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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Creativity in Sales virtual learning session sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on September 29, 2021. It featured an interview with sales expert Michelle Beauchamp.]
Find Michelle on LinkedIn.
MICHELLE’S TIP: “Choose an organization, an association that you can reach out to that is not similar to one that you have reached out to before. Whether it’s a category of businesses that you’ve done business with or it’s a group of people that you want to get more involved with, choose one and go online. It’s not going to take you long. Choose one and then develop your relationships. It starts with one step at a time. One action is go find a different organization, and then start a conversation with someone that you typically wouldn’t have had a conversation with before today.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: We’re talking today on the Creativity in Sales webcast, Sales Game Changers podcast about the blindspots. How to get past those blindspots so that you could grow your sales career. A whole mission of the Sales Game Changers podcast and the Institute for Excellence in Sales is to help sales leaders take their careers to the next level to help our companies, and to be frank with you, to have a happier life, a better life. First off, why was this topic so important to you and why is this what you wanted to be talking about today?
Michelle Beauchamp: Let me thank you first for inviting me to participate with you today, Fred. Just another plug for Cox, I worked for Cox several years ago, great company, and that’s where I spent my professional career in Corporate America was with the telecommunications industry. Cox is a great company and I was in the media sales area for the whole time, so awesome.
Why is this important? My business, The Champ Group, we focus on professional and personal development. When you are in the mode of professional and personal development, it requires a lot of self-awareness and introspection. What I have learned, what I have realized about myself, what I have learned and what I really try and impart upon other people is the importance of looking within, self-awareness and recognizing what’s stopping you.
Whether you’re in leadership or sales, which are the areas that we focus on, there are many areas that you tend to overlook, also known as blindspots. When we are willing to say, “Oh, I didn’t even think about that,” and recognize what our blindspots are, then we can move forward and that’s when we can uncover. When we’re in sales, we know it’s all about uncovering opportunities, following up with the opportunities. But if we’re not recognizing that we’re limiting by not expanding diversity, then we’re missing out. That’s why it’s important to me.
Fred Diamond: We talk all the time about removing blocks and you just mentioned that a second ago. The audience here are sales leaders and people who report to sales leaders, typically B2B enterprise sales, commercial sales, etc. What are some of the most common blocks that you’ve come across? Let’s start getting deep into some of them so that we can help people address them.
Michelle Beauchamp: I’m going to list several. It’s become more clear to me over the last couple years since I’ve really been focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging as well. I’m going to list several that we can talk about. One is going to sound very interesting, but it’s personality and it’s all about our biases. We tend to have an affinity toward people who are more like us, and so personality. What I mean by that is sometimes we want to work with people who have personalities like us and that’s cool.
If we expand and get out of our comfort zone and interact with people who don’t have personalities like us, then maybe we’ll be able to build some relationships, figure out some business opportunities, etc. One is personality, another is gender. Think about prospecting. When you’re in sales, you better prospect. Back in the day, like when I worked for Cox, we had to cold call a lot. Now we have so much access to the internet and the web and everything, but still we have to think about our prospects.
Who are we calling on? Are we calling on other women? Is that what I would do, or am I willing to call on other people? What about networking? How many networking groups do we go to where there are people who are different than we are, and who are different than the other kinds of clients that we have? Those are some.
Race is clearly another one. Are we willing to go to networking events and call on prospects that are different than we are and in terms of the hiring and promotion decisions as well? For the leaders who are on the call, it is true that we have to be able to take a look at what kind of resumes are we getting. What are we doing to get resumes from different groups than what we typically seek? There are so many. That’s a few.
Fred Diamond: Michelle, I have a follow up question here. You mentioned diversity, equity and inclusion. Every Tuesday we do a show for and by women in sales. One of the big programs we have in the Institute for Excellence in Sales is our Women in Sales Leadership Program. It’s co-founded by Gina Stracuzzi, and we’ve had over 100 women from around the globe to participate. But I want to ask you a very direct question here. If someone doesn’t fall into the category of diverse, equity or inclusion, what are some things they should be conscious of that they may not be conscious of? What might be some of their blindspots that they may not be aware of from the DEI community let’s just say? I’m being as politically correct as I can in the question.
Michelle Beauchamp: Again, it’s going to go back to awareness. It might be able out of our comfort zone. I know for sure that there are a lot of groups that are women groups, and there are a lot of groups that are primarily men. We have to think about, why am I not going to that group? Why am I not stepping out of my comfort zone? It’s because we’re not comfortable. If we recognize that blindspot, that there’s a reason we’re not comfortable, I’m big on doing affirmations, and self-talk and all that. If we start to give ourselves some different messages that you know what, I’m going to go in there and be confident, and I’m going to meet some other people in the men’s group that I can help and might be able to help me that we can build some relationships.
I’ll give you an example. I used to be in a group called National Association of Women Business Owners. Clearly, that was mostly women. Well, you know what used to really impress me? Is that there would be some men and there was like one guy, and he was always there. I used to think, how smart is he? [Laughs] Because he’s decided that it’s okay for him to go to a group of mostly women and develop relationships and begin to have business exchange. It’s recognizing, what’s stopping me? Why am I continuing to do the same, go to the same and not diversify a little bit? It’s recognizing it and being willing, and then when we’re willing, we are able to do something different, and then taking the steps and going to go do it.
Fred Diamond: Women is a good one. You mentioned race as well, if you don’t mind. What may be some things that sales leaders should be conscious of for bringing more inclusion to certain minorities in the sales or the buying process as well?
Michelle Beauchamp: From the hiring perspective, I’ve actually had a couple clients who have said, “Michelle, I seem to get the same resumes and go to the same groups.” Again, it’s going to be the recognize it, but then you know what, Fred? It’s going to be, go seek some other organizations. There are organizations that are primarily, let’s say, black or Latino. I know for sure there are some sales organizations that are targeted that consist primarily of black people and there are some that consist primarily of a Latin group, and Asian.
There are organizations that are focused on that, whether it’s engineering or accounting or sales, and so start to pursue those other organizations. We have the internet. Just plug that in the internet, and identify those organizations. From the hiring point of view, go some other places. It’s starting to become more discussed that it’s important to go. Go to some HBCUs, Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Go online there and go find out what kind of criteria they have, how to go to their job fairs, and that sort of thing.
Those are steps that people can take that are out of comfort zone that can bring in more diversity and then it’s all about inclusion. Because here’s the important thing, and I’ve actually talked to a couple people just this week, who’ve told me that the companies have brought in people of different cultures, and those people of different cultures have left because they did not feel included. That’s a whole different topic, but the important thing is to be aware of it. How can we become more diverse and recognize our blindspots that we’re not including other people to become part of our organization? Those are some key actionable steps that people can take immediately.
Fred Diamond: Let’s talk a little bit about why that is. You talk a little bit about the unconscious biases, and how they could be affecting your success and your business. Talk a little bit about that as well because it’s nice to hire, but then like you just said, sometimes the people will leave because there’s nothing else once they’ve been hired. It’s deciding to go on a diet for a day and not having dessert and then the next day it’s like, how come I haven’t lost weight because I stopped eating dessert one night? Talk a little bit about that unconscious bias. I like what you just said. Actually, we have comment here from Sheryl which is, great answer to one of your previous questions there. Talk a little bit about the continuation of things that they must do to remove those blindspots.
Michelle Beauchamp: It’s about consistency like you just said. You know what? It’s also about bringing the whole team in together. The same way that you want to rally your team to go call on a new category, let’s say, I know all about that. You look at your business mix, and you say, “Oh, we have a lot of clients in this category, in this category. These are some growing categories and we’re not pursuing those. Why is that?” It’s recognizing what we do have.
In that instance, let’s say we say, okay, we’ve hired some people of different races, and we’ve hired some different gender. If we’re all women, we’ve hired some men, and if we’re mostly men, we’ve hired some women. Also, we’re talking about different religions as well and sexual orientation. We want to have a mix, right? That’s how we can have the most effective organization is to have a mix. It’s been proven that when we have a mix, when we have more diversity, we have better profits, and we have better morale and better collaboration. It’s all beneficial.
Consistency. Not only do the leaders need to recognize the importance of it, but they can also share the importance of it with their team. The same way you recognize that you need to go to call on a different category of people and discuss the why, why is that, then discuss with your team the benefits of having diversity and how to include. A lot of people who are in the underrepresented groups feel like they’re not included. It’s something really simple.
How about educating the team about what’s going on in the community? How about bringing other opinions in? That’s all about allyship. Being allies of other people. When you recognize that someone seems like they’re not feeling included, then bring them in. A funny story, of all things, I was watching a little bit of Toy Story 4 last night. There was an example of a little doll who just did not feel like she belonged. It made me think about real world. Sometimes people don’t feel like they belong.
What we can do as leaders and employees is we can look around and we can see when someone feels as though they don’t seem like they belong. Have a conversation with them and then get to know them better so that you can help them feel like they belong. Everybody’s going to grow from that experience. It’s all about opening our heart and opening our mind and saying, we can grow together and remove our biases. When we get to know people of different races, of different genders, then those biases do get removed. Those blindspots get removed because we get to know them as a person for who they are, not what we see and what we think that represents.
Fred Diamond: We have a question here that comes in from Richard. He says, “Great answer. How does this play in our customer relationships?” Let me tee that up a little bit. You just gave us a great answer about internally but here we are, we’re doing today’s show at the end of October 2021. This new world has been in place for 18 some odd months.
I was talking to someone this morning, we’ve been tracking the words that we’re saying on the daily Sales Game Changers webcast virtual learning sessions. One of the big words that we’ve been saying a lot of course is empathy. Empathy has been said on 150 of our 200 shows that we’ve done, and it comes up all the time. We’ve gotten to understand what empathy is even still today. You gave a great answer before where you said, it’s not just gender but it’s race and then you said also religion and sexual orientation.
One thing that’s happened a lot over the last 18 some odd months is, we’ve been breaking down a lot of those barriers because everybody on the planet has been going through a similar experience. Dealing with the pandemic, dealing with the financial side of the pandemic. As our good friend, David Morelli said, dealing with whatever the third thing is. The theme of my LinkedIn post yesterday was, how many of these things can you handle at once?
Talk about for a little bit per Richard’s question, how can we and how should we pursue this with customers? Let’s say we’re dealing with a customer of a different race or different sexual orientation or religion. We’ve broken through a lot of those barriers over the last 18 months, and people have been open. But talk a little bit about, should we continue? Should we shift back to where we were pre which is not fake, but inauthentic, just getting to the business? Give us some of your thoughts on that.
Michelle Beauchamp: I’m shaking my head, no, we don’t want to go back. You’re right, empathy. That’s interesting that you’ve discovered that because last year I remember thinking, that’s the word that I really heard. Last year it was empathy, this year it’s well-being. When we have conversations with people, and we’re willing to have the conversation, then that’s where the relationship becomes important.
Then from a customer point of view, well, back to the importance of diversifying your team which also matches with diversifying your client base is, you got to represent what’s in the community. What I’ve seen is that the community’s not really represented within the organizations for the most part. We want to make sure that we have a mix of employees, because we have a mix in the community. That’s important.
It’s again removing bias. Let’s say you’re in a face-to-face customer experience and someone comes to you. Maybe it’s a person where English isn’t their first language. That might make us feel like we have a bias. We have to recognize that. How can we be empathetic and sensitive to the person who English is their second language? Instead of making judgments like we might, and instead of being insensitive, what I always say is, let me tell you what, I would not be able to be in another country and speak their language at all [laughs]. I am always so appreciative and really admire people who have the ability to do that.
We have to recognize, what’s stopping us, what’s limiting us? What is our limiting perspective? Again, it’s going inside and it’s having that awareness and then saying, you know what? Get over yourself. Get over yourself and stop it, and instead recognize how you can help that person feel like they belong. It goes back to that. The customers want to feel like they belong in your business too because if they don’t, they can go to another business and feel like they belong there. It’s all about recognizing our own biases and then doing something about it and having a conversation with our customers.
Let me share with you really quick a phrase that’s a real insult to some people and that is, where are you from? That insults people sometime because they’re from wherever they live. That’s what they’re thinking. This is a popular microaggression that people do without recognizing that to the person who they’re asking it to is insulted. That’s a good thing to not say. Don’t say, so where are you from?
This is based on the person who has an accent. Because they’re from wherever they live. That’s what they’re thinking and it feels like an insult. Instead, you could say something like, “Wow, I really appreciate that you’re here and let me help understand how I can serve you,” and keep it based on who they are as a person, not where they’re from, and what your perception of limitation might be. Does that make sense?
Fred Diamond: It makes so much sense. As a matter of fact, I saw a video the other night, a British person was interviewing another British person of color. Obviously, the person that was being interviewed was from India or something like that, and he kept pressing her, where are you from? She said, “Oh, I’m from Leicestershire.” He kept going and going, how about your great grandparents? Just to get her to say where she was from. She kept saying, I’m British, I’m from here. It was very eye-opening.
Michelle Beauchamp: That’s very interesting. That validates my point, Fred.
Fred Diamond: Let’s get specific here. We have a question here that comes in from Nina. Nina says, “Thank you so much for this, Fred and thank you, Michelle. Can Michelle give us three specific things that we should work on to be better at this?” Let’s get down to skills here. We talked about some generalities, get to know things and be more sensitive and stuff. What are three specific skills that we should develop to be better at this, to be more aware of who we’re talking to so that we can remove those blindspots? Is there anything specific that you train your clients on to actively get past besides just being conscious of them? Thank you, Nina for the question.
Michelle Beauchamp: Yeah, I do. Thanks for that question. I’ve said this before, but it’s true. It’s a skill of recognizing what you need to do better at. That is a skill. We tend to think that things have been going well, so we get on autopilot. For example, open up your contacts. Back in the day, we used to say Rolodex. Look at your contacts on your phone. If you do that, when you think about it, does everybody pretty much look the same? If that’s the case, if they pretty much do look the same, you don’t have much diversity in the mix, then think about, and then take action toward what’s one thing you can do to go find a different group to interact with, a different person to interact with?
Let’s say you do some virtual networking and you see somebody on the screen who looks different than you do, and who looks different than most people that you interact with. Make contact with that person and reach out to that person. Everybody’s name is on there, so either reach out on LinkedIn, or do a chat to them and find out, you know what? I made the decision that I want to expand my network, I want to improve my development and my relationship with different kinds of people, I’d love to have coffee with you or have a conversation with you on Zoom. You know what most people are going to say? “Yeah, let’s do that.” That’s one. As a skill, it’s a willingness to be able to recognize what’s limiting, and then an action step is to go do it.
Then another skill that we all need to work on, Fred, is listening. That conversation that you referenced just now, if that person who was asking that question would have been listening with the intent to understand, it would have gotten that that person didn’t want to keep being asked that question, and they would have listened and they would have been able to have empathy that they needed to stop asking that question and help them feel included. Because the way that person felt, I’m sure was like they didn’t belong, they didn’t feel like they were included.
The skill of listening is important in everything. In leadership and sales, we all know that we need to listen much more than we talk. Listening is another skill that I would say we all can do better at. Again, as I said earlier which is get over yourself, that might sound harsh but it’s true. Because if we stop the focus about us and we make it about someone else, then what we’re doing is beginning to embrace others for who they are and we’re beginning to let go that it’s about us by helping other people feel like they’re important too.
Fred Diamond: One of the other key themes obviously that’s come up every day on the Sales Game Changers virtual learning sessions and podcast is that sales, which we’re talking about today, is about service. Sales is about helping you achieve what you need to achieve so that your company can be successful and one of the things that we’ve become more conscious of, Michelle, over the last year is that it’s not just about you, which a lot of salespeople have to get over. It ain’t about you, it’s about you 0.0% of the time. It’s even less about your customer. It’s really about your customer’s customer, and your customer’s customer’s customer.
Because of all the value chain issues that have happened over the last 18 months, you might be talking to your customer and getting deep with them but they’re thinking about their customer, and they’re thinking about their customer’s customer. But I like what you just said also, it’s interesting. Another solution is just engage in these conversations with like-minded people that might be diverse. For example, I’m a white male, you’re an African-American woman, and we’re talking about sales.
We’re talking about how the people who are listening today can take their sales career to the next level, and how they can implement some of these strategies that you teach your clients so they can remove these blindspots, to provide more value to the customer to grow their business. As we like to say, if you’re growing your business, your life will be happier. The conversations should be at this level, we’re both in sales. Let’s talk about sales. You’re my customer, you’re in the petroleum industry. Let’s talk about the challenges that are going to be facing the petroleum industry in the next two to three years. Once you’re dealing at that level, a lot of those blindspots are gone.
Michelle Beauchamp: Absolutely. What you’re saying too Fred is, finding the common ground. Instead of looking at the things that we see that are different, so it’s the blindspots. Why we don’t go talk to that person, why we don’t go calling that category is because we’re not willing to take a look at what could we do together? One thing that I like to suggest to those people who say, what if? What if I go talk to that person? What if I call in that category? I choose a word every year, my word for this year is possibilities. I love it because what if means possibilities. Instead of limitations and scarcity, it’s possibilities and abundance.
Fred Diamond: Possibilities has always been one of my favorite words for years. That’s one reason why we’re doing the show every single day is to help sales professionals understand the possibilities that are available to them. A lot of what you’re saying here is just amazing, but you said something that is really, really important which is, you just got to do it.
The people who have listened today and the thousands of people who are going to hopefully listen to the podcast and read the transcription, we’re giving you some great ideas to not just remove the blindspots. But I’ll be frank with you, Michelle, I really enjoyed this conversation because we want to help people become better people. You talked about your word of the year being possibility. My quote that I’ve adopted over the last five months is an Einstein quote, which is, “A life served for others is a life worthwhile.” If we think about it from that perspective, and how we can bring more value to helping people achieve their goals, you’re going to be more successful in sales.
Michelle Beauchamp from the Champ Group, thank you so much. I just want to acknowledge, this is a conversation, to be perfectly frank with you, we really haven’t had too often on the Sales Game Changers podcast. I’m really glad that it went down this path because we need to be aware of this, we need to be conscious of this and hopefully, some people will be influenced by this and will make a difference and will go do the work. More than reading an article, more than reading the transcript, pick up the phone, ask some people for advice, talk to other people about how can I become a better person by being more conscious of DEI and bringing value to them?
I want to acknowledge you for the great work that you’ve done in your career, for all the people that you are impacting now with the Champ Group. You’ve impacted tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of sales and business owners and professionals take their lives and their career to the next level. Kudos to you. As we usually do with the Sales Game Changers podcast, we wrap it up with a final action step. You’ve given us 20, 30 great ideas. Give us one specific action step that people should do right now after they’re done watching the webcast or listening to the podcast to take their sales career to the next level.
Michelle Beauchamp: Thank you again, Fred. I’ve enjoyed it, the time did go fast. Here’s one thing and actually I said it before and I’m going to say it again. Choose an organization, an association that you can reach out to that is not someone that you have reached out to before. What I mean by that is an organization or an association that is different than what you’ve done business with before.
Whether it’s a category of businesses that you’ve done business with or it’s a group of people that you want to get more involved with, choose one and go online. Today’s Friday, so I encourage you to do that. It’s not going to take you long. Choose one and then develop your relationships. Start with one. It starts with one step at a time. One action is go find a different organization, and then start a conversation with someone that you typically wouldn’t have had a conversation with before today.
Fred Diamond: That’s a great idea. Just get started with one. Yesterday I asked a poll on LinkedIn, how many things can you handle at any given time? Twelve, six, three, or one? And 50% of the people were honest and said they can only handle one thing at a time. That is a great action step to wind down the week and again, Michelle Beauchamp, The Champ, thank you so much.
Michelle Beauchamp: Thank you, Fred.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo