Episode Sixty-Four

Three Things This Leader Learned About Sales from Getting Sober

Guest: Kyle Bastien, Director of Sales Enablement at Drift

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About This Episode

What can you learn about sales from someone who’s struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction? So much.

Kyle Bastien is the Director of Sales Enablement at Drift. There have been so many moments over the years where he has been asked about his sales methodology. Why he does things the way he does them. He quickly started to realize that the most common things people asked him about just so happened to be habits he developed and had to learn on his journey to getting and staying sober.

He describes this process as learning how to be a normal human being.

Kyle was using drugs and alcohol all the time — before, during, and after work. But now that he’s three and a half years sober, he’s got a lot of great learnings to share.

He believes getting through substance abuse helped him become a better salesperson in three ways:

  1. Healthy Habits
  2. Extreme Ownership
  3. Better Conversations

Let’s dig deeper into these theories.   

Habits are Everything

Kyle defines habits as the process of using actions to hack your thoughts. More simply put, they’re very small action steps that help you get back on track.

His “a-ha” moment was when he realized you cannot think your way into a new way of behaving. You have to act your way into a new way of thinking. Kyle encourages people to take actions in order to change neuro-behavior so that they act differently in the future.

You’re either going to do the next right thing or you’re not. There’s no shade of gray here. At many companies, there’s no shortage of thinkers.

But one of the values at Drift is “bias for action,” which means if you’re not sure what to do…

Do something positive. Do anything to move the ball forward.

Rather than just thinking about the right thing to do or the next step to take, you actually do it.

He obviously resonated with that immediately when he joined the company.

The best way to practically do that is to do one small thing at a time. Instead of thinking about all the ways you could be better or do better, just take one small action and commit to doing that action every day for a month. Most importantly, don’t reevaluate your decision to take that action for an entire month.

Why not? Because if you make it a day-by-day decision, it becomes really easy to talk yourself out of the commitment. It’s really easy to give up before you’ve given the action enough time to reveal its benefits.

You might try telling someone you trust about your decision to commit to these actions so that they can hold you accountable. It’s incredible the kind of motivation you develop when you know someone you respect is going to be asking you for an update.

An accountability partner is also helpful for those times when you just need to talk things out with someone. Sometimes, all it takes to get your thoughts straight when you’re struggling with something is to talk it out with someone you trust.

So what’s one small habit you can commit to this week that will get you a step closer to where you want to be personally, professionally, or both?

Extreme Ownership

This learning is about owning your actions. Kyle says if you’re going to complain about something you need to have a solution in mind. While there are many things in your life you can’t control, you have to take extreme ownership of those areas where you can affect change.

Kyle Bastien sales substance abuse Drift 1

For example, when it comes to making sales calls, while you can’t control whether or not someone will buy from you, you can control the amount of effort you put into growing and learning to be better. Or while you can’t control the way your supervisor treats you, you can control your ability to find another job by committing to attend one networking event a month.

Better Conversations

Finally, Kyle learned how to have more healthy conversations through his experience going through Imago marriage therapy with his wife.

This is how he applies what he learned to his professional life: The most important question you can ask someone when you get on the phone with them is why are we here today. What this question does is helps you understand what the person needs in order to make a purchasing decision on their own instead of you pushing them for the information you need to sell them.

Kyle Bastien tough conversations substance abuse Drift

If this potential customer took time out of their day to talk to you, you should definitely be asking them why they are here. And as they talk, continue to prompt them, draw it out and try to calibrate where the person is in the buying process. Practice active listening by repeating what you hear back to them to ensure you understand what they’re saying.

We too often train salespeople on how to show a product and how to close them, but we don’t teach them great discovery techniques or transitions. The one phase between discovery and product showing is very important, don’t neglect it.

It’s hard to believe this is all wisdom Kyle has learned by walking through dark and difficult times. But it just goes to show how we can take extreme ownership of our decisions and make something good out of our failures. What will you commit to this week?

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About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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