A high performer equipped with the appropriate skills can still encounter failure by being ignorant of emotional intelligence. Not knowing how to approach sales deals with the right attitude and feelings, you may find yourself simply resorting to a flight-or-fight response. Colleen Stanley, President and Co-Founder of Sales Leadership, Inc., joins the conversation to discuss how to avoid this and hone effective sales leadership skills. She explains the power of delayed gratification and focusing on the actual things that matter to achieve success in this regard. Colleen also explains how to hire team members who pursue consistent growth, handle those with negative behaviors in the workplace, and finally let go of people who are just not cutting it.
If you are joining us for the first time, this show is a mastermind of leaders dedicated to creating workplaces where people thrive, employees reward and customers love. We do this each and every week. If you love the session, invite friends, colleagues and your team. Bring them on board. It’s completely free. We always endeavor to bring a new guest speaker. That’s a little bit about what we do here.
To introduce you to everyone else, we normally have Char and Sumit here. They work with CompTeam but unfortunately, they are not able to join us. I wanted to point them out still. They are only here each and every week, but we’re keeping it a bit more intimate now. Sam is the Founder and CEO of CompTeam. His superpowers are talent management, talent initiatives and compensation programs. He brings us this forum each and every week. He always finds us an amazing guest speaker. We have Sam and then we also have our fabulous guest speaker. I believe it’s your first time with us on the forum, Colleen.
It’s is. Thank you for having me.
Welcome. Colleen Stanley, we’re very excited to have her because she is a sales expert. She is the President and Founder of SalesLeadership, Inc., which is a sales development firm. Salesforce named her one of the top sales influencers of the 21st century. She also has worked with a huge range of clients like Harvard Business Review Poland, IBM, Otterbox and many more. She’s also an author. She’s a very busy lady. She’s written two books. One of those being, Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership, which is the name of this topic. Thank you, Colleen, for giving us some of your time to share your expertise. We look forward to hearing everything you have to present.
Thank you again for having me as your guest and we’ll have a lively conversation.
Colleen, I’ve read your books. I know we’ve known each other for quite a while. I read this last book that you came up with. It was so fun to read. The way it is laid out, I think there are many Colleen-isms in there that we will talk about. I have a few favorites in there that we’ll bring up during the interview.
Overall, you talk about a lot of things in your book. A lot of it is directed around sales leadership but when I was reading through it, I found that a lot of these concepts are for any leaders going to benefit from what you have in your books. I think that it’s a good read, whether you’re a sales leader or leadership in general. It’s great.
This is a little bit trite, but you’ve heard before that if you’re in a leadership position, you’re selling and influencing. That’s why it can go across a broader spectrum. My world has always been sales, but sales is influence. Put another word to it if it helps people wrap their heads around the concepts.
Tell us a little bit about what drove you to write this particular book and what was the passions behind that?
I am a former VP of sales. I had a good fortune, Sam. I started with a very small company that is now the largest in the world in our industry. When we started out, we were in the David and Goliath fight. When I was a VP of sales, I don’t know if mistake is the word to use, but where I focused most of my training and coaching was the hard sales skills. That’s very important. I like to call it the Sales IQ, product knowledge, business development, prospecting, negotiating, closing sales. However, when I was exposed to emotional intelligence about a decade ago, I had this light bulb and I was in my own business at that time where I realized, “This is the knowing and doing gap.” You can teach salespeople, people in general, skills, but if they’re not executing the skills, there’s often a soft skill and a cue skill that needs development in order to execute that.
I can only speak for myself. I have always had a lot of success in corporate. However, I was the proverbial bull in a China shop. Let’s get that on the table. I was a pusher because I simply didn’t know any other way to do it. Sometimes, I’d be too assertive. I let my emotions start running amuck. You can still get a lot done, but you get a big bruise in your head after a while and it gets exhausted. That’s my passion behind it. Prevent bruises, live a less stressful life and you can hit the sales quota and the fun quota.
I know that there you talk about a lot of those concepts there. Let’s start off on some of the beginning things. What is the number one thing that a sales leader should be concerned about in managing their team and having an influence on the organization?
As they always say, anything starts with the inside before you can affect the outside. It would be taking a look at yourself. There are two skills I would start with from the EQ world. It would be emotion management and emotional self-awareness because all of us in life, when we’re dealing with these human beings, they are complex. In a coaching conversation, running a group sales meeting, you might have a seller raise their hand, pushback, disagree and don’t take feedback in the manner which is intended.
If a manager doesn’t have high emotion management, they can get triggered emotionally and default to a fight or flight response. Sometimes the response is fight because, in sales, you have some very high drivers, so you have this concept of fighting for the need to be right rather than get it right. That’s one skill I would have them take a look at. I’ll throw it back to you with any questions around that.
The chapter is called Know Thyself in the book. In my world, we were a big practitioner of the TMA method here, an assessment where we get to learn a little bit about our style, our talents, how we like to show up at work, and so forth. When you’re coaching your leaders on how they should know themselves, how do you go through that process? How should they figure out more about what their feelings are, their desires or talents or passions?
In order to develop any of the other competencies in the EQ world, the number one skill to pay attention to and develop is emotional self-awareness. To throw it back, that which you’re not aware of, you cannot change and that which you’re not aware of you’re bound to repeat. Now, it’s a pretty easy practice to improve self-awareness and it’s also very difficult. The number one tool or strategy for improving self-awareness is carving out quiet time each and every day. My suggestion is that the brain is rested in the morning and carve out that quiet time before you check your smartphone. I like to call it the adult binky because nobody goes anywhere without it. It would turn into Pavlov’s dogs here. What you have to tap into, Sam, is having an awareness of your belief systems.
“I don’t have time. This is not worth it.” This is not a new concept. Everybody’s preaching and teaching it, so you have to do the reflection and say, “Why am I not willing to carve up quiet time?” In the quiet, you can do the reflection and introspection. “What trigger showed up yesterday that caused me to respond in a manner that I regret? Was I the trigger?” That takes a little bit of humility because I know for myself if I’m not aware, I can and I’ll probably do it now. I’ll finish your sentence for you. My facial expression might look like, “Are you kidding me?” I can be the trigger that puts my team into a fight or flight response. Self-awareness is huge, but the number one skill is carving out that quiet time for reflection.
There are a couple of points I want to bring up there. One thing you said was, “I don’t have time.” I think one of our previous speakers was talking about that. It’s always best to frame that as like, “This is not a priority,” and think about different things. When you start talking to yourself, it’s like, “I don’t have time to do X. I don’t have time to do Y.” If you’re saying that, “Is this not a priority for me to do at this time?” It puts it in a different mindset in your mind.
At least you’re telling yourself the truth by choosing not to make the time, which means I don’t believe it’s important. Now, you have to start and then take a look at your life on all these repeat problems you have in conversations and relationships. The fact is if you’ve got a repeatable problem, you might want to take a look at some of your assertiveness skills. Maybe it’s impulse control. You speak before you think. Perhaps it’s your EQ skills. Maybe you’re too assertive or sometimes you go passive-aggressive and you go along to get along. You’ll then leave the meeting and you complain that nobody takes you seriously because you’re not willing to speak up. That’s where we have the time to experience repeat mistakes, coach the same problems over but for some reason, we don’t believe we have the time to do some course correction.Anything starts with the inside before you can affect the outside. Click To Tweet
Taking that time is so important. The thing that you mentioned is that knowing thyself is the first step, but then we have to influence our team or other team members to do the same. How do we expand this emotional intelligence across the team? What are the first steps that leaders should do there?
You start incorporating it into your daily and weekly meeting. One-on-one coaching conversations and group sales meetings. Some of the languages could be very easy if you see that a salesperson is getting derailed on a call. You back up to, “What emotion were you feeling?” They’ll look at you and go, “Huh?” Why were you feeling it? It’s one thing to name it, but then it’s another to understand why you’re feeling it.
Here’s what gets interesting and emotional intelligence. People will use what I call generic terms. “I feel angry. I’m upset.” The leader, if they can peel that back, why are you feeling angry or do a pivot question? Are you feeling angry or disrespected? Are you feeling discouraged or unappreciated? Those are two very different emotions because then and only then can you diagnose then, “Here are the right skills to be taking a look at.”
Some of it is simply having the person understand why they got derailed on a call because a good company will have a defined sales process. If you don’t, we can talk about that. They’ve got methodology, selling steps and stages and talk tracks. If your seller is getting derailed, it’s not a knowledge issue anymore. There’s something that we’ve got to do to help them stop getting derailed, nervous, product dumping and discounting, so they can execute the selling steps and stages. That’s the knowing and doing gap.
They have a process for this. I think this is called the trigger-response-regret loop. Can you tell us more about that whole phase, that cycle?
As a manager, coaching a salesperson. If they’re not executing the right selling behaviors, you’ve got to get into what’s the trigger that’s causing the nonproductive response, which ends up in regret. For example, negotiations are always a fun one to talk about. We’ve got negotiation skills, workshops, books, and yet you will still see salespeople discounting too soon and too often. Now, is that the lack of knowledge? No. The trigger that showed up, Sam, was you are this good prospect. You’re big. You got a logo. If I close you, I’m going to make my goal for the year, but you’re also a very good negotiator. You love the typical negotiation tactic. There’s a lot of people looking to do business with us. Is this the best you can do?
Now, the trigger is fear. That becomes, “I’m going to lose this deal.” None of those good negotiation skills come out of your mouth and what your response might be is a fight response where you start overselling. “Sam, I thought you talked about that we need value and you got to correct this problem.” You start sounding like a goofball or your flight. That’s the emotional response and I go, “Sam, I think we could do 10% off.” Sam is such a good negotiator. He lets the sign set in and then I go, “15%,” and at that point, I’m negotiating against myself. That could be like negotiation. There’s a book and it was written back in 1999. What’s interesting is, back in 1999, he talked about the importance of emotional intelligence and emotion management. He doesn’t frame it up that way, but it’s exactly what he was talking about.
I know a couple of things that are important that you touched on. We were talking about marshmallow ears and there’s also the cookie monster. Could you go through those different things? I think that part of it has to do with waiting for the right moment and so forth. Can you dive a little bit into that?
This is around the competencies of self-control, impulse control. We might even call it delayed gratification. The concept of the marshmallow study and the Cookie Monster evolves from Dr. Walter Mischel. I think it was way back in the ‘60s. He was a professor at Stanford University studying self-control. His case study is four-year-olds from the Bing Nursery. I guess they were students of fellow professors and teachers. I’m fast-tracking it. In this study, he put each little four-year-old in a room by themselves and placed a marshmallow in front of the four-year-old with the promise. “Jules, if you don’t eat that marshmallow, we’re going to come back in fifteen minutes and give you a second treat.”
Now, you’re four. What are you going to do? I can tell you. I grew up in a family of eight kids. If you did not eat quickly, there was no food. Impulse control is something I’ve had to work out. Here’s the interesting thing from this study. All of these children for fourteen years and they found some predictable trends. Number one, of the kids that have been able to delay the impulse, they scored 200 points higher in their SAT scores. They also, in general, had more success professionally and personally. The Cookie Monster was the same type of study that they called Dr. Walter Mischel into doing as well. I think it went on Sesame Street there. Now, you might be asking, “How does that relate to sales?”
These different things like that delayed gratification and so forth. When you’re using that and showing how important that is with your sales team, do you use certain techniques? How do you show the importance of those concepts?
I’ll give you an example from the sales leadership side and the salesperson side. The biggest complaint from the sales team is they don’t feel like they get consistent coaching or quality of coaching. Now, sales managers would go, “No, I do.” Let’s talk about consistency. You may have an appointment schedule. It’s your weekly one-on-one coaching session and you cancel it because you’ve got a fire burning. You’re always going to have fires burning, so you’ve got to manage the impulse and manage your calendar. You decide, “I’m not going to be one of those managers. I’m going to show up to this coaching call,” except you put no time into pre-call planning. You have no purpose and objective. You haven’t diagnosed what does this salesperson need. You haven’t created coaching questions.
Your impulse to get it done gets in the way of either consistency or cadence and quality. Now salespeople, where it shows up. Let’s talk about practice when you take a look at anyone that’s become masterful. There’s a lot of research out there. Daniel Coyle wrote a great book called The Talent Code. We always think that talent is, “They were born with it. Aren’t they lucky?” Every bit of research shows that you have to have some talent and passion for what you’re pursuing but the best in the world practice alive. They practice without a coach. They practice by themselves. Now you might say, “That’s nice,” but to practice consistently, that’s delayed gratification. I’m willing to put in the work now to achieve mastery later.
What are the other important things that we need to know as a leader? As we talked about delayed gratification, resiliency is something that’s quite important now and how we’ve gone through these changes. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
It’s been an interesting year, especially in my profession. We’ve all had to eat our own dog food. “Embrace change. Don’t fear failure.” In the first Zoom training I did, I got kicked out of Zoom three times. I lost my participants and I remember literally sitting down. It was a three-and-a-half-hour workshop and I went out of my deck and I thought, “If this is the future, I don’t want to be a part of it.” I’m Miss Optimistic. I studied belief systems but what I realized was I was going through something called the change curve. I was going to have to eat my own dog food. I know all the science behind it. They call it Head’s Law, Neuroplasticity. I’ll give you my little thing here. Cells that fire together, wire together, so you can learn new skills and habits. I was in the middle of the change curve there.
Number one, I think for sales leaders is, as salespeople have to continue to manage change. The popular word now is agility. They can teach the science behind it. Your brain has the capacity to learn new skills and habits but again, it takes delayed gratification. It’s having an awareness of where your focus is. I am a huge person on accountability and responsibility. The reason for this is I have seen some people that default to victim thinking and it leads to a lousy life. It doesn’t serve anyone well. The concept you’ve been applying around this is having an awareness of where your focus is.
This goes into a concept called Locus of control. It was discovered by Julian Rotter back in the ‘50s. Locus of control is simply where you put your focus. It sounds simple but the internal locus of control people tend to focus on what they can manage. In sales, “I can manage my attitude. I can carve out time in the morning to be grateful rather than resentful. I can increase my activity, ask for advice and learn new skills that I need to learn. I had to learn this concept here.”
Now it’s very easy to fall into the external locus of control. You’re waiting for the external world to show up perfectly in order for you to be successful and happy. In sales, it’s like, “Marketing gives me no good leads. My sales development rep doesn’t even qualify very well. I have the worst territory in the world. I have better pricing. Maybe I could sell something here. If we had more brand awareness, maybe I could get my foot in the door.” External, responsible. That’s when I become a victim and I become depressed. I am big on focusing on what I can control versus what I can’t control. That’s how you get out of stress.
That’s also another piece that your book that I remember that you had a piece on Paul Stoltz. He uses an outdoorsman out of Flagstaff, Arizona. He had a concept on an adversary quotient with the three types of people.Get out of stressful moments by focusing on things you can control over those you cannot. Click To Tweet
I heard Dr. Paul Stoltz speak back in the ‘90s. I was so impressed by him. He’s written other books but I loved his book, The Adversity Quotient. I got permission to use it in my book to relate it to sales. He calls it quitters, campers and climbers. Quitters for anybody they’re hiring people. You’re hiring quitters. You might want to look at your own process and your talent assessment.
They probably shouldn’t even get in the people file, but let’s take a look at campers because this is what gets interesting in sales. Sometimes you’ve had people that have excelled and all of a sudden, they start camping and maybe they run out of energy. They run out of passion. As a sales leader, you sit there and “They need a little more training. I need to give them more motivation.” They improve but they never excel. That can be a tough place to be.
Now, if you’re choosing to camp, that’s another thing. For example, many years ago, when I was single. I used to do a lot of triathlons. It was my prospecting methodology for finding a husband. Saturday mornings, men running around in speedos. “This is a good idea.” It did not work anyway, but now, I choose to camp with my exercise. I still work out five days a week, but I am not putting in the 30 miles on a bike and all of those things. I’m making the conscious decision but now let’s talk about climbers. That’s the third piece he talked about.
Climbers in the EQ world would probably be framed up as the competency of self-actualization. They’re always on a journey of learning and improving. I think companies nowadays miss this part if they’re not working with you in their interview process. It can literally be, “What do you do to stay ahead of the industry? What have you invested in training and coaching for yourself? What are your latest books?” This is consistent that I see in my sales leaders is they are readers. They are students of the sales game. That should become the climber and that’s who you want on your team.
Can we influence our campers in the organization to become climbers? What are the best ways to do that as a leader?
That could be something in your one-on-one coaching sessions. You’ve got to have probably trustful, deeper conversations, say, “I’m getting the feeling you’ve lost your passion. I’m getting the feeling maybe there’s not as much energy here.” What you might find out is there might be something in their personal life. They don’t even need any more sales coaching. This is what I coach a lot of my sales leaders on during COVID. These poor parents who are homeschooling children and trying to do their jobs put a fork in your eye.
What I said to them was, “The reality is, you don’t have as much time as you used to.” You don’t. However, I’m a big believer because I studied some of the neuroscience of productivity. I said, “Work with your team on time management. What can they control? Where can they get chunks of time in go for it?” Frankly, when you’re in flow, the research shows you can be in that high-intensity thinking for about five to six hours. If you got emails, you can put them off to where you’ve got your kids and you don’t have to do that much concentration. Does that make sense?
It does. I think you had a great Jack Welch quote. He was the former CEO of GE. The quote was, “When you take on a leadership role, it’s no longer about you. It’s about them.” As you expressed, those one-on-ones are super important. Another thing you talk about is how a leader needs to help draw out or point out those blind spots that our team members may not be aware of and utilize that tough love to help them get back on track. Are there any nuggets of process or things that you typically tell your leaders on how to do that? How do they go about looking for those blind spots?
This is an interesting concept. First of all, you have to have the trust well built. You can still find people getting defensive, but if they believe you’ve got their back and you’ve got their best intention, even if they fight or flight during the coaching conversation. A person with high self-regard will come back and say, “Sam, you’re right.” Let’s talk about the coaching conversation because the two skills you need to bring in are empathy and assertiveness.
Everybody’s like, “Let’s be empathetic.” I’m all about it. We teach it. However, there’s a time to be assertive and state what you need nicely. What we need nicely is we’ve got to have a behavior change. If I say something to you like, “Sam, listen. I know we set up the session to have a truth-telling conversation about some behaviors I’ve seen. However, my biggest concern is you’re going to think I’m nitpicking, micromanaging or not appreciating what you’re doing well.”
That’s empathy because that’s what you’re thinking, Sam. “Could she get off my back?” Even though it’s not true, it doesn’t matter. That’s what they’re thinking. Now, when I’ve demonstrated empathy, I’ve made the emotional connection, but then I can go into assertiveness. “What I’d like to have the conversation around is some of the selling behaviors I’m observing and hear your side. I might be reading the situation wrong and that together, we’ll put an action plan. There’s going to be an action plan because this is what’s interesting for companies now and you’re starting to see it in the paper.
The world is opening up, but there’s a whole bunch going on. I think Jamie Dimon was quoted as, “Get back to the office.” I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but he’s assertive. “I’ve shown you enough empathy. Now I want you back in the office.” It’s going to be a big dialogue. Leaders are going to have to manage that fine line. There are some things we got to do. This economy is on fire. Personally, I’m seeing a lot of people do great. We got to get after it.
You mentioned getting that action plan together and for your staff to help them develop and coach up and so forth. There comes a time where you have people that succeed and sometimes when people don’t succeed, they fail. Where should we draw the line as far as determining, is this person going to be a person that succeeds in this organization or a person that’s going to fail?
I did share the story in the book about my father. My father was an Iowa farmer until 84 and my mother as well. He had a huge work ethic. My dad got remarried at age 76. I met his soon-to-be wife the year before but I didn’t know much. I remember saying to dad, “Dad, tell me a little bit about Mary.” I’m expecting, “We met before I went away to World War II,” and all of these things. Here was his response, “She’s 74, by the way. She’s a worker.”
Now, we’re going with this story to link the dots. One of the things I always coach my sales leaders on is the salesperson doing the work because the sales are very controllable. You can do the activity. You can practice the skillsets. If they’re doing the work, I’m going to probably take a different path there. There might be some reasons they’re not, but sometimes you purely lack a work ethic. This may not be a key person that needs to be in this type of role. Maybe there’s another role in the company where it doesn’t demand such a high energy level performance level. The second way I would take a look at not keeping somebody on the team and this comes out of Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings. If you have not read the book, read the book.
In it, he talks about the people that you should keep in your organization. When I relate that to the EQ, I find that people that raise their hand and admit mistakes and take coaching, I’m going to keep them on the bus, but the people that when you give coaching and you’ve set it up every which way you can and they always come back with, “Yes, but,” or they put the burden back on you. They’re very good at it or they go down rabbit trails and this becomes a consistent observation. I don’t think that’s the person you could have on your team.
The only way you’re going to succeed as a company is to have people on your team that have the self-confidence to admit, “I made a mistake.” You, as the leader, need to say, “What’s the lesson learned?” You don’t need to ruminate and go on or what system do we need to change there. I think having that high self-regard to admit mistakes is being coachable. If I don’t see those in place, it’s either not the right person for your company role. I’d have to have more data.
One thing you mentioned in your book is that if you don’t get this right, nothing else matters. What is that thing?
Hiring. The worlds you play in. I have a lot of talents, Sam. This is not one of them. I’ve taught hiring workshops, etc. I’ve had people that take the methodology. I don’t do it anymore, but it’s interesting. I found myself having some blind spots here. When I look back at every misfire, I can’t blame the candidate. I can’t blame the person I hired. There were red flags every time that I chose to ignore in the hiring process. The red flag turns into a big old fire. It’s been amazing sometimes what I sometimes rationalize, “I can put up with this. That’s not what they meant.” Get a good hiring process program in place. If you’re not good at it, get somebody to help you.
We had Beth Smith on the show not too long ago and she’s wonderful at that. She gets a lot of good nuggets in that forum. If anybody is reading and hasn’t read Beth’s episode, dig that up out of the archives. It was excellent. Colleen, you’re talking about some of those red flags. What did some of the top red flags that come to mind when you’re bringing a person on? There are some obvious ones, such as negative attitude and the constant pushback you talked about. Do you have any others that you’d like to share or comment on?
Self-actualization. Do they have an aptitude and attitude for learning? Aptitude is, can they learn? Sometimes there are things, maybe if it’s a technical sale. They could be a nice person but that’s too high of a level for them to manage to sell. I would also say resiliency. A great question to dig into and I think you’ve got to even dig into this one even more. This isn’t to pass judgment on any of the parents, but we do have more helicopter kids. It’s sometimes no fault of the parents. It’s something called technology.The only way to succeed as a company is to have people on your team who have the self-confidence to admit their mistakes. Click To Tweet
Kids often, if they have a problem, immediately call their parents because you can. Back in my day, I think we had payphones and there weren’t even any payphones. You had to figure stuff out. It wasn’t due to great parenting. It was due to the environment that forces you to figure out things there. I would be looking for resiliency, what’s the biggest setback they’ve ever had, what’s the lesson learned because I like to see a lesson learned. If they didn’t get a lesson learned, that might be affecting the judgment that this person has or they might be a blamer. If you hear the word, “Here’s what I learned. Here’s what I’m going to own.” That’s probably a resilient coachable person there.
I like the perspective of the old days with the payphone and now making easily ask a question to somebody or what do I do next and so forth. Having that guidance is important. Finding things out, googling it is the term we use now or doing your own research. It’s not throwing up your hands and saying, “I don’t know how to do this.”
My advice to parents is to quit answering your phone if you want to raise resilient children. Unless you’ve got some fire burning, I’d let that call go eight hours. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done with some and they’ll go and that’s only a, “Hi.” I’m like, “Why’d you pick up your phone?” Let them figure it out.
Another thing you talked about is the bull in the China shop concept. I know that this is a piece that you mentioned that you had this problem when you first came out as a professional. Tell us a little bit more about that and how we should avoid these types of behaviors in the workplace.
I’ll tell you a quick story from when I was in corporate. I was very fortunate. I’ve had some wonderful bosses and mentors. Kline Boyd was one such boss. I remember sitting down with him and I had a deep funnel of trust with him. He looked at me. He’s from Texas. I won’t use the exact words, but you’ll get the idea. He says, “Colleen, let’s talk about this last manager’s meeting we’re in. I’ve got to ask you to think before you speak because you keep speaking up and you are flashing your blank all over the place.” Now, what it did is it wasn’t I lucky to have a boss that was willing to tell me the truth? I was hitting all my numbers. We were fast growth, on fire.
The one thing I learned from his modeling is client’s core value was treating others the way you want to be treated. This guy is a multimillionaire who had high success. He did not care how successful you were in your role if you were not treating people well. I would say for sales managers, often what they allow is bull in China shop behavior. Top producers, they’re bringing in a lot of money, but they’re not respectful to other departments. They don’t show up in sales meetings and share with the newbies or do any mentoring. What always cracks me up is that this is in the same company, either on the website or the conference walls. Teamwork, respect and support.
If you’re allowing bull in the China shop behavior from a salesperson, you are creating cognitive dissonance. You’re saying this, but you’re allowing this. As a leader, your street cut goes down dramatically. You have to have sometimes the courage to say, “Is it worth keeping this person on board?” That’s a tough decision. I will tell you. Kline Boyd was one. It did not matter how much you were bringing in. We were going to have the truth-telling conversation because of your lack of supporting the core value.
As far as identifying, because this is a common problem I’ve seen in many companies where they have this top performer, but they’re either arrogant or their attitude is rubbing other team members or causing problems in the culture. There are times where that person’s not going to change. You need to move them out. Is there any chance for recovery in some of these instances? What does that path look like?
This is what’s interesting. I think in this environment, in particular, we assign labels so quickly to somebody. As I was talking to a couple of my colleagues and they were using some labels. I said, “Is it possible?” The person’s clueless. We all can say, “This person’s a jerk.” I can tell you more than once in my life. I’ve been clueless. Now I came across jerky, but I’m clueless. As the leader, this might be where you have to sit down. Here’s the key. You have to figure out, are you willing to live with the consequences? In your head, you’ve got to say, “Is it bad enough that this person’s wreaking havoc on the culture?”
You’d be surprised how much turnover it’s creating another department sometimes but think about the consequence there. They come from a place of good intent. Do I have a bully here or do I have somebody who’s clueless and doesn’t know a better way to do it? That was me. I simply didn’t know what better way to do it. I pushed. I’m short. I have a quick temper. I can still do that, but I was clueless. Show him the path.
The first thing is creating that awareness in them and drawing, “This happened in the meeting,” or whatever happens to be, you give them the awareness as to, “I’m seeing the behavior,” and then showing the better way of accomplishing that.
Do they even want it? If you’re going to run this conversation with a salesperson, you would be asking, “If you’re like me or I’ve seen this. Do you understand the impact it’s having on people?” They’ll go, “What do you mean?” Do you know customer service? That person was in tears. This person is feeling like anything they do doesn’t matter. Now, if you’re a person of integrity and you’ve got some of those good internal qualities, you’re sitting there going, “I didn’t know I was coming across that way.” That’s self-awareness, but then you’ve got to give them some of the tools. That might be, “Think before you speak. Pause. Take a deep breath. I want you to reflect. How do you want to show up in the meeting?” If they’re a hard charger, it’s tempering their behavior and they can do it.
Another thing that I want to explore is that you mentioned that hiring is key. A lot of times, we can find high performers at our competitors that are coveted. It’s like, “That’s a high performer. We want them to work here.” You bring him in here and things are a little different. Integrating with the team and so forth. Can you tell us a little bit about how to onboard these top players that come in and to ensure that the teaming is right?
Number one, you may not want to bring in this top performer. You bring up a great point. I saw this happen with one of my clients years ago. Here’s what can happen. On the resumé, the hard skills. They’ve got president’s club, achieved quota, exceeded quota, opened up new territories. It all looks great. They then come into your company and they’re failing. It could be a couple of reasons there. To no fault of their own, you’re a well-branded company. The brand opened up the door.
Now they’re working for a non-branded company, so they’re not quite as skillful as even getting the door open if that’s part of their job responsibility. You’ve got somebody that was good at speaking at this level, but now they’ve got to speak at the C-Suite. They may not make that conversion. They may not like to have that conversation even with entrepreneurs.
Here’s what’s always interesting. Everybody always thinks, “I want to work in an entrepreneurial environment.” Be careful what you work for. I have been in very entrepreneurial environments. Do you know what you have to do? You have to make up stuff. There were no systems in place. There’s no process in place. I’ve seen enterprise reps from well brand established companies very good. They flounder in an entrepreneurial environment. They’re like, “What about this? We don’t have this. Make something else.” They’re not used to doing workarounds. That’s what I saw with one of my clients. They purchased an entrepreneurial, small company and hired all these very veteran salespeople. They were all gone probably within six months. Too many workarounds.
We started off with getting to know your people and through the TMA method like we use a lot in our organization. We sent out an assessment that gives us some general ideas about the working preferences that a person likes to do in their job and whether they can handle ambiguity and so forth. If you’re in a startup, that’s something you have to be comfortable with because the structure is not quite there. If you have these conversations as you’re recruiting or coaching a person, then it’s a way to get your arms around and have a healthy dialogue.
I need to say this, Sam. If they’ve worked for a large company and now you’re moving to a smaller company, not only the entrepreneurship but the belief system is, “We’re too small to play in this world.” If you’re a small company, but you want to be doing business with larger but their belief system might be, “That’s good if you’re at a large company, but nobody’s going to pay attention to a small company.” Luckily, at Varsity, none of us had that belief system being the David in the David and Goliath story.
Frankly, I was part of their first sales team. Luckily, we didn’t have any veterans going, “Everybody else is the business. It’s going to take a long time to get the business.” We were clueless. Ignorance was bliss. We went out and worked hard. Sometimes though, when you’re the Goliath, you get a little complacent and that is a story that in my head is like, “It’s great when you’re having lots of success.” Do not start believing your own press.Even after achieving a high level of success, everything will be worthless if you cannot treat other people well. Click To Tweet
Colleen, I know that you have the Sales Leader EQ action plan. Can you tell us a little about those steps and what that action plan looks like for sales leaders?
Tell me a little bit more about what you mean by the action plan.
Teaching your leaders the neuroscience of sales going through those particular steps.
We will start with companies in a variety of ways. Sometimes we use an assessment EQ-i 2.0. It measures fifteen competencies and gets people aware. They have many strengths and strength can become a weakness or there might be some areas of improvement. Depending on the company, We teach everything from training and coaching skills to sales infrastructure. For some size companies, they’ve got to get the infrastructure in place. For a lot of people, it might be, “We want to bring in somebody that’s motivational and do a kickoff.” We’ll implement our program there. We work with people small and large.
Tell us a little bit more about how people can learn more about you and the services you provide.
I would encourage everyone to go to our website, SalesLeadershipDevelopment.com. I encourage you to look at the resource section. As with most companies, we have a lot of good resources. In fact, there’s one you might be interested in. It’s called The Emotional Intelligence for Salesperson Assessment. It will give you some insights on competencies, such as emotion management, self-awareness, assertiveness and impulse control. That’s free of charge. We’ve got a lot of eBooks. We also, for the smaller companies with sales training, offer bootcamps, public enrollment bootcamp three times a year and our weekly vlog.
I see a lot on LinkedIn and so forth and putting things out there. That’s great material.
Colleen, is that where they can also get your books as well or is there a different website I can direct people to?
You are going to get all the resources out.
They’re pretty practical books. For your audience, Sam, I have a book study guide for those who purchase the book. The book study guide is great that you can either use for one-on-one study or group sales.
I do want to point out our sponsor TMA. We’ve talked about TMA a little bit about those assessments and how you can better learn about the people who report to you and have those productive conversations in your one-on-one sessions and so forth. It’s so important as what Colleen was talking about. Jules, did we have any questions that came through?
We didn’t, but we did get a comment from Daniel that this session was so interesting and every time he started to chat, another interesting conversation distracted him. It is all informative and Ms. Stanley is very enjoyable. I have to agree. You are highly intelligent, well-read, so eloquently spoken. All the analogies and taking us through the trigger-response-regret loop were great. I told you about quitters, campers and climbers. The way you relate things to real life and how they can be applied. I loved the whole session and I’m sure everyone else here did. Thank you again for joining us, sharing all your wisdom, and giving us so much of your time.
Thank you for having me. What a great forum.
It was fun. Thank you, Colleen. You have a wonderful week and a wonderful week to everybody else. We’ll talk to everyone soon.
LinkedIn with me or stay in touch. Thanks.
I had the good fortune of starting with a small company that the largest in the world in their industry. I moved from field salesperson to regional sales manager and and eventually became VP of Sales, leading a national sales team of more than 130 reps. With the help of a great team and mentors, Forbes magazine named Varsity Spirit Corporation as one of the 200 fastest-growing companies in the US.
I love my work and clients. When I’m not speaking and training, you can find me on a hike, with a good book, volunteering or hanging out with good friends.