In this episode, we have Donald Kelly, Founder and Chief Sales Evangelist at The Sales Evangelist Consulting Firm, to discuss how to get the right mindset for sales.

In this episode we discuss:

What are your thoughts on sales reps’ mindset these days and beyond?

It is everything because – We think we talked about on your show, we finished watching Jordan’s Last Dance recently. One of the things that I saw in Michael Jordan’s Last Dance is just the way that he thought. His skillset was, by far, the best. His skillset became the best because of the way that he thought. 

What I’m interacting with sales reps and I’m seeing them, I find a lot of sales rep now, they’ve just been – I feel like it’s kids who have been slapped on the hand one too many times, so now they’re afraid to go and ask for anything. The premise now is like, “Well, I want to go reach out to people. Nobody’s going to answer their phone. Nobody’s going to do this.” If you believe that, that’s so true. It’s not going to happen. I think Henry Ford said it where if you believe you can or believe you can’t, then you’re right. 

Right now, I, for instance – I know certain industries are still thriving, still succeeding, still doing pretty darn well. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if – most sales rep who are in those industries right now who are doing well, it’s not that one sales rep all of a sudden had magic and the other one didn’t. The other one just believe that he or she could do it and then she went out and did it and took action. 

I feel that many of us, we need a frame of mind that we cannot go back into the new normal with the old COVID timid bad mindset. It’s just oxymoron. It doesn’t work. It will not be conducive to any one’s success at all. 

The first thing that a sales rep need to do is, one, believe. I used to always say desire is the most important thing but believe. Believe is your set of attitudes, it’s the way that your outlook on life, your outlook on world. Your understanding, your concept. If you have a belief that you’re going to succeed, if you have a belief that you’re going to get into a prospect. If you have a belief that people want or need what you have, it’s going to translate into your action so you are going to make those phone calls and you are going to use LinkedIn. You are going to send those videos. You are going to be creative. You, more than likely, are going to get the opportunities over someone who does not believe who have that mindset. You have to change the crap in your head. 

Especially right now in COVID. 

One of the things that I’ve learned is that in the pandemic environment, what sales reps are doing that’s harming them – and you might say, “Donald, that’s no big deal.” Is that they’re getting up in the morning, rolling out of bed, and then they’re just putting on a t-shirt and then making the calls or send emails. 

Just think about that for a second. If you understand the way that someone thinks in a way the brain operates in neuroscience is that you’re going to go into this sluggish, energy-less, depressing mindset. I encourage sales reps that they get up each morning, they take a shower, or do a workout, take a shower, or listen to a podcast, listen to a book, or something. The same things you would do on a regular day. Your brain doesn’t know any different that it’s a regular day versus a non-regular day. Your brain is going to then propel you to act based on that belief that you already have. 

Imagine if a sales rep get up in the morning and she does a quick workout. Does 30 minutes and then she listens to her podcast, she gets pumped up. She has her spiritual –whatever thing that she does, and she’s spending an hour doing all of this stuff, and she takes a shower, gets her breakfast, eat something, and then hits the phones or hits LinkedIn, or hits email, or starts working. She’s going to operate at a much more confident level than the sluggish sales rep sitting around in his Fruit of the Looms draws. There’s a huge difference and that’s where the power of mindset comes in. 

The last episode with Jordan Last Dance, the thing that he shared, and what everyone shared. The thing that separated MJ from everybody else was the way that he thought. He never focused on missing the shot. Even though there’s a high chance or potential that he could miss the shot, he said, “Why would I focus on missing? I focus on making the shot.” Don’t focus on people not answering, people not replying, people not using LinkedIn, people not buying. Who cares about that? Focus on the ones that are going to happen. There is a percentage. There is a group. And have the belief that they’re there. I’m not sure if this is making any sense there.

What’s the biggest challenge reps are facing now and possibly in the future?

From my experience working with sales teams and coaching sales reps, two things. The first one I would say – I know you asked for one. The first thing that I would share is their inability to be able to get enough people to speak with. You’ve seen it, and I’ve seen it as well. Especially with folks who are BDR’s or some sales reps working with companies where they’re doing the whole gamut where they’re the sales rep, the cook, the bottle washer, and taking care of the whole process. 

Even the AE’s who still have the prospect because it gets fed by an internal system with my BDR’s, but they still have to develop their own business. The biggest thing that I share is that they do not put enough in the top of the funnel. It’s this continual running back to that part of the game. They’ll work that deal and take it down to the pipeline. Hold on to that like the only thing in the entire world which I’m not seeing you don’t give close relationship and personalize relationship to those that you’re working with. But you have to set time, dedicated time, to finding new business. I do not understand why we don’t do that often enough. Well, I lied. I do understand because it’s a challenge.

he discomfort and the challenge and then you have this – Again, you can go back to the belief. You have this belief that it’s going to be difficult. 

What I used to tell myself every single day, you can have mantra, you can have Confucius, you can have Buddha, you can have God, whatever your thing is. But I used to send something up every day saying, “Listen, I know there’s somebody out there who is in need of what I have today.” Give me that energy, or that power, the capability to find them. And then that belief or the understanding that now I’m getting some supernatural help encourage me to be able to go out than to act because it was in my belief system. 

It was amazing that when I did that, all of a sudden I saw people or caught – got in touch with someone or, at the end of the day, I went ahead and I spoke to someone who is at the office. They were leaving at 5 o’clock. It somehow always worked out. But sales rep, they have this fear, or this discomfort, or this inability to set that time. Easiest thing you can do is just to time block it. We force our self in our organization at first, and then it became a desire because, I’m telling you, not everybody really wants to just camp out and make phone calls or send out LinkedIn messages or send emails all day. You want to be able to interact, and to talk, and to go through that. The meat of the sales process building strong relationship and value and to guide them down to a conversion stage, but you have to. You have to pay the piper, so to speak, and you have to put stop in the top of the funnel. I would encourage – I think that’s the biggest disconnect that sales reps have. If you don’t have the top of funnel, then nothing else happens at the end. 

The second part that I would share in a process is that they do not or the biggest – the second biggest challenge that I’m seeing is that when they do get those individuals, they jump too quick. I ran track and field and one of the things that I learned in track is that you have to – don’t focus necessarily on – You need to focus on right now and right here at this part of the race. I envisioned that I’m going to be at the finish line and win, but right now, I need to give my all. 

Especially when you do a 400-meter, that is the most grueling race in track. That, and the 400 and 800. Two most grueling race I feel. In the 400, you’re running pretty much a whole sprint around the track. The energy that you dispelled, the energy that you give at the very beginning and throughout that race needs to almost always be consistent to some degree. But at the very, very end, you need to give a lot as well. 

When it comes to words in the sales process, I feel that sometimes sales reps, they always just want to focus on that trophy at the end and they skip steps in that process and don’t give it their all in the discovery, and don’t give it their all in the demo, and don’t give it their all in getting the right people in the process. 

I believe what we teach in our organization, the close starts or happens at the discovery stage. Point me to a good sales rep and I can point out to you, he or she, if that person is – what the probability of that person is going to have at converting that prospect if they have a strong discovery. If the discovery is weak, it’s more than likely going to be a detriment again later on because they skip step and you cannot skip steps in the process. It’s like baking a cake, too. You might say, “Well, I’m just going to put the butter in when I feel like it. Good luck.” We did that once and I’ll never do it again because my cookies turn out to be hockey pucks. It wasn’t too good. 

What are some of those qualities that leaders should be looking for in sales reps?

One of the things that I feel sellers, of all levels, have and they should – it’s a great quality, is their ability to obviously – The good thing, let me just look at all the way across because we just talked some of the challenges. The good thing I feel that most sales rep have is a stamina in the sense that they are willing to do this job in the first place because this job is a ruling job. This job, it’s one of the most challenging job in the organization. To be able to come in and to do that job, the fact that you’re here already showing up, that’s fantastic and I commend you for doing it. 

The second thing that I would share that sales reps do really good job at, a lot of them have a great way of communicating with people. At least having a conversation. I think where it comes back to, what we’re seeing the challenge is that they don’t know often times what to say and how to articulate those particulars about building enough value. They want to get templates, they want to get ideas, they want to get coached from people like you or folks like me. I think that part is really good for them and this excitement of going for the win. 

The greatest sales reps I feel, they don’t fight for the money. They fight for a win. They’re just super competitive individuals and, I think, that’s one of those qualities that makes – I’m not necessarily competitive against other people often times, but competitive against themselves. They always want to beat their yesterday. 

Again, I love my track and field example. Track and field is one of those sports where you beat the clock and that’s really yourself. If I focus on beating Tom too much, then I’ll find myself an issue. 

We’re running a race and you’re right behind me. If the moment I take my turnaround to look at you, I am becoming less aerodynamic and I am defeating myself. But if I focus straight ahead and focus on the clock, and if I focus on the time that yesterday I got 10.5, let’s see if I can get 10.2 today. That’s what I need to compete against. I feel that’s one of those areas that can help. The sales reps were competitive, the ultracompetitive that want to compete against themselves, they’re beat their yesterday. Those are the things what I look for. 

Belief is my very, very first thing. I find out what the sales reps believes, I find out some of the things that they’ve accomplished. How they’ve gone about doing that. Try to help to decipher that idea because if I don’t – if somebody can’t believe, or willing to believe, then I can’t help them. There’s absolutely no way you can. They believe they’re doomed to fail, then you’re never going to succeed. 

I want to find somebody that has a belief, but I also want to find somebody that’s also competitive. Competitive against them self, and also just helping competition amongst the team. It show that they have done some things that challenge their norm or challenge their way of thinking or the way of performance. Usually, sometimes, those are athlete or usually those are artists who – they played music or play the guitar and always want to be better at it, but somehow if I can decipher that, those are some of the qualities that I would look for. We can train them on the rest, but you can’t come with that. It’s going to be in your detriment.

Loving to win versus hating to lose

I would say loving to win versus hating to lose. Let’s start with the latter. Let’s start with the losing part. 

Hating to lose. People who hate to lose is because of one reason. Maybe one reason or another. With my career in sports, and then eventually I went into the brain stuff. I started to, one, become an attorney at one point. In high school, I went into speech and debate. That helped me with my performance in speaking. When you win and lose then – in like another time, it’s the worst thing in the world because you know your potential or where you could have been and where you have performed and, I think, that’s why they hate to lose so bad. 

If I’ve done so well over the past – let’s say I’m a sales rep. I’ve done so well over the past three quarters and I hit my target, and then now, the fourth quarter, I am missing my target. That will feel – it just give me a pain in my pit, in my stomach, or my chest that make my heart, my brain makes me feel or know that I performed less than where I was capable of performing. I think that’s one of the biggest disappointments we can have in life is knowing that you have regrets or knowing that you didn’t do your all to get there. 

Let’s say a sales rep did. She did her all and she did everything impossible as she could and she still didn’t hit her target, it still stings, but it’s okay, but it’s still not acceptable in the grand scheme she’s going to do while she can next quarter to hit back the win. I feel that it’s this fear of losing or this hating to lose comes back to that. 

Also, competitive as well, if you have in sports. If you’re competing against all the teams and that team beats you like Jordan and when you’re fighting against the Detroit Pistons for several years, that was brutal. This idea of hating to lose because you know in your mind that you are the best, it causes you this tension. And that tension, however, causes you to want to do whatever you can to win. That’s why, I would say, start up with that and that’s my thoughts in it. 

The other side of wanting to win, again, I mean who does not want to win? Who does not want to hit their target? Who does not want to be able to go to president’s club? Who does not want to take care of their family? Who does not want to earn that extra commission? Who doesn’t want to win at those things? Who doesn’t want to feel that they did their very best? And that love to win, again, it becomes contagious. 

I can tell you, we have a room next door – my son took it over now, but we had a bunch of trophies in there and his closet now has this big box with all dad’s trophies. Until we move to our next place, we’ll have a little shrine in basement or somewhere. But all the trophies, I just started collecting them. Especially in Toastmaster, I became an award winning speaker with that and then I spoke at national level. All these things because I became super competitive and addicted to the win that I wanted to get the next thing and I wanted to do all I could. I did not want, again, to relent on my capabilities because I knew where I was and then the expectation of my wife, expectation of other people around me because they knew that I could perform in that moment. Go back to sales again. Same idea. When you are in a team, at times, and you need to get your team quota and your is believing in you. They know you’re like – Tom is always going to hit that, hit his numbers as well. We can count on Tom to carry the team as well.

It gives you this propellant, it gives you this energy, this excitement, and this – I don’t know, this endorphins when you win and it becomes addictive. That was my thoughts on it. They hate to lose because they know they perform less than it capabilities and I love to win because of the thrill of the fight and the thrill of it. I’ve coached a couple of sales reps right now and that’s some of the things that they shared is like, “Yeah, the money is good. I got the money, but it’s not the money that I want right now. I just like to win. I want to land those opportunities.” I want to do that.

What do you think every sales rep should be focusing on for the next three to six months?

I would say what a sales rep should be doing right now, there’s a couple of thoughts that come to mind. The first one is that sales rep need to be willing to look at the area. I get all these points that comes, but the first one, I would say, is look at the areas. Go back to the last comment that we made. Look at the areas that you’re weak at. That needs to be, again, open dialogue. That maybe you sent down with your manager in you’re one-on-one or sitting down with some of your teammates, or sitting down with some of your clients, and asking those tough questions: Where do you feel – not my company, but where do you feel that I could improve? What do you feel that I could do better at? Asking your spouse or asking a best friend. What do you feel like would be better and be willing to change?

Number two is also looking for where the puck is going to be. One of the ways that you can look for where the puck is going to be, which I know you already talk about, and you’re a big proponent of, and you’re a big believer in, is taking advantage of social. Taking advantage of using LinkedIn effectively. Taking advantage of – I’m also a big proponent of this and I’m pushing it and I’m going to tell you and you’re going to be awkward or maybe it’s difficult for you, but it’s to use video. It’s to use video. It’s to use video. It’s to use video. The reason why I say, you have to be flexible and recognize that you don’t necessarily know everything. The way that you’ve done things are going to evolve. 

Think about this: People are locked up in their houses with this pandemic, or they’re staying behind – whenever you’re listening to this podcast, but there’s something that happened when individuals are able to see another human being. There’s a humanity level that rises. It’s in our nature from caveman days where we like to connect with other people who are like us, or who – we recognize people in our industries or just to connect with other human beings in the first place. 

Imagine if you were to send a video, personalized video, and Jo was to send a text/email to a prospect, and that you personalized it towards that individual. You put out their name. You talk about something great that they’re doing in their company that you saw, and then you share a challenge that you recognized a problem that they have in their organization, a solution that you have an opportunity to solve. Who do you think is going to more than like to get through? It’s the sales rep who is different. A sales rep who is creative. That sales rep, she also may send something, a voicemail on LinkedIn after connecting with this particular prospect. Those things are different, but they’re also who brings that personal level, and then somebody is able to use more of their senses. 

When you send a text email, it’s one sense that’s being used and that’s your sight, but when you send a video, someone has to use their sense of singing, their sense of listening, and then also to comprehend your facial expressions. Those things help us to connect with an individual on a different level. 

Going back to the question and to my answer to that, one, is being able to recognize your own limitings, places where you’re stuck, or places where your friends and family see that you’re challenge, and that maybe your inability to be flexible. Two, going to where the puck is and wonder to the place where the puck is gone because people become so much more – they create this human connection is utilizing video, utilizing audio, and social. 

You can also see what a puck is going to be when you have platforms like LinkedIn on their app creating those measures with video and audio. When you have people like you or doing videos so much and seeing success with it, it should tell you something that this is what a puck is going to go. Being willing to do that, being willing to invest your time in social and being willing to invest your time in video, I think those are places I would recommend sales reps to go. 

When I say puck, for those who are unfamiliar, as a Canadian, you probably recognize that. It’s hockey.

For folks in far east, maybe it’s football and soccer. You’re not going to go right where the traffic is, go and get opening. You can get that past. Where is this ball going to go? 

Dennis Rodman, too. He always said that. It’s funny watching him. They have some memes about him, but I didn’t realize the science that he followed in his performance and how – like you said, Jordan raised everyone to their level. Dennis understood when the ball hits certain part of the rim where it was going to go and that’s why he was the king of rebounds. You couldn’t beat him.

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Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

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