EPISODE 489: Excelling at Business When You Have Lyme Disease with Sales Expert Lauren Bailey

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Sales Game Changers virtual learning session sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on March 22. 2022. It featured an interview with President of Factor8 Lauren Bailey.]

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LAUREN’S TIP: “Go listen to your calls. The #1 thing you can do is listen to game tape. Go listen to your calls, go listen to other people’s calls. When you do so, I’d like you to get into the mind of your customer. Play the pause game, play anybody’s call, pause, “What’s the customer thinking right now?” and what would you do next? The goal, remember, is engagement. Getting that customer to open up, getting that prospect to talk to you and to share their needs and their challenges so that you can help solve a potential problem. If you listen to your game tape with that in mind, I think you’ll come up with three or four instant action items that you can take to take your game to the next level. Not enough people are doing it. If you commit to your craft that way, you can soar to the top and stay there.”


Fred Diamond: Lauren, it’s great to see you. You’re the co-founder of Factor 8, you’ve also been very involved with the Girl’s Club, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. You came highly recommended to be on today’s show from a lot of our past guests who you know through Women Sales Pros. For people who are listening today, they also know that one of my main causes at the Institute for Excellence in Sales and Sales Game Changers is making more people aware of chronic Lyme disease. We’ve done close to half a dozen shows where I’ve brought together the convergence of Lyme disease and sales excellence, which no one else on the planet is doing. As a lot of people know, Lyme disease has affected my personal life and I want to get more awareness to it.

You have Lyme disease, you’ve been public about it, you’re also a great sales professional and sales leader. We’re going to be talking about getting past blocks, getting past obstacles and having chronic Lyme disease is a huge one. I applaud you for all the success that you’ve had battling this, and we’re going to talk about that in a little bit. First of all, you look great. Do you feel healthy today?

Lauren Bailey: It’s so funny to actually talk about this out loud. I talk a lot about sales or women in sales or sales leadership or entrepreneurship, but this is the very first time that somebody’s going to ask me questions about Lyme disease. I’ve got my tissues ready [laughs] this could be a shit show, my friend, we will see what happens next. I am moderately healthy right now. I usually talk about my health in terms of a stoplight pattern, a green, a yellow, and a red. I’m coming off orange and into the yellow.

What that means specifically for me right now is that I have a little bit of trouble walking and gripping due to arthritis. I’ll have some pretty spectacular headaches to go with that and so I’m very low energy. I’m coming out of a place where I call it counting steps, and not in the good way where I’m trying to get steps, but in a way of, I will multitask to the level that I will hold having to go to the bathroom until I also have to get up and can get three other things at the same times, because I get about a thousand steps on days like today until I just completely pass out.

Fred Diamond: For people who don’t know, Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness, typically you get it from a tick. It causes things like you said, fatigue, joint pain, anxiety, stress, constant pain. I just want to ask you a question. You’re a sales professional. Most people who have Lyme, it’s difficult to get out of bed, let alone work a job. I’ve gotten to become friends with a lot of people who have Lyme disease and maybe they’re working from home if they’re able to work, or maybe they’ll do copy editing, soft type jobs. But you’re in sales, and as we all know – anyone who’s listening today and anyone who’s listening to this podcast in the future – we all know what sales is about, especially performing at a high level. How do you do it? Lauren Bailey, how do you perform as a sales professional and also, running the business, when you have Lyme disease?

Lauren Bailey: It’s a wonderful perspective to hear that, thank you. There’s plenty of times where I feel guilty that I’m not doing enough. “Sorry, kids, I don’t get to go and do that. I’m not healthy enough to ski with you on this vacation.” They’re too young to understand that mom’s not just lazy [laughs]. I’ve had times where I’ve been in bed, I’ve had times where I was out of work, I’ve had times where I was in a wheelchair and I’m considered pretty high functioning now for somebody with Lyme disease. I think, frankly, that being driven at work is helpful to that.

I believe in an energetic world and we attract what we put out there and whom we surround ourselves with. Focusing on the symptoms and how shitty we feel, it just brings in more and it’s really terribly easy to just stop and to go down and to stay down. I think that being in sales and being obsessed with that, even more starting my businesses and being obsessed with those helps get you out of bed and doing what you need to do. Just like having kids helps get you out of bed and doing what you need to do. If I didn’t have two businesses and two little boys, I would have logged many, many more hours with my pillow for sure. Let me tell you something, I’ve taken business meetings from bed. It’s absolutely happened. Thank you for the credit, that feels good.

Fred Diamond: Actually, I have someone in my life who has Lyme disease and I really dug deep about ten months ago to understand the challenges that people face. I was joking in the beginning of the show, the convergence of sales and Lyme. The only place that you’re going to hear about the convergence of sales and Lyme, ladies and gentlemen, is on the Sales Game Changers podcast with Lauren Bailey and Fred Diamond today. Talk a little bit on what it’s like. You mentioned a little bit, but how do you pace yourself? Because one thing we’re going to talk about is the blocks, and in sales you’re always going to have blocks. I was joking with one of our guests the other day, you have 20 no’s till you get to that yes, and then that yes is amazing. A lot of them are artificial, they’re in your head when you don’t have a physical disease that’s blocking you, but you literally have a physical disease. Talk about how that shows up during the day, and then we’ll get to how to combat it. We’re going to be addressing your advice on helping salespeople get through the blocks that they may be covering which aren’t based on true disease.

Lauren Bailey: What are some of the blocks that are happening during the day? That’s the question. Listen, from which side of the street? We all have blocks in sales, and I would say that 50% of our blocks are actual and the other 50% are mental. “I don’t need to call them back,” or, “They don’t need to hear from me,” and I think Lyme probably makes those worse. I have 50% of the blocks that are mental as well, not just physical. “I probably can’t help them, they don’t need to hear from me, I’m not good enough.” There’s a lot of that that happens – there’s a funny thing happening on the side. My kids are home from spring break, my dog decided to come in and do this podcast with me and so my kids have finally learned, don’t open the door if mommy’s working, and the door is closed. So they slid a note under the door and my dog just ate it [laughs]. I’m just cracking up. Hopefully that’s not a big emergency, they understand that it’s not an emergency unless there’s police or blood.

Fred Diamond: We actually had a show last week with Alina from Chili Piper where her son, in the middle of the show, brought in flowers for his mother. She’s Romanian, it was Mother’s Day in Romania. But again, how does the Lyme disease show up throughout the course of the day? For people who don’t understand Lyme disease, and one thing we mentioned in the very beginning, everybody knows cancer, everybody knows when someone has cancer, everybody knows when someone’s in a cast or whatever, but it’s an invisible disease. How does it show up?

Lauren Bailey: It’s an invisible disease, it really is. My mentor, who’s amazing, his name is Bruce Mihawk and he was telling me his journey with cancer, how he beat cancer, and he knew something was wrong because when he was on his five-mile run, he just didn’t have as much energy. Then when he was going through chemo, he could only do two or three miles a day. I had to leave the room and cry and I was like, you’re amazing, I don’t feel sorry for you [laughs]. I’m just joking. The last time I got to run was decades ago, and I used to run. I used to teach aerobics, I used to dance, I used to do a lot of things, and it’s just not possible anymore.

I want you to imagine the most tired you’ve ever been in your entire life. For some women, that’s pregnancy, and for some people recently, that’s when they went through COVID. I’ve experienced both of those as well, and both of those are about 50% what I get if I’m Lyme tired. It’s a heaviness and a lethargy, impossible to move. How am I going to get up and make it to the bathroom kind of tired. This morning, like I said, I’m moving from an orange into a yellow, which is an improvement. But I couldn’t make a fist, I had to lay in bed my first 10 minutes just convincing myself that I was going to be a member of society today and get my hands to work again.

There’s times where I forget. I met another mentor and dear friend, Shari Levitin, in park city this last weekend. We were out at breakfast and having a lovely talk, and at the end, we got up to go and I stood up and had forgotten that my entire body was hurting and didn’t work, and almost fell on the table next to us. Then, just had to spend a few minutes getting things moving again because the arthritis was so bad that I couldn’t move. I don’t think people know it or see it, and the worst part is when it gets into the brain. They’re very Alzheimer-like symptoms.

I’ve been somebody who’s been smart and driven and known for that my whole life. When I had to let the body go, I had to let the body go, and when I had to let the physicality go, I had to let that go. But when it started attacking my mental capacity, that’s when it really pissed me off. There are times when I can’t get words out, and they’ll get stuck, I’ll stammer, and I’ll twitch and forget things. It’s humiliating.

Fred Diamond: We have a comment here from Liz, and Liz says, “Thank you, Lauren, for telling us this story.” I want to acknowledge you for coming on my show and talking about this. Lyme disease is one of those diseases where like I said, if there’s a little kid on the street with cancer, God bless those kids, everybody has a lemonade stand and people are raising money. Lyme disease, it’s a disease that not many people know about, it doesn’t show up. Someone asked a question here which says, “How do you treat Lyme?” We’re just going to talk for a second. That’s one of the problems too, because like you said, the bacteria can infect every organ in your body, including your brain, and it shows up so many different ways. There’s not a lot of great testing for Lyme either.

I want to ask you a question. You have Lyme and you’re very successful. You co-founded Girl’s Club. Let’s talk about that.

Lauren Bailey: I started them both by myself, just to be clear [laughs] I’m not a co-founder, these are my babies.

Fred Diamond: Good for you!

Lauren Bailey: I was just sitting for a moment and I was like, you know what? I did do that, and I did do it while I had a disease. That’s pretty fantastic, so I’m just going to own it for the rest of this podcast together.

Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about that. I’m the co-founder of the Institute for Excellence in Sales. Here you are right now, you have this disease, and I hope everybody listening goes research. There’s plenty of things out there to get into more detail about the insidiousness of Lyme, but here you are, having created these successful companies. A lot of people know you and I’ll ask, “I’m looking for sales leaders who have battled Lyme disease.” Your name came up from three people who were associated with and said, “You’ve got to talk to Lauren.” Let’s get to right now. How have you been successful and battling this disease?

Lauren Bailey: Help, I think that’s the honest answer. I love that your audience is in sales, and if there are people out there that have Lyme, spend your money getting help. I have an assistant at home and at work, and I don’t operate without them. I also have the best partner in the world in my husband, because there are times when I’m completely dark. I call Kate at work and I say, “Move everything out a week because I’m in a bad way and I’m not going to make it.” I call Tomasina at home and I say, “You’re on dinner prep for the week because I’m out, it’s just not going to go well here, I’m in trouble.” And I call my husband in and say, “Looks like I’m not going to make it out of bed today. Have you got drop-off, pick-up? What can’t you cover?” That’s just the reality of it.

I think we do isolate ourselves sometimes. Part of the reason for that, Fred, is that we’ve been told for decades that we’re crazy. There’s something very wrong with us that is invisible, and we don’t have a race, run, bracelet, or foundation. I think one of the big reasons for that is that we’re an expensive disease. For years, they were treating this with antibiotics and medicine goes where the pharmaceutical companies decide it goes. There were many years where I wouldn’t tell people I had Lyme disease and I wouldn’t give out the name of my doctor, because I had to go underground to get treatment. I had to fly to another city to find a doctor who would anonymously treat me and other patients from around the country to get there.

How am I successful with Lyme disease? I ask for help, I give myself breaks when I need it and I arrange my business to be a lifestyle business so that I can have a life and be a mom and manage those other things. I think you have to throw away everybody else’s rule and you have to listen to yourself and take care of yourself. That’s not always easy to do.

Fred Diamond: I want to talk about the general blocks that salespeople face. We’re doing today’s interview in March of 2022, it’s insane that the pandemic has gone on for two years and hopefully, it’s coming down. But obviously we’re both doing today’s interview at our respective homes and people aren’t necessarily back at the office as quickly as they thought, and everybody has had to deal with things over the last two years, every single person on the planet. Even today, there’s a war going on, there are still things that have fallen out from the pandemic as well. Let’s shift the conversation to overcoming blocks for salespeople every day. What are the best sales professionals doing right now for high level of success? What are some of the elite sales leaders doing? What do you see them doing right now?

Lauren Bailey: I think it’s one and the same conversation. To me, it’s about alignment. It’s aligning with your purpose and the higher good. Let me rephrase that so I sound a little bit less insane. The last time I was selling deals was when I was finding Girl’s Club sponsors, right in the last few years. Otherwise, I help sell deals, but now I’ve got a sales team that works for me. The days I would get up and say, “Today I’m going to sell some sponsorships,” those were okay days. But the days I woke up instead and said, “Today I’m going to help inspire people, today I’m going to help teach people, today I’m going to help this universe in these specific ways,” those are days where I really achieved. People could see the difference.

I think it’s finding your why and how you’re helping your community, and sitting in that for a couple of minutes and aligning with that. You get that energy right and you get that mind frame right, and then you reach out to do the world a favor and bring them what you can bring them. If we go into every call, assuming you’re a BDR or SDR and you’re just starting your career, and you go into the call and you assume the goal of the call is booking that meeting, and you assume that because your manager told you that was the goal of the call, then you’re doing it wrong. I think if you go into the call with the goal of, “I’m going to really engage somebody,” or, “I’m going to teach somebody,” or, “I’m going to learn something, I’m going to go in with curiosity, I’m going to connect with another human,” any of the higher-level modus operandi that we can choose in this lifetime. When that happens and you really get that engagement on the call or the learning or whatever it is, then the result is a meeting.

When I went out to inspire people with the message of what Girl’s Club is about, it resulted in partnerships and sponsorships. When I went out to close deals, it didn’t.

Fred Diamond: That is a fabulous answer. Knowing your why, it’s coming up on every show now, and we do four podcasts a week. It comes up all the time. As a matter of fact, it comes up so often that on my Facebook feed, Simon Sinek comes up every other advertisement – he, of course, wrote Know Your Why. I’ll put you on then spot here. Again, you’ve created Factor 8, you’ve created Girl’s Club. What is your why? And before you answer your why, Lauren Bailey, explain what it is, how you feel it and why it’s so critical. Why did you bring it up 18 minutes into this conversation about how important it is?

Lauren Bailey: I’m going to go in reverse order, Fred. I brought it up because I have the most Lyme flair ups and the most symptoms when I’m out of alignment. I go right into seeing the blocks, seeing the no’s and feeling the pain which comes then with depression, and then I spiral downward in a pity spiral, a ‘woe is me’ spiral, and I don’t achieve anything when I’m there. Frankly, if I take my eye off the ball for too long, it’s easy to get there. I’ve got to focus on trying to raise that awareness and align with my why. It’s woo-woo language, but it’s about raising your energy level.

You remember talking before the show that I quit even researching about Lyme disease, because I surround myself with people who are sick, diseased, desperate, and I absolutely feel for all my brothers and sisters who are there, but I can’t live with you all. I cannot stay there and I cannot lower my resonance or vibration, my energy to that. Instead, I spend my mornings listening to somebody like Simon Sinek, or Brené Brown, or Oprah Winfrey, or Abraham Hicks, or somebody who raises my vibration. Paula White would say she does it with music. It’s like an exercise. I don’t get to exercise my quads anymore, they do not look good [laughs] but I have to exercise my spirit and my emotions to align with that. That’s why I brought it up, because we’re talking about, am I flying high today or am I sinking low? When I fly high, it helps me achieve in overcoming disease and it helps me achieve in overcoming obstacles of any kind, including sales rejection.

Here’s your thread through. Sales rejection is beautiful and it’s only beautiful if we embrace it. If we don’t talk about failure and rejection and fear and all that stuff that stops us, then we don’t normalize it. If I know that everybody else in the world is getting rejected 9 out of 10 calls, and if I don’t know that other people are struggling, then I think I’m alone in that. What happens when you’re alone with that is that you internalize that stuff and it turns into shame, and like we just talked about, those pity spirals. That’s a shame spiral. There’s nothing worse in the world.

My mission in life is to help people grow confidence. I want everybody in the world to feel successful at work. When we feel confident and successful, we achieve. When we feel confident and successful at work, it makes all of our lives better. Talking about fears, failures and f-ups – the three F’s – is one of our secret sauces in Girl’s Club. We’re a group of super high performing saleswomen trying to earn. Our job is to help them earn management and leadership positions very, very quickly. Part of our secret sauce is confidence building, and we do that by talking and normalizing fears, failures and f-ups. It’s okay, it happens to all of us. I think as leaders, we’ve got to talk about it more. We’ve got to celebrate the hang-ups, the rejections and the mess-ups because they’re part of the process. It is for all of us.

Fred Diamond: There are a couple things that come to mind with your great answer. One is a lot of people say that they’re most successful in sales when they’re not selling, when they can put themselves in the position of being of service or of helping or just engaging in conversations. We had a guest on recently who was a world-class improv actor and one of his early coaches was Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live. When this guy was starting out, Tina said to him, “Stop being funny.” He said he became funny when he stopped being funny, it’s the same analogy with, “I got to make 20 phone calls today and I’ve got to prepare myself for rejection, for hopefully the one thing that’s going to help.”

Lauren Bailey, what are sales reps doing wrong today? You work with a lot of sales professionals, what do you keep seeing them do wrong?

Lauren Bailey: They keep selling at me. The spam and the robo-dials, just strangers selling at me, it’s a pity. I think we’ve over-automated sales, that’s on us leaders over reps. It makes me very sad because we’re teaching young people to hate sales. They come in, they get their playbook and they get their log-in, they get their product training and then they robo-dial and as soon as you pick up the phone, they’re pitching at you. That’s what we’re doing wrong. Anybody and everybody listening to this, stop pitching at people and start talking to people, getting to know them and asking questions, being curious. Sales is the best MBA in the world if you just go out and talk to all these different people about their drivers, the trends and their challenges in business. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn. Instead, we could replace most of it with an outgoing voicemail message.

Fred Diamond: Before I ask you for your final action step, I’m going to ask a question which I’ve never asked before. I’m asking this question because of how you described Girl’s Club before. What advice would you give a younger Lauren Bailey to be successful with Lyme? Actually, I’m going to add a little twist because of your having Lyme disease, as we’ve discussed. Similar question. I’m not going to put a time frame on when you would ask that question, you can pick the time frame yourself. But maybe someone who is junior in their career, when you were at that stage. How would you advise the Lauren Bailey to be more successful as a professional and more successful dealing with Lyme disease as a professional?

Lauren Bailey: I think what I needed back then was more confidence. I was a desperately underconfident young girl when I was bitten by the tick in seventh grade. I think that if I’d spent a little bit more time caring for myself and growing my own self-worth and sense of self-worth, that I’d have an easier time getting what I was put on this earth to do done sooner and better. Taking care of myself, not doubting myself. When doctors tell you you’re nuts, it does something to young people, it certainly does. I think I spent so many years trying to prove myself instead of trying to be myself, and that’s time wasted.

Fred Diamond: A couple comments coming in here. We have something from Nelly, “Thank you, Lauren, for your bravery.” We have a comment here from Erica, “Thank you, Fred, for bringing Lauren on the show.” Laura, I want to applaud you again. Like you said, this is the first time you’ve spoken in this form about Lyme disease. Everything you said was so honest and brave and I just want to acknowledge you for talking about this challenging topic. I want to acknowledge you for your success.

Once again, I’m on a couple of these Facebook groups and people will say, “What do you do for a living?” and people will say, “I haven’t been out of bed in a month,” or, “I work an hour a day doing stitching,” or, “I do customer service.” You’re leading a sales organization helping your customers get better, you’ve created Girl’s Club. When I reached out to some of the women I know and women sales pros about, do you know anybody with Lyme? They all said, you got to get Lauren. You and I have been connected via LinkedIn for a couple years, but I don’t think we’ve ever really spoken. I reached out to you and you had the bravery to be on the show, and knowing what people go through with Lyme, I just want to acknowledge who you are.

Lauren Bailey: I really appreciate that. I don’t know if your listeners know how much acknowledgement you need at the very same time. Those of us who have this, we’re dealing with it because we don’t really have the choice, and I think that the people who support us are the real heroes, so well done you.

Fred Diamond: Thank you so much. As we wind down every Sales Game Changers podcast, you’ve given us so many great ideas, but give us one more specific action step that our listeners should do right now to take their sales career to the next level.

Lauren Bailey: Go listen to your calls. We’re going to get super tactical now. I know I was woo-woo and spiritual before, but the #1 thing you can do is listen to game tape. Go listen to your calls, go listen to other people’s calls. When you do so, I’d like you to get into the mind of your customer. Play the pause game, play anybody’s call, pause, “What’s the customer thinking right now?” and what would you do next? The goal, remember, is engagement. Getting that customer to open up, getting that prospect to talk to you and to share their needs and their challenges so that you can help solve a potential problem. If you listen to your game tape with that in mind, I think you’ll come up with three or four instant action items that you can take to take your game to the next level. Not enough people are doing it. If you commit to your craft that way, you can soar to the top and stay there.

Fred Diamond: There’s so much power in that answer. One is we talk about all the time that sales is a profession. By the way, if you’re listening to this show right now sometime in the future or today in March, I applaud you for devoting 30 minutes of your time to learn from Lauren Bailey. We believe that sales is a profession and what do professionals do? They keep practicing, they prepare, they listen, they hone their craft, et cetera. Once again, I want to thank everybody for listening today and I want to thank Lauren Bailey for your honesty and for the great insights you shared with us today.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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