Our special guest on this week’s episode of Conversational Selling is Alice Heiman. Alice is the Founder and Chief Sales Energizer of Alice Heiman, a sales strategy and tactics consultancy. She works with SMB companies to drive growth and bring about change through the newest research and best practices in positive mindsets. Her work often involves coaching CEOs to take the first steps to change a company’s approach to sales. Her view of sales success involves everyone in the business and yields real results fast.

Alice is an award-winning sales expert who has appeared as a guest on multiple TV and radio programs, as well as in print publications. We are so excited to have her share her expert insights with us! She explains:

  • The keys to a positive sales mindset
  • Sales strategy communication, process, and deployment
  • Who is ultimately responsible for sales
  • And more

Be ready to take your sales strategy to the next level with our Alice Heiman interview. Listen now!

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.

Nancy Calabrese: Hello everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese and it is time for Conversational Selling, the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what is going on in sales and marketing today and it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Alice Heiman, Founder and Chief Sales Energizer of Alice Heiman. Alice helps SMB companies drive growth by incorporating the newest research and best practices to enable business owners to bring about change that leads to growth. She demonstrates how sales performance is directly related to a leader’s mindset. Alice is a nationally recognized sales expert. She’s made numerous guest appearances on television and radio broadcasts. In addition to be featured in print publications, including Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Selling Power magazine. For over two decades of teaching others the fine art of selling, she’s earned a host of awards, including Sales Woman of the Year, Marketer of the Year and many more. Well, folks, what else can I say except welcome to the show, Alice. 

Alice Heiman: Oh thank you, Nancy. Thank you so much. I will say it is lovely to be recognized for one’s accomplishments. So I appreciate it.

Nancy: Well, you earned it. And we want to broadcast that for sure. Yeah. So let’s jump right in. You stated when sales leaders change the way they work with sales teams, results are immediate and dramatic. That’s a really powerful state statement. Tell us more.

Alice: Well, I think a lot of times in sales, especially in larger organizations, when the sales numbers are not being hit, or things are not going quite the way we want them to. And maybe we’re not retaining customers at the rate we would like. Or there are other issues in sales, we tend to look at the sales team, bark at the sales team, even perhaps, and blame the sales team. And in many cases, it just really isn’t their problem. And it definitely isn’t only their problem. So what I have learned over the many years that I’ve been doing this is that leadership needs to change. 

So when sales are down, look in the mirror, you are the one who should be making the changes, especially as CEO, you’re the one who allows those leaders to lead. And they allow their sales teams to do what they’re doing, which most of the time, you know, isn’t that they’re not trying, I don’t know very many sales teams who are just sitting around not trying to make sales, they are trying to make sales, but something’s wrong. And the CEO really needs to take a hold of that and the leaders and when those leaders do that, it’s remarkable.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, you’re you’re making me think of in my career, some leaders give a lot of rope. And some sales people love that. Right? They’re not being bogged down. Other leaders have a very tight rein. When do you know you’ve got to tighten the reins? I think that’s kind of what you’re saying. Right? The leadership has to know when to jump in, and help correct whatever’s taking place. 

Alice: Yeah, I believe it’s more about the strategy, the way the strategy is communicated. And the process that is built to deploy the strategy, because it is much easier to manage process than people. And so tightening the reins, doesn’t typically work because we haven’t really communicated well in the first place and made our expectations known. And so it comes down to accountability. If we have a great plan, if we communicate that plan, well, if we put all the processes in place, so that everyone can do their part of that plan, then it’s simply about holding people accountable. And if we do that consistently, they’re either gonna move up or out. There’s no other place for them to go.

Nancy: Yeah, you talk a lot about mindset. And my experience is mindset and sales go hand in hand. Why is it especially important in sales leadership? 

Alice: Well, I mean, I can’t even imagine, you know, a salesperson with a bad mindset making their quota that’s for sure. I can’t imagine a leader with a bad mindset, actually able to lead in any positive way that would make an impact. I do believe mindset is important in life in general. But if you’re in a bad mood, if your mindset is such that, you know, you feel you’re a loser, or you feel your customers are losers, or you just cannot get a positive thought going, how is that going to come across to the people you work with, and to the people you sell to? So internally, and externally, it’s going to be painfully obvious. So because we are customer facing, and, you know, not every job is customer facing. 

So if somebody is in a bad mood that day, or doesn’t have the best mindset, but they still function and get, you know, whatever, put on the shelf, or get the accounting done, okay, they’re not doing their best job, but it’s not gonna make or break us necessarily. But when a salesperson, a customer facing person, a customer success person, or anyone who faces the customer is in a bad mood has a bad mindset, it comes out, people can see it, the words that they use the grimace on their face, the impatience, the frustration, it all comes out. So we simply have to be in control of our mindset, which is absolutely possible. It’s not easy, but it’s absolutely possible. And sales people truly must have a great mindset and so must their leaders. 

Nancy: Yeah. Everything you stated is so true. And you know, sticking around people, professionals with, like, mindset just makes it easier wouldn’t you say and get rid of the bad mindset in your circle or center of influence. You’ve also stated that you have an innate understanding of selling with the equally important talent for communicating easily with a variety of personalities and backgrounds. How is that? And is there a magic wand that could make us all be able to have that talent? 

Alice: Well, I do believe that anyone who truly wants to sell can be trained to sell if they have a positive mindset, and they want to do it. But when I say innate ability, I feel like for me, it just comes very naturally. And why? Because I don’t sell. I simply love to solve problems. So I want to listen to the people that have a need. And I really want to hear them and I want to collaborate with them and share ideas and knock things around and ask some more questions, come up with some solutions, and then provide those resources that will help them solve their problem. Sometimes those resources come from me and I make a sale. And sometimes those resources come from someone else. 

So I I genuinely care. That’s innate in me, I genuinely care. I listen. I want to help them. And so that really works for me. I do believe that if you want to be good at sales, you do have to care. And if if you don’t care about what you’re selling, or don’t care about the people that you sell to, this is not the right job for you. There are many other jobs where you don’t have to be customer facing. And you don’t have to have that same level of caring. But sales is a helping profession. And so we definitely have to choose people to go into sales that already care and really want to help.

Nancy: Interesting. I love your unique idea that you believe sets to apart. Share it with the audience.

Alice: Well, I believe that sales should be easy. A lot of people think sales is hard. A lot of people talk about the grind, you know, oh yeah, sales is a grind. It’s hard, I can’t get ahold of anybody. All of that language is negative mindset. And as you use that language, it becomes true. Sales is hard. It is a grind, if that’s what you say, and that’s what you do. And that’s what you believe. But truly, sales should be easy. If you again care and genuinely want to help. If you use methods that help you meet people through introductions versus constantly doing cold outreach, which is just exhausting. If you, you know, have great conversations with people, and listen and help them sales is easy. It’s not hard.

Nancy: I again, I completely agree with you. And I think too, one point you made is to use multiple challenges. I mean, channels of outreach, right? Don’t make it all outbound cold, you want to develop relationships, centers of influence, right, get referrals, and so on. And when I read your response, share sale should be easy. My only add on to that is it should be fun, wouldn’t you say?

Alice: Yeah. It should be fun. Because when you solve people’s problems, especially when it’s a problem that’s really troubling their business or help, they’re losing revenue. And you can help them fix that. And they become happy and look at you as a trusted adviser. I mean, it’s fun. I mean, I wake up every single day, I cannot wait to do what I do. I love to talk to my clients. I love helping people sell. It is fun.

Nancy: Did you do anything before sales? Or you just came out and you were sales?

Alice: I never dreamed in a million years, Nancy that I would go into sales. It wasn’t even on my mind ever. I spent a lot of time in high school doing art and being in theater and designing sets and costumes and acting. I went to college to be an art major. And I did not have sales on my mind. I didn’t end up graduating with a degree in art, I switched to elementary education. And I was an educator for 13 years before I went into business, I taught Junior High special education, I taught some elementary grades. And then for most of my career as a teacher, I was a reading specialist, working with children of all ages, who were struggling with reading, so I was a true problem solver. And a lot of what I learned while I was teaching transferred very, very well into the sales world.

Nancy: Wow. A real interesting. Speaking of interesting, I know you’re you’re full of stories, share one that you think we would all be intrigued to hear?

Alice: Well, I yes, I have a million stories. I I love to tell stories. And I think it’s an important way to communicate for all sales people, and all leaders as well. But um, I have a client that I just adore. And I was working with them a couple of years ago and, and things were going pretty well. But then, you know, we we kind of parted ways for a while and I got a call from the CEO. And he was, you know, thinking that sales were just going to kind of run themselves. One day he woke up, and he said, oh my gosh, sales are not going to run themselves. And he had the sales reporting to a non sales leader. And it just wasn’t working. So he decided that he was going to lead sales. 

And I thought, well, that’ll be interesting. So he did. And he, you know, hired me to work with him on helping him lead sales. But of course, as with all CEOs of growing companies, they’re busy doing many things, you know, they could be out getting financing and investors, they could be making acquisitions. They’re leading the leaders of their company, they’re doing many, many, many things for their company. So having time to focus on one area, the it ops or you know, finance or sales would be difficult because they have so many things to do. Yeah, but anyway, he tried it.

Nancy: Okay.

Alice: And, um, you know, he realized that that that really wasn’t going to work all that well. So I had a lot of fun. I’m working with him. And I think the best thing about him leading sales was he did realize that he needed a sales leader. He did realize that it was hard the way they were doing it. And back to sales should be easy. I said to him, well, it doesn’t have to be this hard. Would you like it to be easier? Let’s, you know, let’s work on that. And so of course we did. We had someone that we moved into that sales leadership position that I now coach, and it’s working out beautifully, because through this process, we came to realize, you know, that leading sales as the CEO, which is critically important, doesn’t mean you have to manage the sales people, it means you lead the strategy, right, and you give the support that is needed

And then, you know, we also we really realized that there were not good expectations set or really any expectation set. And so everybody was just doing their own thing. So once we set the expectations and held people to them, I gotta say they were at 57% of no, I’m sorry, they were 87% of quota, the second week, into the month, once we got all of this into place. I mean, amazing things can happen. Right? It’s easier. So we realized that, and I think that, um, you know, again, the sales people were feeling kind of discouraged, because they were doing it the hard way. So when we showed them how to do it the easy way, oh, my gosh, their whole demeanor changed, their mindset changed. It’s just delightful to work with them, and they love what they’re doing.

Nancy: Wonderful. So you when you have a methodology that works and flows, it really takes so much pressure off of sales people, right? Because they know if by just doing the ABC activities, it’s going to happen.

Alice: Right. Do the right activity, right. You know, do it consistently. And you’ll get results. And the other key here too, is a lot of CEOs that I work with, they are smaller companies under 100 million in sales, and a lot of them built their businesses from the ground up, and they love their people. But most of them hold on to non performers way too long. So that’s another thing we realized that there were some non performers that just simply needed to go. And you’ve heard this before. I’ll say it again, it’s still true. Hire slow, fire fast. 

Nancy: Fire fast. Yep. It’s true. 

Alice: You know, if it’s not working out, release them to go off to their next adventure where they can be successful. And you know, relieve yourself and them of the pain. And then take your time to hire the right people. You know, many interviews, many types of interviews and make sure they’re vetting you as much as you’re vetting them. Because if they’re not, you don’t want them.

Nancy: I get it. I think you know, I don’t know if I’m putting words in your mouth. You’re putting words in my mouth. We speak the same language, Alice. Yeah, so what would you like me to spotlight? 

Alice: Well, I have something really fun that I’m a bit nervous about, but I’m going to share it with you. I’m starting a podcast.

Nancy: Congratulations.

Alice: Yeah. Thank you! The working title, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to keep it, is Elevate Your Sales with Alice Heiman. And I’m excited because I’m going to be interviewing CEOs about how they got their start in sales and how they built their sales organizations, a little bit like Guy Raz, How I Built This, but this is all focused on sales. And what’s going to be so much fun is they’re sharing not only their successes, but their struggles so that other CEOs can learn from them.

Nancy: That’s awesome. And we all need a community no matter what role we play. A like minded community to share what they’re doing well, but also what their stumbling blocks might have been, and how they what they learned, right from overcoming it. I can’t wait to is going to be audio or visual. 

Alice: Well it’s going to be both or at least I’m gonna try. Just starting out, you know, you started a podcast not that long ago. So yeah, there’s a lot of choices to be made, but I’m gonna try to do both.

Nancy: You’ve got it. Tell me something that is true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Alice: Well, I’m not sure about this, but I think some would disagree. The CEO is ultimately responsible for sales. And you know, what does that mean? Of course, of course, the CEO is ultimately responsible for everything. They’re the one running the company. But I think in too many cases, the sales team is blamed the sales leadership and the sales team are blamed when sales are down when we’re losing customers. And truly, that is because the CEO is not doing, you know, not doing their part not playing the role that they need to play, not providing a strategy not providing support. You can’t just look at the sales team and blame them. As the CEO, you have to look in the mirror and see what part you’re playing in the sales failure. 

Nancy: Hey, the buck always stops. Oh, yeah. And then, what is one takeaway you want to leave the audience with?

Alice: I believe that driving sales growth at any organization involves everyone. It’s not just the responsibility of the sales team.

Nancy: Yeah.

Alice: I just don’t think you can just say, oh, hey, you know, it’s just the sales team. it’s their responsibility, oh, I don’t do sales. You can’t use that kind of language. Everyone is in sales, because it really truly boils down to the customer experience. And everyone in a company has something to do with that customer experience. So we can’t just leave it to the sales team and tell them go sell and you know, go retain those customers. Everyone has to be involved. 

Nancy: Everyone has a role and creates a solid successful unit, if everyone participates in the roll. This is awesome stuff. And, you know, how can my audience find you?

Alice: Well, the easiest way to find me is on LinkedIn. I’m Alice Heiman. And that’s h e i m a n. You can also find me on my blog, and my website, which is aliceheiman.com, and most recently, you can find me on clubhouse at Alice Heiman as well.

Nancy: All right. Well, listen, thank you all for listening in. And thank you, Alice, so much for joining the program. Remember everyone out there reach out to Alice, when you want to get things right. And I think Alice, you’re all about getting it right, especially in sales. I want everybody to make it an awesome sales day. And Alice, I hope you come back.

Alice: Oh, thank you for having me. I’d love to come back. And everyone if you reach out to me on LinkedIn, please let me know that you heard me here with Nancy. And I’ll accept your request immediately. If you don’t tell me you heard me with Nancy, then I leave you in a pile till I have time to go research you, so just say hey, I heard you with Nancy. And I’m happy to connect and I’m happy to take your questions there as well. Thank you, Nancy. This has really been a pleasure.

Nancy: Oh, pleasure here, too.

Voiceover: The Conversational Selling Podcast is sponsored by One of a Kind Sales. If you’re frustrated that you don’t have enough leads or your sales team complains that they just don’t have enough time to prospect, we can help. To work with Nancy and her team one on one to help you manage your sales team, install her proven outbound sales process and create more bottom line results, email her now at Nancy@oneofakindsales.com. To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at oneofakindsales.com/book.