“Sales is one of those games that demands an infinite mindset.” – Alex Smith in today’s Tip 1010
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today’s tip comes from Alex Smith. Alex is an AE with Docebo. He’s passionate about creating workplaces where people enjoy not only what they learn but how they learn it. He also hosts the Stories of Selling Human podcast where he shows how we all sell by being human, not despite it. Here he is:
Alex Smith: Football is Life. No, wait, that is from Ted’s Lasso. Sales is Life and Life is Sales. That really was the theme for me from this past year’s Sales Success Summit. Hey Sales Success Community, this is Alex Smith wanted to jump on real quick and share some of the takeaways from this conference that we just went to. Before I get into my tips, let me quickly explain what I believe about sales and what I really saw validated from that event.
Do you ever get asked by your spouse to turn the sales off? Like it’s some light switch. I know I do, but what are we really turning off anyways? See, I believe the best sales rep they can’t just turn it on and off. I think the best of us are playing an infinite game when it comes to sales. Just ask yourself, how many times are you practicing the same skills in life that make you great at sales in your day to day. Maybe you’re understanding how your managers like to receive info. Maybe you’re empathizing with what’s going on in your spouse’s day to day. See, listening isn’t a dirty word to some people, but somehow sales is. Kind of weird how that works.
Well, you may be familiar with the concept of finite and infinite games, but let me break it down. So Simon Sinek has a relatively new book. He breaks down the concept, but essentially finite games are those that have known players. Fixed rules. Agreed-upon objectives. Infinite games have known and unknown players. Rules are changeable. We can play however we want, and the objective is to stay in the game as long as we can to perpetuate it for the good of the whole. And I think sales is one of those games that demands an infinite mindset.
Just think about it. You can win a deal, but you don’t win self-awareness. You can win top rep, but you don’t win curiosity. You can win a job interview, but no one wins community. See, that’s what I love about this podcast, this event, all of you, something from one-percenter may hit me differently than it hits you. Totally fine. We can all learn from each other in the post-conference thoughts as much from the presentation in the moment.
So I encourage you to reach out to a presenter that resonated with you or an attendee, have a one-on-one talk. See, as Jack Wilson told us, we all have the curse of knowledge. We think we know something that seems common sense in sales, but common sense isn’t always common. Reach out. Tell people what you’ve learned. Our goal really shouldn’t be to reach the mastery of sales. I don’t really want to find the sales goat. I think goats are for Mountain Rangers and Sportscasters to debate. I care about constantly learning from each other, to perpetuate the sales profession, and to help us all.
Yes, there’s going to be finite games within our infinite game, our numbers, our quarterly goals. But I hope we all approach our sales jobs not with a finite win-now mindset, but with an infinite one instead. A mindset that allows us to constantly stay better in our lives and in our day to day lives. And as Ted Lasso likes to say, a great way to live life, be curious, non-judgmental. So I broke down a list of a few tips here. You can read my full LinkedIn post. It will be linked in the notes, but let’s get to it.
Tip Number one. Discovery isn’t a stage. It’s a lifestyle. Katie Jane Bailey kicked off the conference with this amazing quote. And as Ted Lassa would say, someone call 911 because I want to report a truth bomb. This quote means to me become a person who trains in discovery. Always treat all your human interactions as a chance to learn discovery. You can always seek to understand people deeply, not to use it against them, to move them to a stage because you’re generally curious and you want to know. Ask your Uber driver how they got into driving. Ask your niece about her favorite iPad game. Ask your spouse what do they love about what they get to do every day? Take on this lifestyle curiosity. I guarantee you’ll be better on your next demo.
Tip Two. Spotting tire kickers. Katie Jane also had a great tip. She sets criteria and spots things when things are going great and not. So she likes to ask, what’s the purpose of this trial? What’s the decision criteria? And third, she sets barriers within it. So if the client isn’t matching her level of effort and investment, she can see it. And then she completely say, look, maybe this trial isn’t right at this point just because in my experience, the most successful trials require investment on both sides.
Tip Three. Asking the failed project question. Love this question Sarah Brazier hit us with, and she loves to ask this to her client. Have you ever had a failed software project? You could insert anything into this. You could ask, have you ever had a failed buying process with whatever you sell? Think that question can bring out so many stories, cut through surface-level stuff. People want to mitigate failure. And if that question doesn’t bring out an emotional answer, I don’t know what would.
Next tip. DeJuan Brown’s quote, Your work speaks for itself, but it could be whispering if it doesn’t take into account the person. He was referring to managing up and working with your leaders and to effectively manage up. He challenged us to treat our managers like our best clients. When your manager gives you something to do, instead of saying “Right away boss.” Say, seek to understand how they like to receive info. What problems are we solving? What’s their personality like, what goals are with the ask. Know your managers and their style, and you’ll connect with them better.
Next Tip. Constantine Johns had a few quotes that really impacted me. The first one, “To admit the limitations of one’s perspective is usually the only way to get more out of it.” Second one, “Even if you’re an expert at Demos or Discovery admit your perspective is limiting. You only get to that next level when you acknowledge that.” And this quote really hit me hard. “Don’t focus on the outcome. Commit to being the person who achieves it.” So powerful. I want to be the top rep at my company, but there’s a lot I can’t control about that outcome. If I don’t achieve number one, I have nowhere to go. Instead, I’m going to commit to becoming the person who does that in my daily actions. I’m going to let that be my achievement. Then my goal is more about who I’m becoming than what I’m chasing.
Next tip and this is the final one. This goes to mental health and sales, and my tip is simple. Let’s all commit to ending the stigma of mental health and sales. If you’re on your bike or whatever you’re clapping and hopefully cheering for that. But the statistics say someone you work with is hurting but has no one to talk to. So keep a lookout for sign someone struggling offer to listen to colleagues, speak up in cultures that seem toxic. Be willing to share your story to colleagues so you can promote vulnerability. UNCrushed is in a great organization promoting safe spaces for these conversations to happen, and I’m excited to see what they do with this platform and then the donation that we made to them.
In closing. I feel so great to be part of this community. It’s been a trying year for me personally, and when people ask me how I’m doing, though, I like to share my final favorite Ted Lasso quote to explain it, and I sometimes use his accent, it really describes how I feel from finding this group of professionals and how grateful I am to this community. So when someone asks me, Alex, how has it been, a year into the new job? I tell them, “You know what? I feel like I fell out of the lucky tree, hit every branch on the way down, and I ended up in a pile of cash and sour patch kids.” Thank you, everyone. Have a great day.
Once you’ve done that, be sure to come back tomorrow for another great sales tip. Thanks for listening!