EPISODE 432: Increase Sales By Adopting a Service-Driven Mindset with Kathie Ianuzzi

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Optimal Sales Mindset virtual learning session sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on October 12, 2021. It featured an interview with sales mindset consultant Kathie Ianuzzi.]

Find Kathie on LinkedIn.

KATHIE’S TIP: “Have a consistent morning routine. That’s where you’re connecting with yourself, body, mind and spirit before you let the outside world in. You’re putting yourself in the driver’s seat before the day takes off. You can walk in with clarity, you can walk in with confidence and then you’re able to respond versus react. Then you’re going to be able to be present instead of just going adrift through the day. The other thing is centering. The central question that you may want to ask yourself periodically when you’re in decision making situations is, what choice can I make or action can I take in this moment to create the greatest net value?”


Fred Diamond: Kathie, it’s great to see you. This is the Optimal Sales Mindset show, we’re going to be talking about centering your intention to serve. That’s an interesting word, because we bring that up all the time that sales is about service and sales is about not just service to your customer, but to your industry. Especially with all that we’ve been going through over the last year and a half, almost two years now, it really comes down to that. I love what we’re talking about today, how a service-driven mindset will help you grow sales. Let’s get started. It’s great to see you, thanks for being here. What does it mean to have a service-driven mindset?

Kathie Iannuzzi: Thrilled to be here, Fred, thank you for having me. I think it’s a game changer and it’s the one thing we can control, is our mindset, our perspective, our thoughts which lead to our actions. To me, a service-driven mindset is open, curious, with the intention to contribute to the greatest net value. Net is an important word in there.

Fred Diamond: How do you prepare? Is this something that you can grow if you don’t have something like this? Is the service mindset something that you might not have that now you can have?

Kathie Iannuzzi: Of course. I think the two key pillars to leaning in and leveraging this mindset is prep and presence. Again, there are things you can do. What I mean by prep is we’re pretty buttoned-up when it comes to what we’re bringing to the meeting, the proposal, the pitch, the presentation, the numbers. We spend a lot of time on that trying to make them perfect, but often, we overlook who we’re bringing to the meeting. When I say prep, I mean above and beyond the presentation. I mean truly yourself, who are you being when you walk into that room?

Fred Diamond: It’s interesting, we just did a show on using improv to be more effective as a sales professional, and the point wasn’t really about being funny, the point was some of the skills that you need to have in improv to be successful. Presence, listening and a lot of times people listen for the opportunity to talk. The guest we had, his name is Bob Kulhan, he was talking about how he was very active in improv and Tina Fey was one of his coaches, Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock. She gave him some coaching and her coaching was, don’t try to be funny. Her coaching was, just be present, be in the moment, be responsive to your team.

Talk a little bit about that type of a thing. You talked about prepping, but one of the things we’ve talked a lot with mindset and we talk about serving, it’s not about your agenda, it’s about putting you in the place where you’re helping to serve the customer reach their agenda. Kathie, one thing that’s gotten bigger and bigger over the last 18 months is not just your customer’s agenda, but your customer’s customer’s agenda, and your customer’s customer’s customer’s agenda.

Kathie Iannuzzi: Absolutely. If you’re a sales leader, your real client is your account executive, is your own team. That scales out to the client which then scales out as you discussed. It’s hard to be present, mindful, when your mind is full. That first thing as far as that prep is concerned so you can be present is to clear the clutter. It’s not about every other thing you have to do, you owe it to that meeting, to that experience, to yourself to set your intention for that particular experience that’s about to come up.

The first thing from a prep point of view is you want to clear the clutter, release the tension that maybe going on and set your intention. Even that little bit of a saying, centering – I’ll use that word a lot – centering yourself, just to breathe, release the tension and set my intention. That practice is very helpful in between tasks. So often we have meeting, then meeting, then meeting, and we carry all of that tension along with us, it fills our head. If we have a task transition where you’re able to release your tension with that breath and then set my intention, that clears your head and you can focus with that service-driven mindset. That’s my intention.

Then you want to ask yourself, back to who do I want to bring to this meeting? Checking your energy level, checking your attitude, checking the influence that you want to bring to the meeting. It’s not about us the people, it’s about the practice. Are we feeling misaligned? It’s usually not because of us, we changed, we’re a new person, it’s our practices have changed. Put a practice into place coming up with three words to describe the energy, the attitude, the intention that you want to bring to this meeting, and then use those words as you walk into the room to center yourself as well as during the meeting if some distraction happens, to center yourself back to being present. I’m sure we’ll get to more about, okay, now that I’m present, what’s the benefit of that?

Fred Diamond: I’m just curious, how did you get to this place? How did you become this consultant who’s offering this? Tell us a little bit about your journey to get to this point. How did you become aware of all this to have your practice where you’re out there helping sales executives be more mindful and be more service-driven as they’re trying to help their customers achieve their goals?

Kathie Iannuzzi: Thanks for asking me that, that’s interesting. I spent more than 20 years at QVC in live television. Before that, I was in broadcast television and that’s what it’s all about, be there live and really connecting emotionally with the viewer, that one viewer sitting on the couch. How is my product, my service going to benefit them, going to improve their life? That’s really what it’s about. If you’re not live, if you’re not living it live, you’re missing all kinds of opportunities to really connect, which may not be the most obvious thing to you. But by listening and hearing and seeing, the phone calls spiking because you did something, it’s all picking up on what’s happening live in that experience for you to really be able to hit it out of the park.

Fred Diamond: We have some questions coming in here. We have a quick one here, you just mentioned you worked for QVC and there’s a question coming in from Sheryl. Sheryl says, “What happens when a product doesn’t sell on QVC?” Do you mind if we talk a little bit about some of your background?

Kathie Iannuzzi: No, that’s okay.

Fred Diamond: I don’t know how long the segments are on QVC, but each product has a slot and I guess you’re committing to the vendors that by paying to be on QVC, we’ll hopefully sell 5,000, 10,000 units, whatever it might be. What if the host is off her or his game? How do you then deal with that? Just curious behind the scenes.

Kathie Iannuzzi: Things may have changed since I’ve been there, it’s been a few years but I was there quite a bit. What usually happens I exactly what you’re just saying. Maybe it was just not the right time slot, maybe the host wasn’t necessarily connected or maybe there was a demo that was discovered. There’s usually a learning and there’s plenty of experts watching the tape and QVC is wonderful with helping the vendors tweak and get it back on to try it again.

Fred Diamond: What do you see people doing wrong? You work with a lot of high-powered executives right now, you’re helping a lot of great people be successful. Why would they engage you? What are they missing, people who’ve reached the VP, Senior VP, Director level? What do they recognize that they’re missing?

Kathie Iannuzzi: You mentioned coaching earlier. My experience as far as in sales and in live television but also the coach training, I’ve been through several certifications learning and I’m continuing to learn about the skills of coaching. I truly believe sales leaders, if they would embrace the skills of a coach not only for their own wellbeing so that they’re showing up as a leader they want to be, but they’re helping to develop their team. Through the skill sets of empowering questions, not leading questions, not yes/no questions but really helping the team to think out of the box.

This not only goes for sales leaders, but the account executives when they’re out there with clients. When you have that presence, it’s not only about what you know, it’s about the opportunity to learn. The client may be saying or think they want X, but by truly asking those probing questions, clarifying questions, empowering questions, what I mean by empowering questions is when you’re engaging them to think. You’re not giving them the answers and there’s so many nuggets there that you can grow the deal and also nurture the relationship.

Sales leaders, when they use those skills like empowering questions or listening, that’s key. That’s the number one, listening and intuitively listening, not just actively listening where you’re actually hearing, but you’re noticing the tone, the energy level, the energy shift, the body language. There’s a lot of things that aren’t said that are great nuggets of information as well.

Then another skill is acknowledging and validating. Whether it’s your team or it’s your client, that you understand them, their real feelings and how then you’re able to help them. A key thing for presence is going in with no assumptions. Again, it’s not just about what you know, it’s about what you can learn, so be curious because you may be missing a huge opportunity to expand the deal.

Fred Diamond: We have a question here that comes in from Marshall, “Could she talk more about intuitive listening?” We ask sales leaders all the time, how have you become so great, how did you reach VP level for IBM or a great company like that? Not invariably, they’ll all say, “I’m a great listener.” In the very beginning, I would say, “Okay, you’re a great listener.” Then I noticed after 450 shows, we had dozens if not hundreds of these sales leaders say that they were great listeners. Then I would ask, “Tell me something specific. How can people listening today be a great listener?”

Being an intuitive listener is something that hasn’t come up before, to be honest with you. Could you go a little bit deeper into that? A couple questions. One is, how do you put yourself in the framework of being conscious to be an intuitive listener? Then I’m also curious, how do you train your team? If you’re a sales leader, you mentioned coaching your team, what are some things you could do as a sales leader to coach your people to be more effective listeners?

Kathie Iannuzzi: Thank you, Marshall. Active listening, you hear about it a lot and that’s great, that’s when you’re repeating what you’re hearing, you’re paraphrasing, you’re asking for clarification and you’re really showing the respect that, “I hear you.” Intuitive just takes it a little bit further, and that’s that presence, that you’re fully in tune with that dynamic of the room. It’s noticing the shift in energy, it’s noticing the body language is shifting, it’s noticing if the eye contact is drifting.

Being able to pick up on that and to have the courage and the curiosity to ask about it. “I noticed your voice went up a little bit there when you talked about that. Is that something you’re excited about? Is that something you want to leverage?” “I’m hearing a little hesitancy. Is there something there that maybe we can dive into that I can help you with?” That intuitiveness is that 360 full embrace of senses, so beyond just listening to the words. What’s not being said.

Fred Diamond: We have a question that comes in from Jordan, “Could Kathie speak about fear? How does she work with her sales leaders to remove fear?” It’s interesting, because a lot of words come up all the time and listening, I had just mentioned, comes up not infrequently. Even intuitive decision making is something that has come up very frequently.

We do a Women in Sales program called the Women in Sales Leadership Forum, it’s run by Gina Stracuzzi, and we do six sessions over a two-month period. One of the sessions is devoted to intuitive decision making, but one of the other things, Kathie, that comes up a lot and people ask me this all the time is, what is the common trait, the common thread that I see with the great sales leaders that we have at the Institute for Excellence in Sales or on the show?

I always say it’s courage, the courage to ask the customer for the deal, the courage to lead a team during difficult times, the courage to be vulnerable, the courage to acknowledge your fear and then do something about it. Just curious, how does that come into your coaching? Is that something that you frequently talk to the sales leaders that you coach about?

Kathie Iannuzzi: Thanks, Jordan. We all have fear, so it’s not about, “Don’t have fear.” Courage is what helps you move past it. I absolutely agree with you, Fred, about that courage. Courage is that high performance talent that you lean into to move past the fear. What ignites your courage, what helps you with that strength is to get to the root of the fear because a lot of times it’s a surface type thing. If you could, continue to dive deeper with what’s at that root of that fear? You realize doubt’s not a signal to stop. A lot of times doubt creates the fear, but it’s a signal to learn because oftentimes doubt is, “I’m going to stand behind, I’m not going to go out there because this may happen.” But what you’re realizing is you’re staying back, you’re never going to know until you move forward.

Courage helps you learn, maybe you fail but you stand back up with that resilience. Every experience is life teaching us something. I know this is commonly said, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about winning and learning. That fear is natural, the fear is going to pop up. How can you use your courage to learn to make that choice to move forward?

Fred Diamond: We have a question here from Dina, “Kathie talks about leaning in. Can she explain what that means?” I think it was Sheryl Sandberg who had the classic book, Lean In, who’s the COO of Facebook, I believe she still is. Talk a little bit about what that means for some of the younger sales professionals. We have a lot of people who are junior in their sales career and a lot of them are listening to today’s show because they want to take their sales career to the next level. As a matter of fact, the subtitle for all of the Sales Game Changers podcast episodes is Tips for Sales Career Growth. Talk a little bit about what that means and talk about how some of the people such as Dina can best employ the concept of leaning in.

Kathie Iannuzzi: Dina, when I say lean in, what I mean is we’re all different, right? We all have different gifts, different talents, different comforts, different strengths. When we can identify them, celebrate them and lean into them and what works for you, how do you make a cold call? How do you do an outreach? How do you connect with people through networking? That brings your assets out. We can improve some of our areas of opportunities, for sure, but we really want to get into, what’s my flow? When I’m in full alignment, who am I? How can I lean into that? That’s what I mean by lean in. When something’s working for you or if you have a certain project, how do you go all in with your assets?

Fred Diamond: We’re getting a lot of questions here, I’m going to paraphrase this question from Roberta, “People are leaving our company and we’re struggling to fill our sales ranks. What is Kathie’s suggestion to be of more service to our team?” That’s interesting. Thank you, Roberta, for the bravery for that question. We’ve all heard about The Great Resignation, we actually have done some shows on The Great Resignation. To be frank, over the last 18 months, women in early stages of leadership have been the most impacted because they’ve also had to run the household and they’ve also had to take care of the kids and have three or four jobs. It’s been a challenge.

We’ve discovered that The Great Resignation is real, it truly is happening and now as people are asking their employees to come back to the office in some regards, they’re beginning to see people questioning, is this what I want not just out of my career, but out of life? It’s a big question. I’m not really that sorry to put you on the spot because you’re an expert on service-driven mindset and you’re helping sales leaders and business leaders become more service-driven. But talk about that from an employer to employee perspective. Are you talking to your leaders about this? What would be some of your advice to help them have that service-driven mindset not just to the customer, but to their employees?

Kathie Iannuzzi: We’re all individuals, and when you’re a sales leader, HR representative or a CEO of a company, you realize your team is your client and you respect them and you appreciate them as individuals, so much about investing in their development, caring about what’s going on for them. Not cookie-cutter, everybody’s-the-same, it’s really having that appreciation for the person. Their strengths, their interests, because happy people are more productive people and that’s just the way it is. When you can help your team have that wellbeing, feel appreciated and help them develop, I think that’s the key to retention.

Fred Diamond: Kathie, you’ve given us so many great ideas here. I want to acknowledge you for all the work you’ve done with so many sales leaders around the country helping them become more service-focused. Why don’t you give us your last action step? Something specific that people can do today to take their sales career to the next level.

Kathie Iannuzzi: Whether in sales or life in general, my personal practice that has made such a difference that I highly recommend is to have a consistent morning routine. That’s where you’re connecting with yourself, body, mind and spirit before you let the outside world in. You’re putting yourself in the driver’s seat before the day takes off. You can walk in with clarity, you can walk in with confidence and then you’re able to respond versus react. Then you’re going to be able to be present instead of just going adrift through the day.

The other thing because we’re talking about centering, anxiogenics links thinking with performance. The central question that you may want to ask yourself periodically when you’re in decision making situations is, what choice can I make or action can I take in this moment to create the greatest net value?

Fred Diamond: Being present in the moment, that’s such a powerful thing. We talk about that so much, it’s really the core of so much success. I want to thank Kathie Iannuzzi today for the great insights. For all our listeners today, thank you all so much for listening and for being a listener and subscriber of the Sales Game Changers podcast.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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