[00:00:00] Luigi Prestinenzi: Welcome. This is the Sales IQ Podcast. My name is Luigi Prestinenzi, and I'm on a mission to help salespeople be the best sales professionals they can be. Each week we will bring you a different message from thought leaders around the globe, so we can help you master the art of selling.
What do you do when things don't go to plan in sales? There's one thing you can guarantee. That's going to happen to you when working in the world of selling. And that is things don't go to plan. But what do you do when they don't go to plan? It's the relentless focus that high-performers have on mindset that allows them to break through the challenging barriers that exist when selling, and even when things are going to plan it's often, because one is really focused on building the right mindset. Building the mindset of resilience, building the mindset of abundance and not focusing on the scarcity side of selling. And that's what this week's episode is all about. And we have the author of How Good Humans Sell Catherine Brown who is going to talk about some of the things that she's done in her career and how she helps sellers build that mindset of resilience, build that mindset of growth to break down any barrier in any environment, in any economic environment to be the best sales professional you can be.
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This is going to be a great episode. Catherine comes not just with a level of expertise from selling, but she also comes to that level of science. And she brings the science component to what creates, you know, what sellers can do to create a really resilient mindset. So this is a great episode for any sales professional, trying to break down the barriers to be the best they can be.
So welcome to the show, Catherine.
[00:02:40] Catherine Brown: Thank you so much. My pleasure to be here.
[00:02:42] Luigi Prestinenzi: I know it's a late afternoon for you on a Friday, so you're probably keen to get to a beer or wine. Yeah. Keen to share your story with our listeners and talk a bit about. And how sellers can you know, adopt a growth based mindset to help them through good times and bad. But before we get into today's session, we'd love to learn a bit more about you and how you started in the world of sales.
[00:03:03] Catherine Brown: Thank you. I came in through recruiting. I actually thought I was going to be a professional musician and I felt like a way all that training helped me was that I had hundreds of hours on a stage and had to learn to manage myself and the emotions of managing myself, which sure comes up on sales calls. Right? Sure. It comes up when you feel nervous.
So. I came, I graduated university and my first couple of jobs out of college, where as internal recruiter positions, I realized pretty quickly that that was a form of selling because I was looking to make a match and see if this person that we wanted to hire was a fit.
And then I was the first recruiter inside one of those consulting firms to be promoted into an account manager position. Where I then receive more formal training and started to realize the whole sales process and which parts I liked the best and which parts I didn't. And that's kind of how it unfolded.
[00:04:03] Luigi Prestinenzi: Yeah, awesome. And what were some of the sort of, I suppose, milestones in your career that you, when you look back on, you're really proud of achieving?
One was to decide to become self-employed. So I probably was only eight years out of university and eight years selling. When I made a move across the country in the U S we moved to a small college town where it was not convenient to travel like it had been living in a larger town and I wanted to get off the road. And I had two little boys, was looking for a way to have a professional career, and I thought through, what do I know how to do? And what would someone pay me to do? And back in 2002, when this was very uncommon, I built a remote sales workforce with a boutique telemarketing firm, and people would contract through my people and we will cold call and generate leads for other companies. And so I had not all, but mostly professional moms who were looking for ways to keep their skills sharp, but for some reason, wanted to get off the road and were available to work on a contract part-time basis. I ran that company for 17 years, Luigi. I mean, it was, I know as a whole time I was raising my boys and served hundreds of companies and the lessons I learned in that business really is what propelled me to write some sales training material. Because at that point I had sat through so many already existing courses and noticed what my clients had done and what courses they've done and what they seem to still be struggling with and felt like, felt like there was still a gap. So all of those client experiences helped me get to where I am today and what I've written so far.
Yeah, fantastic and tell me what inspired you to write a book on How Good Humans Sell?
[00:05:56] Catherine Brown: I wanted to have something more digestible. I had the material in a curriculum form, but you had to buy the 12 week program to get to most of that and it felt a little bit too difficult. I also wanted to have a chance to reach more people. And I liked the idea of having a very inexpensive way that a person could get a bunch of the lessons. I did not know that the title and the message would resonate with people in the way that it is. It's extremely gratifying to have random messages coming in where people say, "I do feel like sales is too pushy and I did pick up the book because I was worried about whether I could retain my integrity and still be a good person, or be perceived as a good person and sell." And that's immensely rewarding and that has exceeded my expectations.
[00:06:51] Luigi Prestinenzi: Yeah. Fantastic. And tell us for those who haven't read the book what is one takeaway that they should expect? To receive from that book so that when they jump on and buy it post this episode, what's one thing they can expect it'll will help them be the best they can be?
[00:07:10] Catherine Brown: If you could take one thing, I believe what you'll take from it is a deeper appreciation and sincere belief that you want to keep going in the sales process and not give up so easily because you start to understand that you have a choice about what to believe.
Yeah, that's the big part. And it sounds so crazy, but people, whether they pay me $15 for the paperback, you know, $15 US dollars for the paperback book, or they spend thousands of dollars for me to come into a corporation. If everyone would persist a little bit more and stop making up stories in their head, that would be a victory.
[00:07:52] Luigi Prestinenzi: So talk to us about this, cause this is really interesting, right? So those stories that sellers or that we all create for ourselves in every aspect of life. Right? I mean, sometimes our worst enemy is the person living in our head. And I know I've experienced that throughout my professional career, also my personal life, when there's times where I'm telling myself something, and then I'm starting to believe that, right? And I think in sales, it's one of the, the, you know, the professions that we can build an incredible relationship with someone one day, progress an opportunity to a point of proposal, and then all of a sudden the buyer just disappears and starts to ghost us. And we then start making up stories about why they're ignoring us. Maybe I've done something wrong or have they selected another provider or maybe they don't want to do business with us. We don't actually know what the answer is. Right? It could be a whole combination of things on their end. How do you help sellers in what, you know, if somebody is listening to this going, you know what big chunk of my pipeline has just gone cold. What's a tactic or strategy that somebody can do kind of reframe the way they think so they can turn a negative into a positive?
[00:09:20] Catherine Brown: Super, super question. So the first thing that I would do is I would go back and look at my notes. I'm presuming you're keeping good notes in your CRM, right? That's our, that's our base assumption. You go back at your notes and you look at the last interaction you have, and you remember that to the best of your ability and you write down, what did they say? What did I say? What did we say was going to happen? Because that is actually the data that we really have.
I'm married to a research psychologist. And so we use words like data in our house all the time. And that is actually the only real data that we have. What exists up here in our brain is imaginary and stories and, and perception and inference. And it's not always wrong, but it's often wrong. Okay. So then once I have this baseline of, well, what was the, what was the last thing that happened? Let's say, let me see. It's not even just the example with the proposal, although that happens a lot. Maybe we met through something. We met through a virtual networking, or we had an interaction on LinkedIn and you said, contact me. So I follow up. I don't hear from you. I try again. I don't know if I try again.
This has happened to all of us many times. Even in that example, what was the real data you had? Well, it was that they said, contact me, let's get together. So one of the things I have my clients do regularly is when I sense that they're starting to spin out with a story or they start to recognize hopefully themselves.
Part of what we're trying to do is increase our own recognition and notice our own self-talk. So when that happens, what we could do is actually list, take that same piece of paper and list all of the things that it actually could be that are not bad, they just are. So they, they could be on vacation.
That's the time of year when, when we're making this recording. Okay. They could be busy with launching kids to school. They could be unbelievably distracted. So we went to have empathy and they will actually appreciate our follow-up with clear next steps, because that's a gift to them since they actually really do want to do something with us, but they have many competing priorities.
I make, I have a list actually on my website of the 10 lies we tell ourselves. And I'm making fun, a little bit of people about why, why, why not call? So I say, well, I can't call today because it's Friday. I can't call today because it's too early on Monday. I can't call today because it's a holiday. I can't call today because I just called a week ago. Right? These crazy things that salespeople will say, and then I'm poking fun a little bit, but everyone who reads that says, I know I'm there chuckling, but they're saying, I have thought those things. We all do that. So replacing that with viable possibilities based on real examples that we all have turns out.
I tell a story in the book where I talk about sending a proposal to someone. I thought was a complete slam dunk. I mean, I teach qualifying. I knew I qualified them on every front. I knew he was ready. I felt like the price was fair. And I didn't hear, didn't hear, didn't hear. And I walk my readers through what was going through my mind, where until actually attempt number four I was fine. I had no emotional feeling. I was following my own instructions in my CRM. No problem. Time number four is when his name popped up and it was time for me to follow up again in the sequence I had set up for myself and I looked at that and I thought, I don't know if I could do this because I was just starting to make it mean something that I hadn't heard from this person. And I did exactly what I am encouraging your listeners to do, which is to pause, look at what happened and say, there must be an explanation that has nothing to do with me.
[00:13:34] Luigi Prestinenzi: Such an interesting conversation thread and I talk through my experiences because I've worked in sales pretty much my whole life. Right. And I remember the days, and even now, sometimes I jump into my CRM and this some contacts or records that I'm looking at going, I need to call that person. And I look at it and go, yeah. Now go to the next one, because the next one's got a higher chance of engaging with me, the story that I'm telling myself, because maybe that person hasn't picked up after eight or nine times, because I'm pretty persistent in my prospecting. Right. Or and I've, you know, I think, and I've seen that I've been, I've worked in the bullpen before I've worked in. I mean pre COVID, right. I've been in on sales floors it's pretty much what I did every day. And I'd say to guys, you know, looking at their pipe, what's going on to this one? Oh, it's not ready yet. How do you know? Well, I don't know.
I think we do this a lot and, and not just in sales, so. All right. So what I'm hearing is you take a step back, you start to really think about, okay, let's actually look at some real life data that we have. And start to come up with some ideas on what's happening in their world, based on we've learned.
[00:14:45] Catherine Brown: I think that's really important because also it can increase our empathy. And this is a whole other conversation that we probably don't have time for today. But with the increase in what is available for internet marketing and people watching videos and augmented intelligence and artificial intelligence technology and sales, enablement technologies, and all these things, why do we need people? Well, there's still all of these people, parts of it, but I feel like what we want to do is be the very best people we can be. So that as late as possible in the sales process, I want the warmest lead I can get because they've researched and they've read about me and they've read about the company and they've watched the video of the demo or whatever it is when we finally talk, I want to show up and be my very best self and be fully all human empathy. And that doesn't have to be drippy emotional, but really what does it mean to show up as a person these days when there is so much that can be impersonal and effective. And so I like that exercise of what could be going on in my prospect's life, because it reminds you that they are a person just like you are a person, and aren't we also struggling with lockdown COVID homeschooling everybody working remotely increased stress. How is it that I have all this flexibility, but I seem to be working all the time. Everybody is in the same situation. And so you need to remember that so that when you do get the person, you don't make it weird. You're not passive aggressive. You believe the best. And you bring that energy with you because whether it's even straight out old fashioned phone, just like we used to work, or we can see each other on video, they can tell.
[00:16:42] Luigi Prestinenzi: The path you're going down, and this is where I like to split sort of top of funnel from active pipe, right. So, you know, our top of funnel prospects that we're engaging with, we've never spoke to them. We're reaching out across multiple channels. We are telling ourselves stories and those stories come from a place of unknown. Even the research that we do is still, there's a lot of assumptions in those, in that research, right?
But I think the stories we tell ourselves post that initial engagement, when we've actually earned the right to have a discovery call, learn a bit about our prospect and we start to progress the opportunity. I think there's an opportunity for, from my perspective, I often say, okay, let me think if something is happening and I, I get it, I'm a big believer in the empathy part of the sales process, but often it's an indication for me that have I done enough? Have I asked the right questions early in the process that's allowed me to understand what's happening in the prospect's world. What are some of the other priorities that they focused on right now?
Are there projects, are they transformational initiatives that you know, he or she's working on that could distract them from my conversation? Because often from a seller's perspective, we think, you know, the project that I'm trying to talk to you about, or the product or service it's important to me.
And yes, there's a level of importance from the buyer, but it's one of 30 to 40 things that they're probably thinking about every single day. And so there's only so much mind share that they have to spend on certain things. And if it, and that's where I think this whole premise of the stories we tell ourselves is so important to really just take a step back and remove that a level of emotion that it's not about us, right?
[00:18:44] Catherine Brown: That's right. That part of the qualifying criteria that I would like to see be somehow more normalized. I don't quite have this model figured out in my head, but if you were the sales director or vice president of sales overseeing a big enterprise sales team, I wish there were ways that people were rewarded for doing more of the right thing. And sometimes the right thing is to kick something back to marketing.
I think about all the hours I spent really not listening carefully because I was trying to talk them into something being more urgent than it actually was in their life. And I think part of it is I didn't have the skill to ask enough open-ended questions and really hear what they're saying.
And part of that truthfully is that I had a lot of pressure on me and I did not have the liberty to really make the right decision at the moment because I was being shortsighted. And it's so ironic. Right. I hear myself telling the story and I think here's the problem. If you drag things out, because you're trying to talk people into things or make something a priority when they are so goal diffused, they have so many things going on.
You actually filling up your time and you have an opportunity costs by not moving on, but you show up to meetings, you have things to share. You feel like you're working and what would it be like for us and with our relationship with sales and marketing. If it were okay to qualify in or out more quickly based on timing and urgency, where you could say this is actually a marketing lead and I'm happy for you go, some other kinds of action will know you kick it back to me. And has that all been. Okay. And maybe even more than, okay. Have it be amazing. This is what smaller businesses can do. An individual sellers can decide for themselves, but the bigger the organization gets, the more, it gets hard to make those kinds of decisions. Ironically, even though you have more tech to help you.
[00:20:55] Luigi Prestinenzi: Yeah. It's interesting. And you know what I do think about this quite a lot. This is something that I've thought about. And I continue to think about right this whole qualified out qualified in I'd actually spoke about to this with Tony Hughes yesterday. And if I had qualified out or in, you know, let's look at the qualification process, MEDDICC or BANT band, whatever this there's so many out there, right. But if I did the qualification process on some of the biggest deals I ever did, I wouldn't have won those deals because they didn't have budget. They didn't have it. Wasn't a priority for them at the time. But through deep discovery, we co-created a business case for change. Like we, we, we worked out that actually there's an unrecognized need here that unrecognized need within that organization was costing them X amount of dollars.
And they needed something to move the needle to improve that and refinish that cost. And then we created the business case actually that you good, old trusted Miller Heiman, blue sheets, a situational appraisal summary. So, and this is where I'm a little bit challenged by the qualification frameworks and yes, I think they're important.
And there's some questions that we need to ask, but I think what I'm loving about what you're saying around the stories we tell ourselves is sometimes, you know, timing can be a barrier and it's a fine line between saying to a prospect. I can see, you know, helping them identify a need for change, but if they're just not ready to change, because that's what great selling is about.
It's about helping somebody change from current state to future state. If they're not exactly ready for change, and we try too hard to move them when they're not ready, right, we're breaking the relationship. Like there's a, there's a relationship barrier that then is put in place because they feel like, Hey, you don't understand where I'm coming from. You're not empathizing with me and my, my situation. And just trying to think, you know, great sellers, what they do differently is, they don't look at the short term is they're thinking long-term and because they have healthy pipelines they can hold certain ops, nurture them, build that relationship until they're ready to make change. Love to hear your thoughts on that.
[00:23:23] Catherine Brown: I totally agree. One thing I've seen as a theme through your podcast is this idea, you use different language for it, but it's what I would call the customer transformation that everyone is always moving toward. Not just about the product or service that we're talking about are myself and my finance department or whatever. It's about me as a person too. Like I'm on a journey. I am the hero of my own story and I'm on a journey and everyone who can assist me in some way of getting there, it gets my attention. And sometimes what we're selling, doesn't match what they want to do next in their journey. And so part of that careful listening, but I think is part of qualifying is that sometimes the opportunity is not for you yet. And you become a resource to them for something else. That is a preliminary step. And again, this is a liberty and j oy that I have because I sell for myself. And I recognize that the size of the organization, the structure, all those things affect how easy it is to implement what I'm saying.
But I do recognize that I think the ideal scenario that we want to move toward though, is that we, if we really think that selling is something we do for somebody, and that selling really is helping, then we have to listen to how they want to be helped right now and what they're telling us. Make sure and confirm this the case and then do what is the next right thing.
And what I don't like is definitions of selling that say that the definition of selling is to take them through a process that will always lead to closure. That's just not true now. Maybe, maybe, eventually it's true for most of them, depending on how long have you, you have, but that type of thinking, it feeds desperate behavior.
It keeps you from listening. It puts you in this fight or flight. People can tell. And what I talk about in the book is that it feeds this negative stereotype, which is one of the reasons that we have a global shortage of amazing salespeople.
[00:25:33] Luigi Prestinenzi: Yeah. But I'm completely aligned with that. And on a, I know that you, you know, my philosophy on this is that yes you know, close ratios, important, conversions and all that's important. Right. But fundamentally, if we're going into a sale and our primary objective is closing so I can get my commission, and I know there's a lot of gurus out there that'll, that'll talk this type of mentality up, they're fundamentally focused on the wrong thing, right?
Because again, it's not about us. And I'd argue this with any guru professional, you know, I, I I'm, I'm on, I'm still on my journey. I've put some, some, some significant deals together and all of those deals came together because my primary focus was on my customer. My customer, my prospect was at the center of everything that I did.
And that's what I love about the message that you're putting out, because it's about saying, Hey, it's okay if they don't buy from me. Right. Some of the best referrals I've got was from people that didn't buy from me because they enjoyed the experience. Right. They learned through the process, they were educated, they discovered more about what they needed. And they discovered that they learnt stuff. I created value for them. Yes. Before they even purchased anything.
[00:26:55] Catherine Brown: Yes, and how much more, how many more referrals will you receive when people know that you will treat their referral that way? Yeah, every person, I, I mean, I know people know that of me and that they can say sincerely, why don't you talk to Catherine and see if that's, if, if working with her or her team is the right next thing, and she'll tell you if it's not, and she'll give you some suggestions, let's talk to her next.
Yeah, and they can have have confidence in that. And I think that could be true for any of us. And that's a benefit of doing things for a long time. When you're in these professions for a long time, you do develop such an extensive network that you can ask. If not me, who? I think that this amazing thing about technology, the conversation we're having, the fact that we would even meet this, this is, this is an example where people can even be friendly competitors or complimentary services, and there is plenty for everyone and I'm not right for everyone. And that is great.
[00:28:06] Luigi Prestinenzi: Absolutely. Not everybody's my perfect customer. You know, I keep talking about your ideal customer profile and I'm reading, or just about finished a book by Sam Graham. ABM is B2B big fan of it. I'm a big fan of the whole concept of really identifying your target market and serving them. Not everybody's your target customer, right? Loving and serving them. Enabling them. I think is a, is a key part of the process. So I want to go back a step. So you mentioned earlier those stories, we say, we tell ourselves we can create, you know, unwanted stress and a whole range of things, but if you're a seller, if you're a marketer, anyone listening to this particular episode what's one thing apart from the, you know, looking at the data, but what's one thing they can do to start to really reframe things, because I think that's a key thing, you know, we're getting up every day.
I think the pandemic you know, is, is, has been a huge global issue that I don't think anybody would have ever anticipated going through what we've gone through. We're still in lockdown where I am. Right. But over, over the course of our life, there are times, you know, when you're really up and there are times of crisis.
And I think in selling you experienced times of crisis, if you're selling a long time, very hard to be the top every single month, quarter, year. Yes. So what, what are some things sellers can do to reframe some things in their mind from a mindset perspective, that'll help them flip from the negative to a positive.
[00:29:38] Catherine Brown: Yes. One of the things that I have doubled down on during the pandemic is a more vigorous and dedicated morning routine. And because I'm married to this research scientist, we look for data in our household and I had in the past been maybe, maybe suspicious is the right word to doubtful suspicious of a lot of gurus that are about just straight out personal development.
Like all mindset and kind of getting even into some of the [inaudible] stuff. I was pretty suspicious of a lot of the benefit of affirmations, for example, or the benefit of visualization or the benefit of journaling. And I have completely changed my mind on all of those things, because I see the time I spend in writing my reframing and my affirmations about the value I provide people, which I do every day. The journaling that I do, as I read every morning to continue to be learning and activate my creativity about how to serve people even better. As I do that every day, I do it seven days a week. I don't even take off during the weekend because then I have trouble getting on board Monday if I stopped. So I, I have a routine seven days a week. That is a deep time investment in me for me. So I can then go out and serve and you know, the very tired analogy of the oxygen mask when you're flying. I remember the first time I was told that and I had little kids and I remember hearing that and thinking I don't, I still don't understand why I would put the oxygen mask on myself and then my child, I think I would want to put it on my child at first.
Like I did not understand what they were saying. And I think now I go, oh, okay. Because I really have to have something to pour out and give. And so I would say a faithful commitment to that personal and professional development that you stick with regardless of your emotion, because here's the thing. I think you'll like this, this acronym, I got this from Mary Hyatt. Mary Hyatt is an executive coach. I like her podcast. And she talks about this. This acronym called B E A R. So like a bear B E A R. It says beliefs lead to emotions, emotions lead to action and action leads to results.
So isn't that great. So she said B E A R beliefs lead to emotions, emotions lead to actions, actually, as a result, if you wonder what you believe you work backwards. What results did I get from the actions I took, which was probably fueled by the emotions I had, which were held up or harmed by my beliefs. And, and so I think that because we know that emotion really has too much power in our life. We want to notice when we feel like we're being taken away. By our emotions or feel particularly low and recognize this is, this is a physiological response, this will pass. And I doubled down on my routine that is helping me get reframed about why I serve. That's what I do.
[00:33:11] Luigi Prestinenzi: And that's, you know, for all my listeners. They know about, I'm a big believer, good Mindset Monday podcast, and it talks about all this stuff, you know, that the early learning or teachings of Jim Roan or Earl Nightingale that talks about not to focus on the result, the result is the wrong metric to focus on. Yeah. And I just want to, you know, again, double down as, as, as per your words for any seller, listening to this, anyone listening to this if the result is what you're after, if you're looking to improve that result, you've got to go back and sit and think about how were you preparing yourself to achieve that success?
Catherine, I just want to say, I really appreciate you sharing your ideas on mindset and creating the right level, the right story to be the best you can be. So I want to say thank you for coming on the podcast just before we let you go. Where can our listeners It's behind you and, and where can they buy your book? And we'll put that in the show notes.
[00:34:11] Catherine Brown: Thank you so much. So my book is called How Good Humans Sell. It is on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle and starting January of 2022, depending on whenever they hear this, it will also be on Audible, so that is in process. Everything about me is available at my website, which is extra bold sales.com E X T R a B O L D extra bold sales.com. And then my most prolific platform is LinkedIn. So that's a good place to connect with me.
[00:34:30] Luigi Prestinenzi: Fantastic. Well, we'll make sure we put them in the show notes. Catherine I want to say thank you for the contribution you make to our profession. It's people like you that are helping elevate sellers to be the best they can be. I want to say, thanks for coming on the Sales IQ Podcast.
[00:34:59] Catherine Brown: Thank you so much for the opportunity.