, I'm going to send you to this conference in two weeks and we're going to pay for and you're going to learn this. Right, I'm going to be that person that's going to go to take it upon myself to do it, because technically, a salesperson's running their own business and, quite frankly, what concerns me today is that's one of the reasons why sales, that's where it's at. Its salespeople haven't taken the bull by the horns and run their business like it's their business, because if they and the great segue that that's a great point, though. So I'm wondering when you deal with a lot of these I don't like to use the term millennial because it sounds roctor. I don't mean to sound that way. Let's say younger sales reps with less than, you know, I don't know, seven years of field experience and now they're struggling there. You know it. Look it's up to them. They get to build their own business and in order to do that they have to take the bull by the horns. But I often see, you know, and hear this word. You know, we talked about authenticity right and I for a long time I had a real hard time with that word. It felt a little too touchy feeley to me. As an old school, you know, died in the whole sales guy. It just felt a little what do you mean, I'm not being authentic? How do you how do you connect people if you're not being authentic? It just felt, I don't know, like a layer. So now I'm wondering if, okay, not only do they have to take the bull by the horns to run their own business, but does their focus on and the focus that we're seeing in conversations around sales, around this concept of authenticity. Does that actually get in the way of it, or does it help it? I haven't quite figured it out. To me, there's like these moving parts that you've got, these millennials. I'm in sales and I always ask him, when you were growing up playing with your fire engines and the Barbie's, did did you say I want to be in sales? No, no, that's not what happened. So now you're here, much like your question of why, and they want to talk more about being authentic rather than the mechanics and the discipline of building a business, and I'm wondering if those things are at odds or is there a way we can help them figure out how to bring them together to be more successful? Yes, yes, yes, and yes, yeah, and you know, and I agree. You know, I want to keep the generations out of this because I think everybody has the capability of finding their authentic self. It requires a little selfdiscipline. So you know, I'm in the process of writing a book right now and it's stemming off my podcast, and I mean, if you don't mind it, I mean can I can I spin this around as a little yeah, please, please do it right. Thank you. So my podcast is selling from the heart, and you'll see where I'm going with this in a second chat. But I decided to enter the I'm writing my first book right now, and who knew that, I mean even have the capacity to write a book. But it started,...

...but it's started to become really fun because this authenticity part of sales, I think, is sorely missing. So with that, with the help of a really close friend of mine, you know, you kind of urged me to help me write a book. But the name of my books selling from the heart. How your authentic self sells you. And this is where I'm going with this, is we all have the capacity to be authentic sales people, but we have to have that discipline to take a look at inside of who we are. And you're right, you know, and you said it a little bit of good chat, about being touchy Feeley. Yeah, it is a little bit touchy feely, but to me sales is building relationships right, sales is building credit relationships, the core foundation. In my my opinion, it goes back to that old book by Dill Carnegie. You know, how to win fronts, influence people, and that book is written by Thirty Seven nineteen thirty seven, I was eighty one years old and the core foundation of that book really resonates with with WHO I am and I think that authentic sales rep is you're building relationships and changing the way people think. And the way you build relationships and change the way people think as you got to understand who you are. What goods do you bring to the table? And I always say that you know you have the capacity, it's just you know, most people are just taught me manipulative sales tricks, right strategies, getting somebody to buy something as fast as possible. Guys, I get it right. I've been there. You got your quota, you got your monthly courty or court of quote. I get it right. I truly understand. But it's not about you, it's about them and it's the human nature that I think's been lost in sales. That that my goal in my mission as how do you bring the human approach back to sales and make it about them? And I always say lead with the heart, not with the wallet. Right, and and people can really smell commission breath a mile away. Right, commission but I have never heard that for I'm gonna Steal that. I'm some diad. I don't care. You can steal it all day longest maybe it's just all you got to do is painting royalties. I'll put a TI. You make them put a TM. I'm right there. That's funny, you know. Or Sharks and suits, but there's a lot, there's there's a lot of empty suits out there and you know, my mission right now is to bring authenticity back by saying, you know what, you do have the capacity to be the real deal. You do have the capacity to be a genuine sales rep. You do have the capacity to sell your authentic self. You just don't know it because you don't take the time to self reflect, you're not selfaware who you are and you don't eat, you don't spend that time on a daily basis. You don't get brutal honest with yourself. Yeah, I guess. I mean for me, my challenge with it is, I mean I was I started in marketing and then switch to the dark side seventeen years ago and I got trained. I maybe I was just lucky enough to get trained by guys that instilled that in me. So for me, the the way that authenticity it makes me used to make me turn my head like a confused puppy because I was just taught from the beginning you your goal is not your wallet. If that's what you're focused on, then you're wrong, wrong approach and not going to be successful. You really have to genuinely care about the people that you're selling to and solving their problems. And there will be times, and I was just talking to Mary them Mary Lambardo about this, there will be times where you have to say, you know what, this is not a good deal. It's not a good deal for you, which means we'll be a good deal for me. It's not going to solve your problem, so I'm going to I'm going to take you somewhere else, I'm gonna let you go somewhere else, arm going to withdraw, whereas we see a lot of these sales wraps and the other ones, I was just to know the crap out of me that would just drive and drive and drive and drive and drive. It is like no, no, I'm and take take a breath. Let's look at what the person you're trying to sell to needs. What is it that they want? What is their perspective? It's not about mine, it's not about my product or solutions, about the outcomes that I'm going to be able to help them achieve. And if you're I don't know. I called it honest, just being honest with yourself, or candid.

It was just kind of the way I grew up. was where I came up in sales, and so now I feel like somewhere along the way I missed I missed the turn around the corner. Right. So I was told to be honest and candid and concerned about the other person on the other side and nobody and I wasn't the guy hanging out with all of the with all the sales guys in the you know, Oxfords and Khaki's driving the mercies. That wasn't my deal. I just wasn't me. Some of my best friends are some of the people that I have sold to over the last seventeen years in complex enterprise situations because I genuinely want them to be successful. So now all of this isn't I feel like everybody's going, Oh, we got to be authentic, so we can do that. So are we just really saying the same thing using a different word? And there's more focus on it because of the way kind of digital has changed things and experiential selling has come in. Or is it? I mean, is it just kind of same thing, different side of the coin? Yeah, you know, wow, I mean used for a lot of good stuff out there, but I guess think there's a lot of there's a lot of sales be US going on. Yes, because people are throwing the words out like we bring value. Right now, I'm keeping it simple for you know, obviously the time constraints, but don't just say, you know, I want to you know, this is the value that I can bring, or I'm a truly authentic salesperson or right, or I'm bringing the goods. And of course no one's is not going to utterly say that. But a lot of it. But a lot of people go out there and and they'll lead to that fact, but they really don't understand, right, they're just throwing these words out there. Why? Quite frankly, most people don't even know what their authentic self is. Right, in fact, most people don't even know the value they bring out into their market place. Right, because I haven't spent the time, they haven't been coached on it. Right. Yeah, and it's not something that you see happen effortlessly right. I mean to be true too, and I can only you know, I just use myself. I'm not throwing in Bass on the left, but I can only the end of every day, as hard as I work, I have to look myself in the mirror and and say to myself I focused on doing what was right for my friends, family, prospects, customers, so on and so forth. Yeah, that then, that's where I get my juice. That's the you know, okay, and then the commissions and I hit the quotas and crush all that. That's all fine, but to me the attraction for sales was, like you said, art of conversation. For me, it was helping people solve problems. Yeah, also, Guy, let's let's slve some problems. If I can't help you, let's go find someone who can, because I want to see that problem solved. Right, and it's you know, it's really interest. I was on some if I was on a podcast maybe three or four months ago, and the individual that was hosting the podcast say, you know, how would you define sales in your in your eyes, right, in your words, as short as possible, right, and I said quite simple. It's the art of the Hell Up. Yeah, and the guy was Florida goes, what did you say and I said it's the art. I go. Hence the art of the help, because in its simplest format, you are helping somebody solve a business problem and challenge and you're tying it to your solutions or your service or your piece of hardware that can help solve that and it's I just if I could shure just a quick story, because sh I think. I think it brings home this whole authenticity and having the and having your client or your prospects best interest is. This goes back about twenty five years ago. I was out, you know, obviously co calling out in the field and I co called on an organization. I'll even tell you the organization saying because still this day their friend of minether. It's company called Johnny and friends and it's a Christian Base Wheelchair Ministry. Absolutely phenomenal story behind you go to Johnny and friends dot organ learned more about it, but that's where I learned, Chad, the art of the help, because salespeople need to lead with the heart and they need to have a servant led mindset because in essence they're helping their clients and there to serve their clients, not service their clients. You following? God? Yeah, yeah, no, I'm on...

...the same page, man. What of that? And so what had happened is, year over year I started getting better acquainted. I started following the whole mission of Johnny and friends and what that mean and so forth and what that meant. Sorry. And about a year ago I read I wrote a blog and the blog was all on sales servant leadership and I called out Johnny and friends and of course I brought them into the loop and so forth. Then they responded to it. So one day they're a team manager calls me on the phone. This about eight months ago and he says, Hey, I want to take you out to lunch and thank you for the publicity on Johnny and friends, but there's something I want to share with you and I can't say it over the phone. I need to share it to you facetoface. So we went out to lunch and I actually bought him lunch because I wasn't going to. I was going to let this guy by me lunch. But he says, you know something, where he goes? There's something I've Benen't want to tell you ever since you wrote that blog. He goes. Every time that you came in by organization. You weren't there to try to sell me something. You were there to truly build relationships with multiple people inside my organization and you had our best interest at heart. He goes. But then, but I knew at a certain point in time when we had to talk sales, I wasn't afraid to talk sales with you because I knew at that point you had my best interest at heart, and that's what I wanted to share, Chad, because that's truly being authentic when you can say I truly have my clients or my prospects best interest at heart. You've arrived and there and they're going to smell it. But unfortunately what most people smell is BS. They don't smell authenticity because it doesn't ooze out of your pores. Commission breath right and BS Loos is out of most people's pores. Yeah, and I, you know, I've often wondered like, who the hell's buying from those guys? I mean I've, you know, I've run a business. I've been in positions where people are trying to call me to sell the me and the ones that even whether the prospecting and it's cold or it's a referral, you you kind of know within the first fifteen seconds is there? Is this person really listening to me? And if you have to, if you cold, call me and say I'm sorry, what was the name of Your Company? Again? Really, I'm gonna hit right now. Yeah, but I don't understand. I still struggle with and again, maybe it's just the way I came up and the people that I was lucky enough to surround myself with. I'm surprised that so many of those people that give sales profession a bad name and push the BS and have the commission breath are still out there doing it. Because, but because here there's a position, there's a role for everybody, right, I mean there's always going to be bad sales people, there's always going to be great sales people, there's always going to be bad attorneys are also being a true right. I mean, there's bad and good and every profession. But what's but what's really interesting that I try to get across to salespeople, sales leaders, business owners, you name it is, you're already behind the eight ball to begin with in the eyes of the buyer. That's just face it right, and and it's just. And the reason why is because it's your fault, right, and I'm pretty hard knows with people, and you know it's it's got check time if you ever get in a conversation with me, because it's not that I'm always right, I just like challenging the status quo. I go. I think the reason why this seals profession is in a world a hurt. It's not the buyer's fault, it's the owners of the company's fault, it's the management's fault and it's the sales people's fault because they haven't done anything. And and you know I got a backtrack on anything. There's some that have, but there's there's not many that have taken it upon themselves to say, you know what, I'm going to change our mindset, I'm going to change what's going on and I'm going to stop the insanity. But now they just keep they just keep just pressing the persona of what everyone thinks. The salesperson is right. Yeah, and and I'll own I'm probably too close to fire because I'm very proud...

...of the profession I'm a part of and things that I've seen accomplished in it and relationships that I've made. So probably if I was an attorney, I'd be irritated with crappy attorneys to yeah, and and I'm irritated it because I've grown up in the sales roll. Why? That's the only thing I know. It's the only career I know is sales, and I just it just annoys the heck out of me to see really bad sales people who don't take it upon themselves to learn their craft. And what's even worse is ten yourd sales reps who think they've arrived and gone to anyone else. They already know it. Yeah, right, yeah, there. Yeah, it's great, guys. Let's put ourselves in a position where we don't have to continually, I don't want to say reinvent, but evolve ourselves of all of our thinking, the way we engage with people, learn from others. Like I don't know, I find it and maybe maybe it's because the end of the day and I'm overly set, it's a button for me today, but this crappy sales people that aren't authentic, that really just push, they push their own agenda. Right. I don't want to hang out with those people. Yeah, and now that's the judge. Maybe that's the thing for me. I want, I'm willing to do business with somebody and I want to be the guy that, when I'm working with a client, not only do you know I have your best interests in heart, but you know what, we share a common worldview, of common belief and servant leadership, of common belief and helping others benefits all of us. All boats rise with the tied kind of thing, you know. And those are the people that I want to want to do business with and I hope want to do business with me, not the ones that come in and don't know my name or don't know my name of my company and instantly start telling me about how cool their product is and all the things that can do with great man. You didn't even ask me if I cared. Yeah, yeah, and it's so how wow. You know, I'll I'll throw another one out there, probably going to get a chuckle out of it, but that's just me. But there's a lot of you know, we talk about fake news, right, well, there's fake news fake sales reps, right and and we can people can smell an insincere sales wrap a mile away. So here's an instance. Sales RAPP walks in right, and I call it Shuck and Jib, which is just all the bs that goes on, and they're saying all the buzz words, right, and you know they're putting on this big theater act only because all they want to do is push that sale through that, you know, the funnel as fast as possible, sort of saying all the great words and all that. They're the night and shining armor. Right, they paint the rosy picture, they make the sale and then they're gone, right, and then I'm like going, oh my gosh, what is going on? So I just really think. But it takes time. It really takes time to do this show. But I really sincerely believe, and I'm not a psychologist by trade, right, I've not done any college level thesis studies on authenticity and sales. It's just hard nosed sales experience that I've gotten. You know, the Snot beat out of me any time and and and that's really how I learned. I learned my authentic way, my genuine way, my real way, leading with the heart, just by being out in the streets and dealing with clients and really treating them as as the same way that I expect to be treated if I was in their position. Right, no more the less, right, and maybe that's a hard lesson and maybe that's you know what we used to call it, another turn in the barrel. Right, yeah, you get yeah, you do another turn in the barrel and you just haven't learned the lessons. And some of them you know. Some of them I think we can give people heads up on and if they're willing to own themselves, own their own amountability and responsibility in their own evolution and growth, and then maybe just by coaching them, okay, they'll get it. But there are some people out there that they're just not going to learn it until they hit that wall, until they have that turn in the barrel, or they they learn those lessons and it's hard to sit back sometimes and watch them. Right, just say, oh, man, I know what's coming with this one, but I also know I'm not going to be able to stop you from doing it and it'll be the best way you can learn. Yeah, and and sometimes you know those are the best ways to learn something. But but to me, I tell you what, I'm going to be proactive with my...

...learning, and I think that's the big thing here is sales people got to become more proactive. They must be proactive with their careers, they must be proactive with learning and they have to take it upon themselves that if you want to break the mold in the stereotype, it starts with you and it starts with you first, not your manager, not your owner, right, not your centers of influence, out your spouse of starts with you and you got to look yourself in the mirror and say, am I being true to myself when I go to work every amen? Amen, he well, Larry Fo time for time constraints. I'm going to I'M gonna exit us out there. We could, I could go on and I have all my guide I can rent. I got I haven't. I have a new friend, yead Sanderson's my nude friend from Denver, I don't love, and I'll be in San Diego man in in a couple of weeks working with a client and I hope I will have time and you'll be you'll be there. We can hook up for a drink or something, because I have a feeling this conversation could go on for hours. You're right, so if anybody's interested in learning more about your podcast, what you're doing, about the upcoming book, anything like that, what's the best way to get a hold of you? Well, couple different ways. Obviously you can find me fairly active on Linkedin. So it's my address is Larry Lavi in one thousand nine hundred and ninety two. My podcast Chad selling from the heart, and the name of my book is obviously selling from the heart. How your authentic self sells you and if anyone, any your listeners ever want to throw me out at email, I'd be more than happy to respond to it. It's L my first initial L, and it's living LVII AY at Social Sales Academy Dotnet, and I welcome anybody. I'm here to help. I love helping sells reps become sales professionals and leading with the heart. Excellent. Thank you very much. been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Larry, my pleasure. All right, guys, that does it for this episode. You know the drill. Check us out a BB REV exactcom shared out with friends, families, CO workers, writers. A review. Let us know who else you'd like to have on the show and until next time, we have value prime solutions. Wish you nothing but the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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