EPISODE 280: Growth Mindset Expert Chris Salem Offers a Strategy That Can Help Sales Professionals Grow Richer Relationships Faster

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the OPTIMAL SALES MINDSET Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales and hosted by Fred Diamond on October 4, 2020. It featured Growth Mindset expert Chris Salem.]

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EPISODE 280: Growth Mindset Expert Chris Salem Offers a Strategy That Can Help Sales Professionals Grow Richer Relationships Faster

CHRIS’ TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Find out something specific about your best prospects and customers. Do your homework and connect with them on something that in this case has nothing to do with their position or their company first. Not only will they likely become a customer at some point but they’re going to be a great referral source for you. I’ve been doing that for quite some time and it has not let me down. Don’t get me wrong, you go through downturns and people sometimes can’t buy certain things at those times but I encourage people to go out of their way to get to know the person that you’re talking to in something more than just what they do, something that drives who they are as a person.”

Fred Diamond: Chris, it’s October 1, it’s the beginning of Q4, it’s the craziest year anybody that we know has ever experienced unless you were alive in 1918 during the Spanish Flu. Every Thursday at 2:00 o’clock eastern time we talk about mindset, we have sales professionals listening and watching all over the globe, they want some inspiration, they’ve got to get focused. It’s good to see you, we’ve known each other for a while, we’ve had numerous conversations about mindset. You coach companies all over the globe on sales mindset, you just told me you’re going to do a conference for a large audience in Nigeria. You’re out there spreading the word so we’re excited to hear what you’re going to say. Chris, extraordinary thinking creates extraordinary sales leaders.

Chris Salem: Thank you so much, Fred, for having me and again, yes, this is such an important area when it comes to sales. I always like to say when you think about sales and the entire process of it to be successful on a sustainable level, long term, you always have to have a rock solid foundation. You think about a house, you want to build a beautiful home, if you don’t have a strong foundation, that beautiful home is not going to sustain itself for a long period of time. There’s going to be problems and eventually, who knows what could happen and when the house can come falling down? It’s always important that we have a foundation and not only building that foundation but nurturing it and sustaining that. When it comes to sales, we’ve got to look at it that way. In this case, that foundation is mindset so we’ve got to think of sales like we’re building this beautiful home but we’ve got to take care of this each and every day. That’s going to provide us that clarity and that focus that we need to engage and really move the needle in terms of our sale.

With that being said, I’m just going to give people some information about where this is coming from. A little bit about my background, I spent 20+ years in sales either working for companies, representing them primarily in the media business. I spent a large time in aerospace, in aviation, I also had a brief stint in selling aircraft, I used to sell aircraft internationally to remote areas of the world where there were startup cargo carriers looking to develop new routes. I used to sell old Boeing 737’s and 757’s and so on, those were the good old days. I have a sales background but since have moved on to be an executive coach, I’ve always had that training capacity in me as an educator/teacher and I’d love to share this wisdom that I’m going to be sharing with you today. Just to give you a little background about that in terms of where the information is coming from.

I would like to start with when we talk about the foundation, what does the growth mindset versus a fixed mindset mean to you? I gave you a little bit of a hint there but from your perspective without maybe knowing exactly what that is, what would a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset be?

Fred Diamond: Chris, we have a couple of answers coming in here. This is from Martin, Martin is in Dallas, “The ability to grow during challenging times would be a growth mindset answer.” We have a submission here from Mary, Mary is in Pennsylvania right outside of Philly, “Confidence during troubling times.” Confidence, the ability to grow mindset, not letting things get to you, we have one more answer from Milt, Milt is just outside of Los Angeles, “Continuous learning.” We do webinars every day so thank you for joining us today and submitting that answer.

Chris Salem: Thank you, Fred for stating those questions from everyone and I want to thank everyone for participating. As we all engage in this contextual content that we’re sharing it also not only helps us but it helps other people too because they can relate to the answers that you’re providing. All the answers that were provided were really good, spot on in terms of what growth mindset is. Before I get into more of the growth mindset, let’s just talk about what a fixed mindset is.

A fixed mindset is something that you do each and every day on autopilot. Most of the things we do in our lives and our business, in this term sales, we are doing on autopilot from a subconscious standpoint. We don’t realize that consciously so we have to ask ourselves when our roles as sales professionals or managing people in the sales capacity, are you where you want to be? Of course, we could always make room for improvement, that’s what it’s all about, it’s progress in motion but really asking yourself, “Am I really where I want to be? Is there a certain area that I’d like to be in and I need to know how to get there?” A fixed mindset again operates from conditioned thinking, things that go way back to our child development in terms of how we process things, how we relate to other people, how we communicate and then again, sometimes these things could be serving us and in many times it may not.

What a growth mindset – which a lot of people had specified with their answers – is the ability to know that I’m going to be coming out of my comfort zone often to learn new ways of thinking that I could apply that could start to make those changes going forward. As you know, nothing can grow unless you decide that you make certain changes to grow, it’s the same thing when it comes to sales. Yes, we could try different scripts, we could try different approaches, different techniques and all of those things are good, yet if we are operating from a fixed mindset where we’re not focused, we’re not clear. We’re not open-minded to perhaps things that are indirect to what we’ve learned that could help us, then we’re not giving ourselves that opportunity to grow, expand and connect with people at a deeper level where they feel related to and understood versus feeling responded to.

These are going to be some of the important areas where we want to make a distinction, a growth mindset is not a destination, it’s not something that you graduate, from a fixed to a growth mindset and now you can go on autopilot the rest of your life. Yes, it will become your new autopilot but like with anything, we have to nurture it, we have to maintain it. If you want to make it sustainable, we’ve got to work on it each and every day. What are some of the things that we can do that you feel that you can do each and every day to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset?

Fred Diamond: Milt says, “Attending these webinars.” I would agree, taking an hour out of your day every day to participate in a sales growth webinar, we’re doing a webinar every single day mainly to help sales professionals stay focused. Farrah says, “Reading plenty of self-development books.” There’s great books out there, of course. Marie is in DC, she says, “I’m in a mastermind group that has been hugely valuable.” That’s also a great answer, spending time with like-minded and quality people. Answer here from Amy, Amy is also in the Northern Virginia area and Amy says, “Not being afraid to ask questions.” Thanks, Amy, it’s good to see you. That’s actually a really interesting point. We’ve been doing the webinars since March and there’s a couple of words that come up, one of the key words, Chris – and I know you’re going to be talking about this – is fear. We talk about how fear is what stops you in almost anything, fear of asking for business, fear of asking for a conversation, fear of asking for a minute, fear of taking off an hour in the middle of the day to help you improve your sales career. I know we’re constantly working about getting past that, thank you to all the people who submitted the answers and thank you, Amy for that last one as well.

Chris Salem: These were some great answers and it’s yes to all the above that everyone shared. Before I get into what we asked there, Fred, you had brought up a thing about fear. What happens with fear is when fear is triggered through an event or situation, somebody says no when you ask for business or you are gathering some intelligence and someone doesn’t provide you that information, something like that could trigger fear. Fear thrives in the past, in the future from a mindset perspective, it’s not in the present moment, fear can’t reside in the present moment. When we simultaneously get that triggering event that gives us that feeling of fear, that puts us in a fight or flight mode and now we are operating in the past and in the future. That’s where a fixed mindset operates from and a lot of times it’ll go back to the past and start bringing up a lot of the things that maybe we felt about ourselves a long time ago.

That, “I’m not capable of following through, no one wants to buy from me.” I’m not saying to that extreme, but you get the idea that it affects our level of confidence, our level of self-esteem, it also affects how we communicate, how we ask questions or don’t ask specific questions, how we tend to assume and speculate when somebody says no and we think it’s something personal to us when it really had nothing to do with us. These are things that a fixed mindset will tell us based on fear in the past and in the future. When it comes to doing what we can do to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset, I heard a lot of responses that were all phenomenal but they are external things that we can do, which are necessary.

However, what I’m going to share with you today – while masterminds are great, attending webinars like this are great, reading books on self-development, professional development, sales techniques, sales mindset, they’re all going to be wonderful – but there’s one other thing that has to be part of the external side, that’s the internal side. What are you doing internally to develop that growth mindset foundation? Do you have certain habits and disciplines that are in place to not only built and cultivate that foundation but to sustain it over time so that it will affect your level of confidence in a positive way? It’ll improve the way you engage others in terms of communication and listening, how you can relate better to other people, how you can ask the right questions to follow through and so on. Again, I don’t want to use the call to talk about sales 101, but it’s looking at the internal.

Here are some of the things that I’m going to share with you that I do both internally and externally that I’ve been doing for 21 years that led me to have a successful career not only in sales – which obviously I spent a large part of my career in – but also now in executive coaching as a professional speaker and a trainer. The areas that I do every day from an internal standpoint is I wake up every morning at 4:15. I’m not saying everyone here is like, “I’ve got to get up at 4:15”, the reason why I do that is because when I wake up, there’s no distractions at that point in time. I can get up and get into a routine that’s going to nurture that foundation to keep moving forward in the present moment.

The first thing I do when I wake up is I make my bed, I wasn’t in the army, I wasn’t a Navy SEAL, anything like that. It was just that I can do something simple that will get my mind focused in the moment for the day to take on the priorities that matter from a sales capacity. Making sure I’m calling those prospects that are going to be at the highest priority to not only my business but also knowing that I’m going to be able to follow through and spend my time wisely, valuing my time with them. That leaves the other priorities that don’t matter as much even though they are necessary for certain other parts of the day that don’t eat into the core hours. After I make my bed, I meditate. Why meditate? I meditate because meditation, just like if you go to the gym to work out, conditions the mind to become still. It’s taking your mind over time out of the past and the future where the fixed mindset resides to keep you focused, to develop more clarity, I’m going to explain why that’s so important later. Then I journal, think of journaling as a way of taking the things that are not serving you, that could be interfering with your sales performance that I can then take away from a meditation and write down on paper.

Often times when you are in meditation over a period of time and you get into a rhythm, that’s where your subconscious mindset begins to talk to the conscious mindset so you begin to see what’s blocking you, what’s interfering with your level of self-esteem, your confidence. Perhaps your fear of asking questions or the right questions, your ability not to follow through after maybe the first or second rejection, whatever the case may be. You begin to develop a thicker skin because you learned that in the present moment, whatever happens isn’t about you, it’s just that for whatever reason, you were rejected because they didn’t maybe have enough information, it wasn’t the right time, maybe you didn’t ask the right questions but it’s not personal. Being present through those series of habits I just talked about on a consistent basis changes the way your mind thinks and looks at things, it shifts your ability away from the result or the outcome, the expectations and shifts it in the present moment to the process. The results are just a byproduct of what you do each and every day in the moment.

Does that mean you have to have a perfect time to call someone, a perfect situation to engage them, to sell them? No, it’s taking what you know and what you have in the moment and putting it out there and let each day as you do that, roll up weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually to those goals that you set forth. As long as you have a game plan and daily goals, it’ll allow you to follow that moving forward. The problem is that a lot of times because we’re in the past and the future, we are now tied to the outcome which we experience through expectation. What happens with expectations? They often go unfulfilled. We can control certain things but there are many things we can’t control that are part of that process, we end up getting caught up in the things that we can’t control. By coming into the moment through meditation, journaling, making your bed, you have the ability to be more focused in the moment trusting that process, focusing on what you can and letting go of the rest. 

That being said, I do similar things that everyone else said, I go to the gym, I come back, I read a chapter or two out of a book that’s relevant to something I’m working on either personally or with my clients, I go over my daily goals and then I start my day with the top priority first working my way down to the least. That is what I do each and every day no matter where I’m at and it makes a dramatic difference in terms of how I think and then how that thinking produces action that leads to results long-term. Does that mean things are always perfect? No, when things are not going well you’re learning and applying different things to solve those problems in order to create solutions. Learning to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset will help you to establish that foundation so that you can think better so when you have more clarity, you become more decisive. When you’re more decisive, you have the ability to take massive action.

When you’re out there talking with people you’re now not just listening to them to respond, you’re listening to them to actually relate to them. People are not going to give you the permission to know what you can do to help solve their problem until they feel a level of trust that they feel related to and understood. A growth mindset gives you the ability over time to do that, to truly listen, to relate and understand and when they begin giving you more information and you ask the question, “Can I offer some advice? Would that be okay?” Now they’re interested in what you can do to help solve their problem. Is that going to be textbook every time? No, every situation is going to be different but in time, you’re going to see more success than not and any time when there is a setback you’re looking at it as part of the process, not the problem to get better and to improve your situation. Again, how you think is how you act and how you act is the results that you will obtain as part of that process. Before we move on, are there any questions so far from what we shared that anybody would like to comment on or I can address briefly before we move on?

Fred Diamond: Chris, we do have a question here from Cindy, Cindy is in Pittsburgh. Cindy said, “You talked about expectations, my expectations are to get past my quota.” She actually asked a lot more but just to summarize there. What’s interesting is everybody here who’s watching or listening to the podcast is in sales and usually there’s a number that’s attached to it at the end of the day. Today it’s October 1st so we’re starting a brand new quarter, there’s some expectation of you as a sales professional, from your boss and from your company, that you’re going to achieve a certain number. There’s a lot of meaning applied to those expectations if you’re in sales, there’s a lot of meaning if you achieve them and there’s also a lot of meaning if you don’t achieve them. I agree with you about expectations and how it can throw you off. We do webinars every single day and we get dozens and sometimes hundreds of people who come in, then we have thousands of people who listen to the podcast and respond when we post on LinkedIn. “When I want to see hundreds and there’s dozens, I get thrown off of my growth mindset.” Back to the salespeople, if my company expects me to make a million dollars this year in sales and I only make $800,000, there’s going to be some negative repercussions about that. What are some of your thoughts on that?

Chris Salem: The thing is it’s just changing your thinking around the expectation. The whole idea is when you have the expectation, when you’re fixated on the expectation you’re now tied to the outcome and then you get lost in the process. Either way, you’re going to end up worrying and getting caught up in a lot of things that you can’t control which now is wasted energy. It’s not that if your company says you have to have a million dollars and that is the quota that you just say, “If it happens, it happens and if it doesn’t, so what?” That’s not what we’re saying here, what we’re saying is that you can have the results that you seek but you’re not tying it to the expectation because again, the expectation is going to take you now into an emotional state that when things aren’t going your way, you’re going to be part of that roller coaster ride downward tied to it. It’s keeping you in the middle emotionally, you’re not up with the highs and lows, you know the vision, what you have to achieve.

Knowing that I’m here right now and this is what I’ve got to do today, on my goal sheet I have it down that I’m going to make 30 calls today and out of those 30 I’m going to talk to 18 people, and out of those 18 people I’m going to make one sale or two sales a day – again, I’m just using that as an example. These are things that you tie to an expectation which is what we’ve been conditioned to do and it makes sense, nonetheless, ask yourself if that has worked for you on a consistent level. Maybe you have and if that is, so be it but ask yourself, how has it affected you emotionally? How about that stress that you’ve endured? What has that done to your physical body in terms of absorbing that stress? What I’m just saying here is thinking differently where you still have the goal, never lose sight of the goal, but you are focused right here in what has to be done today, not worried about tomorrow, next week, the week after, what happened yesterday.

It’s focused on right now because when there is clarity, you begin to see opportunity all around you. You begin to see even when somebody says no that they didn’t really mean no, they might have just said no because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to do because they don’t have enough information. You perhaps didn’t ask a deeper, thought-out question that would have really got to the problem. This is where the ability to relate and understand first to gain that trust connected on similar values really can work to your favor.

Fred Diamond: Chris, we have an interesting point here that comes in from Farrah. One thing that we’re not going to talk about is sales habits but we will talk about that tomorrow on the Sales Game Changers Creativity in Sales, we’re going to bring on Art Sobczak to talk about some habits you should be doing to be more effective on the phone, etcetera. Farrah asks an interesting question here, thanks, Farrah. “Chris, should we focus on daily activities/habits that done in a disciplined way will lead to success?” Is that your advice, to have the optimal habits?

Chris Salem: Thank you, Farrah, for that question. Yes, again, the series of habits and disciplines that I talked about are your foundation for not only sales but it can be anything in your life. When it comes to sales then we can expand upon that foundation, we can look at different ways that we can then utilize tools and resources better focusing more on our strengths and offsetting our weaknesses. If we find that we have a certain quota every day, every week, every month but we are caught up in things on a daily basis that play to our weaknesses, not our strengths, then you’re not really serving yourself nor are you serving your company or the client or prospect. It’s really understanding what those strengths are, looking at your values. My values are one of transparency, I’m very transparent, I come from the upmost level of integrity doing the right thing when no one’s looking and honesty so I tend to connect and do business with people that share similar values.
If somebody doesn’t share those values, it may not work, they may not be a prospect for me. Maybe I’m not going to connect with them and we’re not going to do business so again, it’s not that you’re going to be everything for everyone, but you will always be something for someone. It’s how we think, how we think is how we can then create what we’re trying to accomplish in that moment. Again, it’s getting honest with your values, who you are, it’s getting honest with your strengths and your weaknesses and if any weaknesses are necessary to succeed and achieve that quota, instead of you getting caught up in that yourself, maybe look at certain resources, certain systems or processes that can help you do that. Maybe there’s a person that you’re working with, that’s a strength for them, they can do that and you can focus on what you do best. I know that companies don’t provide that for everyone but we do our best within our own capability to provide that for ourselves, where can we find that? You’ll find that you’ll get more done and be more valuable and get more business when we can focus on what our strengths are and our values, and align that with people where they feel related to and understood.

Moving along, managing the problem, creating the solution. These are just some of the ideas we talked about, just ask yourself why? What can I be doing different that’s going to change the way I think, change the way I engage people, change the way I follow through, change the way I take calculated risks? If I fear rejection, that I’m not going to take it personally. Allowing yourself to develop that foundation for yourself and what’s going to work for you. When you think about performance, a lot of these people here you probably recognize. Not all of them are going to consider to be in sales but everybody is a salesperson in some capacity and I use these as examples. Look at Tony Robbins, Tony Robbins has sold millions of dollars in information, contextual content that has helped so many people, he’s a master salesperson. The reason why is because he incorporates these types of disciplines and habits on a daily basis. Again, we’re not talking about becoming a monk here, we’re just talking about doing some things differently that you haven’t done before that are going to change the way you think, they’re going to change your level of confidence, change the way you communicate not only with yourself but also with other people shifting away to becoming more empowering with your conversation rather than disempowering.

In terms of a growth mindset, it helps also as a foundation to build a stronger sales culture and the way that is, is because when we can take responsibility for our own roles and duties regardless if our company provides those resources, regardless if they provide seminars like this, webinars, masterminds, that we can do this on our own. When we can be the better example for others, then in turn people tend to make change for themselves from what they observe in others, not by how, what or why to do it. The key is we want to create more interdependency in our sales team versus codependency, we power people through example rather than just doing for them. They key is that people pick up on that and when we really understand our roles and duties in what we do in sales, that’s going to in turn help other people begin to own their responsibilities. This way, we can work together and do it together as a team. Even though competition does fuel growth, we’re incorporating now more collaboration other than competition to make it happen.

Fred Diamond: One of the things that had come up on a previous webcast that we had done with a couple sales leaders was one of the positive results that had come out of the pandemic was people stepping up as either mentors or helping people out. We have almost a hundred people watching today’s webinar, most of them are still at home or not working at an office per se and they’re still in the mode of working from home. It’s been an opportunity for people to become better team players, it’s a challenge managing and growing a team right now because you’re not with everybody and you can’t just pull the team together into the conference room or go grab lunch, it’s beginning to happen but very remotely. People have stepped up, it’s interesting, one of the words that we keep hearing on the Sales Game Changers webinars – and Gene just commented in the field here – is empathy. Empathy is a word that comes up almost every single time but it’s not just having empathy as a seller for your customer, it’s having empathy for the people that you work with.

Chris Salem: That is most important first. When you come from empathy and kindness, that is empowering, that is an interdependent behavior and form of communication versus pleasing or enabling, you could do that with people you work with or people can do it to you, you can do it to customers and that is disempowering, that’s codependent and that becomes exhausting in terms of living or operating in an environment like that. In today’s world, we have all the technology in the world, we have all these communication platforms. We can really bring people together in short huddles that we can do each and every morning, talk about what’s working, what’s not, talk about our values, talk about what we’re really good at, what we’re not and how can we work together to offset that. Really being constructive and transparent in order to grow as a team, that’s collaboration, that’s interdependency and when we can do that, that spills out to our customers and our prospects for sure.

This statement here, “Give without expectation, receive without resistance” is a quote that I came up with a few years ago. Really take that to heart, write that down, it might not mean anything to you right now but if you really look at it and read it every day and really start to operate the way you do business and conduct your life, you’ll see a dramatic change. I know it has for me because I’ve been living that way for 21 years and it has and it’s really turned even some of the most difficult times in my sales career where now I look back and it wasn’t that bad. As a matter of fact, if I hadn’t gone through it I wouldn’t be where I am today. The whole idea about creating an interdependent sales culture is always starting with you, we can’t assume that someone else is going to do it, we can’t assume that our company, our business unit is going to provide this for us. We’ve got to be that change in order to facilitate and help others to do for themselves.

Fred Diamond: We have one last question here and then I’m going to ask you for your final thought. We like to end every webinar with an action step that people can take and implement today to be successful. The question here comes from Gene again, thanks, Gene. Gene says, “It looks like it’s going to be tougher in Q4, what does Chris suggest that we do to be successful? It’s an interesting question. When we started doing these webinars everybody thought, “This is going to be a couple weeks, by Easter everything will be back together” but obviously it’s not and it’s going to be continuing for the foreseeable future. A lot of our members are with big companies, a lot of people looking today, I see the companies they’re with, they’re not sending their people back to the office. Things are going to be challenging from an economic perspective moving forward, again we’re starting Q4 today. Give us two or three things that you think people should really focus on, we talked a lot about the great mindset type things, we talked about what growth mindset means, some things you could do to move ahead with that. You get up at 4:15, I get up at 5:00 o’clock in the morning, not a whole lot going on, it’s the best time to knock things out and then get up on the treadmill or whatever. Give us a couple of sales activities, sales things that you think will work for people right now as it relates to the growth mindset. Then give us a final action step they can take today.

Chris Salem: This is a time to start really getting to know your clients not only for what they’re looking for but get to know them, who they are. Connect with them on those values that we talked about, do you share similar values? This is the year where if we foster and nurture those relationships, they’re going to bear through at some point. Granted, I know we’re going through a difficult time but the reality is we can control only what we know and what we can do, that’s it. You can’t control what you don’t know and what is out of your control, if you get caught up in those things that you can’t control you’re just going to run yourself crazy and it doesn’t matter what you do, the end result is still going to be the end result. The key is that again, you can never go wrong nurturing those relationships. Learning how to really engage people and getting to know them, this is a great sales technique in that people are going to be more likely to know what you do and how you can help them when they feel like you connected with them. Again, people don’t really care what you do until they connect on why you do what you do and what is important to them, focus on doing that. Some companies might not be in position to buy from you right now because of the downturn but because of what you’re doing in those relationships, you’re cultivating that where things can just take off in 2021.

Fred Diamond: Chris, I want to thank you for all the great insights today, I want to thank everybody who’s watched today’s webinar. Chris, give us one action step, one specific thing, again it’s October 1st, it’s about 2:40 in the afternoon, it’s Q4, it’s the craziest year that we’ve ever had to live through, it’s only going to get crazier. Give us an action step that people should take today to take their sales career to the next level.

Chris Salem: I say that you go out and find your top prospects, find out who the decision maker is and find out something about them to the best of your ability. Do your homework and connect with them on something that in this case has nothing to do with their position or their company first, connect on something that’s personal to them. You connect with them on that, not only will they likely become a customer at some point but they’re going to be a great referral source for you. I’ve been doing that for quite some time and it has not let me down. Don’t get me wrong, you go through downturns and people sometimes can’t buy certain things at those times but I encourage people to go out of their way to get to know the person that you’re talking to in something more than just what they do, something that drives who they are as a person.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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