Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Gratitude is the Currency of the Universe (and selling)


You've likely heard of "The Secret," (the book, record and movie which strongly affirm the importance of creating positivity in your life).  There are also several sales/leadership books written about the Power of Positive Thinking.  It's also possible you've had mentors or managers who have discussed the topic about "sales attitudes."  This could be anything from putting yourself into a "positive frame of mind" or "keeping it positive."  This post takes these thoughts one step further.

I believe (along with a great many others) that we should be genuinely grateful for who we are and what we have (no religion or spirituality required here).  Each and every interaction, every thought process should be reflected back to us with an angle of gratitude.  Here's an example:  Today happens to be Tuesday (it's not my favorite day of the week, but I am grateful to where I am today on a Tuesday). I have people who love and care for me.  I have a job where I can interact with other people and be paid for it.  I am grateful.  It's as simple as that.

When I take this approach, every moment I spend thinking about gratitude excites neurons inside my brain in the neocortex that release neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.  These chemicals are "reinforcement" and "reward" chemicals that train my actions through a positive reinforcement model to continue this behavior.  When I do the opposite (which is to think with my ego, only care about myself, only see the glass half empty, complain about what I don't have or didn't get, etc.), a different area of my brain becomes excited (amygdala).  This area of the brain is rudimentary and hasn't changed much since our evolutionary cousins, the dinosaurs were walking around.  In this simple explanation, you can see that, in many ways, we create our own future.  We create the outcomes we get through the choices of thinking.

You may be saying to yourself that thinking alone doesn't actually create reality.  My hypothesis to you is that BELIEF in that thinking does create reality and you can control outcomes through a grateful approach to thinking.  The key difference here is do you really believe it, and that is accomplished through our subconscious. I can say something out loud, but until I really feel it and believe it subconsciously, it is just a statement that I make.  

If you take this concept a step further, you can train your subconscious through the practical approach of writing something down.  Journal about it.  Try this experiment:  Spend 10 minutes a night working on a single work or life goal.  Visualize the result you want.  Write down what it looks like, feels like, smells like.  Read it back to yourself and then read it again the next morning.  If you do this for about a week, your subconscious starts to lock onto it.  FYI - You can't wish for $1m and then you'll suddenly get $1m - that's magic.  You can, however, put a plan together on how you'll earn that $1m and you can focus in on those goals.  As my coach/mentor, Mark David, says, "put your order into the universe."

I continue to be amazed at the most difficult tasks being accomplished by non-traditional methods when approached from the perspective of gratitude.  Here are some questions to ask yourself every day:

  • What are all the incredible things that you can be grateful about today?
  • How can I help myself today by looking at things with a grateful, positive perspective?
  • How can I help other people today without expecting anything in return?
  • What value can I add to my co-workers or friends today that would help them?
  • Today, what can I do that centers around how I feel on the inside versus the external hustle of life?
For all of the salespeople out there, how do you think your sales results could be impacted by putting more gratitude in your life?  HUGE!!

Happy Selling!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The Value of a Great Sales Manager

As a sales leader in the technology industry, I am frequently presented with opportunities to interview candidates of all kinds of sales positions.  One of the questions I commonly ask in an interview is, "Can you describe sales management value?"  I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that a large percentage of candidates go out of their way to describe how most of the sales manager's they've had provided little or no value (according to them).  I push the question further, "Really?  So you've never had a sales manager who actively coached sales methodology, negotiation, prospecting ideas, or career progression?"  The most common response I get is something like this, "Well, they did some of that, but mostly they were there to force me to fill out reports/CRM, help them forecast to the business, or to help them meet their own objectives/agendas."  I'll refrain from addressing the separate issue of how we select and hire sales managers.

I would be remiss if I didn't reveal that occasionally I'll get a candidate who's had a true inspirational leader that made a real difference in their success and helped them be a better salesperson/individual.  Unfortunately, these are few and far between.  I would suggest that there are some very fundamental and critical values that sales leaders can provide sellers.  How does your sales leader stack up?

1.  Helps you navigate the people/processes/tools within your organization.  This is critical because while a single salesperson knows how to do some things, many deals require "one-off" negotiations, approvals, or special circumstances.  "A village" may be required.

2.  Coaches, leads and demonstrates a specific Sales Methodology.  If your company embraces a particular sales methodology (like Sandler, SPIN, Command of the Message, etc.), a great sales manager helps salespeople by reinforcing the concepts involved and demonstrating mastery of the methodology.  One, singular, universal language is created and productivity/efficiency should be increased (leading to a larger, more qualified pipeline).  If your company has no official sales methodology, a great sales leader will select one and lead the team accordingly.

3.  Develops trust, transparency, empathy, and generally "has the back" of the salespeople under his/her charge.  This takes time and experiences.  Trust must be demonstrated, given freely until proven otherwise, and both parties must see value in the other.  Most salespeople/manager clashes fall under this category.  While these complex relationship components are difficult to establish and keep, they are the cornerstone of a partnership.

4.  Treats everyone fairly, but coaches everyone differently.  A good sales manager will evaluate the personality style, strengths and weaknesses of every sales rep on their team.  There are 100 ways to be successful.  We don't need robots, we need successful reps.  Great sales leaders change their approach, coaching style and focus depending on the individual seller.  Some reps are great at relationships, but fall down on the admin side.  Others are more analytical and have problems getting their "foot in the door."  I'd suggest a SWAT analysis and a personality inventory on every rep to make it easy for the manager to quickly engage properly.

There's one last concept here, and that is the employee/supervisor relationship.  Studies have proven that up to 70% of job happiness is directly related to your immediate supervisor.  When sales reps interview with sales leaders, it's important to take this into account.  Your style needs to be similar or symbiotic with your manager.  Most resignations happen due to challenges in a "good fit" between rep and manager.  Think about it - you're unlikely to leave a good environment if you feel supported and your manager provides value.

Happy Selling in 2022!