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About This Episode
“Thoughts limit us, and our thoughts enable us.”
If I read that on a Hallmark card, I might keep moving. But when a clinical psychologist with 20 years of experience in organizational behavior tells me that, as a sales leader, I listen.
His name’s Dr. Russell Thackeray, and he’s the Founder and Director of QED — an organizational development consultancy focusing on resiliency and company culture.
I wanted to hear how sales leaders can build resilience throughout their sales teams. Dr. Thackeray did not disappoint; here’s what he said on the Sales Engagement podcast.
Thoughts affect behavior
I almost forgot to mention — before making the jump to sales, which was before he made the jump to psychology, Dr. Thackeray was a professional musician. He shared a story of one of his first projects after his musician days:
He went to a recruitment facility, told them he was a musician, and wanted to go into the corporate life. His first temp job? Selling vans over the phone (yes, vans — the vehicle type of vans). Three weeks later, he’d sold 43 vans on the phone. He didn’t know it was difficult, or odd, until someone told him.
The same thing works in reverse:
For 9 years, athletes brushed dangerously close to the 4-minute mile. Then Roger Bannister broke it in 1954. Within 46 days, someone had beaten his record. Now, 1,400 runners have accomplished the feat.
The phenomenon of belief influencing actions is influenced by “confirmation bias” — we tend to see evidence that supports our already held beliefs. So, having a positive attitude isn’t just some hippie-dippie sort of mental state — there’s some scientific validity to it. When you believe something is possible, you tend to find ways that make it so. (And, the reverse is also true.)
So, next time your team starts to think, “Wow, this sale/this client/this goal is going to be difficult,” change the mentality.
How your team can tackle ‘impossible’ challenges
As a sales leader, your job is to coach resilience, and the ability to tackle the “impossible,” into your team. Dr. Thackeray identified a few ways to make that happen:
1) Turn the ‘impossible’ into a goal
As soon as you take an impossible target, and talk about it as a goal, you’re subconsciously communicating that “it’s obviously possible.” When you turn it into a goal, it’s now achievable.
When you practice the predictable, your brain is free to engage with the unpredictable. This is so applicable to sales — 90% of every objection we’ll hear at every meeting will be something we could have predicted. So, why not rehearse how to deal with those unpredictable objections?
Then, our team’s creativity and imagination can focus on the 10% that gets thrown on them mid-meeting with a client.
3) Measure the right KPIs
Often times, we’re measuring the wrong KPIs. Perhaps we’re pushing each rep on our team to make 50 calls per day. Truly, though, those measurements are simply there to support a broader vision — sales. Often, because we’ve broken the process down so far, we’ve lost sight of the important KPIs. Don’t let that be you.
Consider the buyer first
Have you ever went through your own sales process? It’s not a bad idea to have your entire team go through it. Often times, we’ve been on one side of the process for so long, we’ve forgotten how it feels from the other side of the table.
Dr. Thackeray had a perfect example of how sales reps forget about the buyer’s experience:
Recently went to buy a car — yes, a lot of his stories revolve around vehicles, apparently — when he arrived, he pointed to a particular car in the showroom:
“I’d like to buy that car.”
“Do you want a test drive?”
“No, thank you. I know I want it.”
“Well, wouldn’t you rather this car?” said the salesman, as he pointed across the showroom floor.
“No, thank you, I want that car, right there.”
“Well, this month we aren’t trying to sell that one.”
Maybe no on on your team has ever said that. My guess is, though, they’ve probably thought something similar. If we made each of our reps go through our buyer’s experience, they’d have a new appreciation for what it’s like to be in their position.
How do you work with today’s insanely informed buyers?
I told Dr. Thackeray that we’re all constantly wondering how to best perform as role as sales people in today’s world, where our buyers have such a vast amount of information. Here’s what Dr. Thackeray said:
Consider ourselves as a “coach,” where the buyer probably already knows everything: Ask them about your product. Assuming they’re correct, ask them what they like about it. Then, ask them how they’d like to buy it. And then sell it to them that way.
Dr. Thackeray’s 3 takeaways:
I love to give each guest the opportunity to share with me their top takeaways from our interview. Here’s what he said:
- It’s OK to fail — If you fail, you’re probably taking a risk, which is a great thing
- Learning is key. If you’re learning, then failing, then learning, you’re going to continually improve
- Double-down on what you’re best at