Subscribe to the Podcast now on Apple Podcasts!
Become a member of the elite Institute for Excellence in Sales and watch the replay!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the CREATIVITY IN SALES Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on June 12, 2020. It featured “Emotional in Sales Leadership” author Colleen Stanley.]
Register for Thursday’s OPTIMAL SALES MINDSET: Rewire Your Sales Brain to Be More Valuable to Your Customers with Klyn Elsbury here.
Find Colleen on LinkedIn here.
EPISODE 249: Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership Author Colleen Stanley Says You Must Have These Attributes to Be Successful Now and in the Future
COLLEEN’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “The people that are going to make it and thrive and win the future as we call it, are now saying, ‘This is good, I’m being forced to learn how to use new skills, new technology. I’m learning to adapt and flex.’ They’re actually seeing that this is setting them up for future success. The others fall into what you call external locus of control. It’s ‘Woe is me’ and these are generally the victims of the world. ‘None of my prospects are buying, I have the worst prospects, I don’t have a good product.’ Their perspective is, ‘I can only be successful and happy when external circumstances line up.’ It’s all perspective. If it is to be, it’s up to me. Resilient people, they take control. ‘I’ve got to do more activity, I’ve got to learn new skills, I need to be more consistent and asking for referrals, I need to practice more. Their whole mindset is, ‘I’m not going to focus on what I can’t control, I’m focusing on what I can control.”
Fred Diamond: Today we have Colleen Stanley, she’s the author of a couple books including a brand new one on emotional intelligence, Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership. It’s her follow-up to Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success which I’ve read and discussed on this webcast many times. Colleen Stanley, it’s so good to see you again. 50% of the people who are on today’s webcast have said it’s hard to connect with customers, 15% have been laid off or furloughed, interesting numbers here. By the way, I want to applaud you, you must have a nice following around the globe because I see a bunch of people here who are on today’s webcast who are in other parts of the world, I see some people here chiming in from the U.K. and Scotland. Congratulations on the publication of the new book which you see right there, Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership.
Let’s just start right off, what is emotional intelligence? It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, we’ve been using it a lot on the four webcasts we’ve been doing a week. Define it for us and then tell us, why did you write the follow-up book?
Colleen Stanley: First of all, Fred, thanks for having me. There’s a lot of definitions out there with emotional intelligence so I would say for me and how I like to teach it and live it is it really starts with that awareness of what I think you’re feeling, what the emotions are from those thoughts and then really how to fix how I show up every day. Also, then it’s being equally tuned into what others are thinking or feeling, how that might be affecting their emotions and how they show up taking action or inaction. I think it’s really that true understanding of one’s emotions, others and then how do you manage all of that in your personal and business life.
Fred Diamond: Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success came out 5, 6 years ago, it’s been a huge success. Why the follow up book right now for this particular time?
Colleen Stanley: As a former VP of Sales what I found is that we often read a lot of the sales books, sales training, sales skills but when you take a look at it, I have found that a lot of really good people, sales managers, sales leaders are set up to fail. Fred, you take a look at it whether you’ve been selling 3 years, 4 years, you raise your hand, you want to help people, you get into sales management but then you take a right turn and all those skills you’ve been honing for 4, 6, maybe even 10 years, they’re entirely different as a sales leader. You’ve got to learn how to hire really good people because I have learned it’s the difference between hell and happiness in sales management if you’ve got the “right people” on the bus.
Then you’ve got to transfer the skills, habits and knowledge that made you a top producer, that’s called training and coaching. How many people have received training certification on that? Then holding the crucial conversations, setting strategy market share. I find that a lot of really good people get set up to fail and that’s why I was highly motivated to write the book. As we always say, we’re here to help.
Fred Diamond: We work with a lot of sales thought leaders, we have brought over a hundred great sales authors and speakers to the Institute for Excellence in Sales, you were on our stage believe it or not it was in 2015, and people have been asking me for years when are we going to bring you back. As a matter of fact, we actually had you scheduled to come back to D.C. in September so we’re hoping that the doors are going to open for the hotels by then to bring you back and if not we’ll get you back sooner than that. Why the niche of emotional intelligence for you? Why have you devoted your career specifically on the topic? I give you some props, it’s always great when the speaker is known for something and you’ve definitely taken the mantel of emotional intelligence for sales. Why have you personally made that your cause and what you focus on?
Colleen Stanley: There’s a saying out there, Fred, you teach what you need to learn [laughs]. One of the reasons I started exploring this is that I would find whether it was in a business relationship or personal relationship, I was falling short. There is no one that will ever doubt my work ethic but sometimes my work ethic and my drive was getting in the way of relating to people. I am someone without some of the studying I’ve done could have a very quick temper so didn’t have the emotion management, so my intent was always good but sometimes my methodology was off. I’m somebody that actually has a lot of empathy but then when I get into a coaching call I’m so intent, I want to help this person that I forget to bring the powerful skill of empathy, I start doing the advice first and then I blow right past it. It was a little bit “doctor, heal thyself” looking at some of my blind spots and it wasn’t necessarily the tactical sales management skills or selling skills, it was some of the soft skills I was lacking.
Fred Diamond: Talk about teaching thyself, have you become a more emotionally intelligent person over the years that you’ve been talking about this?
Colleen Stanley: I’d like to think so.
Fred Diamond: [Laughs]
Colleen Stanley: You’d probably have to ask peers, we all have blind spots, it’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect. I will tell you there’s many things and I’ve worked very hard at it. I start my day with meditation every morning, that was not a practice I had many years ago because again, that’s the #1 way to build self-awareness which is really the mega skill because that which you’re not aware, you cannot change. Practice of down time, there’s a lot of reflection. How did I show up yesterday? What caused me to get triggered and respond in a manner I regret? Was I the trigger? So yes, I think there’s been a lot of improvement made.
Fred Diamond: We’re getting questions coming in already. We’ve been doing these webcasts since March 12th four times a week and one of the interesting things has been how the conversations have shifted over time. In the beginning everything was about empathy, you have to be empathetic as some of your customers are out of business, some of them are challenged with things that they didn’t foresee, some are working around the clock. Someone asked here, “What is Colleen’s opinion on empathy?” Talk about empathy today. Again, we’re three months into the pandemic, over the last couple of weeks of course there’s been a lot of social action that’s risen in the news, of course and we’re all being conscious of that. Talk about empathy, if you don’t mind. How should people be empathetic? Could you also define empathy as well? Because there seems to be some confusion that empathy is sympathy. Talk about that for a little bit and how it relates to emotional intelligence.
Colleen Stanley: Not to be patronizing but a good interviewee, but it’s a really good question. I’m very passionate about this topic and we do teach empathy a lot. However, here’s what I want to share with all the listeners, it is the most powerful influence skill you can learn and it will be one of the more difficult skills. It doesn’t mean that you do not possess it, but often what I find in sales conversations or coaching conversations is we don’t bring that skill. Let me give a couple of practical tips.
Often when empathy is being taught, it is being taught to validate a person’s position. My philosophy is that is a validation skill, it’s an active listening skill but it’s not really empathy because real world empathy is where you get rid of the vanilla language, Fred. Let’s say I know that you’re frustrated so I have gone to my empathy class and I say, “Fred, I understand your frustration” and then I think, “Check, I did it.” Fred, if I really understand your frustration I explain why you’re frustrated, you might be feeling unappreciated, you’re starting to have some self-doubt, you’ve been working hard and nothing’s happening. It’s not only stating the emotion but it’s tuning into why the person is feeling the emotion.
First and foremost, we’ve got to get past the vanilla but here’s the challenge for everybody listening today. You might have to get rid of your adult binkies because the research is pretty clear, empathy is decreasing because first and foremost, empathy is a paying attention skill. With all of us being so addicted to technology, what is happening unknowingly or knowingly is that we’re teaching ourselves to be distracted, we’re teaching ourselves to pay partial attention. That’s where, Fred, I might be in a conversation with you but if I am not fully paying attention, I have the skill to pay attention for an hour, I miss the conversation that’s not happening.
Pay attention and then really take that down time, “I wonder what Fred’s thinking or feeling here” and I actually don’t have to agree with your perspective which is the other reason empathy is so darn hard. I might think you’re crazy, doesn’t matter, I’ve got to understand your perspective and demonstrate that I understand it. That’s a long answer.
Fred Diamond: We have a couple questions about the science so I’m going to ask you about the neuroscience behind this to explain it. A question comes up here, “How empathetic can I be?” By the way, when you refer to “adult binkie” for the people listening to the podcast, you held up your smartphone.
Colleen Stanley: [Laughs] right.
Fred Diamond: That is definitely one, too. A question comes in from Dan. Dan, thank you so much and don’t worry about the typos. “Can one make themselves too vulnerable by being over-empathetic?” That’s a great question and it’s actually an interesting time, here we are obviously with the George Floyd and race relationships coming to a point where we all need to be conscious of human beings on how we interact. As a sales professional, how empathetic should you be right now? Meaning we’ve all gone through the pandemic so we’ve all had similar stories, everybody has their life stories. Should you be deep? You talked about not being vanilla and that’s just to check off. How deep do you suggest people get right now? Again, one of the themes has been have more conversations with people to understand your fellow man but in the sales process, how deep should you get?
Colleen Stanley: In the sales process I’m going to shift this to where I think Dan was actually coming from so please correct me, Dan, if I wasn’t. Often I hear this question more from sales managers, “I need to show empathy, meet my seller where they are.” Then they’re at a point, “But we’ve got to make business happen.” When you take a look at it, prosperity is one of the ways that people remain happy whether you like it or not, you’re probably happier when you’re not broke and there’s a whole bunch of research around it, we can get into that conversation. I think the question is, “How do I combine empathy and assertiveness and reality testing?” I would say when we were going into COVID we all went into what they refer to as the change curve and it’s also been referred to as the grief cycle – denial, shock, blame – and we got at the bottom of that curve.
Then there’s a time you have to make a decision and the decision is, “We don’t have to like this but we must do something about it.” Then that is as a sales manager having the crucial conversations you may not feel like, there’s a bunch of excuses not to be successful here but let’s focus on what we can do versus what we can’t do. That’s called the activation and that’s how people move out of grief and that’s how they move out of being stuck at the bottom of the change curve. I hope that helps because I was reading into that a little bit and hopefully that’s the right answer.
Fred Diamond: He also asked, “But with a client.” Over the course of the next bit of the conversation we’ll get to how you interact with clients as well but someone asks here about the science behind this, a couple people have asked. By the way, I’m doing today’s broadcast out of Northern Virginia and Colleen is not too far from Denver in the beautiful hills out in Colorado. Talk a little bit about neuroscience, neuroscience comes up not infrequently. One of our upcoming speakers, John Asher, has done a lot of work on neuroscience and sales. Talk a little bit about the science of neuroscience and how it relates to effective coaching.
Colleen Stanley: Often when we teach sales or sales leadership, great influence in selling is a combination of physiology, psychology and consultative selling skills or leadership skills. It really starts with emotion management as a mentor told me, “Stability allows ability.” When we’re able to remain stable, we don’t get flustered, we don’t take things personally, we don’t start making up stories about the prospect or the person I’m coaching, then and only then can we execute the right coaching skills, the right selling skills. When you study negotiation, the people that are really experts on this, if you look at their work they will include emotion management. It allows you to execute the tactical skills of negotiation so the emotion management is really not allowing a trigger because triggers are going to show up, Fred. If you want a constant in life, people are going to trigger you, places are going to trigger you, situations so that’s not going to change but what we can change is do we decide to react or respond with grace? That’s when emotional intelligence and emotional management comes into play, that’s the neuroscience, it’s the fight or flight response.
Being aware that that reptilian brain can overrun that logical brain in a nanosecond so we’ve got to be aware to manage that reptilian survival response which by the way is going on a lot today, there’s a fear. For sales leaders today, you’re coaching, you have to really sit there and go, “What is the fear that is driving this behavior?” and I’m not talking scaredy-cat fear, I think we all get worried, “I’m a courageous person.” I’ve been talking to a lot of people and it was when the pandemic was first hitting, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you study that model, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the first need is safety and security must be met and that has been getting rocked the last few months and continues to. That’s the reptilian brain that causes some inappropriate behaviors.
Fred Diamond: That leads to the next question. I actually just got the same question coming in from two sales leaders that are in the IES community and the question is related to when they give feedback, people get defensive even when it’s well-intentioned. We have a lot of sales leaders watching today’s webcast and I’m sure they’re going to be listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast as well where they manage young professionals and they manage a lot of young people. We talked about this at the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of the younger sales professionals – and I’m talking people in their early 30s – had a pretty nice ride for the last 10 years. We were living pretty well then all of a sudden the pandemic happens and everything is kind of going away. The question here is, “When I give feedback to my younger sales professionals” – and this could also be for senior professionals as well – “They get defensive even when I’m well-intentioned.” What advice would you give to the sales leaders in that? Because that goes back to what you were talking about, the fight or flight risk. How would you advise them on it?
Colleen Stanley: There’s a couple of things and first of all, I think like in good sales and in good sales leadership the presenting problem may not be the real problem. You may look at it and go, “I’ve got to change my strategy in giving feedback” and I’ll talk about that in a minute. I’d like you to back up and move beyond the presenting problem, maybe you need to look at your hiring strategies because perhaps you are not vetting in hiring candidates for coachability. When you study coachable people, they have another E.Q. skill called self-regard, it can be called self-confidence, true self-confidence. When you have that self-regard/true confidence you are able to admit your strengths and weaknesses so if you’ve got that mindset, you tend to not take feedback personally. Usually what’s happened with that person is they’ve been able to separate role performance feedback from character feedback where you take things personally. I would ask sales leaders first of all, how are you vetting your candidates? How deep are you digging into coachability? Have they had past experience in receiving tough feedback?
I know some of my best bosses [laughs] and I’ve been pretty fortunate, Fred, I’ve had some very good bosses, I can tell you a couple in my twenties. If you were to write them up, they’ve probably been written up by HR now because they’d be tough, they’d be asking the questions, there was no EQ involved but I got some great lessons learned from that person. Now, let’s say you do have a person and they’re situationally responding, and here’s what I’ve seen. You can have really good people, I’ve done it, I bet you’ve done it, somebody gives you feedback and the first words out of my mouth are, “Yeah, but…” What we have to make sure of is that a leader, we don’t get emotionally triggered. That’s where you apply empathy, what’s creating this response? Again, I usually find it’s self-doubt, there’s a little bit of fear, they feel like they’re being judged so I think it’s very important to have conversations around your office. When I give feedback, let me be clear, I give feedback because I care. The day you need to get worried is when I don’t give feedback because I have dropped into a state of apathy, that’s when all of us should be nervous in life, when you’re married, spouses, friendships. I think it’s separating the role performance, “This is your due, that’s where I’m giving you feedback, I’m not giving you feedback on your character, you’re still a person of integrity, hardworking, passionate, loyal.”
Fred Diamond: Conversely, let’s give advice to some of the sales professionals who are getting coached because we have a whole bunch of people here as well. One thing that I’ve learned from a lot of the great sales coaches that I’ve worked with over the years at the Institute for Excellence in Sales is that the only people who can be coached are people who want to be coached. If you’re on the other side of that equation, if you’re the sales professional, give some advice to the person on the team, the team member, on how they can be coached.
Colleen Stanley: #1, be proactive about being coached. I’ve seen this scenario play out, we all know textbook the sales leader is supposed to be setting aside time for one-on-one coaching sessions, group coaching. Then life hits and all of a sudden the calendar gets screwed up, I’ve seen people go into victim mode, “I’m not getting enough coaching, I’m not getting enough training.” I can tell you, my history has been that I’ve worked in small companies that have grown quite large so I had to be proactive about my training and learning. I was the one that reached out to my manager and said, “I need an hour of your time.”
Here’s the beauty of that, I was working for good people, they just may not have been doing textbook sales management, I always got the time. I remember when I got into this business, Fred, I had to have coaching sessions at 8:30 in the evening because the gentleman I was working for, that’s the only time he had for me to coach. Thank goodness he gave me the time, thank goodness I took the time at 8:30 in the evening to write down all the screw-ups I had made that day and then I’d say, “What should I have said?” Then I’d write down what I should have said. He was a great coach but I was a great coachee.
Fred Diamond: We have a question here that came back, a follow-up question to the empathy conversation that we had before. “When speaking with a prospect, once you have connected through empathy how do you draw them out of the ‘woe is me’ to your solutions without seeming abruptly patronizing as a sales professional?” That’s an interesting question, it follows back up to your answer before about how deep do we want to get, I want to thank Sherry for that question. It’s like controlling the call because you want to be empathetic like we talked about but you also need to sell. One thing that we’re talking about here on the Sales Game Changers webcast that we’re doing is that maybe you’re not transacting a lot of business right now but you’re still being a sales professional, your companies need you to continue to interact and move business forward.
Colleen Stanley: Here’s what comes to mind for me. Let’s say you demonstrated the empathy but I’m wondering if the person’s actually getting to real world empathy because to me, in this particular situation where there’s a little “woe is me” I find people keep fighting for their position till they feel like they’ve been heard. The conversation might be, “Fred, right now if I were in your seat I’d be thinking one of two things: I’m so overwhelmed right now, I don’t want to make any more decisions, I don’t have the energy, this looks like a lot of hassle and I don’t even know if it’s going to improve my situation.”
I don’t know if that’s exactly what’s going on but I’m going to meet that person right where they are, I’m going to say what they’re thinking. We really don’t like to say what people are thinking because we’re afraid it’s going to escalate the conversation versus de-escalate. Once a person has said yes, let’s both you and I play devil’s advocate here and let’s argue both sides of the equation. Let’s talk about what happens if you don’t make a change, let’s be open and let’s talk about what happens when we do make a change and I think you and I can look at the math, qualitative, quantitative data and figure out if you need to. Now what I’ve done is set up a consultative conversation, I’ve still let the prospect in control because that’s the neuroscience of selling, they must always feel in control. When people don’t feel in control they will fight for it, you don’t have the truth telling conversations and then we can move forward.
Fred Diamond: Sherry says, “Thank you for that great insight.” Colleen, I want to do a quick poll because we’re going to talk about some of the specifics of emotional intelligence. The question for the group watching the webcast is, “How emotionally intelligent are you?” I know I asked you if you’ve increased but I’m just curious for the people watching today’s webcast. Colleen, as we get the results coming in here I want to talk a little bit about resilience and what we like to call sales grit. Most people are in the middle there, a couple people have the confidence to say that they’ve got this 100% but most people think they’re pretty emotionally intelligent. Some people say that when they remember to be emotionally intelligent, they’re emotionally intelligent. Before I ask you about grit, is emotional intelligence something you can hide? You’ve been studying this, you’re the expert on emotional intelligence for sales, is it something that you just eventually get like a habit or is it something that you have to remember to be as sales professionals?
Colleen Stanley: When you mention a habit, a habit isn’t something you develop unconsciously – there are some habits you develop unconsciously, I guess. I would say with emotional intelligence I believe unless you have just been blessed with this emotion management, high empathy, impulse control – and there are a few people like that, that is great – for most of us that is not the background we grew up in, the modeling we received so we’re going to have to work on it. It’s like everything in life, Fred, you’ve got to make a decision. Once you make a decision that this is important then your actions align with that. “I’m going to set aside quiet time every day to reflect, introspect.” “I’m going to ask the hard questions myself.” “How did I show up?” “Am I the trigger?” Then I think it is practicing pre-call planning. We often include the tactical sales training skills or before we go into a coaching call so we include what I call tactical selling or sales management coaching questions, are we pre-call planning emotionally intelligent questions? What’s your biggest fear? What part of this do you think you need to own? What do you think is making you lack the assertiveness to state what you need nicely? Where is impulse control getting in the way of your selling success? It’s not only hard skills pre-call planning, it’s soft skills pre-call planning.
Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about grit, grit comes up a lot and we actually did a session on grit with a sales leader named Andy Miller. It must have been two months ago, it seems like yesterday but we’ve been doing so many webcasts during the pandemic. Talk about resilience, talk about grit and for the sales leaders watching today’s webcast and listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast, how can they improve their sales team’s resilience and grit?
Colleen Stanley: This research has been going on for a long time. In fact, in my new book I actually talk about Doctor Paul Stoltz’s work, he wrote a book, The Adversity Quotient, years ago. It’s interesting for me to now fast-forward to Angela Duckworth, Sales Grit. In my study I’ve seen two common themes, the first one with people that really have high resilience is perspective. It’s not that they have not met adversity, met obstacles, they simply seem to have a different set of eyeglasses on. For them, generally what I see is when they hit adversity they have somehow trained their thinking to go, “What’s good about this?” And this isn’t sticking my head in the sand, I’m a Pollyanna, they literally have a belief system, “What’s good about this?” and I am seeing it right now in these selling times.
The people that are going to make it and thrive and win the future as we call it, they’re sitting there going, “This is good, I’m being forced to learn how to use new skills, new technology. I’m learning to adapt and flex.” They’re actually seeing that this is setting them up for future success. The others that have this other perspective, they fall into what you call external locus of control, it’s a, “Woe is me” and these are generally the victims of the world. “Marketing’s not giving me good enough leads, the SDR isn’t qualifying the leads, none of my prospects are buying, I have the worst prospects, I don’t have a good product.”
These folks, their perspective is, “I can only be successful and happy when external circumstances line up.” It’s all perspective. I would say the second one is a term called locus of control and this is research that was done by Julian Rotter back in the 50s. Internal locus of control people are, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” When you study resilient people, they take control. “I’ve got to do more activity, I’ve got to learn new skills, I need to be more consistent and asking for referrals, I need to practice more.” Their whole mindset is, “I’m not going to focus on what I can’t control, I’m focusing on what I can control.” Those are the two themes I see, perspective and they take control.
Fred Diamond: I’m glad you mentioned Stoltz’s book, I have a lot of books behind me, it’s back there. A lot of people obviously refer to Angela Duckworth and she’s done a great job getting grit as a concept but most of her interviews were with school children, kids of school age and she’s helped us understand grit. Stoltz’s book called GRIT is definitely where I refer people on the sales side to understand that. Colleen, we have another question that came in here via the audience.
Colleen Stanley: I love the audience, keep them coming.
Fred Diamond: [Laughs] we love you, audience, ask questions, become a member of the Institute for Excellence in Sales. This is an interesting question that we can go a couple different ways on, I’m going to read the question but I think there’s a couple things here and it comes from Kerry, thank you so much. “I was promised leads, now I’m being forced to cold call in a digital environment which I am not comfortable with. How do I make my outreach about providing a service and not feel bothersome?” There’s a couple things there, one is we’ve all had to change.
On our webcast on Wednesday with Dominic Strada from Nestle, he talked about how sales professionals need to be very flexible right now because what we were doing and selling back in March is different than what we’re doing in selling here in June and it’s probably going to be different from what we’re doing and selling for the foreseeable future. Also, the whole concept of, “I was brought onto this job to do this and now I’m not being managed properly or my leadership isn’t guiding me in what I thought I was going to be doing.” A couple different angles there, how can you not be too bothersome when you have to now do a lot of cold calling and how does emotional intelligence fit into that? Then dealing with a whole different situation, “I was brought on to do this and now I’m being told to do this.”
Colleen Stanley: There’s a couple things there, let’s talk about the words that Kerry used and thanks for being really honest about it. She said, “I have been forced.” What Kerry is telling all of us is it goes back to the change curve or just managing change in general. When change is forced upon us, as human beings we resist it. “I didn’t choose this, I don’t want this” and Kerry right now is also thinking, “This isn’t fair” and you know what, Kerry? It isn’t. You signed up for this and then this darn thing called COVID happened. The other thing is I would have some empathy for your boss, maybe your CEO. Yes, they’re screwing up right now, they are not giving you enough coaching, they probably don’t even know how to manage this, they’ve not been here before.
Empathy is again, I don’t have to agree with their not giving you coaching but when you can have empathy, it starts getting rid of some of that resentment. The second thing I’d ask Kerry to do, you’ve got a decision to make and it’s okay if you don’t want to be in a position about bound prospecting, there are a ton of salespeople that are not good at that skill but let me do a caveat here. You may not be good at it, Kerry, because you haven’t been taught the skills so I would find my own coach, you are your most important asset. Get coaching because it’s the old quote from Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.” When you study, when you get passionate about something is when you’re good. There is a way to do cold calling quite effectively and instead of being bothersome, get a mindset. “I’m going to call this person today, I don’t know if they need my service or not, I’m going to give them an out but isn’t it great if I call somebody that didn’t even know I existed and didn’t even know the solution was available?” Because I’m having to totally change the way I deliver our training, it’s not fair. I have spent 25 years honing my classroom training.
Right now as we speak, in my basement I’ve got a videographer and Julie that works for me and they’re setting up a training studio and we’re spending money, we’ve got to get cameras. That’s the advice, it isn’t fair but make a decision and once you’ve made the decision, if you’re not getting your own training pick up books. I’m an avid reader and I will give tons of suggestions. CustomerCentric Field Prospecting is a book I recommend to a lot of people because there’s a lot of actual examples in there of how to make a cold call and send an email. Another long answer, Fred, I just seem to preach when I get around you [laughs].
Fred Diamond: But the point you just made is brilliant. Every Wednesday we do a Sales Game Changers Live where we interview sales VPs and Frank Dimina who’s the VP of Sales for Splunk said last week on the show, “There’s no MBA classes on leading sales professionals during a pandemic.” We’re going through a time that’s completely new for a lot of people. I’m just curious, how does emotional intelligence skill training help sales managers bridge the knowing and doing gap? Explain the knowing and doing gap but then also like I said, how does emotional intelligence skill training help sales managers bridge this? By the way, Colleen Stanley, you’re really triggering some things here because questions are flying in. Can you go a little bit longer? We usually end at 45 minutes.
Colleen Stanley: Yes, like I said, they’re down in my basement setting up my new studio [laughs] so Kerry, I feel your pain but I am going to master and be as good as delivering. Here’s what I’ve seen, Fred, and I’ve made this mistake. Most of this is written from my mistakes so my goal is I’m going to avoid you getting some bruises on your forehead but this is what I’ve seen. I as a sales leader – and I used to have a sales team of over 100 sellers across the country – would focus when I saw a performance challenge on teaching more hard skills. People have heard me before, they are important, we teach a ton of them but let’s talk about price. Right now we live in an increasingly commoditized world so if we consistently see a seller that’s losing on price, our first tactic might be to teach them on selling value, how to dollarize the cost of the problem, maybe even re-crafting value propositions.
Those are all good but what you may have happening is you have a seller that has a belief system that, “Price is the only way I win” because they’ve lost the last three deals on price. If you keep preaching, “We sell value” you’re not hitting the real problem which is a belief system. Pivot questions are ways that you can get people to go, “Huh…” So, a pivot question might be, “Is it that we’re too high priced or are you calling on the wrong prospects?” Transactional prospects buy on price, they do not buy on value so you might change your coaching to, “Who’s your target? Are they matching our psychographic and demographic?” It’s one question to shift them out of a belief system. I can teach tactical deal, negotiation, selling value but if that person has a belief system, that’s what drives the selling behavior.
Fred Diamond: Talk about self-awareness for a little bit. You briefly touched on it at the beginning of today’s webcast, why is this an important leadership attribute and what does it mean? Give us the real definition of self-awareness.
Colleen Stanley: It’s a combination of what we’ve talked about today, Fred. I like to say in the words of Socrates, “Know thyself.” I do believe it’s that ability to know what are my emotions, how are those emotions affecting how I’m showing up and how am I landing on other people? Because what I found is if we don’t develop emotional self-awareness, first of all you’re tuning into your own emotions and this is the first step of getting past generic labeling. I might say, “Fred, I’m angry” and Fred, you might say, “Colleen, are you angry? I’m getting the sense you’re feeling unappreciated.” Those are two different emotions so if I can sit there and go, “Yes, I am feeling unappreciated” then now when I meet with another human being and they show up angry, I know they’re really feeling unappreciated and I can actually make that statement.
When I make that statement, I make an emotional connection because the highest desire in life is to be understood but if we keep saying, “I’m discouraged.” No, you’re actually probably feeling intimidated, you’re actually feeling like an impostor. The tuning in helps you tune out, called emotional attunement.
Fred Diamond: I want to thank you again, Colleen, congratulations on the launch of your book, Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success. We have a couple more questions, some last ones coming up here. Chris says, back to the conversation before about being adverse or afraid of cold calling, “The best way to get beyond things that you’re not really good at is to actually do the work, I suggest role playing.” What are your thoughts on role playing? Can role playing improve your emotional intelligence? Are you a big believer in role playing?
Colleen Stanley: I’m a huge believer in role playing and this is what will happen as a sales leader, they’ll often hear this from their sellers. “I don’t want to role play, it makes me uncomfortable and it’s not real.” [Laughs] I remember delivering a training with a gentleman years ago and he’s a former drill sergeant in the army and we had just had this one participant that’s wearing everybody out, Fred. He literally leaned over the table and he goes, “The last time I checked, I’m not paid to make you feel comfortable.” It was something hysterical, probably totally not EQ-like but here’s why role playing works. It’s actually the neuroscience, when you role play cells that fire together wire together and this is how you actually become masterful.
Mastery is really when you don’t have to think about something anymore because if you show up to a sales call and I’m thinking about, “What’s my next ninja move? What am I supposed to say, what am I supposed to do?” the problem is you’re nervous and the second thing is you’re not present. Mastery allows you to be relaxed because you know everything you’re supposed to be doing, so I’m huge on role playing. One more tip, start easy like in Colorado we have green diamond slopes, blue diamond slopes – they have different icons – black diamond. Do green diamond but then get into black diamond once you’ve mastered green and you start doing what they call situational inoculation testing I think in the marines or the SEAL teams, then you make it a tough role play so you graduate your skill level. If you show up to a tough prospect all of a sudden you’ve practiced that a thousand times.
Fred Diamond: Tyler asked here, “If you could repeat the name of the book that you mentioned before about cold calls and emails.” I will also recommend there’s a book called Close Deals Faster, it’s by one of the IES sponsors, John Asher with Asher Strategies. Do you recall the book that you mentioned before?
Colleen Stanley: I think it’s called CustomerCentric Field Selling and I will email it. I like the fact that it had a lot of scripts in it and I think for people who are trying to get it, theory doesn’t work. I actually need to see the theory and then an example and I don’t even know the gentleman [laughs] but I’m happy to recommend things that will help people.
Fred Diamond: Colleen, to bring us home here a question comes in from a whole bunch of people. Sherry, Martin, Sue, Enrique, to give us one or two things to become more emotionally intelligent. Colleen, you mentioned meditation and journaling. To bring us home here for the audience, for the leaders and for the rank and file sales professionals, one thing we like to do at the Institute for Excellence in Sales is give something they can do today. What’s one or two things that everybody watching today’s webcast or listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast in the future can physically do today? Of course, buy your book and read the book, I’ll tell them that. Give us two specific action things they can do in the next hour to become more emotionally intelligent.
Colleen Stanley: As a sales leader I’m going to give you a really tactical practical. You’ve got upcoming group sales meetings, upcoming one-on-one coaching sessions. I would craft out your tactical sales management questions, selling stage, “What was the pain? What was the business problem?” and then I would craft out emotional intelligence skills. “How are you? What’s got you worried? What do you think is getting in the way of you executing behavior? Where’s instant gratification showing up where we need to apply delayed gratification? What’s making you afraid of asking for what you need, a next step?” Calling at the right level, getting budget before you write proposals.
I would really take a look at your pre-call planning and say, “Do I have questions planned to get into the mindset of my seller and then do I have questions planned for the skill set?” Second, I would say if there is a person or a situation that you’re frustrated with right now, ask this question and actually Charles Eisenstein posed it, “What’s it like to be you?” and even if you don’t agree with it to the best of your ability, write down what it’s like to be you. That’s the first move towards empathy, “I’ve got to get out of my own head.” Those would be the two practical tips I’d give you today.
Fred Diamond: Dan says, “That’s a great question for a job candidate as well.” Colleen Stanley, once again thank you so much for the great insights, congratulations on the book.
Colleen Stanley: Thanks, Fred.
Fred Diamond: For all the people watching, I want to compliment you because nobody left. We’ve had a ton of people watching and I don’t think anybody’s left, we actually have more people now than when we started. I want to wish everybody a great day. If you’re not LinkedIn to Colleen Stanley or me, Fred Diamond, please go link into us. Have a tremendous weekend, Colleen, thank you so much.
Colleen Stanley: Thank you.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo