The Great Resignation is still a buzzword for organizations to this day, but not all businesses have suffered this phenomenon. What are the factors that allow companies to survive and adapt? Joining the panel today is Colleen Stanley, President and Founder of SalesLeadership. She has also been named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers, Salesforce Top Influencers of the 21st Century, and Top 30 Global Sales Gurus. In this episode, Colleen highlights the importance of emotional intelligence and culture as the driving force behind retention. Tune in as she dives deep into leadership, accountability, and the value of practicing delayed gratification for success not only in business but in your personal life as well.
If you are here for the first time, you registered, you were like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to sign up and see what happens,” This is the People Strategy Forum. Our goal is to engage, energize, elevate your employees and your company and teach you something new. We do that by bringing a different guest speaker, a different type of expert. We have a full library on our YouTube channel. Don’t just tune in to this one. Go and see all the other webinars that we’ve done in the past. You will sure learn something new, fun and of value. I don’t do this alone. I get a lot of help from a few people. Let me introduce you to the rest of the crew here.
We do have the fabulous Char joining us. She is gone from being in the corporate world, working in human resources to them, venturing out as an entrepreneur, starting multiple different companies and is the Founder of Mountain and Sea Health Advocacy as well as Mountain and Sea Career Coaching. She is an expert living between Mexico and Colorado and running her company out there. She is teaching other experts to do the same.
We also have Sam. Sam brings this all together for us, finds the speaker, sets up all the tech and gets everything going so that you can have an awesome time here at the show. He is also the Founder and CEO of his own company called CompTeam. He’s a compensation expert. He’s incredibly busy at the moment because we all know compensation’s a hot topic. He is helping other organizations implement new and better compensation programs and initiatives for talent.
That brings me to our amazing guest. She has been here before. We are so excited to welcome her back. I’m talking about the fabulous Colleen Stanley. She is the President and Founder of SalesLeadership. It’s a sales development firm. She’s also written two books, Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success and Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership. She was also named one of the Top Sales Influences of the 21st Century by Salesforce. That’s a pretty big deal. She’s worked for some amazing and large clients like Autobox, Gallagher, and IBM. Enjoy our session. Welcome back, Colleen.
Thank you. I’m ready to have a wonderful conversation.
We’re excited about it. We’re here for it.
Welcome, Colleen. For our readers that don’t know you and like to know more, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into the space you were in developing and coaching leaders for great success in their businesses?
I had the good fortune many years ago to start in sales with a startup company. They were a small company. We were the David and Goliath story, Varsity Spirit Corporation. Now they are the Goliath. They’re the largest in their industry in the world, posting revenues of over $5 billion. However, when I started with them, we were that scrappy “nobody knew about us” branding. The good opportunity is when you were with a small company to give people like me who have no pedigree, no experience and opportunity.
I went out there, worked hard and had some terrific mentors that I still stay in touch with. That’s how I got into this business of sales, training and coaching. When I was a VP of Sales at Varsity, I realized that my love was turning to the training program, getting reps up on board and developing managers. I took that leap of faith many years ago and got into the business full time.
You’re busy, not only coaching leaders, but you’re also doing a lot of speaking events as well, right?
That is part of what we do. Those can vary from sales kickoffs to maybe half-day energizers that people have to a full-blown year-long, three-year-long engagement. The work is varied and it’s interesting. We happen to work with great clients. We’re lucky.
In this context, we’re talking about how the mind shift of employees and their leaders has changed as a result of the pandemic and the Great Resignation. Engagement is something that’s been accelerating and also waning a bit in different areas. We want to dive into that, especially in your experience with emotional intelligence. That brings us to excellent context. What are the different things that you’re seeing across employees? What are companies dealing with in different types of behaviors?
Sam, I’m going to back up a little bit with what something you and I talked about because it’ll lead into that question. The question that keeps popping up for me is, “Is it the Great Resignation or the Great Denial?” We all had time to get off of the treadmill during the pandemic. You were at home. You weren’t on planes. I’m back on planes now. The thing that always occurs to me is there could be some denial in the employee part where, “I’m going to jump from my position because Nirvana exists over here.”Hurry is the enemy of relationships. Hurry is the enemy of empathy. Click To Tweet
In some cases, it could. The denial part I’m seeing, especially with companies I worked with field salespeople. You need to be back out doing in-person calls, which is true, but guess what? You also need to master the hybrid model. I’m sometimes seeing denial on, “The company is supposed to provide me complete happiness,” and companies not adjusting to the new reality there.
When we’re thinking about that new reality, how is that new reality driving new behaviors in our employees and leaders?
Everybody’s having to do a strong reality check. Do you know the old adage when you get married, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?” The something old is this. What I have seen was several of my clients. This is going to sound airy-fairy and like I’m sucking up to my clients. The ones with those good cultures were doing all the things: training, coaching, mentoring, hiring, and recruiting. What do you deal in?
The compensation was matching. I haven’t seen or heard the Great Resignation as much. People love working there. They’re also being smart. If they do need to keep up with inflation, they’re doing that. They’re not doing it to where they’re having to pay these exorbitant salaries for maybe not the talent or the work that’s being provided.
The something old is, “Are you working on your cultures?” The ones working on their cultures have some of the Great Resignation, but I’m not seeing it as much. The ones that maybe are in that business of where people are saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” the reality is you’ve got to take a look at your hiring process. Why would a person want to work here? You can only pay so much. It’s great.
The larger companies have big pockets, but most of the world is run by small and mid-sized companies. There is a limit. In your vetting process, why do you want to work here? It’s about purpose, passion and going back to the good old-fashioned work ethic. You have to amp up your recruiting process. I just came from a speaking event. It’s a company that has always had a robust recruiting process. They bring in 400 interns a year. They’re still sitting in a good position for hiring, but they started that practice years ago.
You mentioned as far as communicating that culture and so forth. There’s been a big shift in a lot of companies. They’ve been relying on a cultural model that’s been surrounding the work, the physical workplace and so forth. How are leaders adapting in communicating this new approach or their new workforce experience to candidates?
They’re asking the questions. Hybrid is the way to go. Here’s why hybrid is going to be the landing point, ultimately probably. I work with teams that have young sales professionals. Do you know what the young sales professionals want? They want to come in into the office. They’re not most of us where, “I’m fortunate. I have an office upstairs. I enjoy working out of a home office. I worked in an office for years.” They might have 2 or 3 roommates. That’s not fun. They want to come into an office where they can maybe get twenty minutes of a leader’s time, hallway conversations, camaraderie and friendship.
The hybrid model is probably going to be the one that lands. There are some, in sales in particular. They’re entirely remote. I had a remote sales team many years ago. We didn’t know we were doing a great job. We were always out in the field traveling with those salespeople. We were holding meetings twice a year. Even though people were remote, we had a lot of the people contact. If you’re not having enough of the people contact, you’re not going to build the culture. Is that making sense?
It does. One of the pieces that is rarely relevant in that dialogue is that salespeople came into the office at one time. They were out in the field another time. They were interacting with people directly. Now that they’re more in the Zoom culture, maybe a hybrid environment, things have changed. The way they do work has changed. How do we come to terms with some people who may be that new way of work is not in their skill set? Maybe they want to do something different. How should managers and leaders think about that?
You said something important. Is it not in their skill set or they just don’t want to work in that job anymore? I’ve seen people who are like, “If I have to go to all video sales calls, I don’t get to see people anymore. Maybe I don’t want to work at this company. Maybe I want to get in a position where it is more client-facing and interaction.” That’s one that reality testing, having the self-awareness there.
However, I’ll be speaking out of both sides of my mouth. Here’s the fact. We’ve all got to ask this question. I’m not hearing this question asked enough. What about our customers? How many articles are you reading where the question is not about how our model best serve our customers? We need to be concerned about our employees because happy employees make for happy customers, but I’m not hearing the question asked enough.
It seems like we’re focused on, “What’s going to make you happy?” Does that model serve our customers? The customer is the CFO. The customer is the one writing your paycheck. You can have all remote. You can have hybrid. You can have all in office. If it doesn’t serve your customer, it’s going to have some unintended consequences there. That’s the question I’m not hearing asked and interviewed enough.
I read an article where a group of engineers all want to work out of their homes, except they make customized products. You can’t get that collaboration at home. You’ve got to vet that on the front end. The article said they were. I don’t know if they’re vetting it as deeply as they need to because people are desperate for talent.
There are a lot of things that need to be worked out there as far as how people work, security and privacy. There are a lot of pieces that dig into there, too. We’re here to talk more about behaviors, how things are changing in the workplace, how to keep people engaged with that emotional intelligence, understanding where we need to help them perform better, and how managers can encourage this. In your work, when you’re working with leaders on how to understand their people better, what are some of the first steps you take?
If you’re going to understand your people, you have to do something that nobody else likes to do, slow down. Hurry is the enemy of relationships. Hurry is the enemy of empathy. Empathy is that skill that, “Do I know you? Do I understand you? Do I understand your perspective?” I’m seeing people have hurried up. This has increased during the pandemic. We got off the treadmill of traveling, maybe. How many of you have seen where people are on back-to-back Zoom calls? They’re ready to put a fork in their eye at the end of the day. They’re stressed out because you can’t do any of the work.
I don’t think you show up smart on your next call. If I hang up here and I get on my next call, I am not even mentally set. One of the skillsets I’m seeing is teaching productivity habits, teaching time management habits. Quit being so hurried and hurried. Get over your self-limiting belief system that you can’t build relationships on video. I didn’t have any trouble flipping to video. To me, it was like a telephone call with a picture.
I closed a lot of businesses over the phone. I’ve had these reps that say, “I can’t build relationships.” I said, “Do you ever close anything over the phone?” “Yes.” “That’s virtual selling.” There are some productivity habits we need to teach. There are some belief systems we have to deal with that you can build relationships. Methodology to me is the same over video as it is in-person communication. It’s communicating a lot more.
One of the important things is to understand some of the differences by demographic that we’re looking at. Some young professionals that have graduated college during the pandemic have never worked in an office. They’re not familiar with a lot of the different things that you and I, who have been around for a while, have experienced. How do you guide leaders in understanding the different demographics and lead them effectively?
One thing I saw even before the pandemic was that the companies that weren’t making a judgment but were saying, “We do need to teach our young professionals some different skills.” The great news is that they’re technology animals. The bad news is they’re technology animals. A company in Chicago had a whole course on small talk, networking within the office, simply having conversations, walking up to the sixth floor instead of sending a text. That might sound to you and me like, “Seriously?” If you grew up in technology, we can’t judge them. It is our job to teach them.
The group I was with was having a working session on, “Here’s the behavior when you work in an office.” They were graduates and had never been in an office. It could be, “Don’t eat somebody else’s food,” or whatever the protocol is there. Instead of judging it, you have to say, “This is the new reality. This is some new teachings we need to do to provide that great culture.”
I have to laugh a bit when you’re talking about youth and using their phones for texting and so forth. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in the house with my kids. I get this text message and I’m going, “What is this? I thought they were at home,” to find out they’re upstairs. They wanted to talk to me and send me a text instead of coming down. It’s just something I’m not used to.
That can work in some environments, but they have to recognize it. Let’s say I’m a young salesperson, but I’m calling on a more senior executive that doesn’t even like text. Most people do, but there are some. They are the decision-makers. The question is, as we’re training people, “How do our customers want to interact? How do our customers want to buy?”
Here’s where I’m going to talk out of the other side of my mouth. I do think relationship-building skills have gotten lazy during the pandemic. I’ve seen it with not so much conferences but networking events. There were organizations that were having trouble getting people back to events because, “I don’t want to get dressed up. I have to brush my teeth.” By the way, I do that anyway, in the morning. I get dressed up and go to work.
When you think about it, most human beings are wired for connection, unless you’re a sociopath. There’s a little bit of force. There may be some behavior you need to say, “We’re going to do this because the end result is relationships, social connection.” I’ve seen some of it where people are staying home, but then they’re getting depressed. They’re feeling isolated, but it’s work to get it out of the home. We’ve got to do some reality testing there and put some protocol in place saying, “This is what we’re going to do. Once you get there, you’re going to be happy. You’re going to build a network. You’re going to build new friends, relationships, leads, context.”
One of the things that we’ve discussed in the past is the concept of accountability and mental toughness that’s required in our staff. Can you tell us a little bit about that?The key here is we know what the desired outcome is. Focus on the steps and activities to get there. Click To Tweet
When we teach mental toughness, it falls into the category of resilience. The new word is grit overcoming adversity. There are a lot of emotional intelligence skills there to teach. There are two I focus on. The first is stress tolerance. In the emotional intelligence world, that’s the ability to bounce back from adverse to your setbacks. However, the second part of that definition is what’s interesting to me. It’s the belief that you can control your outcomes. That is critical.
I’ve studied on resilience and hardiness. If you’ve got a belief that you can control your outcomes, you’re less likely to be depressed and anxious. In the Psychology world, they call it locus of control. It was uncovered by Julian Rotter, an American psychologist. He basically has this model where it’s internal locus of control and external locus of control. Internal locus of control focuses on what they can control. The external focus on everything out of their control.
My words, not his, these become the victims of the world. They’re depressed. They do a lot of blaming. They never reach their human potential. For me, growing up, in business, in a startup, you had to have a high internal locus of control. You didn’t get any leads. Nobody taught you anything about territory account management. We had no branding. We had no marketing materials. We were too ignorant to know and should have known that.
I’m making all my own marketing materials. I’m doing all my territory and account planning. I’m not saying that’s the best way, but honor where you’re at. It’s a company. As leaders, the coaching question is, “What’s in your control? Where’s your focus at? When you start focusing this way, I’m telling you, you start spiraling and it doesn’t end well.
When we talk about control of outcomes, the past few years have proved that to be difficult. That’s causing some mental stress in a lot of people. How can managers help improve that to get some security around those outcomes in such a chaotic world that we’re experiencing?
The key here is we know what the desired outcome is. Focus on the steps and activities to get there. Sometimes, in sales, this is true. Your desired outcome is to hit this goal quarterly, monthly and year-end where you focus on the activities that lead to that. “I can control that.” Let’s say, for example, I’m building a brand-new territory. I can focus on the number of activities I do. I also can focus on improving the quality.
It’s one thing to make a marketing outreach, but if it isn’t empathetic or doesn’t demonstrate expertise, I’m just busy, not productive. There are a lot of things that you have in your control. That’s where I spend most of my time. If I’m falling short on a skill, I have to tell you there are so many great experts. I pick up a book. I reread a book and so that’s always been mine. I know what my outcome is, but I focus more on the steps to get to the outcome. The outcome can seem like three miles long.
That’s excellent guidance. One of the biggest problems a lot of companies have is the lack of line of sight when they’re asking somebody, “We need to increase and re-launch this new product for our company and be successful. Everybody else is going, “How do I do that?”
If you break it down, you can manage and control that. Everyone’s heard it, except nobody’s doing it, or we’re not doing enough of it. Something you can control is simply starting your day better. Take five minutes. If you do nothing else, you sit immersed in gratitude. It will change your physiology so you can get up. The brain’s wired to be negative. There are a little bit of personality styles. You can wake up and all of a sudden, you’re thinking negatively. If you give yourself five minutes in everything that’s going well and set your intention to be the solution-provider versus the problem-creator, that little habit can change your whole world.
That’s a good point. It’s creating those meaningful routines that set us up for success in our daily lives. Do you have some routines that you can share with us? Everybody’s going to have their own flavor of these things. What have you found in yourself and the teams you’ve worked with that are effective and daily routines, starting up and having that mindfulness?
It is what I always encourage teams. My mindfulness practice has evolved to 30 to 45 minutes. I make some choices. I have to make a choice of going to bed earlier. You got to make a choice someplace. When I get up, I am generally doing a non-business reading, something spiritual, self-help, and positive if I recognize I have a blind spot. I do take about 15 to 20 minutes of meditation. I am diligent about exercise.
Many years ago, I was a jazz exercise instructor. What that taught me was the habit. I can be so tired some days, but I learned as an instructor, get to the gym and the energy comes. I’m diligent about exercising five days a week. The other habit I work with managers on and it’s outside of tactical sales training skills, is productivity habits. It’s in Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, quadrant 1, quadrant 2. We call it instant gratification, delay gratification.
If you learn how to manage your calendar, stress goes down, and happiness and productivity go up. Something as simple as calendar blocking takes delayed gratification. It takes a belief that it’s worth calendar blocking. It takes impulse control to guard your calendar, so you don’t keep packing it. Those are the three biggies and then we can teach the verbal skills and the motion management skills. Those can be some great habits to change.
Often leaders or managers take the approach of treating everybody the same. There’s a standard managerial approach or fitting it into their calendar. How mindful should managers be in understanding their staff’s prime time? Primetime being where they operate at their top effectiveness? What are your thoughts there?
First of all, I have been guilty as charged. I’m even embarrassed because I wrote a leadership book and then I thought, “Why don’t you write a0bout some things you failed on because maybe somebody else won’t?” I have two points. The first is feedback. I thought everybody liked feedback the way I do. I do the sandwich method, “Positive. Here’s the behavior. Positive.” I’m doing the cliff notes. Tell me what it is.
I cannot tell you how many years I have coached people that way. Some were fine with it, but for others, it was too much too soon. That is where I had to become aware. You don’t like the sandwich method. Plenty of people do. The second one is basic. I was reminded of it reading Kim Scott’s book on Radical Candor. You sit down and find out everybody’s personal goals. That’s simple. I have missed that before. We always think it’s about the professional that’s important, but what are the personal goals? What’s going on in their life? It’s having that self-awareness and belief that that’s an important exercise to conduct and then do something with the information.
We’re talking back to the generational impact of how we deal with different people and how they’ve experienced their professional lives. There’s that element of tenacity and figuring things out for yourself and then understanding how to achieve things through the learning process. What guidance can you give managers on understanding or enabling their people?
One of the things you hear a lot about is that cute little quote you’ve heard, “You learn more from your failures than your successes.” Everybody’s sitting there shaking their head and nobody believes it. That’s number one. Number two, I don’t think we do a great job of demonstrating what that’s like in companies. What people tend to do is when they have a failure, they take it personally. They don’t take it as a role performance. We teach something called, “Don’t confuse your do with your who.” If you fail, you fail in your role performance. You will fail.
People that aren’t coming to courses said, “I tried this skill, but I screwed it up.” They’re not out there trying. They’re playing it safe because they take the rejection personally. There’s brain science that shows rejection lights up the same area of the brain as physical abuse. Isn’t that interesting? You’ve got to teach people, “Separate your do from your who.” Your who is your character, integrity, loving, loyal and persistent. If you fail here, get fierce about the lesson.
I had a mentor early on in this business. Here I am, a former VP of sales. We’ve got the awards, and I struggled to get this business off the ground the first year. This mentor is studying. He’s empathetic. He’s taking it all in. He said, “Colleen, we’re going to change your goal.” I go, “What’s that?” “Your goal is to get to 100 noes as fast as you can.” I remember thinking, “I can do that.” I am pretty well on my way.
I’m screwing up sales calls. I don’t know how to sell this consulting world. He said, “By the time you get to 100 noes, you’ll have heard every question you didn’t know and how to answer every objection you didn’t know how to preempt or deal with.” I cannot tell you what that did for my mindset. It took the pressure off. “I’m going to go out and fail, but I’m going to get the lesson learned.” That’s what we want out there, lesson-learned cultures. The only way you get a lesson is half the time, you take a pace plan.
When we’re talking about setting up people for success, we’re thinking about, “You need to go through this learning process. Embrace those failures, learn and go forward.” There becomes a time. How long do we go through this before we, as managers, decide that, “Maybe they’re not cut out for this?”
Here’s what I’ve seen. Managers generally hang on to poor performance too long. One of the things I learned from studying Dr. Henry Cloud’s work is from the book Necessary Endings. He said, “Usually, if you get into leadership and management, you care a lot about people.” There’s nothing wrong with being an individual contributor having that role. The Achilles’ heel with leaders is sometimes they care too much. They’re hyper responsible. They’re so hyper responsible to say, “It must be me. I didn’t give them enough training. I didn’t give them enough coaching. I didn’t give them enough guidance. We don’t give them enough marketing material. We don’t have a good lead.”
All of that can be true, but at some point, success is always a personal journey. You can control work. You can control activity. If you’re giving coaching and advice and they’re doing nothing with it, if they’re not doing the work to be successful, you’ve got somebody that’s either simply not motivated or we’ve unfortunately hired them and put them in the wrong role. They don’t like the job. They’re not motivated.
There is something missing there. You’ve got to take a look at it. In sales, I will always tell sales managers, “If the salesperson isn’t doing the work, it might be a self-limiting belief that they’re so nervous about calling on people like you, big office, big title, big money, or they simply lack work ethic.” You’re not going to do the prospecting activities it takes to build a business in a territory.
What other elements are we seeing with managers bringing up their employees for performance? We’ve talked about a lot of things as far as understanding that mental toughness, that grit. We’ve talked about elements of accountability and how to train those people that are learning from their mistakes. Are there other elements that leaders need to consider to ensure people are set up for success?'Don't confuse your do with your who.' Click To Tweet
This is a trend that I’ve noticed. During the pandemic, it was a big need to demonstrate empathy. People are homeschooling. They had parents that are in senior living locked down. I started seeing a trend where people started saying, “We need to get some work done. We need to get some blankety-blank souls.” I would say for all leaders out there, “Have these three EQ skills, empathy and assertiveness.
The assertiveness is you’re able to state what you need nicely. There’s one point where you can be showing so much empathy, but at some point, we do need to take action. We do need to move forward. That would also be called reality testing. I could almost tell it with these conversations changed with sales managers, we need to get something done. Here’s the self-awareness part. People are getting more nervous to have the accountability conversations, the truth-telling conversations, the feedback conversations, which we all know and agree this is how human beings change, grow and improve.
I certainly have with my wonderful mentors. They’re afraid to have the conversation because here’s the employee. They could either be making up the story or it’s real. I’ll just go on onto the next company. I get a little worried that we’re going to start creating cultures of mediocrity, because we’re worried about having the accountability conversation. That needs to happen more in the hiring process.
It’s having the truth-telling conversation, “The world’s your oyster. There are 5,000 jobs out there. Let’s talk about it,” and then testing that person to see, “Are they joining a culture because they want to be held accountable? Do they want a mentor that will challenge them and grow them?” We’re going to keep creating these cultures of excellence. I’m getting a little worried that it’s slipping into mediocrity. I don’t have anything to back that up other than my gut.
Having those meaningful conversations is important. What is some guidance that you can give for managers on how to frame that conversation? They’re told that, “You got to have those one-on-ones. You got to meet with your people, coach them and lead them through the process. Is there a step-by-step thing that managers should be thinking about when they’re going through that and preparing for and going through those one-on-one conversations?
The salesperson needs to set the agenda on a one-on-one coaching conversation, at least in the sales world. They need to own it. A lot of times, sales managers will set the agenda and it’s usually deal or deal. Let’s look at the numbers. I’m all about looking at the numbers. I like looking at numbers, but looking at numbers doesn’t change the number. Deal coaching changes the number. When the rep sets up the purpose and objective of the meeting, here’s where I’m stuck. I’ve looked at my numbers. Here’s what is going on, but I don’t know how to change it. That’s one coaching conversation.
The other one which is more of a performance coaching, that’s where I don’t think we can do a drive-by. You make sure, “Here’s my purpose and my intent. I’m a little concerned. You’re going to take this as if I’m micromanaging, not being fair and getting permission to give that feedback. When you give the feedback, make it clear that you have to have 1 or 2 examples. With that example, what’s its impact on the rest of the organization?
A lot of times, people forget, “My behavior is impacting other departments,” and then get agreed upon steps. That’s the part. Your company works in this all day long. I have been surprised at how many employees use a generic term. They are not aware of how their actions impact other human beings, other departments. If you’ve got a good person of integrity, they don’t want to be screwing up the accounting department. They don’t want to be screwing up the warehouse, but they don’t know it. That’s our job as leaders to point that out.
When we flip the angle on this, sometimes you might get a lot of feedback from the sales staff or the team overall that, “My leader is not so easy to work with. They’re not great coaches.” What are the first steps you take when you find that out in an organization?
I personally don’t think a sales manager should be a good coach. It requires different skills than being a top producer. We set up a lot of sales managers for failure. They’ve had all this success, prospecting, business development, good discovery calls, closing skills, presentation skills and negotiation. They take a right turn. Now I am a leader. I am supposed to transfer the habits, knowledge and skills that may be highly successful.
Teaching is a different skill than coaching. It’s not to look like I’m promoting my business, but where did that person learn how to teach and coach? It’s either going to be incumbent on the sales manager to go out and get that training. If the company is serious about development, provide that training. It is a different skill set than selling. There are some similarities, but that’s where we set them up to fail.
What does that look like? We have a group of managers who want to improve their ability to manage their people and get the best outcomes they can? There are different approaches you can go. There’s a classroom environment. You can have personal one-on-one coaching. What do you see most effective that companies do when they roll out these manager training programs?
My opinion could vary. I believe in delivering the training and then following it up with coaching. I don’t have anything to coach unless I’ve got models, framework and commonality of knowledge and language. That’s generally the approach that we use. Deliver the knowledge, but then follow up with coaching. That’s called the application work. It follows the adult learning model. First of all, it’s making people aware, “I am a brilliant sales producer. However, I’m not good at transferring these skills.”
Unless they’re aware of it, then they’re not going to buy into it. You teach them how people learn. I find it fascinating how people learn, deliberate practice and chunking material. You’ve got to practice with that manager because salespeople roleplay a lot. Their sales manager has a roleplay. Who roleplays with the manager? They’re getting ready to have this crucial conversation.
They’re sitting in their office going, “I’m going to say this.” They haven’t roleplayed it with anybody. Their tonality might be off. That’s what we call emotional expression. They might have a resting face. I encourage them also to find a peer in the company. If they’re a singular leader, find one outside of the company. Do roleplay. How is this sounding? How does this land? What’s the response I should expect so I can practice that?
I’ve talked to many organizations. They’re saying, “Why should we have this training?” I hired them to be a manager. They’re supposed to know these skillsets. When you’re going to an organization for them to create a budget around this and so forth, is there a certain dialogue that you have with them?
This is an interesting one where it gets into your target client. When I’m targeting clients, I must have proof that they are a learning organization. It is going to be difficult for me to go in and change a CEO’s mindset that has this, “Hire veterans. They should know how to sell and lead.” My standard answer is it’s a pathetic one, but so did the NFL and soccer teams. The last time I checked, those were little boys. They’ve been playing since they’re six. Can you imagine a professional coach saying “I’m not going to give them anymore training and coaching? They’ve been playing for sixteen years. It’s ridiculous.”
When I’ve used the example, I’ve gotten a, “Huh?” I’m generally targeting a learning organization. It’s got to be learning from the top. You start putting in your recruiting and hiring program. You hire learners. That’s a big one that’s missed. How many people have questions to bet the person’s appetite and aptitude for learning, aptitude for taking coaching? The biggest thing I see, sales managers, probably your first training module needs to be on how do you recruit and hire. If you want to make your life easy, get good people on board.
I agree with that, especially with your first comment as far as selecting your clients. I do the same thing as well. Mine is making sure that they’re employee-centric. They care about their people. They’re not like, “We’ll get rid of them and hire another one.
There is churn and burn cultures. That’s not who you’re going to work with. What was difficult for me during the first few years in this business, I would get really caught up in the buying signal. We value our people. We’re a learning culture. When you start digging in, if you value your people, you write a few checks. If you’re a learning culture, you don’t push back on having to spend some time in a classroom in coaching calls. You spend time, money and resources. I had to learn to vet that. I realized I’m not in the sales training, sales management speaking business. I’m in the commitment business. When you look at it, developing people takes a commitment. You’re putting in the time here hoping to see the result out there.
We’ve had a lot of activity on the chat. Do we have some questions that we want to bring up for Colleen? There are probably plenty of them.
There are not so much questions, just a lot of feedback about, “This has been insightful. Your approach is unique, genuine and hard not to listen to you.” I want to remind everyone. Colleen has an awesome mini-course that she’s giving away for free at the end. Stick around. That’s going to be awesome.” We can get people on the list to access that.
You send me the names. Once that course is completed, they’ll be the first ones to get it.
If anyone has questions for Colleen, please put them in the chat. I want to throw them out to her before we wrap things up. For now, we’re good on questions.
I want to acknowledge our sponsor. Our sponsor is TMA Method. TMA is a methodology for us to get to know our people better. They do this through assessments that are not geared towards a full talent equation. You can use it in hiring, personal development, succession planning and so forth. The most important piece of this tool is to generate that conversation with your people and understand where they want to go with their careers, build their talents, and develop them. If you’re interested in learning more about the TMA method, please reach out to me. I’ll set you up with a free assessment to go through that process.
I particularly love the TMA method. I use it in my business for competency development, ensuring that when we’re talking about a job, that what we know what is required for that job. If it’s the salesperson, we’re going to expect them to have certain types of competencies or for them to develop and build those competencies over time. I would like to hear from you, Colleen. When we’re talking about competencies and certain knowledge, skills, and abilities, what are the core behaviors required in a salesperson, both inside and outside the environment?People that become masterful at anything have delayed gratification. Mastery takes a lot of work. It's a lot of repetition. It's a lot of study. Click To Tweet
There are two sets you’re looking at. You’re looking at the soft skills and the hard skills. Let’s start with soft skills because those are often missed in the hiring and development process. I would say empathy is a big one. Most people have empathy. Sometimes in sales, they don’t bring it to the conversation because they’re so attached to the quota. They’re worried about hitting the quota rather than “meeting the client where they’re at.”
Assertiveness has been documented with research. It was a corporate executive board. They’re a part of Gartner. They started they profiled hundreds of top salespeople and assertiveness was found in the top sales producers. Isn’t it interesting? That’s a soft skill, not a hard skill there. I would also say optimism. When you take a look at it, optimistic people somewhat fall into that stress tolerance category where they manage stress wealth. Even if they have a setback, they seem to have this inner belief conviction that, “Everything’s going to be better, glass half full. I’m going to get a lesson even out of this setback.”
I have to laugh at this other one because I’m situational in this skill. It is something called impulse control or delayed gratification. We use the EQI, but that’s for our work and training, not pre-hire or anything. When I took my emotional intelligence assessment, my impulse control was, “About that, the paper ran out of ink. Here’s what we have to realize with that skill. It’s situational because I will put in the work to get good at something. Where my impulse control shows up is things come out of my mouth that should not. I need to develop my awareness.
I would say on the sales side is on the hard skills, depending on the role. With this group of young producers I was with, I said, “You’ve got to get good at prospecting.” Prospecting’s not only energy and resilience. It’s good at crafting the value proposition messaging statements. A lot of companies are missing it because prospecting is a lot about copywriting. If you can’t copyright a great value proposition, you can’t deliver it through email, phone, LinkedIn, what have you.
I would say on the discovery side, it’s not only asking good questions but here’s a big gap I’m starting to see. You’ve got people that are more educated. I’m not too worried about it because so are we. I get tired of salespeople going, “The prospects are getting more educated.” So are you. You got websites and LinkedIn. I sold back in the day when you knock down the door and you’re like, “This is who you are.” I digress. With the discovery process, there are questioning models out there.
However, you’re going to amp it when you can take your pre-call discovery work and then take that Intel and put it into a provocative question. Those are going to be the salespeople in the future that stand out. That’s a big one. Next is having the ability to manage your emotions through the budget, negotiation, and presentation skills. The big ones there are prospecting skills, discovery, and emotion management as you go through the budget and decision-making process to make sure you’re talking with all the buyers and getting paid what you’re worth.
One thing I would love to hear a little bit more about is the impulse control element. I’ve heard that this particular piece is so important for future success in a society that we have where we’re used to instant gratification. People are used to that in marketing, TV and everything. How do we overcome this? Can impulse control be built up as a skill? Can it be taught?
That’s the beauty of emotional intelligence. With commitment and focus, they can all be improved. The reason it’s important to improve is that starts with self-awareness. Where am I caving into instant gratification activity? Let’s take prospecting. You can lay out the activity plan, the number type of activity, wherever you’re at based on your product, territory and tenure. However, it takes delayed gratification to learn how to craft and deliver a good value proposition, write a compelling email.
It takes delayed gratification to build referral partner relationships. It takes delayed gratification to calendar block your calendar, so you’re setting aside consistent time for business development with new and existing accounts. How the impulse control shows up in the discovery process needs analysis. Most people that get into sales want to help people sincerely.
However, you say something to me like, “We need to have better closing rates. There’s a new decision-maker showing up on my team. They’re defaulting. They’re not asking the right questions.” I hear a buy-in signal and I immediately start providing solutions because I want to help you. You have to have that awareness. You don’t have the data. You’ve got some information but dig in deeper. That takes a lot of practice, which leads me to my third point.
People that become masterful at anything have delayed gratification. Mastery takes a lot of work. It’s a lot of repetitions. It’s a lot of study. When I see people not becoming masterful, we say, “They’re lacking the hard skills.” They lack the delayed gratification skills to put in the time to practice, get coaching and repeat. Those are probably three areas where that impulse control dramatically affects sales results and frankly, life results.
Thank you so much, Colleen. It’s been a pleasure having you on. Before we depart, can you tell our audience about more about your business and how they can contact you for more information?
Thank you for that. The business is sales development. There are three big buckets we play in. First is sales speaking. This is when you’re having your sales kickoffs or maybe regional meetings, we will come in. Those are what I call masterclasses, a combination of a keynote and teaching from the stage and. Next is sales leadership training. We’re getting companies to hire us for high potentials, people that are looking to get into sales management and then their sales leadership team. The third is the consultative sales training. All of these programs teach emotional intelligence skills, consultative selling skills, emotional intelligence skills and leadership skills. Everything is wrapped around the EQ umbrella.
You have a couple of books out. Where can people find your books?
I had a couple of little books hanging out. Amazon is probably the easiest place to get the books. If you the book, we always love hearing about it and a review is appreciated.
I’ve read them both and they’re wonderful reads. They are titled For Sales because Colleen is a sales expert. I have found that they are useful if you’re a leader in general and you’re wondering how to lead your teams. Those are applicable across the business, not just sales, but for sales, for sure.
Colleen, should they email you for the mini-course when it comes out? What would be the best way to get in touch?
Either through you or us, they can go to the website and say, “I joined the show. Put me on your list.” When the course is done, we’ll send out an email to them. I’d like to offer the same thing if they do purchase a book. We have book study guides on both. Go to our website. Go to the contact page and say, “I purchased your book. I would love to have the book study guide.” We’ll be happy to send that out as well.
Thank you so much, Colleen, for your time. It’s been a wonderful conversation. I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot.
Thank you for having me as your guest. You did a great job and round of applause because you’re only as good at talking as the interviewer.
Thank you for coming on back. It sounds like people were enjoying it in the chat. You have a good energy and the way you present. It felt like a three-hour session condensed. There was so much information in there. Thank you so much.
Thanks, Colleen. See you everybody else next time.
Colleen Stanley is president and founder of Sales Leadership, Inc., a sales development firm. She has also been named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers, Salesforce Top Influencers of the 21st Century and Top 30 Global Sales Gurus. Clients include Harvard Business Review Poland, IBM, PCL Construction, Gallagher, Otterbox, HomeAdvisor and Bosch Rexroth.