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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This episode featured an interview with Stacey Hall. She is the author of Selling from Your Comfort Zone.]
Find Stacey on LinkedIn.
STACEY’S TIP: “We know sales is psychology. We’ve heard this all along. Why are we not looking at the psychological studies of what happens? When we hear “NO,” we’ve been conditioned to deflate ourselves. We don’t want to be in a position of being deflated when we want to connect with people. We want to be in our best self. Preparing ourselves to hear N-O, which is the biggest fear that people have, is ludicrous. The more you hear it, the less prepared you are to deal with it. Not the other way around.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: The show today is the new ABCs of sales, alignment, belief, and consistency, but her book is Selling from Your Comfort Zone: The Power of Alignment Marketing. Stacey, it’s great to see you here. We met on an author’s workshop, and when I heard what your book was all about, I said, “We need to get in touch.” Because I believe what you talk about in the book, and I read the book. Of course, the foreword was by our mutual friend, the great Sam Horn, where you do almost like a converse of what, unfortunately, a lot of people think that sales is. A lot of people think that sales is doing things that you don’t want to do, getting out of your comfort zone, being pushy, grit, those types of things. Those might be important, but I like what you talked about here, where you talked about operating from within your comfort zone, meaningful conversations, empathy, value to the prospects. Tell us what drove you to write this particular book?
Stacey Hall: What drove me to it was actually watching my father. I talk about this in the book, that I grew up with a father who was a salesperson, because everybody told him he was good with people. He was good with people. He wasn’t good with sales training. The very reason he was told he was good at sales, then they would make him into a robot. “This is the sales script. You have to learn it just like this. This is how you deliver it. You do not deviate.” It just broke his spirit every single day. Left to his own devices, when he was able to do that, the few jobs that he had where they let him be himself, he was very successful. Then he would try other things where people would steal him away and then try to make him into something he wasn’t.
My mother had a traditional job. My father was home a lot when I came home from school, from elementary school to high school, and even when I would come home from college. I’d see him leave in the morning and I’d see what he was like at the afternoon. I was listening in the car going to school and at home, the cassette tapes, because that’s how old I am, that he would be listening to drive him forward.
When I grew up and I got into marketing and sales jobs, funny that that’s where I wound up, I always said I was going to do it my own way anyway I could. I’ve been very successful. People say to me, “You do it very differently.” They’ve always said this to me. “What is it you do differently?” I wrote a first book 20 years ago on how I bring the law of attraction, which is no longer novel, but 20 years ago it was unique, the concept of treating people the way I want to be treated. That was amazing at the time. Well, this 20 years later, it makes me sad that people are still teaching, “Get out of your comfort zone, stop being who you are.” When you hear the statistics, which I know you know, I’m talking to your audience, when only 3% of people in network marketing businesses, and that’s where so many people are heading now, 3% of all of them make more than $200 a year. If we’re not all upset about that, if we’re not all looking at how can we change that number, then I don’t know what we’re doing. That’s a long story to explain why I’m so passionate.
Fred Diamond: A lot of the people who are listening to the Sales Game Changers Podcast are in professional sales. They work for typically B2B enterprise complex sales. They know that they’re in sales. Stacey Hall, a lot of times these companies will have gone through sales training. The ones that have been created in the ’80s, the SPIN Sellings, the Solution Sellings, the Value Sellings of the world. A lot of times that does require you to do things that you typically don’t know how to do. Not just that, but that you’re typically uncomfortable with doing.
Stacey Hall: I’m going to address the corporate sales. I came from corporate sales, many years, major corporations. Again, I produced results that other people didn’t produce, because I just could not fit into the mold, thank goodness for my results. I’d get hand slapped, but then I’d also get awards for being able to produce sales that other people weren’t able to produce. I gave you a statistic for entrepreneurial sales. Now I’m going to give you a statistic for corporate sales people.
First off, virtually every company, even though there’s tons of jobs, they’re not filling those sales jobs. Because in this day and age, nobody wants to be a cookie cutter copy of anyone else. That is the whole point of coming back into, “What is my calling? What is my purpose?” When people are hearing, “I have to learn how to overcome objections,” they’re saying to themselves, “Why? Why do I have to expect people to say no to me?” They weren’t raised with people saying no to them. It’s time for us in companies to catch up with what people are thinking out there. Then the customers or the prospects being treated like they were treated 20 years ago where we were going in with the pushy, the spammy, the salesy, “Let me show you what I got.” They’re like, “Who are you? What generation are you from?” Fred, this conversation is for everybody and anybody who wants to sell anything. It’s time to get with the program and get back to core values, what feels right, what feels comfortable, and lead from our strengths, which is really our power zone.
Fred Diamond: There’s a lot of things that have happened in the last couple of decades. The customer is now in control, as we know, because of the internet, they can get whatever information they need. The salesperson coming in and dictating what’s going to happen, it just doesn’t happen anymore. Salespeople need to adjust to that. We talk about that a lot. I want to talk about some of the key concepts. One of the key things that you talk about in the book is the alignment marketing formula. Alignment, plus belief, times consistency. Talk about that. How did you come up with that? Again, the subtitle of the book is The Power of Alignment Marketing. Give us some insights into that and how people can apply this.
Stacey Hall: In any relationship, we like people that we agree with, that we have a point of connection with. Taking all the woo-woo out of the law of attraction, let’s just get right down to truth. That’s the way people like to develop friendship. When I’m in alignment with a product or service, because I truly have a relationship with it, myself, I’ve had a great result with it, then I know who the people are that are likely to have a great result with it too. I don’t have to be told who to go talk to, I can pretty much figure it out. Then I’m going to be in alignment with where I’m hanging out, where I’m likely to find other people who are like me, hanging out. Whether it’s LinkedIn, whether it’s Facebook, whether Instagram, Pinterest, or TikTok. Then the beauty of social media is it’s easy to start talking to these people about things we have in common. In the book, I go into detail. How do you talk about things you have in common as a way to build the trust factor so you can talk about the business as well. It doesn’t take a long time, it’s pretty quick.
Belief is in believing that we really do have a solution for other people’s problems, whether they’re a company’s problems or an individual’s problems. Somebody who is reading a script never comes across as believable, and they don’t believe in it either. There are very, very few people who will buy into that script and believe it 100%. Without belief, we really are just a shell of ourself. Then if we really believe in what we’re up to, we will get up every day. We will go make connections with people. We will do the consistent action that leads automatically to sales, to satisfaction, to success. In the book, I provide the steps, not a script, but the steps to create alignment, belief, and consistency in the way each person wants to do that. If a company, if the sales manager has the support of their company to teach this process, because it’s pretty simple, it’s very self-directed, they will find their profitability, and their productivity, and the longevity of their staff goes way up.
Fred Diamond: Your book, again, is contrarian, because a lot of people say, “You need to step out of your comfort zone.” As a matter of fact, on LinkedIn today, I saw three posts talking about that type of a concept. “The only way you grow is by stepping out of your comfort zone.” Or, “What are you going to do today? What are you afraid of today that you’re going to hit head on?” Talk about, is that totally the case? Even though you wrote the book called Selling from Your Comfort Zone, should we totally get rid of that concept? How does that play, or has your research really determined that it truly is antithetical?
Stacey Hall: It’s my research from studies. We know sales is psychology. We’ve heard this all along. Why are we not looking at the psychological studies of what happens? The word N-O, I do my best to not say it too often, because there’s so many brain studies. When we hear that word, we’ve been conditioned to deflate ourselves. We don’t want to be in a position of being deflated when we want to connect with people. We want to be in our best self. Preparing ourselves to hear N-O, which is the biggest fear that people have, is ludicrous. The more you hear it, the less prepared you are to deal with it. Not the other way around.
How did we develop this culture to get out of it when all the studies show getting out of our comfort zone produces the fight or flight? Now yes, there is a small percentage of the population. I use this example like a bull seeing red, they’re conditioned. For whatever reason, they have it within their genes, you say no, they’ll go push. That is not the majority of human beings. The majority of human beings here is, “I want to treat people the way I want to be treated.” That is truth. You can check these studies. When they’re put in a position of doing something that causes anxiety and fear, they freeze. They freeze up, they don’t make the calls. They don’t make the connections. This is the same issue that sales managers for eons have been dealing with, and they keep producing the same training, “Get over your fear.” No.
What if we just don’t put them in fear in the first place? What if we say to someone, “Here’s your skillset. I see what your skillset is. Let’s build on this skillset, keep expanding.” That’s what I mean by the comfort zone. Our core values, our skillset, “Let’s see if your skillset is prepared to develop friendships and relationships with other people. If it is, then let’s develop how you want to do that and at what point you introduce the products.” It’s not complicated. It’s actually much simpler and it produces results faster.
Fred Diamond: You were very successful with the Go for YES. You’re one of the true experts on social media marketing and things related to that. Give us some of your insights, because you’re one of the true experts in this, on how a business to business enterprise, a guy or lady who’s selling software for the Microsofts of the world, what is some of your advice on what they should be doing in social media to become more successful at sales?
Stacey Hall: Since I’m a contrarian, I’m going to give you an example of something that literally happened right before I got on this call. I received a connection request, just a connection request. I can see what the person’s profile says. I don’t know why they want to be connected to me. I wrote a message back and I said, “Why did you send me a connection request? Tell me why you want to send me a connection request.” Her response, “Because LinkedIn is for making connections.” “Okay. Honey, you had just told me you really don’t understand what a connection request is. You just lost the opportunity to build a relationship with me, because I’m not going to do your work for you.” Let’s use LinkedIn, since that’s where a lot of corporate sales occurs. When sending a connection request to let the person know what you saw on their profile that made you feel you might be in alignment with each other. The best way is not to do it by their job title, but to go look at their activity. Have they liked a post recently? Did they write a post recently? Do they have a newsletter?
Now, if they do, comment on those. Now you’re showing you’ve got something to comment. Then send the connection request and say, “I really loved what you said.” The person’s going to accept your connection request.
Now, if there is no activity, there’s a clue. They’re not on LinkedIn. Don’t bother sending a connection request. Go to their profile where they say they want to receive communication, probably an email, maybe a contact form, and communicate with them that way. Can you believe how simple this is? Yet 99% of people on LinkedIn do exactly the message that I got, which is nothing, no message with the connection request. Then when I’m asking, “Why do you want to be connected with me?” A short, and I consider it a snotty answer, “Because that’s how LinkedIn works.”
Fred Diamond: I want to ask you another question about, and you talk about this in the book. Again, a lot of the new sales professionals, I’m not even sure if millennial is really the right age, but let’s say people between 22 and 33. People who are relatively new out of school, maybe first or second job, what they want, Stacey Hall, is different than what maybe sales professionals wanted 20, 30 years ago.
Stacey Hall: That’s right.
Fred Diamond: They don’t necessarily want stability per se, because they may move to another place within a year or so. But what we keep hearing about is a lot of professionals now that are moving into sales, they want to know that the company is consistent with mission, or that the company is consistent with some of the softer areas that we might have thought about. Now, they do want to be successful, and they want to make money if they’re going to take a sales job. But the number one thing might be, “I want to work for a company that I believe in, that believes in the same things that I do.” Talk to some of the employers. We get a lot of sales VPs and HR leaders who listen to the Sales Game Changers Podcast. Give us some of those insights that you’ve learned that come out very clearly in the book.
Stacey Hall: Yes, that’s the alignment marketing formula. Alignment with your calling, and this is up to the salesperson, and I also say it’s up to the sales hiring that we ask people in the hiring process, “What do you believe is your calling or your purpose? How do you feel our product or our service, if you’re going to represent it, serves your calling or your purpose?” We’re talking a high touch here. I address that in the book. Supporting it with psychological studies that have been done. If we can’t fit around when it’s a square peg into a round hole anymore, it has to be complete fit. That’s it.
Now, if we do that, if somebody sees that their calling can be fulfilled through their job, they’re not likely to go hopping around. If they feel that connection, they want to stay there. Their company becomes their comfort zone and people love to stay in the comfort zone. Comfort does not mean lazy. It does not mean less powerful. It does not mean not confident. It means completely the opposite. When I’m comfortable doing what I do, I’m confident. When I’m confident, I’m powerful. When I feel powerful, I get out and I do activities. All of this is explained and supported in the book.
Fred Diamond: Talk about this from the customer perspective. If we are selling in our comfort zone, and I like the way that you just gave the further description that it’s not laziness, it’s not using the same old, same old. Sales professionals need to continue to improve. You need to continue to learn, you need to be curious. Whenever people ask me, Stacey Hall, what is my recommendation for sales success? I usually say the first thing is really, really intimately understanding your customer’s market, understanding where the customer’s going. I’m just curious, talk a little bit about, if you are a sales professional dealing in this space, how will your customers view you being coming from that angle, versus maybe where it used to be?
Stacey Hall: Well, I’m going to use this example that happened right before, because it’s just perfect and it’s timely although it happens every day. I know that she wants to sell me something. I can see it in her profile. I know what she’s up to. She’s making me work. That’s the way salespeople like to work. No, come to me, like I said a little while ago, my profile’s open. You can connect with me if you want. How come I’ve never seen her comment on any of my posts? I have a newsletter I post every day, I’m commenting on other people’s. All you have to do is look at my activity profile. It makes it very easy for somebody to talk to me if they just took that little bit of time to say, “Wow, I really loved what you said in your article here.” Or, like you did Fred, “Isn’t it wonderful that you and I both love Sam Horn?” Point of connection. Not, “I have no idea why you’re connecting with me, but I have a pretty good idea it’s because you want to make a sale. You don’t care about me as a person.”
From the point of a customer, nobody cares how much we know. We’ve heard this over and over through the years. There’s dispute on who said it first, it doesn’t matter. It’s true. Nobody cares how much we know, they only want to know how much we care. This person cares nothing about me. She cares everything about acquiring connections.
Fred Diamond: It’s interesting that when you throw a lot of people like that into a sales role with no training, no understanding, this person, no disrespect to them, they may be the most empathetic person on the planet. In this particular process, they obviously missed the whole boat and unfortunately the way they were being trained by their leadership also completely missed the boat. Because it was a totally wasted call, and we get those all the time, where it’s so invalid and such a wasted time. The book is called Selling from Your Comfort Zone. This is your third book, right?
Stacey Hall: Well, it’s my third full book that I wrote. I’ve also produced and written two anthologies for the sales industry. Yes.
Fred Diamond: Well, congratulations to you. I’m curious on your thoughts about something as we talk about the comfort zone. I just published two books. One is called Insights for Sales Game Changers. It’s a book about highlights from the over 500 somewhat episodes we had done on the Sales Game Changers Podcast. We covered some of the things you talked in your book with expertise from my previous guests on leadership and empathy. But I also wrote a book on Lyme disease awareness. It’s called Love, Hope, Lyme: What Family Members, Partners, and Friends Who Love a Chronic Lyme Survivor Need to Know. I’ve been very open about it and vulnerable. I’m just curious, again, comfort zone. I’m comfortable speaking that because it’s such an important topic to me. What would be your recommendations for the sales professionals listening on being comfortable talking about another aspect of your life? I just don’t mean, “Hey, my son hit a home run today.” I mean something maybe vulnerable that people might not expect from someone who’s selling enterprise software or conference sponsorships. I’m curious on your thoughts on that.
Stacey Hall: Well, why not the kids softball? I’m also going to say, yes, the deeper. For example, I’m actually about to undergo some oral surgery. My clients all know. I’ve told them right up front that I’m going to be shifting through. I’m not really thrilled with it. It’s going to be a bit extensive. Instead of showing me as weak, what I get are more opportunities for alignment. “Oh my God, I have it too.” Or, “This is coming up.” We want to have more real conversations. We’re here to build friendships. Isn’t this the era of building relationship? Not talking about the product all the time. Building relationship, building friendships, full-fledged friendships talking about really everything under the sun.
If there’s time, I was going to say this very quickly, especially because we’re using social media more, I always tell my clients, “I want you to think about starting a relationship with someone through social media as if you got invited to a party, you don’t really know anybody there. You go over to the food table, you’re pouring some punch, and somebody happens to come up at that moment. You hand them a cup of punch. You’re not handing them your business card. You give them the cup of punch and that’s awkward because you’re both standing there and you start a conversation, what would you say?” If it’s a woman, I’m just going to say it, we tend to talk about shoes, the clothes if we don’t know what else to talk about. Or we might say, “Tell me, what do you do?” Then second, “What do you love about that?” Or, “How did you get involved in that?” Can’t we just go back to having normal conversations rather than shoving a product out there first and then seeing who wants to have a conversation?
Fred Diamond: Stacey, I just want to acknowledge you for your success and for the book, it’s a great read. You cover a lot of topics that people haven’t covered before, and it’s very well written. I read the book, I typically do. Good for you. Give us your final action step. You’ve given us so many great ideas. Give us something specific for people to do right now after listening to today’s Sales Game Changers Podcast.
Stacey Hall: Here’s the first exercise. Whatever you’re selling, whoever you’re selling it for, yourself or a company, make a list of why you personally are proud you sell it. Why are you proud? Why is it a great fit for you to be selling this product? What do you, not what does your company ask you to say, what do you want people to know about why you sell this product? Then as you said, Fred, what personal stories can you tie to the why you sell the product? The more personal you can make your sales story, the more likely somebody will want to listen to it, because storytelling is what this generation grew up with and what they expect. Even us older folks love to hear stories. Story tell, don’t sell.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo