EPISODE 459: Colleen Stanley’s Lessons on How Emotional Intelligence Complements Hard Selling Skills

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Women in Sales virtual learning session sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on September 12. 2021. It featured an interview with sales expert Colleen Stanley, the author of Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success and Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership.]

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COLLEEN’S TIP: “It’s time for a new perspective in sales. I believe in teaching both the hard skills, what I’ve framed up as the sales IQ skills – negotiation skills, value propositions, prospecting, closing – but what was missing for years and is still missing in a lot of sales organizations are coaching and teaching the soft skills, emotional intelligence skills. Emotional intelligence sounds great but how do you actually yield hard sales results? What I’d like to encourage everyone today is for this new perspective, when you’re coaching your salespeople, absolutely coach to the hard skills but start including language such as, “Where do you think lack of empathy got in the way of forwarding this opportunity?”, “Where did your lack of assertiveness go up?”, “How are you playing into instant gratification?” It’s not an either/or proposition which often people confuse that when they hear of emotional intelligence. 


Fred Diamond: Welcome Colleen Stanley, she’s the author of Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership, you see it behind her. We had Colleen back on the show in the early part of the summer and she was so popular, we converted it to a Sales Game Changers podcast and people were so thrilled that we asked Colleen to come back on the show today. Colleen, it’s great to see you. We have members at the Institute for Excellence in Sales as you know – you’ve spoken at the IES before – five of our members have reached out to me this month and said, “Could you please do a webcast on emotional intelligence?” Your first book, Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success, we had you out when you wrote that and now Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership just came out a couple of months ago. First of all, congratulations on having your second book, it’s gotten a lot of great attention, the content is fabulous, the examples are fabulous. By the way, I’m here in Northern Virginia right outside of DC and you’re in Colorado so thanks for being on the webcast, thanks for being on the podcast if people are listening to that. Let’s get right to it, we’re so thrilled to hear from you.

Colleen Stanley: Thanks, Fred, it’s always great to be with you and I wish we could have done this in person as we planned, but we’re doing what everyone calls “the pivot” so thanks for your audience for making that pivot as well. One of the things I want to talk about is why it’s time for a new perspective in sales. For any of you that have ever heard me before, you will know that I believe in teaching both the hard skills, what I’ve framed up as the sales IQ skills – negotiation skills, value propositions, prospecting, closing – but what was missing for years and is still missing in a lot of sales organizations are coaching and teaching the soft skills, emotional intelligence skills. Fred, you probably have heard this, that this emotional intelligence sounds great but how do you actually yield hard sales results?

A quick example here. You may have a salesperson that literally is getting into chase mode all the time, you teach the hard skills of getting a next step on the calendar, “No calendar, no date, no hope” but when you really dig a little deeper, often something as simple as not getting a date on the calendar or a next step is lack of assertiveness. What I’d like to encourage everyone today is for this new perspective, when you’re coaching your salespeople, absolutely coach to the hard skills but I wonder if you could start including language such as, “Where do you think lack of empathy got in the way of forwarding this opportunity?”, “Where did your lack of assertiveness go up?”, “How are you playing into instant gratification?” So you not only coach to the hard skills but you coach to the soft skills. That’s the idea here, it’s not an either/or proposition which often people confuse that when they hear of a firm that teaches emotional intelligence.

Fred, you and I, as we prepared for this conversation this morning we talked about we’re probably in this time that we’ve never been in a hundred years, it’s the pandemic, etcetera and it’s what I call the perfect storm. Right now, one of the things I’m encouraging sales managers and sales leaders to do is really pay attention to the physiology of sales because for many years that’s what we’ve taught. Great selling, great sales leadership is a combination of understanding physiology, psychology and skill set. When we’re in this perfect storm, it’s fairly safe to say you’ve got salespeople that are stressed, in some industries the buy cycles are getting much longer, in some industries the customers have actually gone away. On top of that, Fred, let’s add the personal stress – Johnny, Susie, Juanita, Jose are all at home trying to learn school and you did not go to a homeschooling institute or anything like that. What happens is as sales managers and sales coaches coach to the sales physiology because you can have the greatest playbook in the world but if your sales team is not managing stress well, they are showing up with only the capability of giving 50% of the effort.

When you talk about stress, there’s some stress that’s normal and not detrimental and that would be called the fight-or-flight stress. We do need to manage that where you get that shot of cortisol, maybe you’ve got a prospect that’s challenging you. What I want everyone to look at in this slide is the word “adaptation stress” and “sustained stress” because if you’ve got a salesperson that is not adapting, managing, controlling their stress, here’s what happens. Your body from a physiological point of view starts emitting that nasty stress hormone of cortisol which then also produces anxiety, depression, fatigue, you’re not sleeping. Imagine this, you’ve got 50% of your salespeople showing up fatigued, anxious, depressed, worried, I don’t think that’s a winning formula for executing your sales playbook. I’ll stop there, Fred and I know you’ve probably been hearing this because you’ve been interviewing VPs of sales as well as other salespeople. Thoughts?

Fred Diamond: It’s a huge challenge. We had a guest on two months ago not far from you, his name is David Morelli, he was on the Optimal Sales Mindset webcast and his basic premise was you can only process three things at most at any given time. Everyone’s trying to process COVID, also at the same time a lot of social unrest had begun so that leaves you with one thing that you could possibly process. Like you said, if now you’re the homeschool teacher or if you’re the camp counselor – because camps were closed – and right now it’s the first week in September, everybody’s going back to school, it’s virtual, it’s half-virtual, it’s hybrid, what may it be.

One of the points here that somebody makes – it’s Shelley, and Shelley’s in Rockville, Maryland – Shelley said, “Our customers are going through the same thing.” Again, we’re doing a daily webcast on mindset and creativity and sales leadership and we have one for Women in Sales on Tuesday. For the first time in our history as sales professionals we know where all of our customers are coming from as well. Prior to the pandemic maybe something like what you teach, emotional intelligence, it’s kind of a nice-to-know, “As long as I’ve got the hard skills…” but now it’s so apparent because everybody’s dealing with challenges. Not just the salespeople that the leaders on today’s webinar manage.

Colleen Stanley: My philosophy after teaching this for 10 years is that if your sales team is equipped only with the hard skills, they’re equipped with only 50% of the skills needed to be successful in business and life. If you’re going up against a team where the manager has embraced emotional intelligence, it’s an emotionally intelligent culture, you’ve got a team equipped with 50% of the skills competing against a team with 100% of the skills. Believe me, the ability to manage your emotions and manage stress, that’s a daily coaching practice that not only during these times we need to demonstrate, model, measure and coach but even after these difficult times. Let’s give the viewers a couple of tips here and Shelley, thanks for what you said there, I had another client that said, “It’s important for our sellers to realize they’re selling to what they call a COVID brain” [laughs]. Your prospects, they’re in a little bit of fight-or-flight, they’re managing the same thing so if you’re showing up to somebody that’s emotionally charged, very easy for the seller to respond to that emotion and then also get into a fight-or-flight response which results in all of these stress responses.

Let’s give them a couple of tips here. One thing, Fred, that I have been teaching and coaching even more this year to help managers instead of just saying, “Okay, you’ve got to manage your stress, this too will pass” and all of those – and affirmations work, by the way – is really teaching the concept of internal and external locus of control. This is not a concept that came out of the sales training world, it actually was discovered back in the 1950s by American psychologist, Julian Rotter. What his research showed is that people can fall into internal locus of control and external locus of control. The cliff notes on this would be an internal locus of control salesperson has the mantra, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” As you can imagine, the external locus of control salesperson has a different mantra, “If it is to be, it ain’t up to me.” Here’s the reality in today’s environment and in sales, we can go through cycles in sales so you can have an internal locus of control salesperson start slipping into that external locus of control. To explain a little bit of the external locus of control for people that are just listening, external locus of control thinking, philosophy, way of life is, “I blame everyone else for my lack of success. My belief is unless everything’s perfect, I can’t be successful.” In sales it can sound like, “The marketing department isn’t giving me enough good leads”, “I have the worst prospects”, “My prospects only buy on price”, “We’re too high priced”, “We’re not innovative” and excuse after excuse. Then a manager can start jumping through hoops trying to take care of all of those problems and the fact is, with an external locus of control salesperson, once you’ve solved one set of problems they will simply come up with another set for their lack of success. Internal, these are the people that say, “Okay, maybe we don’t have the systems and processes in place, what do I need to do?”, “Maybe we don’t have a great lead generation program, I’ll take that on myself” so they literally take charge of their success.

The coaching questions, for anyone listening and watching today, let me give you three. If you find someone slipping into blame and victim mentality, here’s the #1 coaching question: what can you control? Because when we slip into blame and excuse mentality we start focusing on what we can’t control, it’s a very easy slippage to have. What can you control? What do you need to learn? What do you need to do more of? What do you need to stop doing? Who can you reach out for, for advice? Who can you help? When you study sales, it’s actually a very high control business – I can control my activity, I can control my referral partners asking for referrals, giving referrals, I can control mastery of skill sets. In looking at this slide ask yourself, are you creating an internal locus of control sales environment?

Fred Diamond: There’s so many words that have come up over the course of the daily webinars that we’re doing. In the very beginning, empathy was the huge word and I know we’re going to talk about that in a few minutes but one of the big words, Colleen that has really emerged to the top is accountability. We don’t know when COVID is “going to end”, we don’t know when everyone’s going to be back in offices, what’s going to go back, what’s not going to go back. What we do know is this is the way it is right now so everybody is in the same-esque type of situation and you could sit around and wait, you could sit around and blame or you could really rise to the top. One thing that we talked about prior to today’s webcast is the concept that a lot of the leaders are struggling right now with leading the bottom third of their sales organization because you don’t have that comradery, the tactility, the “let’s go jump in the conference room and map this out.” At the same time, you have to be accountable for your success if you want to be successful. What might be some of your advice for a sales leader who’s in that mood, who isn’t having the same level of “let’s go jump in the conference room” which nobody has right now? What are some ways that you’re seeing in your practice that you’re helping them be better at coaching or individual help with the people who might be struggling from a sales perspective?

Colleen Stanley:  I’ll take a little bit of a left-turn here, Fred. What I would do is actually back up a step or two and I would ask the sales leaders how much they’re interviewing and vetting their potential candidates for resilience, internal locus of control, accountability, responsibility. I’m all about teaching and coaching, that’s the profession I’ve chosen after being a VP of sales but I can tell you, my life is a lot easier and more successful when I’m coaching people that have those attributes in place. How much are you vetting and coaching people that are coachable? Those are two things, root cause of why you might be having the bottom third is take a look at your hiring practices, those may need to be overhauled. I think in this pandemic, it’s the old saying from Warren Buffet, “When the tide rolls out, you’ll see who’s swimming naked” and that’s your third.

Let’s suppose you’ve got some new sellers or maybe somebody that’s struggling. My suggestion is this: apply the same principles that you teach your salespeople as it relates to running an effective sales call. I’d pose these questions to your sales managers today: how much pre-call planning time do you invest before a coaching session? Or do you just show up and say, “Okay, Fred, what do you want to talk about today? Do you want to do some deal review?” Deal review is not deal coaching so if I don’t take the time to do pre-call planning and sit there and think, “What’s the one skill that I need to work with Fred on today? Is it a mindset skill? Self-limiting belief skill? Tactical selling skill? Practice? Where’s Fred getting stuck?” If I don’t take the time to think about what is this coaching session going to be comprised of, I am conducting a wing-it sales coaching call and we would not put up with that from our salespeople if they did not do the appropriate pre-call planning. Take a look, are you practicing what you preach? Pre-call planning is one thing I would really suggest to a lot of the sales leaders, to look in the mirror and see if they’re really doing an effective job in that area.

Fred Diamond: You said, “Don’t wing it”, the concept right now of the coaching skills that need to be changed. I know you probably wrote the majority of your book before the pandemic happened, of course [laughs].

Colleen Stanley: [Laughs] yes, who thought I’d be launching one in a pandemic, right?

Fred Diamond: The timing was perfect. It’s interesting, we have a whole wide range of sales professionals and every Wednesday’s show where we interview sales VPs we always ask the question, “How are you coaching your more seasoned sales professionals and how are you coaching your more junior sales professionals?” We’ve seen over time a delineation and it’s not, “I leave the seasoned people alone” because not all the seasoned people are doing well. A lot of them are used to networking and being with the customer, meeting for lunch and those kinds of things whereas a lot of the younger professionals are maybe more attune to the phone. But again, you’re not in the office with 20 other young sales professionals, you’re now spread out and you have to deal with having roommates or living in your parent’s garage again while the dog’s barking and you’re working.

I have a quick question for you. Again, the timing of the book is perfect, you’re the world’s leading expert on emotional intelligence for sales and sales leadership. Have you noticed that emotional intelligence has improved since the pandemic has kicked in because we’ve had to be more empathetic to be successful? Do you still see that the book was needed anyway and we’re not quite there, that we haven’t really improved so much as we should have?

Colleen Stanley: I would say what’s raised more than anything, Fred, is the awareness and the need for it because this is where, as you said, empathy is almost being used as a buzz word today whether it’s in business, our political campaigns. In all due respect, most people have no clue of how to actually demonstrate real world empathy and it’s not their fault because most of the time when they’re studying it, learning it, maybe it’s on their own, they confuse that skill of empathy with validation skills. “Fred, that must be disappointing. I know you must be discouraged.” That’s a nice start but you are a hundred miles away from what I call real world empathy. I would say the awareness and the need for it, now it becomes a decision. Are you actually going to equip your team with 100% of the skills? Do you have to work with your self-limiting belief system that, “I only have so much time to coach so why would I waste time coaching the soft skills versus rehearsing value propositions, objection handling?”, all of which are important, we teach a lot of them. I think that’s what I’m seeing at this point, there is an increased need for it so hopefully we will even get more buy-in because of this trigger event that we’re all experiencing.

Fred Diamond: Colleen, you talked about self-limiting beliefs and self-talk, let’s get deep into that right now.

Colleen Stanley: The reason I wanted to bring in self-limiting beliefs, I think it was something that actually surprised me, Fred, when I started with a sales management training years ago. When I really started helping sales managers diagnose the root cause of the problem, what often came up was that there was a hidden belief system. When you study the belief system model, again, this is not coming out of sales training, it’s been around for a long time but do people really understand how to apply it to sales? Often what an individual will do is they’ve got something called self-talk, some of the [Unintelligible 20:51] say you can actually be talking to yourself 60,000 thoughts per day but the research is also showing that many of those thoughts are negative. “My territory is lousy”, “My prospects only buy on price”, “Nobody’s buying during COVID”, whatever you say to yourself actually becomes your truth which becomes a belief and beliefs drive the actions you take or you don’t take, beliefs drive the skills you will apply or not apply. As much as I love skill coaching, if I have taught a concept and I still see a seller not doing it, I know I’ve got to go up and do belief-system coaching.

A couple of coaching questions that sales managers could apply is when somebody says, “My prospects only buy on price”, here’s a great coaching question, “Is that based on perception or data?” That’s one of those ‘duh’ questions and they’ll say, “Well… perception.” Perception means then your next coaching question is, “What’s the story you’re telling yourself?” but you also can have a rep say, “It’s data, I lost my last deal on it.” Well, if you’ve done your pre-call planning you would ask the next question, “Did you lose on price or should you have been there in the first place?” because where I’m going is you didn’t lose on price, you’re calling on a cheap transactional prospect that doesn’t buy on value, doesn’t buy on expertise. All of a sudden, until I shift that belief system that you’re making up stories or perhaps we’re working on the wrong end of the problem, then and only then can I dispense great tactical sales coaching advice.

Fred Diamond: Two points that you brought up here are just so powerful. One is hire the right people and that’s something that comes up all the time and that was right on target. We also get a comment here from Tammy, “Poor qualification always kills the bad salesman.” We have those types of excuses where someone’s saying they always buy on price. You have to know the customer, you have to know the market that you’re going after and you have to figure out a way to go after the right types of customers. We have plenty of people who compete on price, we have plenty of people who are members of the IES and who jump up on our webcast who are in price-driven markets and a lot of them do extremely well. Their strategy is to be successful but again, you have to know who you’re going after and what is it you sell. That’s actually really on target there. Just curiously, you mentioned affirmations before, you mentioned self-talk. What could be some of the things that the sales leaders would coach their people on? Deborah says she loves what you say, thank you, Deborah, good seeing you.

What would be some of your tactical advice for sales leaders on how to educate? A lot of the people who are new in sales and who are in the early inside type jobs, they’re SDR or the next level, they might not have been taught things like affirmations or these kinds of things but they’re impressionable. What might be some of the strategies that you’ve seen work in training sales leaders to then train their people to put this in as part of their process?

Colleen Stanley: I think the biggest thing sales leaders need to realize is that we need to teach the soft skill of emotional self-awareness because without self-awareness it’s similar to the words of Socrates, “Know thyself.” That which you’re not aware of, you’re bound to repeat. That which you’re not aware of, you cannot change. For a sales leader, the coaching challenge becomes, “I need to help this seller recognize they’ve got a self-limiting story.” “I’m too young”, “I don’t know enough”, “I’m a man”, “I’m a woman”, “I’m a certain ethnic background”, “I’m a certain religious background” and all of those, depending on what you’re hearing from your sphere of influence can affect the actions you take or skills. Then you have somebody else that has an entirely different belief.

For example, I had a seller a few years ago in a workshop and he repeated several times, “I’m new to the industry, I’m new to the industry.” Finally, I said, “How long have you been in your industry?” “A year and a half” and I started laughing and said, “You’re not new anymore.” I just came out with it but I did realize, “If I’m new, I’m not going to call on this level of prospect. If I’m new, I’m not putting myself in this selling environment.” Then I pivoted and I said, “What would you need to do to not be new in your industry anymore?” “Well, I’d probably need more knowledge.” “Okay, how much more knowledge? Where would you get that knowledge?” Then I threw out the challenge to the entire group because they were all saying, “We’ve got a lot of knowledge.” I said, “If you were working straight commission, how long would it take you to become an expert in your business?”

Fred Diamond: A lot quicker than a year and a half.

Colleen Stanley: [Laughs] and the light bulb went off because I have worked more straight commission in my life than salary. The light bulb went off that they realized the self-awareness was, “We’re not putting in the effort to become an expert, we’re accepting the excuse that it takes a long time to be an expert.” This goes back to that pre-call planning, Fred, you’re just not going to come up with these questions unless you’ve got – I’ve got the 10,000 hours in coaching behind me because of my business or the industry I’m in. But for a manager, you’re going to have to script out what’s the question. If the seller responds with this, where am I going to direct that? That’s where a lot of coaching conversations fall flat because they don’t know how to take the right and left turn as a sales leader. That goes back to pre-call planning and maybe some training that they need to gain from a coaching perspective.

Fred Diamond: Colleen, there are so many words that have come up on the daily webinars that we’re doing from the Institute for Excellence in Sales, we mentioned empathy, we mentioned accountability, the other top 5 word – and you just hit on this a bunch of times – is preparation. We talk about if you’re a sales professional, one thing that’s changed over the last 6 months is customers aren’t that interested right now in a two year road map of your solutions. They’re really interested in, “What can you do today to help me recover economically from COVID, recover from all the social distancing and all those aspects of COVID as well right now?” Here in the entertainment space your business has gone away so if you’re going to sell me a CRM system that’s going to double my business in 5 years, that ain’t going to fly, you’ve got to help me today and we keep talking about how you need to prepare. I love what you just said, as a sales leader who’s working with a team or teams, you need to put in all the thought about it’s not just about value prop, it’s not just about courage on making the phone calls or maybe so many other factors that come up.

Colleen Stanley: I think you bring up a really great point here, “We’ve got the 5 year road map” because we’re selling but I’m seeing a lot of sales teams still do their selling to the old business problem. If you have not redone your sales playbook, I guarantee you’re probably in some trouble right now. You’ve got old value propositions selling to the old business problems, old objections when new decision makers are showing up. One thing we’ve been talking more this year about than probably ever before is studying that famous model of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and this is exactly what you were saying, Fred. At the self-actualization level, “Yes, I need the CRM with a 5 year return on investment.” At the basic needs for every human being is psychological, physiological safety and security and if you are not able to meet your prospect there and help them craft a solution, that’s where it goes to the psychology of selling because that’s where your prospect is right now. Maybe I’ll get to the product road map after a lot of this passes, meet them where they’re at right now. It’s a great point you made.

Let’s talk about this slide because I’m sure people have heard the term self-awareness a lot and truly, for anyone listening or watching today, this is your mega EQ skill because again, that which you’re not aware of, you cannot change and that which you’re not aware of, you’re bound to repeat. This slide with the picture of Chade-Meng Tan, he’s a software engineer at Google, teaches the mindfulness classes. If you’re looking as far as, “How do I improve my own self-awareness as a leader? How am I landing on my team? How do I improve the skill of my salespeople?” it absolutely starts with down time. Here’s the big ‘but’, this is not a new concept, people [laughs] down time is not a new concept. I think I wrote about it back in 2006, yet we tend to as human beings not adapt this proven best practice. This is where I think you’ve got to tap in and say, “Where is instant gratification getting in the way of me carving out that quiet time in the morning?” Because most leaders are grabbing their smartphone right away in the morning, they’re looking at their phone, they got the cortisol shot, the stress hormone now even if there’s nothing bad on the phone. If you want to build an emotionally intelligent sales culture, your coaching questions should include, “Did you carve out quiet time this morning? In your reflection, did you identify triggers that caused you to respond in a manner you regret? In the down time, did you reflect ‘what’s making me have a tough time being assertive, stating what I need nicely? Where did I maybe have an empathy miss yesterday in conversations?'” It’s in the quiet that you can get introspective because that’s when you get clarity of thought. Here you’ve got the biggest company in the world practicing it and yet I still don’t see enough sales organizations embracing it, and that starts at the top.

Fred Diamond: Salesforce is a member of the IES, they supposedly have meditation rooms. It’s interesting because a lot of the members that we talk to, they’re telling their people to keep their cameras on all day so there’s a need to be in front of the screen in some levels just to show your boss that you’re working, if you will. You don’t have that, you have to carve out that time and it’s not as bad right now because not everybody is in quarantine anymore like they used to and things are beginning to open up – socially distant and masked, if you will. You’ve got to take the time to sit and process and that’s one of the challenges that we’ve heard from a lot of our sales managers and they’ve been directed to be tied to the screen. “Go to Zoom calls as much as you can with prospects or customers if you can get them” and it doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to go off and just sit to process. I keep going back to what you suggested before as a sales manager, you have to figure out, “What do I need to coach my people on right now?” That takes time, energy and thought and some collaboration to process and think it through.

Colleen Stanley: If you really study good selling, selling is a thinking skill before it’s a verbal skill. We love talking about empathy, however when we coach empathy, Fred, I will encourage people to recognize it’s a thinking skill before it’s a verbal skill. Take the time to sit there and really think about what’s the world like from Fred’s perspective, what’s he thinking or feeling even if I don’t agree with it – that’s when empathy gets quite difficult, but that’s a thinking skill before a verbal skill. You can’t practice empathy unless you practice thinking. We’ve always got to back it up a step in order to work on the root cause of not being as effective as we’d like in sales or sales leadership.

Fred Diamond: The best sales professionals that we deal with – and we deal with some of the best in the industry on a daily basis – they’re thinking about their customer. Right now it’s interesting because we know that every customer’s challenge is what we spoke about before, getting past COVID, all those things related to it, getting my company back on track because of everything that happened with COVID. The top sales professionals right now are thinking two steps ahead of their customer, there’s no questions like, “Mr. Customer, what is your biggest pain right now?” “The biggest pain is getting past COVID, what do you mean my biggest pain?” [Laughs]

Colleen Stanley: [Laughs] “Is there another one?”

Fred Diamond: “We’ve been closed for six months, that’s a big pain right now.” So it’s not even that the sales professionals need to come, and we see a lot of the people are chiming in here, “Absolutely”, “Right on.” The good sales professionals today are applying a lot of what you’re talking about and they’re using their brains to go into the future but not 2 years, now. “I know, Mr. Customer, what you’re dealing with.”

Colleen Stanley: You reminded me of a conversation and actually something that came out of a public boot camp we ran a couple weeks ago. We do this exercise on fight-or-flight and usually what we hear after the exercise, Fred, are things like, “The prospect lobbed the negotiation tactic, they weren’t engaged”, things like this. Here’s what we heard this time, the fight-or-flight was coming from, “I’m worried about using technology.” I said, “What do you mean?” “Sometimes I’m just worried that I’m going to get kicked off of whatever video conferencing service I’m using, I’m not sure if I can pull up the deck.” All of a sudden I thought, you know what’s interesting? How many sales leaders have run drill skill on using technology over and over, I’ll throw it out for what it is there. That was their worry point and if we’re worried about the technology, you certainly can’t be present on a call. If you’re not present on a call, you can’t pay attention which means you’re probably not going to be able to pick up the non-verbal clues which means you’re not going to be as empathetic and maybe not ask the second and third question. I just found that really interesting, maybe we need to be doing more technology role plays and get outside of the questions and consultative selling. How do you speak to the camera? Another one as a fun note, I’m going to probably write a blog about it, is when your bringing up your Zoom calls, have you noticed everybody starts their calls like this? [Looks up and gawks at screen] [Laughs] Here we’re supposed to be building rapport with the prospect and the first face they see is one that’s crumpled up, so it’s little things like the minute you’re getting on Zoom, you’ve got to smile on your face. It’s little things like that that we might just be missing that could make our salespeople more comfortable, more confident on those calls.

Fred Diamond: You offer some coaching versus training tips here. Colleen, you’re giving us so much value here, I encourage everybody to get the book Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership. Also get the book Emotional Intelligence for Sales Professionals as well, they’re both a great complement to each other. Do you have a third book, by the way, that you’re preparing?

Colleen Stanley: I said I’m not going to and there’ll probably be one more in me, so we’ll see [laughs] it’s a lot writing one. Let me talk to the screen briefly because I know we have one more slide we want to share with the group. Basically what I’d like to share with leaders here is I was very guilty of this. I was always a pretty good teacher and trainer but there is a difference between training and coaching and this is where I believe we need to recognize when we need to apply training and teaching, and then when we need to apply coaching and maybe even add the word counseling. What I’ve figured out over the years is that training and maybe repetition, drill skill, you’ve got to have the salesperson [to say], “Yes, I admit I’ve got a problem here, I know I don’t know”, they buy in and believe in your approach. Here’s where I’ve seen sales managers consistently tell, tell, train, train but no behavior changes – they don’t realize they need to go into coaching and the coaching happens when you’ve taught that concept but they’re not doing it. At that point, you’ve got a buy-in issue or a self-limiting belief issue. IE, “I don’t believe I can ask these many questions on a call.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that, you’ve got this great question model, you keep teaching it, limiting belief is, “Nobody will let me ask them any questions.” When you take a look at what hat you need to put on, sometimes it’s a training hat, sometimes it’s a coaching and sometimes you’re switching back and forth. That’s the point I had to learn the hard way, I was a professional teller and trainer and I really wasn’t as good as coaching as I am today.

Last screen here. Fred, I know you’ve got probably tons of people that talk about prospecting, just a couple of points here. I think we’ve all heard being other-focused, I’m really one that challenges all of us to say, “I’m saying it, where’s the proof that we’re doing it?” I think it’s just so easy to say things so one of the things is even from an energy level which can maybe sound a little woo, but I promise you, if a seller is getting on the phone to sell – especially in this time when people are a little bit COVID brain, fight-or-flight – get on the phone to serve. Do you have a business problem? To your point, am I two steps ahead of you? “Here’s the new business problem that we’ve identified for you, you may not even know how to solve it, maybe I can be the guide here.” Yesterday I simply got on the phone with a client, their business is down this year. I’m getting on the phone to ask what introductions you need because maybe I’ve got somebody in my network. Is there any training for the rest of the year? No, doesn’t matter, they’re going to come back. What introductions can you be providing? Then call out the sales elephant. If you are finding a prospect where they’ve got the need, they actually have the budget but they’re still not moving forward, a lot of times what sellers will do is they keep overcoming the objection, they keep reminding them, “But we talked about this”, instead of saying, “What’s your biggest worry about moving forward?” I’m guessing if you’re like my other clients, every dollar you spend, you must get a return on investment and right now you’re not sure if you’re going to get it, and you stop. Those are the bullet points there, Fred.

Fred Diamond: One of the key themes – and I know we have some people here watching the webcast who come on our webcast if not on a weekly basis, a daily basis sometimes – the whole notion that you are a sales professional. If you’re watching today’s webinar, it’s September 10th or if you’re listening to the podcast, a lot of people in sales unfortunately have been flushed out in the last 6 months. There’s been layoffs, there’s been all of that but if you’re here today and you’re devoting an hour of your time, it’s been the whole notion that you are a professional. I love the way you talked about as a sales leader, knowing what it is you need to coach your people on because there can be so many things and now there’s so many more things. Think about it, if you’re a sales professional who’s been at your job for a year, maybe a year and a half, a third or a half of it has been in your apartment in COVID mode. You haven’t seen a customer, you haven’t physically gone to a customer site, you haven’t been with your team so there’s so many things that are making it even more challenging or more difficult for you. A lot of what you talked about is straight on, you need to be a professional if you’re a leader and you need to be a professional if you’re sales professional. What does that mean? The reason I bring this up is serving. At its core, the one thing that I’ve learned and I’ve always known is sales is about service, sales isn’t really about the transactions because the customers are in charge. The customers are the ones who are challenged right now, they don’t need to speak to you if they’re going through the challenges that we spoke about before. They may be kind and take your call but they have bigger problems, so how can you provide that service for them? Once again, the books: Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership, Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success. The website: salesleadershipdevelopment.com

Colleen, you’ve been such a great guest on our webinars, you’ve been a tremendous speaker, you’re my go-to, you should be everybody’s go-to.

Colleen Stanley: You’re too kind, thank you.

Fred Diamond: By the way, I love the background there, it’s beautiful.

Colleen Stanley: It’s our little Kaptivo Whiteboard that we can do interactive training on, every sales leader should have one and I don’t get paid referral fees from them [laughs].

Fred Diamond: Colleen, give us an action step besides, “Buy the book.” Give us an action step for the people watching today’s webcast, listening to the podcast that they must do today to take their sales career to the next level.

Colleen Stanley: Here would be my action step. If you’re managing a sales team, sales person, take a look at a repeat challenge you’ve had with the seller. You’ve had the caching conversation, I want you to stop and write it down and then analyze. Is this lack of hard selling skills or is it lack of soft selling skills? Diagnose the root cause of the problem, diagnose the real problem. It’s going to maybe be a combination of both, but I’ll guarantee you’re going to find that there’s some soft skills they’re lacking – assertiveness, impulse control, delayed gratification – which is affecting the hard sales result. That would be my action step, and carve out quiet time.

Fred Diamond: I want to thank everybody for watching today’s webinar, if you’re listening to this podcast, thank you so much. Colleen, it’s great to see you again, thank you for the great service that you’re providing to the sales professionals around the globe, you really make a huge difference to the companies that you serve and the sales professionals and sales leaders that you’ve coached and trained over the years.

Colleen Stanley: Thank you, we appreciate that. Love what we do.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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