22. Developing a High Performance Sales Culture

August 31, 2020 00:52:03
22. Developing a High Performance Sales Culture
The Culture of Leadership
22. Developing a High Performance Sales Culture
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Hosted By

Brendan Rogers

Show Notes

  Alex Dawson is a Senior Consultant for the Asia-Pacific region with RAIN Group, which is a global sales training and performance improvement company. His primary focus is working with companies to deliver profitable growth through impactful sales transformation programs. Alex also founded Positive Scenario in 2016, driven by his belief happiness is the key to personal and organisational success, and inspired by the findings of Shawn Achor and other thought leaders in positive psychology. Prior to founding Positive Scenario, Alex held many positions with Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory firm. Over 15 years, he held national and regional roles in Brisbane, Hong Kong and Sydney. His many achievements ranged from turning low performing businesses into recognised top performers to establishing and growing successful new businesses. In his facilitation and consulting, Alex leverages his extensive international experience and many years of leading teams to world class performance. Using scientifically proven tactics and principles, he works with executives and leadership teams to enable positive cultural change that leads to major improvements in business results. The focus of our conversation today is developing a high performance sales culture...     If you have any questions for Brendan around this episode or generally around culture, leadership or teamwork, feel free to contact him here.
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:03 Welcome to the culture with Brendan Rodgers. This is a podcast where we talk culture leadership and teamwork and plus business in spoon. Speaker 1 00:00:21 Hello everybody. I'm Brendan Rogers, the host of the culture things podcast. And this is episode 22. Today. I'm talking with Alex Dawson. Alex is a senior consultant for the Asia Pacific region with rain group, which is a global sales training and performance improvement company. His primary focus is working with companies to deliver profitable growth through impactful sales transformation programs. Alex also founded positive scenario in 2016, driven by his belief. Happiness is the key to personal and organizational success. Prior to founding positive scenario. Alex held many positions with Gartner. The world's leading research and advisory firm. Over 15 years, he held national and regional roles in Brisbane, Hong Kong, and Sydney in his facilitation and consulting. Alex leverages his extensive international experience and many years of leading teams to world class performance. The focus of our conversation today is developing a high performance sales culture. Alex, welcome to the culture things podcast, mate. Speaker 2 00:01:24 Thanks very much, Brandon. Great to be here. Thanks for inviting me. Speaker 1 00:01:28 Absolute pleasure. My and your coming to us from beautiful bar and by what's it like up there today? Speaker 2 00:01:34 I am indeed. And I'm very fortunate to say that I feel very blessed to be looking out upon a blue sky with lots of sunshine. So it's very pleasant appear to diaper in it. Okay. Speaker 1 00:01:43 Given a bit of a, I guess the formal introduction and just to paint a picture of your extensive experiences, both in Australia and overseas, how about you give a little bit of a flavor about your own sort of career journey and maybe one or two highlights and where that's brought you to today? Speaker 2 00:02:00 I'd say my career journey is one that started really in earnest here in Australia when I moved here over 20 years ago and I was a lowly it recruiter who was yearning to get into something other than recruitment. I was fortunate to land in Gartner in a sales role. And I say fortunate because they went on a journey in the time I was there from not being a particularly sales led organization to what I would consider being a world class sales organization. So I was really, really fortunate to have learned a whole heap of stuff around sales and leadership and personal as well as professional development. I jumped ship from Gardner to start my own business positive scenario focused on how can you use the science of happiness, namely positive psychology to drive better personal and business performance. In doing that, I went back to selling from sales leadership, which was probably one of the milestones in more recent time that I spent about nine months just prospecting. Speaker 2 00:03:10 And interestingly selling happiness was a lot harder than I thought it might be. And I certainly learned a lot on that journey, which brings me to where I am today. I still deliver Sean Akos happiness advantage content and other related positive psychology concepts to clients. But I also spend a large amount of my time working for reign group as a senior consultant. And I think if I look at the summit of where my career has gotten to so far and hopefully it's not reached the absolute top, what I get great pleasure out of now is the combination of what I learned in my sales and sales leadership career at gardener as they went through their growing pains and developed some matured, as well as what I learned through my personal passion around positive psychology and the science of happiness, all coming together in this one role that I do now with rain in that I spend my time helping sales leaders and our senior executive leaders build high performance sales organizations, helping them build positive cultures that allow their sales people to thrive and perform, which obviously makes everyone happy. So I consider myself very fortunate that through a meandering path over the last three to five years, I've been able to find a role that brings my passion for people and growth together with my experience and skills in sales and sales leadership. Speaker 3 00:04:38 You've really taken that nicely into the, into our topic today, which is around the high performance sales culture. What does a high performance sales culture look like? Speaker 2 00:04:48 I think there are some key characteristics for me and the way that the leaders show up, I firmly of the belief culture is the result of the behaviors and attitudes you observe in all employees in the business. I believe you can't move that unless you start with the leaders and cascade them down. So the types of things I look forward to as characteristics of a high performance sales culture are the leaders themselves are approaching that leadership role from a perspective of servant leadership as opposed to self serving leadership. So it's about them recognizing that that salespeople don't work for them. They work for their salespeople. And this is perhaps something that turns the usual paradigm on its head and something. I was fortunate enough to learn from a mentor 15 years ago, who, when I took my first sales leadership role, I was only a few weeks in, I was feeling very proud of myself for having gotten promotion and move from selling to leading, sat me down in a room full of other new leaders and said to all of us, your salespeople don't work for you. Speaker 2 00:06:06 You work for them. I sort of responded by saying, what are you kidding me? I just worked this hard to get into a leadership role. And now you're telling me that they don't work for me. I work for them. Now when the penny dropped, it was definitely a pivotal moment in my career to realize the benefits and rewards from enabling others to succeed. So I'd say that's one of the central tenants for me of what a high performance sales culture has. It's leaders who are there to serve their salespeople as opposed to serve themselves. The other things I see in our performance sales culture is obviously performance. People are striving to be the very best version of themselves and deliver the very best outcomes they can for not only themselves personally, but their organization and their customers. But I think the foundational tenet for me is this idea of servant leadership by the sales leaders. Speaker 3 00:07:05 I'll get you to explain a little bit more Rand, your definition of servant leadership versus you termed it self-serving leadership. And the reason why I want you to explain that is because you're working predominantly in sales environments. And to me, sales environments probably have more of a history around, might be self-serving type people and self-serving type approaches. So can you unpack that a little bit more in your own experiences working within those sales environment? Speaker 2 00:07:32 Yeah, absolutely. I think I'll share one of the biggest challenges I see within organizations and what I feel is often one of the biggest mistakes they make in developing people into leadership, a common approach historically to finding future leaders in a sales organization has been to focus on those who are driving the highest sales results. Now there is credence to that in that any leader ought to be consciously competent in doing the job that people do so that they can coach and guide them. However, the skills and knowledge are not all you need to look at. You also need to look at the attributes or character traits of the individual. And whether that attributes and traits are those of someone who make a great leader. I often have leading salespeople in organizations come to me and historically in gardener, but also subsequently saying, I want to get into leadership. Speaker 2 00:08:34 What's your guidance? How do I do it? What are your insights? And the first thing I do is ask them why, why do you want to step up from being an individual contributor to a sales leader? And I'm really looking for one theme in their answer to see whether they've really given it any thought and the theme I'm for needs to revolve around developing and enabling the success of other people. Because as an individual contributor, it can pay to be quite selfish. You're given a target and told to go and sell and deliver on that outcome. And so you can have a singular focus, which is your own personal success against that target. Once you make the transition into leadership, you now have a duty of care. So those you have the honor to lead, to enable them to be the best version of themselves and help them be more successful. Speaker 2 00:09:34 And that's a very different set of attributes for someone who does that to someone who drives their own personal success. So I think the way I describe the servant leadership versus the self servant lead self serving leadership is that servant leaders come with a set of attributes that enabled them to invest in and help others thrive. And those sorts of attributes, I think about empathy and compassion, which you don't necessarily need. If you're driving your own personal boat, there are things like building communities, healing and supporting others in times of challenge, being able to understand the broader conceptual context of what's going on and help others understand it, being able to coach, which is an overused phrase these days, but fundamentally being able to help others, identify opportunities to improve and guide them either through your own experience and skills or through other resources and other people's experience skills to further develop. Speaker 2 00:10:39 And I think self-serving leaders are not good at those things. Self-serving leaders who are just in it to get the outcomes they want. And don't recognize that their outcomes come as an indirect outcome of enabling their people have a very different approach that old traditional militaristic, autocratic sales leadership, you know, get out there and get it sold. Why didn't you sell it, close it today. And I certainly worked with several sales leaders at that elk in my time and kind of see it as a fairly short term list approach versus the one that's all about investing in your people. Speaker 3 00:11:16 What would you say to those leaders that they've operated very, very successfully as that term that you use self-serving leaders for a long time, they've made good money, they've maybe achieved really great results and stuff. What would you say to these people around how do you change their mindset when they've been doing something that would have a perception that they've been quite successful with? Speaker 2 00:11:37 That's a fantastic question. And it happens at different times in different ways, and sometimes it doesn't happen at all. Changing that mindset, Brandon, for some, there's a quick realize a realization that they're missing out on some of the rules of leadership. And I would argue some of the biggest rewards of leadership because my own personal experience has been that I recognized very quickly when I was fortunate enough to be given the role of leading a team that I got far more satisfaction and reward from coaching and supporting others and seeing them exceed their own personal expectations for themselves, seeing them exceed those goals and aspirations they had do, do things they never thought they could do or achieve. I found that far more rewarding than I ever found selling for myself. And so what I try to position with people who've had success is for them to think about what type of success that is. Speaker 2 00:12:43 And is it the type of success that's making them happy because fundamentally if we switch lenses here to positive psychology and what helps human beings thrive, it's not the money and the usual rewards that successful sales leaders get the things and the material aspects that you're rewarded with as a sales leader have been proven to only have transient benefits to your wellbeing. However, making meaningful connections with your sales team, having trust deep trusting relationships with mutual concern for each other's success. Well, that plays right into the sweet spot of happiness, which is deep social connection. So I would kind of in many different ways and not as directly as this position with them, that there's more than the success they've been achieving. And there's a deeper level of success and reward that they're missing out on that they could easily capsulize on by just changing that lens to having them work for their people, rather than the other way around. Speaker 3 00:13:49 I want to just go back a little bit to probably two words that stuck out to me when you talked about attributes and traits of a sales leader that has that servant type leadership, motive and mindset, and they were empathy and compassion. Probably the reason they stick out for me is because they're probably two words and two attributes and traits that aren't always aligned. When people think about salespeople, what does empathy and compassion look like in a sales environment and in a sales leader? Speaker 2 00:14:19 Oh wow. So, uh, let's start with empathy. My definition of empathy is a very simplistic one, which is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another person and understand why or how they might be feeling the way they're feeling. And if you do sort of pick that apart a bit, that's actually the core of great sales. There's a heap of research and reign has done some on this, around the increased of sales organizations that are value driving. Now, my, my translation of that in the context of empathy is you can't drive value for a customer as a salesperson, whether that's a business development person or an existing customer account manager, and the less you're able to put yourself in their shoes and understand their situation, what are their needs, what have both their business and emotional needs like there's the ROI, but actually what's this going to do for the individual who's making the purchase, how's it going to improve their life, resolve a problem for them or help them achieve a goal. Speaker 2 00:15:30 And if you're unable to empathize with the people in front of you, naming the customers as a sales person, then it's extremely challenging to take the relationship to that next level, which is based on trust and value rather than based on dollars and transactions. So for me, in a sales environment, empathy starts right at the front line with, can you empathize with your customer in order to contextualize solutions that will bring the value they need in leadership. That combination of empathy and compassion is critical and comes out as leaders who genuinely have their seller's best interests at heart and are willing to recognize that it's not just about the deal and that there's scenarios and situations and perspectives. That mean the deal might get compromised, but they're all valid. And if you can see the world through the lens of your sales person, then you can really be in a position to help them shift or reframe that or progress the deal. Despite the challenges they face in front of them. That's the two lenses I see empathy through. If you're a sales person, you've got to be able to empathize with the customer to help them. And if you're a sales leader, well, your customers, your sales person, and you've got to be able to empathize with them. If you're going to add any value to their personal outcomes. Speaker 3 00:16:55 When you start working with organizations that want to get on this journey of high performance sales culture, how do you help them to stop? Like, what is the, maybe the first three months look like when you go into an organization and really help support them on this journey? Speaker 2 00:17:12 Yeah, I think the first few weeks certainly looked like me observing and participating in the approach that they currently have to run in that sales organization. And that would cover a gamut of things, you know, do they have clear goals and communication of those goals? Do they have clear plans and strategies and collect communication of those plans and strategies to achieve those goals? What types of leaders have they got and how are they showing up? What's does the conversation revolve between the leaders and their salespeople? And do they recognize already any of the principles of high performance sales cultures? Are they already very people centric and understand that their work needs to revolve around the personal goals and aspirations that that salespeople or not? So the first few weeks is really getting a lay of the land that I also look often at things like commission plans and the way that they reward their sales people. Speaker 2 00:18:20 I look at their communication channels and, and the regular rhythm of communications between leaders and salespeople. So it's pretty holistic. And then it usually comes down to having the conversation with them around the five key components that are in the framework. I developed a news to work with them on, on a high performance sales culture. So I'm looking to see, do they set high performance expectations because the starting point of high performance is to expect it. If you don't expect it, it's not going to arrive. The next component is, do they celebrate wins? Are they showing everyone consistently that they can win and they can perform and generating an optimistic outlook within, within the culture? Do they reward success? Have they identified the behaviors, activities, and outcomes that they want to encourage and therefore have incentives around? Do they have transparent performance? Can everyone see how everyone is tracking against their goals and outcomes that they're expected to achieve? And then the fifth one we've already talked about some extent, are they embracing a servant leadership approach or a self serving leadership approach? So that's where I start. I observe, and then I share those five components with them. And then we start to break down how we could develop or strengthen each of those components within their organization. Speaker 3 00:19:46 Something that links back particularly to sales and performance. And I know that we've had conversations before, and we've talked about managing performance versus performance management. Tell us a bit about your view on managing performance versus performance management in sales. Speaker 2 00:20:04 Sure thing. One of my favorite topics, actually, Brandon performance management gets a really bad brand, right? People pay for performance management and immediately they think I'm in trouble. But in fact, for me, the difference between performance management and managing performance is really in the common accepted definition of performance management. If we paint that picture, when you hear performance management, I think it conjures up and you can validate or confirm, or, or challenge this for me in sales organizations, if they hear the words performance management, it kind of does have a picture of a process that is to manage someone out of the business because they're not hitting the goals and targets that are expected of them. And that process is set up specifically with the intent of removing that person from the business that's performance management. I think, I don't know whether you've observed this in, in your work as well, but when you say performance management, I think that's the average that people conjure up. Speaker 2 00:21:10 Would you agree? I agree. 100% great. Okay. Okay. So if we take that as the baseline, which is not very high baseline, by the way, then managing performance on the other hand is a combination of two things. The first thing is that you are approaching the performance of the individuals from that servant leadership lens, and you're doing it with a regular rhythm of interactions with each of the salespeople and the sales team or teams that's focused on playing a coaching role, every single interaction you have with your salespeople, whether in groups or individually needs to add value to their world, if you're not adding value in every single interaction. Yeah. Then you're actually taking money out of their pocket because if they could be just as successful with all, without your involvement in those interactions, you're taking that time away from the field. Yeah. During their sales things. Speaker 2 00:22:09 But on top of that, they could just get rid of your role and your salary could be paid to them in additional commissions. So for me, the first point is in managing performance is that's the core of your role as a sales leader, there are regular rhythm of communications and conversations and interactions with your team should be of a high quality and should be as a coach to add value and elevate success. That's the first component of managing performance for me. The second component outside of that business as usual approach is when someone is struggling and he's underperforming and all too often companies resort to the blunt tool that is here's a performance improvement plan, do these things, or you'll start down a path that involves first warning, second warning and loss of your child. And that's such a blunt and effective instrument. The alternative that I would put forward is instead, there's an ongoing effort to identify consistently those people who are finding performance challenging so that you can intervene early and often to provide them the support that might enable them not to fall into the hole that they can't climb out of. Speaker 2 00:23:30 Thank you, giving them that support through that regular rhythm of the sessions and interactions. Once you've got someone though, who is really struggling, the next component for me is you've got to diagnose the root cause of the challenge. That means they're not being successful. And you do it with empathy and compassion. You seek first to understand as Steven Coby would say, and what you want to understand is who's this person in front of me, what are their drivers motivations values? What's their sense of purpose. What's meaningful for them in life? What goals have they set? Have they set goals? Do they even think there are goals for them to achieve? And what's the best of their skills and abilities and attributes as an individual that they can bring to the table. So what are their strengths? And also what are their barriers to success? Now, I think of this in terms of three buckets, knowledge, skills, and attributes or character traits, and because knowledge and skills can be taught. Speaker 2 00:24:36 The key thing to uncover here is their attributes, who are they as a person? So for me, managing performance, doesn't start with a conversation that says, here's a plan, meet it or leave. But managing performance starts with a series of conversations that I was taught to call the mission of discovery and find out who is this person in front of you? And did they have the core attributes to be successful in this role? Do they have a strong sense of purpose and urgency? They have confidence. They have conviction in your product and your brand as a business. Are they curious? Do they have a willingness to learn? Can they be coached? Did they have great clock speed? Can they link concepts together and respond that act on them appropriately? Are they competitive? Do we want salespeople who are out to win and achieve? So there are a whole host of these attributes and you don't see them on the surface. Speaker 2 00:25:28 You've got to go and get to know the person. Once you've done that you can decide for yourself what type of coaching you're going to get, because there are two types of coaching in managing performance. For me, one is, does this person have the attributes? If the answer's yes, they have the core attributes to be successful, but the gap that's leaving them challenged is a knowledge or skills gap. Then you can coach them up. You can teach them the knowledge and the skills they need in order to elevate their performance, to be one of the very best on your team. If they don't have those core attributes, those fundamentals of who they are, don't align with the fundamentals needed to be a successful salesperson. Then there's no point trying to coach them up. It will just be painful and drudgery for both of you, because at the core of who they are, that's not suited to the role you have for them. So your role in managing performance then is coaching them out. What I mean by that is coaching them to recognize what are the other opportunities in life, either within your organization or in other organizations where they can use the best of their skills and abilities, but in either way, it's a positive outcome. Speaker 1 00:26:35 Coaching is a real challenging area for leaders today. And I think actually in my experience has been highlighted a lot lot during this Speaker 3 00:26:44 Last few months in COVID. If you've got somebody with the right mindset in the sales environment, you're talking about in coaching, how do you help them and provide an action or work with them to get to that level where they can actually put some quality time into these fantastic areas around coaching? Because it does take time, but it's so easy for leaders to get caught up in the day to day hustle and bustle. And just smashing things out, I guess, is a term that you often hear. How do you guide, how do you help them make that transition into more of a coaching mindset? Speaker 2 00:27:16 Yes. So writing, they have a sales coaching model that's called rhythms roles and conversations. So a standard rhythm of coaching interactions where you play one of five coaching roles as required at any point in time. And you do all of that with high quality conversations in order to execute on that framework, the starting point goes full circle. So to start of our conversation, you need the mindset of a coach. And the mindset of a coach is the mindset of a servant leader. I'm here to serve them. It's add value, it's help you be more successful. So the starting point for me is a conversation about do they get that their role actually plays a duty of care on them that they have to their people. And that it's an honor to be leading these people. And as such their sole purpose in life is to enable your salespeople's success. Speaker 2 00:28:13 If they don't get that, then they're going to get caught up in the whole day to day discussion around numbers and meeting after meeting and zoom, call off the zoom call in the current environment where they're just talking about the business, but they're not actually working with the people. So that's the starting point perspective. If they've got the perspective and the common response is how do I make the time to your point? Then if you recognize this is the single most important thing you do as a sales leader, I coach your people. It's a success. Then you can start to apply standard time management principles to that. One of which is that if something's in your calendar, it has somewhere around a 95% chance that you'll actually do it. Versus I know I need to do one on ones, but I don't have them in my calendar as a standard recurring appointment that I will not move. Speaker 2 00:29:09 Then we start talking about those principles of being more productive around, okay, well, let's get your weekly one on ones in the calendar. Let's have a clear agenda. Let's use standard templates and tools to ensure that the important aspects of the conversation are covered. Let's get a weekly team meeting in the calendar. Let's make sure that that's sacred and doesn't get moved and you prioritize it. Cause it's your biggest investment activity. Let's put a monthly one on one in this 90 minutes, long, not half an hour, which I see so often and 90 minutes, because that should be the single most valuable interaction that your sales person has anyone every month. Cause that's where you invest an hour and a half of your time, experience, knowledge and wisdom in helping them be more successful. And you deep dive into their personal goals and how well they're tracking with those goals and how they align to their business goals of their role and how are they tracking with those and what was their plan last month? Speaker 2 00:30:07 And what results did that drive what's that plan this month and how could we improve that plan to drive better results? And so for me, it comes down to those three things, having a clear rhythm with your team, that prioritizes coaching of the individuals, having clear roles that, you know, you need to play to elevate that success, embedding those in the agendas for those meetings and using consistent tools, templates, metrics, dashboards, all of the tools that you need to coach your sales person embedded into that rhythm so that you have regular high quality conversations with your team as a hygiene factor. That's the minimum everyone gets regardless of their level of performance. At any point in time, Speaker 3 00:30:54 What I'm taking from you is that if the leader has the right motive and we determine the right motive, be about servant leadership type approach and not self-serving, then they will prioritize the time for the people and they will have the right conversations with the people and everything else you've just spoken about will flow from that. Is that a fair assessment? Speaker 2 00:31:15 Absolutely. It takes someone with absolute commitment to their team to say to their boss or their boss's boss. I'm sorry, I can't do that meeting at that time. Cause that's my weekly one on one with a member of my team. And I don't move that for anything. If you don't have that servant leadership mindset, you're not willing to deprioritize other things like that, meeting with your boss, that your boss just dropped in at the last minute. So we ended up being reactive coaches rather than proactive coaches, Speaker 3 00:31:43 The other passion area of yours, which you linked very, very tightly into the sales leadership approach that you have is this psychology around sales and this positive mindset. Tell us a bit more about that and how that links so integrally to the work that you're doing with salespeople. Speaker 2 00:31:59 The key stat that I would throw out here is how much more successful optimistic salespeople have proven to be over neutral to negative salespeople. So there's been a whole heap of research done on this in one particular study, which we use in the happiness advantage program. And also is the outcome of some of the work delivered to some happiness advantage. Clients is that positive salespeople out perform their neutral to negative colleagues by 35 to 55%. They sell 35 to 55% more than their colleagues because they have an optimistic outlook. So positivity has not only a role to play in feeling better about life, but it also drives better outcomes for salespeople. So there's a big link there that developing a positive, optimistic culture that sees the challenges before it, but believes with time, effort and action, they can overcome them, has a clear, tangible benefit. Speaker 2 00:33:06 So developing these positive cultures in sales, I would argue has one of the most direct benefits of any area of any business. One of the things I highlighted as one of the five components of developing a high performance sales culture is celebrating wins and rewarding success. The importance of celebrating wins is that all too often sales organizations and the people within them have a brief blip of joy of having gotten the deal over the line. And then, and then all too quickly, the next conversation is waste. The next one, the old mantra of sales, you're only good as your last month, your last quarter, your last day or whatever it is. And there's an issue with that psychologically speaking, which is multifold, but the part of it that I'd unpack here is that we have something called a negativity bias as human beings. Our brains are actually wired to more readily, see more readily, respond to a more greatly, respond to negative things in our environment, over positive things. Speaker 2 00:34:14 Now, if I've recorded it correctly, the ratio is that we are five times more likely to respond to a negative aspect of our environment, to a positive aspect. And we will do so more, more aggressively, more violently, but our response will be much stronger. Well, if you think about that in terms of wanting to have salespeople who are optimistic and positive, because not only benefits them personally, which is obviously the primary reason, but also benefits as collectively sales results, then you've got to avoid the fact that people's negativity bias will draw them towards the things they want to complain and be concerned about this. Product's no good. It's not competitive in the market. We charge too much. I've not got the right territory. I don't have the right accounts. My industry's not going as well as other industries. There's a million things that salespeople can find to explain the why, why they can't be successful and all this tough stuff that's going on for them. Speaker 2 00:35:12 And one of the ways you can overcome that is by lingering in the celebration of the wins, but amplifying the positive messages in your organization. So every time there is a win and a win isn't necessarily just a deal, it could just be a new way of doing something that was more successful. We managed to get more meetings. We managed to reach someone we hadn't ever managed to before we found out a faster way of doing an internal process that saved us a heap of time wins. Anything that elevates the individual or the organization. They're not just the sales deals. So that pillar of a high performance sales culture is all about the psychology of this, which says we want optimistic salespeople. We want people to feel positive about being here and their chances of success. In order to Emmy to create a positive environment, we need to over index on communicating the positive to them because otherwise their brains will naturally over-index the negative. So it's another way that the psychology of sales links with the psychology of human beings cause ultimately salespeople are all humans. Speaker 3 00:36:21 Is there a certain type of person and personality type that may be more suited to that positive psychology and being in a sales environment? Speaker 2 00:36:34 I don't know whether there's a personality type, that's more predisposed to the positive psychology components. The way I tend to think about it rightly or wrongly is that everyone has sort of an average level of positivity or general valence to their mood through their life. And that's a combination of genetics and personal choices and habits. Only 10% of it, believe it or not is actually part of your external world. So our external world dictates only 10% of our level of happiness or contentment with life. And the 40% is personal choice and habits and 50% is genetics. So if we think about that for a moment and then move back to personality types for sales or personalities, actual positive psychology, everyone has a set point when they're born based on their life experiences and their genetics and so on. And we all have ups and downs that sort of rise and fall around that average point that we operate at. Speaker 2 00:37:39 And my belief and what I think the research shows if you deep dive into it is that no matter what your base level is that you're starting at positive psychology interventions will elevate your base level. So whether you start from a low base level and you're not particularly happy, or you're already a pretty happy individual, you're pretty content and satisfied with life. Those interventions that you're not doing already can help elevate you set a positive psychology piece. I think there's not a personality type that they applied to more or less. It's just the impact or benefit you'll get based on your starting point. I think if you combine that with the sales personality piece of the, of your comment, there are definitely psychological attributes that predispose someone to sales and also psychologist, but tributes that do the opposite and make you less likely to succeed in sales. Speaker 2 00:38:40 So what attributes and character traits, that's really where I'm coming from in answering this question. And I mentioned some of them earlier. So I have a list that was taught to me and it's developed over time and we're using some of the rain programs and certainly my own personal programs that I deliver that highlights the, the character traits of, of a good salesperson. The first one is a sense of purpose. Are they an individual who has meaning and purpose in their life and something that they want to achieve? Are they striving to deliver an outcome? So that's what I mean by sense of purpose. Do they set meaningful, personal goals and then set out to achieve them a sense of urgency because sales is based on business cycles and achieving your outcome just sometime whenever in the future is usually not appropriate in a sales environment because you're usually working two, sometimes a monthly, often a quarterly and definitely a, an annual target. Speaker 2 00:39:39 So there's some level of urgency. So not only do they want to achieve something, but they want to achieve it. Now, then there's the aspect of confidence and self confidence. Sales is a change agent role. If you think about it at its most fundamental level, selling to someone is asking them to change something that they're currently doing or not doing because they're not currently buying from you. And if they're not currently buying from you, they need to make a change in order to become a customer or buy that next thing from you. So if you're going to be a change agent, you need a level of confidence to be able to challenge the status quo of your customer. You'd need to be able to push back on the current state of things and, uh, try to influence and be assertive with them to position different perspectives that might help them move towards that change. Speaker 2 00:40:35 That's confidence conviction. You've got to be convinced in the thing that you're selling. Again, a quote I steal from one of my mentors is that buyers don't buy because they're convinced they buy because you're convinced. And if you convinced that the sales person of the value you can deliver with the product services and company you represent, then again, that's going to enable your success. Whereas if you're not, you can't sell something you don't believe in. Are they a curious person? Do they want to understand things? Cause if you don't and you're not curious, then you're not going to do a good job. Understanding your customer and their needs and linked to this is do they have a willingness to learn? There's a funny quote. Again, I take from, uh, another mentor of mine from, from several years ago who says, when you're green, you're growing, if you're right, pure rotting, it's sort of a humorous way of saying, do you have a growth mindset? Speaker 2 00:41:33 Do you have a growth mindset that see setbacks as an opportunity to learn and embeds in you a sense of optimism for the future? Because I'm really here to experience things and learn from them and develop and continue to grow. So that's critical for a sales person because they're living in a dynamic environment and what they always did before. Isn't always going to work. What else do we cover? We cover things like clock speed, clock speed for me is you've got to be able to join the dots rapidly, understand what's going on and pivot your approach or conversation. According to the context of what's in front of you, integrity and accountability, absolutely critical for a sales person because I'm sure we've all at some points felt. We were talking to a sales person who lacked integrity and it just feels like they would sell you anything for any reason just to get the deal and that's not appropriate. So that touches on some of them. There are, there are a couple of others, Brandon, but I hope that starts to build out a picture for, if you see those traits in yourself, then potentially they are a great foundation for a sales career. Speaker 1 00:42:41 There's something you said fair bit earlier around the negativity bias and five times more likely that we took on a negativity bias. Does that explain social media and the fact that the negativity and the hate has seemed to get, I don't know. And sometimes it's a hundred times more exposure. Speaker 2 00:43:01 Yes. Is the simple answer. All PR is good PR right? All P has good PR even the bad stuff. And why is that? Because negative emotions focus our attention and they do it far more effectively than positive emotions, positive emotions focus our attention as well. But that factor of five times more powerful is certainly, I believe part of the explanation for what we see on social media and mainstream media, not just digital media, because fundamentally what marketers and people on those media platforms are trying to do is influence our behavior. And in order to influence our behavior, this the quickest route from a to B a negative emotions, fear, anger, jealousy, et cetera, because it's emotions that drive activity and action, not thoughts, thoughts, don't drive action, emotions, fuel actions. And so if people who are advertising on these platforms and participating on these platforms once to have an impact, the lowest common denominator for doing that is to drive negative emotions in their audience, drive fear, drive anger, drive frustration, drive jealousy. Speaker 2 00:44:23 And so you see this play out, unfortunately on these platforms, which could be just as readily used for a much more outcome because they, you know, they're platforms for whatever we put on them, right? The environment's neutral, it just adopts whatever we put into it. And because historically the people on those platforms, advertisers, marketers, and so on and not to tar everyone with the same brush, cause there's some very positive organizations that they know that if they want to influence behavior of consumers and other individuals, the negative emotions are the route to doing that. And to your point, when you get Donald Trump, for example, tweeting something that's in highly inflammatory, he's going to get many more hits and views and responses than the competitive politician looking to become president, you know, States who's saying reasonable and positive things because the psychology of the human says we're going to be a focus will be drawn to the negative, be drawn to the threat and an evolution basis. It makes sense, right? Because if a saber tooth tigers walking down around the rock next to you, you want to be able to see that five times more readily than the butterfly flying past, right? Cause that's life and death stuff. Unfortunately, those in bill instincts in us still there, the saber tooth tigers are not. So people play on that. And that's to your point, why all that negative stuff gets so much more attention. Speaker 1 00:45:57 So Alex, again, you shared so much advice through this podcast on your reflections. If there was a bit of advice that you wanted to give, whether it be sales people in an environment today, whether it be sales leaders, or whether it be people wanting to move into sales and have some access around sales and sales leadership, what would that advice be for you? Speaker 2 00:46:17 I think the common thread too much of what we've talked about today, Brandon, and what I've shared is a simple truth or value set, but says seek to be of service. Whether you're a salesperson, you want to be a sales person, you're a sales leader. You want to be a sales leader or any type of leader. I guess the common thread I would say to success is selfless service to others. If you're a sales person, that means really, truly understanding, understanding your customer and how you can add value and not focusing on the sale and the seller, but focusing on the buyer and their needs and the value that you have to offer. If you're a sales leader, it comes back to where we started the conversation. So perhaps a neat way to tie it up. And that is, are you a selfish leader or are you a servant leader? Do your actions all get driven by one motive? And that one motive is how can I add value? How can I serve those? I have the honor of leading and how can I help them elevate and have greater success and thrive in life. I think if you put that lens on sales or sales leadership, then you're starting from the right place and we'll have great success. As a result, Speaker 1 00:47:43 Mike, you've got so much knowledge and wisdom in this culture, leadership and teamwork space. How can we get hold of you, Speaker 2 00:47:50 Feel free to check me out on LinkedIn. Also I can be contacted under either of two emails. So it's either [email protected]sadatrainegroup.com more than happy. If people want to follow up on any of the themes that we've discussed today, I really am passionate about this stuff and just love helping people go on this journey of servant leadership in sales. So yeah, happy for people to reach out either on LinkedIn or through email. Thanks Brendan. Speaker 1 00:48:24 But everything you've said today, I just sit here and reaffirm that so much. That's probably why you and I get on pretty well. Cause similar mindsets around this space. Thank you for sharing. It might really appreciate it. Thanks for being a guest on the culture of things podcast today. Speaker 2 00:48:39 Thanks very much, Brendan. It's been an absolute pleasure and an honor, I really appreciate the invitation. Thank you very much. Speaker 1 00:48:55 I first connected with Alex back in 2017, we've actually never met face to face. I know this is a bit cliche, but whenever I chat with him, I feel like he's been a mate of mine for many years. Our views on leadership are very much aligned, especially how we defined servant leadership versus self-serving leadership and the impact of each style. For me, there's no other leadership style than servant leadership. It's a real shame that we have to specifically define it due to the prevalence of self serving leadership. These were my three key takeaways from my conversation with Alex. My first key takeaway culture starts with the leader. This is a common theme that keeps appearing through various episodes. What behaviors and attitude is the leader display? Are they the behaviors and attitude that you want in your organization? If not, and you are the leader. Speaker 1 00:49:53 You need to look at yourself first and make the necessary changes. My second key takeaway servant leadership is real leadership. Are you a leader who seeks to be of service to people? Do you prioritize, developing and enabling the success of other people? Do you feel that you have a duty of care to your people and feel honored to be leading them? Do you enjoy coaching and supporting people to exceed their own level of expectation? If you answered yes to these questions, you are living real leadership. My third key takeaway, the best leaders are always managing performance. Managing performance requires a servant leadership approach focused on coaching people. This requires you to ensure your interactions are always focused on helping people improve. If you have regular conversations around current performance, future performance and the steps to achieve future performance, this will drive ongoing improvement and maintain a focus on managing performance. As Alex said, don't be a reactive coach, be proactive and always manage performance. So in summary, my three key takeaways were culture starts with the leader. Servant leadership is real leadership. The best leaders are always managing performance. If you have any questions or feedback about this episode, please feel free to send me a [email protected] Thank you for listening. Stay safe until next time. Speaker 0 00:51:37 Thank you for listening to the cultural things podcast with Brendan Rogers, please visit Brendan rogers.com to access the show notes. If you love the cultural things podcast, please subscribe, write and give a review on Apple podcast and remember healthy culture is your competitive advantage.

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