This week’s guest goes way back with John, they have known each other for years. Sean Sheppard is a 5-time Founder and has 3 successful exits on his resume already, he’s now running GrowthX. He’s always been a salesperson, but Sean goes deep in this podcast about the routes of new sales professionals. His introduction to the industry involved building repeatable processes, testing and optimizing everything as far as you could. He cares a lot about helping the new breed of sales professionals to get that level of training and grounding.
In this podcast you’ll Learn:
How the next generation of salespeople can go further
The impact of showing your true character
Getting honest responses with realism
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How the next generation of salespeople can go further
John Barrows: I think the perception in sales is I’m trying to convince you of something that you don’t need. That’s what the negative perception of it is. But the reality is I’m just trying to ask you some questions to figure out what you actually need and then make a connection to what I got. If it helps, it helps. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I move on. I’ll tell people this all the time. Genuinely, I say that I don’t sell you sh*t. I either help you achieve your goals or solve your problems and if I, and if my solution can help you achieve your goals or solve your problems, then let’s stop talking here. Because there’s no reason for us to continue this conversation. But I gotta ask you some questions to uncover it cause you might not see the connection yet. Right?
Sean Sheppard: That’s right. No one cares about your products. They care about their problems and whether or not you might be able to solve them. That’s why I like to call it products. We’ve talked about this a lot of times, we want to elevate the profession of sales in society to its rightful place alongside being an accountant, a doctor, a lawyer. Well not a lawyer.
Did you get my point? And so if you do that, and if you rethink sales as a profession, how do you educate people from day one forward? And you just gave me a sneak peek into your new book, which I think is super awesome. I’m not going to spill the beans for you. It’s still sacred. It’s still secrets. I haven’t seen anything more foundational in the form of a book or elegant in terms of what life would be like if we all said when we were growing up. I’ll consider sales as a profession yet we all end up in the same place. We go to college and those that aren’t in stem roles right then, that very specific college level based requirements to get into a certain kind of job or role or function in society – They end up in liberal arts colleges.
That was a lot of time. You saw a job posting that said, seeking liberal artists, never 250 grand on this bullshit education. My daughter didn’t want to be a doctor and she’s off to do a fellowship for pre-med and physics and she’s super smart. I love it. She’s definitely been raised by her Mother. I would tell her no, I mean go get a job. Do that for a couple years, save the family a bunch of money cause it’s all a bunch of nonsense.
The impact of showing your true character
Sean Sheppard: The true measure of one’s character is not how they act is how they react. My Father taught me this amazing thing that he learned. He was a navy seal in the Vietnam era. And he wrote the series of articles on LinkedIn about what the military taught him about the corporate world. He was big in Silicon Valley, a semiconductor CEO, he built all the plants around the world for Intel. And he was the major company builder and it was calmness. Calmness was, was one of the seven attributes that he talked the most about, which was how can you be calm under fire, right? And if that fire is somebody’s being a jerk to you, do that. Then the second thing I learned was this thing called, there’s this book called difficult conversations.
I recommend everybody read it and internalize it and understand it. It’s about how you address impact and not intent with an interaction.
I’m address impact, not intent. Okay when somebody says or does something that upsets you or hurts you or harms you instead of lashing back out at them in a way that like they’re trying to hurt you. You’ll come at it from “here’s what your behavior did to me and talk about it that way”.
So it creates a disarming environment that helps the other person understand that the impact that they had on that person with that behaviour. Gotcha. So focus on the impact of one’s behavior, not the intention of the behavior. You’ll find that 90% of the time people are not malicious. They’re not trying to harm you, upset you, hurt you or denigrate you.
Something else is going on and they’re not aware of it. And so if you address it from an impact standpoint, what you said or did made me feel this way. And I just want you to be aware of that.
It’s a very powerful way to coach, lead, interact with customers and co-workers, bosses or those that work for you.
John Barrows: It’s funny, I here’s a quick story. I was getting on a plane in Ireland and air Lingus is literally one of my least favorite airlines of all time. I was frustrated with the airline all the way through as I was having kind of a rough day anyways. And I was coming home and I remember this woman, she was in this store, just came down and I was sitting in my chair. You know how sometimes you sit in the chair and it goes back a little bit and they ask it to be put forward for take off. I didn’t touch it, you know, but it just moved back and I said, look, I didn’t touch it. And it wouldn’t go up.
She just asked to put it up, that’s all. And I got pissy with her. I was like, look, oh fine, I’ll move. And I just moved to the next seat. Right. And I was really just short with her and she was obviously taken back. She was like, “excuse me, sir, I’m just trying to do my job here”. And I’m like, “yeah, whatever.” She didn’t deserve that. But it sat there and ate at me. And so then all of a sudden she’s coming she’s coming down with their little trolley and I’m looking at her thinking oh f*ck. Here she comes and now I got to interact with her. As she came up, I could tell she was also dreading seeing me as well.
I got some water and then as she was serving it, I said “look, I just wanted to apologize. I’ve been having a little bit of a rough day. I took my frustrations out. I’m not happy with air Lingus right now, but that had nothing to do with you. And I took out my frustrations on you and I just wanted to say I’m sorry”.
And she literally almost broke down crying. She crouched down and hugged me and said, “you know what, I’ve been having a really bad day too”. It was clear she wanted to show the appreciation that I had gone ahead and said that to her, rather than leaving it how things were.
Getting responses using realism
Sean Sheppard: If an intuitive person is upset with something you said or did or vice versa, and you hugged that elephant using that difficult conversations approach you can solve it. You say I’m sorry. I apologize. I did something wrong. Obviously it’s affecting you or it’s affecting me and I just want to let you know about it. And you talk through it and it has amazing, amazing effects, especially when you start to behave that way over time.
Then people will start to tell you the truth. And this is a really important part of today’s marketplace. We always talk about our messaging should be designed to do one thing and one thing only. And that is to generate an honest response. Yeah. When you have a growth mindset and you approach it that way, everything’s about finding the truth about can you solve a problem for somebody? Where does your product fit in markets? And that doesn’t all, and what you can do about it create a functional learning organization out of the Group of people responsible for finding that truth and then determining if you can work together through fit right. Not through selling a, a product or a service.
John Barrows: Let me pinpoint that real quick because I think that’s one of the hardest things about sales is getting that honest insight from the customers so that we can understand how we can help. I did a keynote a little while ago and I put a big chicken in the egg picture up on the screen. I said, could you help me understand what came first, chicken or egg? Um, who lied first. Did the sales rep lie to the customer, did the customer lie to the sales rep somewhere along the line? We all teach our kids from the minute they’re born about honesty, truth, and not to lie. But somewhere along the way it became completely okay to bold face lie to a sales rep, right?
I mean, think about. You walk into a huge department store. You know what you want, you have no f*cking idea where it is. And some sales guy comes up with the “hey sir, how can I help you today?”. You know that all you have to do is say “Hey, I’m looking for this. Could you point me in the right direction?”. And they do it right? But nine, nine out of 10 people will be say they’re just looking. And they’ll wander around that f*cking warehouse for the next 45 minutes.
Sean Sheppard: Here’s why I agree with you. Here’s the fundamental state of today’s society. People will not tell us the truth if it creates more work or conflict. Okay? Well, think about that for a second. Those are the two reasons why we did that in a department store, our job as sellers and marketers is to spend more time trying to create an environment that creates less work.
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