Carlos A. Alvarenga: The Art and Science of Persuasion

About Carlos A. Alvarenga: Carlos A. Alvarenga is an independent researcher, writer, and coach. His new book, “The Rules of Persuasion: How the World’s Greatest Communicators Convince, Inspire, Lead—and, Sometimes, Deceive” (Post Hill Press, 2023), not only explains how persuasion works in all forms of human communication but also presents a clear and effective model that can be used in both personal and professional lives. Before his current roles, Carlos was the Executive Director of World 50 Labs, the member-innovation team at World 50, Inc. Before that, he served as a Principal in Ernst & Young’s Advisory Practice and as a Managing Director at Accenture. Additionally, he was an adjunct professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Currently, Carlos is pursuing his Ph.D. in language, writing, and rhetoric at the University of Maryland. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Carlos.

In this episode, Nancy and Carlos discuss the following:

  • What motivated Carlos to become an expert in persuasion
  • Importance of defining persuasion and its application in leadership
  • The impact of persuasion on sales effectiveness
  • The distinction between coercion, manipulation, and persuasion
  • The potential for persuasion to be used for both good and evil
  • Exploring the dark side of persuasion with historical examples

Key Takeaways: 

  • It’s hard to be good at something you can’t define.
  • Persuasion is a fundamental human activity.
  • Persuasion is getting someone to willingly, rationally, and ultimately control their faculties and accept that what you say is true.
  • And the opposite of persuasion is coercion. If I explain to you why doing something is a good thing, that’s persuasion. If I trick you, that’s manipulation.

“I explained in the book that if we take these three modes—character, argument, and emotion—we can divide each into seven elements. So, the seven parts of character include, for example, the language you use, your history, where you come from, and these kinds of things. There are seven elements of argument: evidence, logic, and witnesses. Then, there are seven kinds of emotion: positive, negative, contemplative, etc. When I had these 21 elements, I needed a metaphor to help clarify it for me and the reader. I went back to high school chemistry and said, it’s like a periodic table. Every message I’ve ever looked at, and I’ve looked at thousands, combines these 21 elements. So that’s step one. It’s like learning chemistry, right, Nancy? First, start with elements like carbon, hydrogen, and whatever else you will use. Then, you learn some very simple formulas. Learn the elements that work for you, which ones you feel comfortable working with, and which you like to work with, and then start putting them to work. Within an hour of coaching, I’ve seen people become better at this because they now understand that if they use their origin as one of the elements, people will want to believe them more.” – CARLOS

“Logic is one of the seven elements of argument, so it’s on the periodic table. It certainly can be used, right? And people who are doctors and scientists often use logic to persuade. We have broadly spoken about two types of education. If you want to use logic, you can become a philosopher, right? And become a logician and get a PhD in logic. You can become a lawyer. Lawyers also get trained in the use of logic to persuade. But it’s one of the 21 elements. We are often persuaded, and we are more often persuaded, I think, by other things. Because you must go to specialized schools to use argument well, most people are not experts at it, either in creating or receiving logical persuasion. So, we tend to be persuaded more by character, for example, or emotion. They operate in different ways. And so, logic is certainly helpful. But I always challenge executives. I say I want you to start persuading me using nothing but logic—strict, well-constructed, internally consistent, effective logical sequences. And if you can make it to three minutes, I’ll give you a prize. Unless you’re a professional, you can’t. Most people fall apart after about a sentence and a half.” – CARLOS

“Let’s start with the fact that persuasion is predictable. Yeah, I can tell you how someone will, what form of listening they’ll use most of the time, and whether it’ll be effective. And sometimes it’s like magic. I work, coach, and say, I want you to change these two or three things you just told me. And the effect is dramatically different. I’ve had people break into tears when they finally get the message right. And they think it’s something that’s special. And I say, it’s not. You wouldn’t be amazed if you went to a chemist and the chemist made you aspirin. Don’t be amazed. I’m just following the rules. And if you follow the rules, more often than not, exactly what should happen will happen, just like with real chemistry.” – CARLOS

Connect with Carlos A. Alvarenga:

Try Our Proven, 3-Step System, Guaranteeing Accountability and Transparency that Drives RESULTS by clicking on this link: https://oneofakindsales.com/call-center-in-a-box/

Connect with Nancy Calabrese: 

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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, and it’s time again for Conversational selling – the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Carlos Alvarenga, an independent communications researcher, writer and coach. His new book, The Rules of Persuasion, explains exactly how persuasion works in all forms of human communication. Using insights and examples from art to history, to literature, to hip hop, his book updates and expands ideas first presented in Aristotle’s rhetoric, adding original observations regarding the role of the audience in persuasion, persuasion in social media, as well as what happens when the rules of persuasion are used to deceive and corrupt audiences. That’s awful. Welcome to the show, Carlos.

Carlos Alvarenga: Nancy, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having been on your show. [1:20]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, I’m just curious, how did you get involved, you know, and your, how did you focus on persuasion? What motivated you to become an expert in it?

Carlos Alvarenga: So, a few years ago, I left my consulting and business career and I wanted to write. So, I sit down to write a novel. And at the same time, I decided to volunteer with nonprofits because when you write full -time, it tends to be a little bit of a lonely job. You’re working by yourself. Most of the time, I thought it’d be fun to volunteer. And I went on a website that matches volunteers with nonprofit leaders. And the very first project I was matched with was a gentleman, very senior gentleman in Europe who leads a phenomenal global disaster relief organization. And his challenge was, help me, I need to be a better communicator. I ordered some books on what I thought was persuasion. And when I got them, I realized they really weren’t about persuasion. They were about influence or psychology or selling. And I was looking for a book on that topic. I remembered a book that I wrote in college called The Rhetoric by Aristotle. I dusted it off, turned it into a PowerPoint, took this gentleman through this book. It worked wonderfully. We did a second project together. A year later, I had done a dozen and my wife said, you really should write this down. You’ve done a nice job of explaining Aristotle and updating it for our modern audience. And so I took on that project and three years later, because publishing is a slow business. Last fall the book arrived and it’s called The Rules of Persuasion. [2:55]

Nancy Calabrese: Well, congratulations. So why is it so important to define persuasion?

Carlos Alvarenga: Well, I start with that with people like Coach because I say it’s hard to be good at something you can’t define. Right. If you can’t tell me what baseball is, you’re going to have a really hard time being a very good baseball player, I think. And so, the idea is that one reason we struggle is that we haven’t thought about what persuasion really is. And so, we start with Aristotle’s definition, which is the demonstration that something is true or that appears to be true. And I give people a common language and framework to think about this. And I find that even just having a definition and a common way of thinking about this already can help make you a more persuasive communicator. [3:40]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So why is persuasion important for leaders?

Carlos Alvarenga: Well, almost every time we talk to people, we want them to agree about something, right? And it is a fundamental human need that we have to have others agree with us. And so, persuasion is the means by which we affect that outcome. And so, if you want others to agree, and you’re not doing it by force or manipulation, which is not what persuasion is, then you have to use this set of techniques in order to achieve the goals you have, whether it’s to lead a company, teach a class, lead a nation. Almost every profession that you can think of requires at some point, except maybe being king, to persuade people about many different things. It’s a fundamental human activity. [4:30]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So, talk about persuasion as it relates to sales.

Carlos Alvarenga: Right, so this is a key thing. When we are selling, as we know, because we’ve seen people who are good and people who are not so good, I think the best-selling is one that persuades. The not so good selling is one that manipulates or tricks. And so ideally, we want to, I think, a customer to willingly purchase what we’re offering them. And that makes the best transaction. And so that’s where persuasion enters the picture because persuasion is getting someone to willingly, rationally, in full control of their faculties, accept what you say is true as true. And people sometimes ask me, what’s the relationship between my book and books like Cialdini’s book on influence or great books on selling? And I say, my book is about the chemistry of persuasion. And so, and that’s the point I make in the book, persuasion is chemistry with language. So, it is one step before those books, right? Those books, I think with them as medicine, which are applying the rules to specific situations like negotiation and selling. I think of my book as a little bit more fundamental. It is the thing that underlies, right, great books or classes you may have taken on negotiation or selling. [5:54]

Nancy Calabrese: So, is persuasion something that’s innate within people or is it a skill that can be learned and cultivated?

Carlos Alvarenga: I certainly think that it’s both, right? In fact, in Aristotle’s book, he says persuasion is a word called technē. We would spell it T -E -C -H -N -E, technē. We get the word technē from. Technē is a Greek word that has no counterpart in English. So, you’ll sometimes you’ll hear it translated as the art of it, but it isn’t really an art. It’s actually a technical art or art with purpose. And so that means that it does that it can that it depends on rules, and it has technique. But someone with natural talent can make it even better. Right. So there are great communicators who’ve never studied persuasion. But anyone can get better, I think, if they do understand the technique. It’s all like music in a sense. Right. [6:51]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. Well, I think anybody can get better in anything, right? If they make their mind, set their mind to do it. So, what are some of the traps to avoid and can attempts to persuade backfire?

Carlos Alvarenga: Well, I’ll tell you what I find when I coach people, right? So again, in my book, I explain, I re -explained what Aristotle said that there are three modes of persuasion. The character of the person speaking or the entity speaking, maybe it’s a school or a government. There are the arguments presented, things like facts and figures and evidence. And then there is the emotion the, what is felt by the audience as you communicate and when you’re done communicating. And so, what I find with people I coach is that especially executives in business, they, they over ly on the second that they, they, they, yeah, they, they overuse argument. In fact, I say persuasion, you can think of it as a ship with three, with three masses, but only one sale is up most of the time. So, what I tell people is let’s lower the argument sale because it’s hard to get right and people have a hard time following it. Let’s open the character sale. Let’s open the emotion sale. And people, for whatever reason, have come to the conclusion oftentimes that they shouldn’t be part of the story. And on the emotion, they either try to work with emotion, they couldn’t do it, or they don’t think it doesn’t belong in a context like business, but it does. And so you’re really leaving the two most and imagine the sales aren’t even equal size. The character is the biggest sale. Emotion is the next biggest and argument is the smallest. And that’s the one people have. So I say, let’s open the two, watch the ship go farther and faster. And with a lot less stress on the argument. Right. [8:35]

Nancy Calabrese: Right. So how long does it take for someone to really become more persuasive?

Carlos Alvarenga: I think it happens very quick. And I don’t think I know because I’ve watched the people I’ve coached. There are things you can do that would have you that would make you a more effective communicator within 30 minutes, within five. Right. And if you want to master it at a very high level, at an academic level, or as a, or as a, I’d say someone that you’re going to coach or teach or write about it. Sure. That takes a while, but as a communicator, there are simple things that I help people with that are just almost like mindset changes. If you get the problem from a different perspective, you suddenly get a much better message and a much better reaction from the audience. And I’ll give you an example. I asked people, I get called in to do like startup pitches and pitch decks and these kinds of things. And, and I, I’ll ask the question, okay, I’ve heard the pitch explain to me what emotion he, what made it feel now when you finished talking. And I tell you that people can’t. And I say, well, I’m going to feel something. Right. And so, if, if it’s, if you’re not in control, then it’s, then you’re leaving it up to chance. Why not pause for a moment and think about that? And if and if I can show you how to generate that emotion, you’re you’re already a much better communicator. [9:58]

Nancy Calabrese: Wow. So, if someone wanted to become more persuasive, how would they go about getting started?

Carlos Alvarenga: I think the, again, it’s where I wrote the book. I explained the book that if we take these three modes, right, character, argument, and emotion, we can divide each one into seven elements. So, the seven parts of character, like for example, the language you use, your history, where you come from, these kinds of things. Seven elements of argument, things like evidence, logic, witnesses. And then there are seven kinds of emotion, positive, negative, contemplative, et cetera. So when I had these 21 things, that’s what they added to like 21 things, I needed a metaphor to help clarify it for me and for the reader. And I went back to high school chemistry and I said, it’s kind of like a periodic table, right? And every message I’ve ever looked at, and I’ve looked at thousands, is some combination of these 21 things. So that’s step one. Understand the, it’s like learning chemistry, right Nancy? You first start with, there’s carbon, there’s hydrogen, it’s whatever else you’re gonna use, right? We’re gonna be working with today. And then you learn some very simple formulas. Learn the elements that work for you. Which ones do you feel comfortable working with? Which ones do you like to work with? And then start putting them to work. And like I said, within an hour, I’ve seen people, an hour of coaching and suddenly they’re better at this because they now understand, okay, if I use my origin as one of the elements, well, then you will want to believe me more. [11:31]

Nancy Calabrese: Right. Wow. You know, I opened with some people use persuasion to deceive and corrupt audiences, which is horrible. Why do they do that? What is it, the dark side of it?

Carlos Alvarenga: Yeah, you know, the terrible side is this, right? Chemistry, again, the metaphor that runs throughout the whole book, is amoral, right? I can save your life with chemistry. I can take it with chemistry. And so, the same thing is true of the language version of chemistry, which is that in the right hands, language can build or save a nation, right? In the wrong hands, you can destroy one. And so unfortunately, history is full of examples of people who were very good at the chemistry of persuasion, who had terrible goals, terrible ideas, and created untold devastation because the power of persuasion fell into the wrong hands. [12:35]

Nancy Calabrese: Well, makes me think of Hitler.

Carlos Alvarenga: Well, this is actually the chapter nine in the book is an examination of the language of the Third Reich and the way in which the chemistry of language worked within the Nazi regime. And I describe nine specific formulations. And I say in the book, the reason I pick these nine is that all nine are present in American social and political discourse, indication that someone’s trying to poison us. [13:04]

Nancy Calabrese: Wow, still frozen? Wow, and it’s still present.

Carlos Alvarenga: Absolutely and increasing.

Nancy Calabrese: Wow. Why is it increasing?

Carlos Alvarenga: Because society is becoming increasingly fragmented and polarized. So instead of seeing our opponents as wrong, we see them as evil in many cases. And then the next logical step is to say, well, if it’s evil, it must be destroyed. And I must convince you that the person who disagrees with us, right, us, is not just wrong, but bad. And that leads to corrupt applications. [13:38]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So, what’s the difference between coercion and persuasion?

Carlos Alvarenga: Yeah, so coercion is getting someone to do something by force. Right. And so, to me, there’s coercion, manipulation, and persuasion as a kind of spectrum. And the opposite of persuasion is coercion. If I put a gun to your head and say, you must do this, then I’ve coerced you. If I explain to you why doing something is a good thing, you do it of your own free will, that’s persuasion. If I trick you, that’s manipulation. [14:10]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, wow. And is persuasion fundamentally a logical process? And if so, can a logical people be truly persuaded?

Carlos Alvarenga: Logic is one of the seven elements of argument. So, it’s on the periodic table. It certainly can be used, right? And people who are doctors and scientists often use logic to persuade. In fact, we have broadly spoken two types of education. If you want to use logic, you can become a philosopher, right? And become a logician, get a PhD in logic. You can become a lawyer. Lawyers also get trained in the use of logic to persuade. But it’s one of the 21 elements we are often persuaded, and we are more often persuaded I think by other things. Because you must go to specialized schools to use argument well, most people are not experts at it. And so, either in creating or receiving logical persuasion. So, we tend to be persuaded more by character, for example, or emotion. They operate in different ways. And so, logic is certainly helpful. But I always challenge executives. I say, I want you to start persuading me using nothing but logic, strict, well -constructed, internally consistent, effective, logical sequences. And if you can make it to three minutes, I’ll give you a prize. Unless you’re a professional, you can’t. Most people fall apart after about a sentence and a half. [15:45]

Nancy Calabrese: So, can you argue with crazy?

Carlos Alvarenga: You can argue, but it won’t do you any good. You can argue with anything, I suppose, right? The question is, is it a good use of your time? Right. I had a psychiatrist friend said to me one time, because you never engage crazy. And so, or worse that effect. But I would say you can talk to the irrational, right? But you’re not arguing with them. Yeah. Right. [16:15]

Nancy Calabrese: Does that kind of go anywhere? No, you’re not going to get anywhere. Yeah.

Carlos Alvarenga: But sometimes people feel good, right? People vent all the time on social media, not because they expect to change anyone’s mind, just because I guess they must get some kind of enjoyment out of stating their positions.

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, huh. Now I’ve heard that about ethos, pathos, and logos being important to persuasion, but what do they really mean?

Carlos Alvarenga: Well, that’s just it, right? The ethos, pathos, and logos are character, argument, and emotion. They’re the Greek words for these three things. And so, when I wrote the book, I didn’t want to use those words, because I’m writing in English. I’m not writing in Greek. So, I prefer terms, character, argument, and emotion. But they represent those terms. And you hear them mentioned a lot. What you don’t hear a lot is them explained in detail, because Aristotle doesn’t explain it in great detail. And that was really the point of my book was to allow someone to understand when we hear the term ethos translated often as character, what does it really mean? And what is the makeup of that? And that’s what the attempt of the book tries to do is to explain ethos, pathos, logos in a way that our modern audience would understand those concepts. Yeah. [17:29]

Nancy Calabrese: Huh. Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Carlos Alvarenga: Well, not yet hopefully. Let’s start with that persuasion is predictable. Yeah, I can tell you how someone will, what form of listening they’ll use most of the time, whether it’ll be effective or not. And sometimes it’s like magic. I work, coach, and I say, I want you to change these two or three things in which you just told me. And the effect is dramatically different. I’ve had people break into tears when they finally get the message right. And they think it’s something that’s special. And I say, it’s not. You wouldn’t be amazed if you went to a chemist and the chemist made you aspirin. Don’t be amazed. I’m just following the rules. And if you follow the rules, more often than not, exactly what should happen will happen, just like with real chemistry. [18:28]

Nancy Calabrese: Well, last question. So, a person is needing your guidance. What are some of their struggles? What are their pain points that would make them pick up the phone and give you a call?

Carlos Alvarenga: A typical thing is that they are over dependent on argument and haven’t thought about the other modes ever. Another thing might be that the message is not bad, but they have skipped a step. They forgot to ask themselves what must be true for this message to be effective. Another one would be that they, and this is probably the most common answer is that I’ll get a call saying, I’m nervous. I don’t like public speaking. I get agitated and I help, and I go, that’s not the problem. The problem is that the message isn’t right. And so, you’re nervous, not because you’re speaking in public, but because you’re delivering a message that you don’t fully comprehend or hasn’t been well developed. Watch, I say. If you still think after we’re done that you need mechanics, right, then you don’t have to pay me. But if I helped you, with the message and suddenly you feel comfortable, then you’ll realize that I was right. And I’ve never had the case where someone who I work with, to whom I said, it’s the message, not mechanics, that once the message was fixed, the mechanics went away by themselves. [19:56]

Nancy Calabrese: Wow, wow. You know, I can’t believe we’re up in time. This is fascinating subject. What is the one takeaway you want to leave the audience with and how can my people find you?

Carlos Alvarenga: The takeaway is it erased the idea that persuasion is a soft skill or that it’s some amorphous gift that some people have but don’t. It is chemistry, it is technique, and you can learn how to be much better at it by understanding how it works. And you can find me and reach me on my website, which is CarlosAlvarenga .com. There you can find out about current projects, future projects, and there’s also a way to reach out to me directly if you feel like you’d like. [20:38]

Nancy Calabrese: Great. Yeah, so alvaranga is spelled A -L -V -A -R -E -N -G -A. People, get in touch with this expert. You know, life is all about persuasion, you know? You want to…

Carlos Alvarenga: I think so, and it’s a fascinating topic, which is why I wrote the book.

Nancy Calabrese: It is. Whether you’re in business or you’re trying to get your kid to do something, I think it really would pay for you to have a one -on -one with Carlos. So, thanks so much for being on the show, Carlos. It was a lot of fun. And everyone out there, sharpen your persuasion skills, get in front of this guy, and it’s going to make you a better person no matter what role you have. So, until we speak. Make it a great sales day everyone out there and Carlos thanks again.

Carlos Alvarenga: Thank you, Nancy. Thank you, Mia. And thank you to your audience for listening. [21:33]

Hamish Knox: Lessons from a Sandler Guru

About Hamish Knox: Hamish Knox is a member of the global Sandler network. Hamish supports private organizations in Southern Alberta create and maintain a scalable, repeatable, consistent sales engines and an engaged, motivated team by holding them accountable to implementing the structures, systems, and processes shared in our sessions. Before joining the Sandler network, Hamish worked in various industries, including media, communication services, software, and professional sports, which melded his passions for sales and education. Hamish was named the 2020 David H. Sandler Award winner, Sandler’s highest honor, becoming the first Canadian trainer to receive that award. He was the first two-time author in the Sandler network, writing books on topics no one likes to talk about. His first book was on Accountability the Sandler Way, and his second on Change the Sandler Way. Sandler Home Office regularly invites Hamish to speak at Sandler’s train-the-trainer conferences and Sandler’s public Sales and Leadership Summit in Orlando. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Hamish.

In this episode, Nancy and Hamish discuss the following:

  • Hamish’s motivation to move to Sandler
  • The importance of having systems in place for success by design, rather than success by default, in sales organizations
  • Differentiating on how you sell, not what you sell
  • The value of David H. Sandler Award
  • Accountability and the fear of change in sales
  • The importance of making the conversation about the buyer and not about the seller’s needs

Key Takeaways: 

  • Without systems, it’s very much, you know, flying by the seat of your pants, which is a cliche that gets bandied about.
  • Sandler is not just about a bunch of cheesy lines or techniques or saying these seven things; you’ll always get the meeting or the order.
  • If we don’t have accountability, if we don’t have the boundaries defined, our salespeople are going to make it up.
  • I genuinely love what I do.

“You know, people, what’s the cliche about people fear three things: death, taxes, and change? Because our brains are wired to keep us safe, which usually means stuck. Because no matter where you believe that we all came from, whoever, you know, the listeners out there, wherever you believe that humanity emerged from, ultimately, our brains are still wired that way, right? Our brains are still looking for the lions and the saber-toothed tigers that are going to eat us. And so, ultimately, change used to mean that you died, or you went hungry, and then you died. So, you were dead, but you were just more or less full in your stomach when you died. And so, our brains are still back there. So, no one likes change. And the book Change the Sandler Way is really about the human side of change because, ultimately, Nancy, change is super simple. Like, it’s, we don’t have a CRM today, we do have a CRM tomorrow. That’s change. Human beings don’t change, they transition, and transition is almost like the five stages of grief. And so that book is all about how we support leaders who go through these same emotions well before their team members actually manage a successful change. I recently saw that 89% of all corporate change initiatives fail. Yeah, like it was a number that blew my mind. And you think about how many probable billions of dollars are spent on these initiatives from buying the product or service and having the team meetings and getting things going to have it fail that much. There’s got to be a better way.” – HAMISH

“Sandler is a number of things. So, number one, it’s about differentiating on how you sell, not what you sell. Because what we sell is a commodity in the minds of our buyers. It doesn’t matter what we’re selling. And the only way to differentiate a commodity is typically by price. And so, with Sandler, we seek to create clarity with our buyers. I was talking to a very, very successful entrepreneur yesterday. We’re in a mastermind group, and they were saying, well, what do you suggest I do? Because I’m the primary seller. And I said, well, let’s pretend I’m your client. What would you say to me when I say, well, what’s going to happen today, right? We booked a call. What’s going to happen today? And they’re like, well, you know, here’s our process for building out, you know, the services that we offer. And I said, well, that’s great. But what’s gonna happen to me now in this sales call? And he said, well, I don’t know. And I said, well, that’s a problem because no one wants to talk to a salesperson. And so, If we don’t create clarity upfront with our potential, with our buyers, all they’re thinking is when is Hamish going to ask for my wallet? They’re not actually listening. So, we need to create that clarity upfront using the upfront contract, and which is like a supercharged agenda for listeners who haven’t heard about it before. And then pain, humans are animals, biologically that’s true, biologically we’re animals and animals are wired to move away from pain or towards pleasure. There was a study done in Vegas, which is a great place to study both pain and pleasure, that pain was a five times greater motivator than pleasure. And a lot of people, when they hear that, they don’t wanna think about pain. And what I tell my clients is you’re never going to say pain to your buyer. You’re never gonna say, “Nancy, let’s talk about your pain with getting real qualified opportunities in the top of your funnel,” because you’re going to look at me like, “You went to a sales training class, didn’t you? You’ve got a shiny new toy you want to try out.” – HAMISH

“The one takeaway I want the audience to go with is it’s never about us, it’s always about the buyer. So, if the buyer calls up and goes, if we ring ring hello and the buyer goes, what, that’s not about us. And if the buyer says, well, why should I work with you? And you say, well, here’s some reasons why other people have worked with us. Are any of those relevant to you? So always making it about the buyer and never about us and getting our emotional needs met is very, very powerful.” – HAMISH

Connect with Hamish Knox:

Try Our Proven, 3-Step System, Guaranteeing Accountability and Transparency that Drives RESULTS by clicking on this link: https://oneofakindsales.com/call-center-in-a-box/

Connect with Nancy Calabrese: 

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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, and it’s time again for Conversational selling – the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Hamish Knox, president of Sandler in Calgary. Hamish is a member of the Global Sandler Network and supports private organizations in Southern Alberta to create and maintain scalable, repeatable, consistent sales engines, and an engaged, motivated team by holding them accountable to implementing the structures, systems, and processes shared in our sessions, or in the sessions. Hamish plays an important role in Sandler’s worldwide organization and is recognized nationally and internationally as a business development expert specializing in executive sales consulting and sales productivity training. Well, as you all know, everyone, I’m a huge Sandler fan, so this is gonna be a great conversation. Welcome to the show, Hamish.

Hamish Knox: Thanks for having me, Nancy. [1:26]

Nancy Calabrese: You’re a lot of fun. So, this is going to be a fun discussion. So, I know you worked in other industries before Sandler. What motivated you to move to Sandler?

Hamish Knox: So, I actually had a sales training company off the side of my desk that was inspired by a couple of my clients at the time who were two partners in a public relations firm, and we were meeting for a quarterly review and they said, you know, we really wish we could do what you do. And I said, well, first define what is what you think I do as a salesperson. And they said, well, like, if you want us to call up the business editor of a national newspaper and pitch them on our client, we could do that all day long. But if you want us to call up the CEO of a local company and go, want some PR? That’s not something that we’re going to do. So I went, there might be something here. But what got me into Sandler was my last sales manager, his name is Gord. He’s thanked in my first book on accountability. We randomly decided to have dinner at the same Portuguese restaurant in Montreal. We were there for meetings. And I was catching up with him and he said, have you ever heard of Sandler? And I said, no. And he says, it’s really how you think and talk and act. And I said, thanks, I think. And that night I couldn’t sleep, I had jet lag, so I did some Googling and I found an article by Bill Bartlett, who was a colleague of mine in Sandler until he gracefully retired earlier this year. And it was like I walked into a church and God spoke to me. And I was like, how do I get more of this stuff? So that’s the short version of what prompted me to join Sandler. [3:04]

Nancy Calabrese: Wow. You know, Sandler is all about having systems and why is it important to have systems in place?

Hamish Knox: Because without systems, it’s very much, you know, flying by the seat of your pants is a cliche that gets bandied about. Ultimately, it’s success by default instead of success by design is how I characterize it. There are plenty of great organizations, plenty of great individuals out there who are successful by default. And all that means is if we go to that individual and say, wow, you are super successful, how did you become the number one, whatever, or how did you get your company to be this big? They would be like, I stuff and things, I sold. And they would have no processes to fall back on. And for entrepreneurs who eventually wanna exit, they get a higher multiple if their sales engine is really built like Lego. And where we can pop the current owner out, we can pop Nancy in and the whole thing continues to grow in scale. [4:12]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, person joins the program. Typically, how long does it take a client to get it like the light bulb goes off?

Hamish Knox: Your mileage may vary. I had one client who had run a million-dollar commercial HVAC business for 10 years, doing a million dollars a year, the entire seller by themselves. Within the first six weeks of working with us, they had increased their revenue by $300 ,000, which, you know, that’s kind of material. There are some people who, it will take upwards of 12 months or even longer. And that’s ultimately because as you know, Nancy, Sandler is not just about a bunch of cheesy lines or techniques or say these seven things and you’ll always get the meeting or the order. It starts with our mindset. And as humans, we’re kind of committed to our worldviews. And so sometimes it takes a while for someone to go, I get it. In fact, I was just actually got an email from, a former client who I worked with for four years in my sales development program, and I was sharing with a new team member, I probably fought with them every week for the first six months they were working with us. And now they are one of our biggest fans and advocates. [5:43]

Nancy Calabrese: Why? Wow. Well, you know, I think, you know, for everyone out there in the audience, it’s you’re being trained to sound and speak differently, right? Up front contract, pattern interrupt, pain. Why don’t you talk about some of those areas of Sandler?

Hamish Knox: So, Sandler is a number of things. So, number one, it’s about differentiating on how you sell, not what you sell. Because what we sell is a commodity in the minds of our buyers. It doesn’t matter what we’re selling. And the only way to differentiate a commodity is typically price. And so, with Sandler, we seek to create clarity with our buyers. I was talking to a very, very successful entrepreneur yesterday. We’re in a mastermind group together and they were saying, well, what what do you suggest I do? Because I’m the primary seller. And I said, well, let’s pretend I’m your client. What would you say to me when I say, well, what’s going to happen today, right? We book a call, what’s going to happen today? And they’re like, well, you know, here’s our process for building out, you know, the services that we offer. And I said, well, that’s great. But what’s gonna happen to me now in this sales call? And he said, well, I don’t know. And I said, well, that’s a problem because no one wants to talk to a salesperson. And so, If we don’t create clarity upfront with our potential, with our buyers, all they’re thinking is when is Hamish going to ask for my wallet? They’re not actually listening. So, we need to create that clarity upfront using the upfront contract, and which is like a supercharged agenda for listeners who haven’t heard about it before. And then pain, humans are animals, biologically that’s true, biologically we’re animals and animals are wired to move away from pain or towards pleasure. There was a study done in Vegas, which is a great place to study both pain and pleasure, that pain was a five times greater motivator than pleasure. And a lot of people, when they hear that, they don’t wanna think about pain. And what I tell my clients is, you’re never going to say pain to your buyer. You’re never gonna say, Nancy, let’s talk about your pain with getting real qualified opportunities in the top of your funnel, because you’re going to look at me like, You went to a sales training class, didn’t you? You’ve got a shiny new toy you want to try out. [8:05]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, really. Well, listen, you were named in 2020, you were awarded the David H. Sandler Award. So, what did you do to win it?

Hamish Knox: So, what it says in the nomination requirements is, you know, grew a very successful business, which I am grateful for the trust of our clients, that they trust us to support them in sustainably scaling their sales. So, I’ve grown a very great business. I’ve grown a very incredible team here at Sandler Calgary. And as you read my bio, Nancy, I am remiss in not giving you an updated one, because I’m no longer the president of Sandler Calgary. We promoted my long -term associate, Nisha Berman, to president at the Sandler Summit in March in Orlando where we got to meet in person for the first time. So, I have a great team. And then supporting the network. And I tell all my colleagues in Sandler, I have an open phone policy. It doesn’t matter to me what role you are because Sandler has that concept of equal business stature, which I firmly believe in. So, anybody in the Sandler network, I am happy to support at any time. And the thing that was super special for me about the David H Sandler Award, I mean, first, it was the last event before everything shut down. Like it was, we were the last airplane to land at the Calgary airport before you had to quarantine for two weeks back in March of 2020. And the special thing for me was not only was this a nomination of my peers, so every year the Sandler Network nominates the people for David H. Sandler Award. It was also a vote of my peers. So, my peers globally actually not only nominated me, but they also named me. They selected me as the David H. Sandler Award recipient that year. I’m the only Canadian to have ever received that award, which is also very special. So, what I ultimately did, Nancy, is I lived the values that David Sandler set out about consistent, sustainably scalable sales growth and supporting as many people as I can. [10:31]

Nancy Calabrese: Wonderful, congratulations. And I know that you were the first two -time author in the Sandler Network writing books. And you say on topics no one likes to talk about. Accountability the Sandler way and the second one is changing the Sandler way. Why don’t people like to talk about these topics?

Hamish Knox: Well, let’s do the second one first. So change, right? You know, people, what’s the cliche about people fear three things, death, taxes, and change? Because our brains are wired to keep us safe, and that usually means stuck. Because no matter where you believe that we all came from, whoever, you know, the listeners out there, wherever you believe that humanity emerged from, ultimately our brains are still wired that way, right? Our brains are still looking for the lions and the saber -toothed tigers that are going to eat us. And so ultimately, change used to mean that you died, or you went hungry and then you died. So, you were dead, but you were just more or less full in your stomach when you died. And so, our brains are still back there. So, no one likes change. And the book, Change the Sandler Way, is really about the human side of change, because ultimately, Nancy, change is super simple. Like, it’s, we don’t have a CRM today, we do have a CRM tomorrow. That’s change. Human beings don’t change, they transition, and transition is almost like the five stages of grief. And so that book is all about how we support leaders who go through these same emotions well before their team members do actually manage a successful change. I saw a stat recently that like 89 % of all corporate change initiatives fail. Yeah, like it was a number that blew my mind. And you think about how many probable billions of dollars are spent on these initiatives from buying the product or service and having the team meetings and getting things going to have it fail that much. There’s got to be a better way. [12:40]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. Why do you think it fails so much?

Hamish Knox: Well, because ultimately, and this is part of the first part of that book is as a leader, so let’s just say, Nancy, that you were going to change the compensation plan in your organization. It’s just easy example. Well, you go through all the change emotions when you go through that change, except you don’t just have a thought on Monday and say, we’re going to change the comp plan. And Monday afternoon, you’re in front of your team saying, team, here’s the new comp plan it’s going to take three, six, nine, 18 months to change. So, by the time that you roll it out to your team, you’ve forgotten, cause you’re human, that you went through those emotions. So, when you roll it out to the team and you don’t have a hundred percent of your team going, boss, great idea. Can’t imagine why we didn’t do this before. Your kind of like, well, hey guys, what the heck’s going on? You know, this is the way things are, but it’s because we as leaders, we went through those emotions so long ago that we are not prepared to support our team members when they’re going through the emotions when we make the announcement. [13:54]

Nancy Calabrese: Huh, talk about accountability.

Hamish Knox: It’s not punishment lapse. It’s not micromanaging. It’s not handcuffs. It’s, it’s freedom for me because accountability defines the playing field. And that’s something that I find lacks consistently in sales organizations, whether, you know, it’s got to be more than one because if there’s only one person selling in the organization, well, they define their own playing field. Once we start to build out a sales team and a sales organization, we typically do not as leaders define the playing field. And without those guardrails, those boundaries, those whatever’s that we want to label them, our team is running off in all sorts of different directions because they have no idea which way to go. It’s almost like I used to coach my eldest daughter when she turned four in soccer, and it wasn’t really coaching soccer. It was like rolling the ball out and letting them burn calories for an hour while their parents sat on the sidelines. And my eldest daughter, when she got the ball, it didn’t matter which direction the goal was. She was going to go in the direction the ball was going. So, if the ball was going perpendicular to the goal, she was gone. And it was great because she had fun. She loved it. However, not very productive for putting the ball in the net. And I appreciate at four years old, that’s not necessarily the goal. And it’s a good illustration of if we don’t have accountability, if we don’t have the boundaries defined, our salespeople are going to make it up. [15:34]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. That’s cute. So, you know, and I know you mentioned you and I met this year at the summit, and I don’t know how many times you’ve presented. You were fabulous. What do you gain from presenting at the summit?

Hamish Knox: So, my North Star, it’s on my vision board, which is just to the left of my computer that we’re recording on, is to create generational wealth for my daughters and I to enjoy now by supporting as many sales leaders and sellers as possible. And some people might react a little bit to that first part. And the fact of the matter is, that first part was added on like after the fifth or sixth iteration because I often don’t put myself first. I’m very much in that how can I support you model. And so, someone pointed out like, hey, that’s great Hamish, except if you can’t pay your bills, like how are you going to support people? Like, yeah, fair point. So that’s where I added that first part in. And my daily question is who did I support today? And what I get out of presenting at Summit is, I’m a bit of an entertainer. I think Nancy, you know that about me. So, I like being on stage. I did standup comedy in front of 700 people when I was 11 years old. So, I like being on stage. I like making people laugh. I like entertaining. And my goal is to support someone. So, what I get out of speaking at the summit is I get to live my North Star. I get to live my purpose every day. And I said this to a buyer this morning, I don’t work. I really don’t. Like yes, I’m a business. I do want to get paid. I do have visions and goals that require money to make them work, operate. And I love doing this stuff, Nancy. I love it. I genuinely love what I do. [17:32]

Nancy Calabrese: Well, that’s pretty darn obvious. And last question. I know Sandler recently revised their curriculum. Why was that?

Hamish Knox: Mm -hmm. So ultimately, because things had changed and we did do a rebrand, so Sandler globally did go through a rebrand a couple of Junes ago, so we wanted to align more with what our corporate branding looked like. And we have AI now. We have new ways of interacting with buyers. We have more buyers in the process now because most organizations, especially at the enterprise level, have become massively risk averse, especially post COVID. So, the beauty of Sandler is it’s always been about having more effective human to human interactions professionally and personally. And so, as I said to a client recently who’s like, well, Sandler is not industry specific. And I said, well, are you still selling to human beings? And he said, yup. And I said, awesome. So, if you are selling to human beings, we can provide some sort of support and guidance. And as David Sandler said, I’m giving you sheet music and helping you make it say in your world. So, if you need to give me some buzzwords or competitor names to make the examples, I’m giving relevant to your industry, rock and roll. However, Sandler’s about human to human. And as the human to human has changed in sales and in sales leadership, we added some new content, we updated and revised a few things to make it more resonant with the modern learner. [19:10]

Nancy Calabrese: Yep, and also you and I spoke about this, and I don’t know if you’re doing it, but they created cohorts in the fall. And actually, I’m enjoying it because I have the opportunity to get to know some other trainers and get their point of view on topics, not just the same trainer. So, hey, we are up in time. I told you this was going to go by fast. How can my people find you? And before you do that, what is the one takeaway you want the audience to go with?

Hamish Knox: The one takeaway I want the audience to go with is it’s never about us, it’s always about the buyer. So, if the buyer calls up and go, if we ring ring hello and the buyer goes, what, that’s not about us. And if the buyer says, well, why should I work with you? And you say, well, here’s some reasons why other people have worked with us, are any of those relevant to you? So always making it about the buyer and never about us and getting our emotional needs met is very, very powerful. [20:17]

Nancy Calabrese: Awesome. How can everyone find you Hamish?

Hamish Knox: So, there are not very many Hamish Knox’s in the world. In fact, I am the number one Google result for Hamish Knox globally. So, if you punch Hamish Knox into Google, I’m going to show up at the top. So that’s an easy way. You can find me on LinkedIn. If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, please mention that you heard me on Nancy’s show, because you’re probably surprised I got a lot of inbound connection requests and I want to support everybody and I want to make sure that I know where people are connecting me from. You can also check out my podcast, Full Funnel Freedom, which Nancy was a killer guest on back in April of 2024. And those would be the best ways to get ahold of it. [21:09]

Nancy Calabrese: I had so much fun. Yeah, you know, I forgot to mention the podcast. You are awesome. So, folks, this is the guy to go to. He’s an excellent trainer, but an entertainer too. So, there is never a dull moment. Take advantage of his expertise. Reach out to Hamish and Hamish, thanks so much for being on my show. You make me smile every time I talk to you and I love smiling. So maybe in the future we’ll do it again. And until we speak again, everyone makes it an awesome sales day until next time. [21:47]

Kelly Lichtenberger: Sales Strategies and Emotional Intelligence

About Kelly Lichtenberger: Kelly Lichtenberger has a strong background in sales and marketing, with experience in various leadership roles. From 2021 onwards, she has worked as the Global Head of Sales Development at Avanan. Before this, she worked at The InsideOut Technologies Company as a Principal, focusing on building and optimizing Inside Sales teams. From 2017 to 2019, Kelly held multiple roles at Razberi Technologies, including Vice President of Marketing and Inside Sales. She was key in delivering network video recording, cyber security, and remote health management solutions during her time there. Before that, Kelly was the President of Consulting Services Group (CSG), where they provided superior customer experience and implemented top talent and technologies for business success. Kelly was also involved in building high-performance sales teams and instituting best-selling processes at Carousel Industries as the Vice President of Inside Sales. Overall, Kelly Lichtenberger has a wealth of experience in sales development, marketing, and team management and has consistently demonstrated success in driving revenue growth and achieving results. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Kelly.

In this episode, Nancy and Kelly discuss the following:

  • Value of the human element in sales despite advancements in AI
  • Overcoming fear of rejection in cold calling
  • Differing views on the use of scripts in sales calls
  • Building and maintaining successful inside sales teams
  • Role of emotional intelligence (EQ) in prospecting and sales
  • Benefits of emotional intelligence for women in sales

Key Takeaways: 

  • You can have a script, but knowing how to play within that keeps the human element there.
  • Women do phenomenally at sales.
  • The worst answer in sales is “maybe.”
  • We all have a mutual benefit for everybody, being happy and wanting to stay.

“I still very much believe in the human element. We hear a lot about AI and tools, what these tools can do, and what this system can do. We miss a big part of the sales cycle when we leave out the human element. I talk to my team often about this, and I think what happens is it comes down to skill set. There are a lot of people who don’t have the skill set to use the phone as a selling device appropriately. So, it’s easier to say it doesn’t work and it’s dead. The more people say that, the more it helps me and my teams because it opens the doors. Fewer people are calling, so I’ll get through.” – KELLY

“So, when you think about emotional intelligence, it’s the same as EQ. People have heard of IQ, which is knowing how. EQ is knowing you. Emotional intelligence encompasses self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. It’s really about adding the human element into sales. When working with a team, I tell them, “We’re not going in to sell on step one of the first conversation. We’re looking at how to build a relationship, even in your personal life. It’s about being you.” One of the things that people forget to do often is to focus so much on the product know-how and forget that there’s an actual person on the other end. Do we understand their role? Their pain points? What would be helpful to them in their position? If you’re facing rejections, know how to handle it, pivot, and not get upset if you have a day where there are many hang-ups or didn’t get through and set up the demo. Knowing that motivation, if you’re not doing those things again, how do you turn something like cold calling into a skill set and not just give up because it’s not working for you? Many people do. Then again, they want to say, “This didn’t work.” Well, maybe it’s that you didn’t work on that one.” – KELLY

“So, active listening is a big part of emotional intelligence, which comes in a few places. It’s going to come into social skills. It will come into self-awareness, but really, the social skills of understanding. Knowing when to let somebody speak and actively listening to have it be heard allows you to respond appropriately. When we call someone, I must remind them that they may not always love our product or think that everyone on the planet needs it, but not everybody does, or maybe they don’t see it. So, how do we have conversations to open up what they need? And if we fit, great. If we don’t, then at least know how to build that relationship because, down the road, there might be something new added into your line of products that they could need.” – KELLY

Connect with Kelly Lichtenberger:

Try Our Proven, 3-Step System, Guaranteeing Accountability and Transparency that Drives RESULTS by clicking on this link: https://oneofakindsales.com/call-center-in-a-box/

Connect with Nancy Calabrese: 

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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, and it’s time again for Conversational selling – the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Kelly Lichtenberger, a global head of sales development at Checkpoint, a company that protects cloud email and collaboration suites from cyber-attacks. With over 20 years of experience in sales development, marketing, leadership, and inside sales development, she has a diverse background in building revenue -driven inside sales teams within high growth, high tech organizations. She’s a winner of the AAISP Most Influential Sales Professionals Award and a noted expert on training, building, and growing exceptional teams. Welcome to the show, Kelly. This conversation is right up my alley.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Well, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here. [1:20]

Nancy Calabrese: Oh my goodness. Yeah. So, um, why don’t we start with this? You and I, um, are big fans of cold calling. I don’t often get to interview or speak to many people that believe in it the way you and I both. So why do you believe it’s such an effective marketing tool to add to any organization?

Kelly Lichtenberger: Because I still very much believe in the human element. I think the world, we hear a lot about AI and tools and what this tool can do and what this system can do. And when we start just leaving out the human element, we’re missing a big part of the sales cycle. I talk to my team often about this. And I think what happens is it really comes down to skill set. And there’s a lot of people that just don’t have a skill set in how to appropriately use the phone as a selling device. So, it’s easier to say, it doesn’t work and it’s dead. And the more people that say that it actually helps me and my teams because it opens the doors, less people are calling. So, I’ll get through. [2:36]

Nancy Calabrese: I love it. It’s so true. You know, when you think about it, and when I speak with many professionals, they love networking. They love going out to all of these events. And I look at cold calling as phone networking. It’s targeted, right? You’re way more efficient. You don’t have to travel to and from. And it’s the same thing when you go to a networking event. You’re meeting strangers. Well, same thing over the phone. I just don’t get why people have this fear of picking up the phone.

Kelly Lichtenberger: And I think it comes down to a lot of it is rejection if they hang up. But what they don’t understand is if you look at all of your numbers for your success and how many touches it takes to get to a prospect, you’re still getting quote unquote hung up on with your emails. People just aren’t responding. So, it’s the same thing. But for some reason people get nervous, but they don’t see you and that’s okay. Maybe your approach needs to be worked on. You’re not going to get 100 % of anything that you do. So why not try something that gets you to start building your relationship that much quicker? [3:54]

Nancy Calabrese: I agree. Now, do you believe in scripting?

Kelly Lichtenberger: So, I am not a big fan of scripts to read off of. I am a fan to at least get your thoughts down. Like anything, I think you need to practice and understand in role playing what could happen so you’re ready. So, when you get on the phone, anything that comes your way, you have a response. And that helps as well. But people to do the actual script, no, I’m not one that does that because again, I want it to be a natural conversation like you and I are having today, wherever this takes us and be present. [4:38]

Nancy Calabrese: Right. Well, I’m going to have to politely disagree with you on that, because I do believe in scripting, but scripting is a tool that you start with. And the way I make sense of it is, you know, when you see actors, Leo DiCaprio in a movie, it all started with the script, right? But he makes it his own. So we use a technique here so that the scripts are pretty much the same and what we try to do in our scripting is identify pain points to get the people on the other end of the phone emotional and if you know we have a saying here if there’s no pain there’s no sale you want to move forward.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Agreed.

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, the script is a starting point, but they wind up internalizing it, and maybe that’s what you’re saying too.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Yes, I think so. What happens a lot of times where I find that people, they take a script, if they sound scripted, that’s not natural. So that’s where I say, I like to have script as your starting point, where again, I have my teams do a lot of role-playing activities and play out what could happen. And once they get on the phone, though, not sounding so scripted and being so scripted that they can’t move away from what’s on the paper. And again, that’s the skill set that I really like to work on is how to take the initial of what you do but go in and lead with how you can be interested in what they have to say and not interesting. Meaning you’re not just talking over the person, you’re trying to find out and get to, because I believe in exactly what you said, to the pain. If there is no pain, personal life or professional, you’re not changing anything. So, there is no such thing as if you have budget or not. If the pain’s great enough, again, personal, or professional, you will find the budget. So, it’s how you get there. So, a lot of times, if the person has their guard up when you’re just calling in, again, there’s no script for that. You must work around it. So yes, you can have a script, but knowing how to play within that, and again, keep the human element there. [6:59]

Nancy Calabrese: Right. So, you have a lot of experience building inside sales teams. That’s not an easy thing to do. So, what qualities do you look for when you go to hire and bring someone on board as an inside sales rep?

Kelly Lichtenberger: I am looking for someone that wants to get to sales, wants to have a chance. I don’t always look for this many years with phone experience or a certain technology. I just must know they’re going to be ambitious. They understand that they are going to face rejection all day. Their job is repetitive. But if they stick with it and become skilled and train and train and train, they’re going to be amazing. So, it’s a great place to start and learn and really get your feet in and understand the buying cycle. And I think it’s a skill that really people that have been in the actual field for a long time when pandemic kit and things like that, for them to go back and must even pick up a phone themselves, they had no idea what to do. So, it’s an amazing skill set to start with, to bring to the field. [8:26]

Nancy Calabrese: Wow. So, you know, I want to congratulate you on the award that you won for most influential sales professionals. What did you do to earn that?

Kelly Lichtenberger: Thank you. Thank you so much. So AISP is now a company in Blaze. And they every year they’re an amazing company. And they open it up to partners that they work with and all kinds of things. I’ve been very involved with them. They do a lot of science backed information and trainings. And I had always been involved and when I was coming up as a salesperson, again, I wanted to learn as much as possible. And I started my career as an SDR and stayed all these years within the industry because I love it. So, you know, I just happened to work with them enough and had enough people go through the program that they saw it working. And so, I was able to win and I’m very fortunate for it. [9:28]

Nancy Calabrese: Oh, awesome. So, let’s pivot to emotional intelligence. I know that’s a hot topic for you. Let’s talk about emotional intelligence in prospecting. What’s important there?

Kelly Lichtenberger: Mm -hmm. It really.. So when you think about emotional intelligence and emotional intelligence, same as EQ. So, people have heard of IQ. So, IQ is knowing how. EQ is knowing you. So emotional intelligence is self -awareness, self -regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills. It’s really, again, adding the human element into sales. So, when I’m working with a team, I even tell them, we’re not going in to sell on step one on the first conversation. We’re looking to, how do you build a relationship even in your personal life? And it’s, again, being you. So, one of the things that people forget to do a lot of times, again, is if we go back to even talking about the script, is they end up wanting to get so focused on the product know -how and to do. But forgetting on the other end is an actual person that do we understand what their role is? Do we understand what their pain points could be? Do we understand the things that are really going to be helpful to them in their position? Yes, they work for a company. Yes, they must buy their own things. But everyone has their own set of requirements that’s going to get them to speak with you longer or not, and then introduce you to those that you should, or you shouldn’t be speaking with within the company. So, within the emotional intelligence, you must understand self -awareness too. So, if you’re getting rejections, how to handle it, how to pivot, not get upset if you have a day where a lot of hang-ups have happened, or you didn’t get through and get the demo set up. Knowing that motivation, if you’re not doing those things again, how do you make something a skill set like the cold call and not just give up because it’s not working for you? And a lot of people do. And then again, they want to say, well, this didn’t work. Well, maybe it’s you didn’t work on that one. [11:55]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, yeah. You also state, and this is really interesting to me, that EI helps women be 11 % more successful in sales. Please expand on that.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Absolutely. And you know, I’m on a mission to get more women into sales. They do phenomenal at sales. Now, here’s where they do well, is using that emotional intelligence. And though a lot of times they don’t know that they are, they’re just being themselves. And it has to do sometimes with not having all of the confidence in the world when they get into sales and not feeling that they have the experience with a certain technology. So, when you take those out of it, the only thing left in your bag of tricks is to be authentically yourself. And so, when women start asking questions because they want to naturally learn more and they’re more empathetic and they are more willing to learn new skills when it becomes a new technology again because they’re doubting themselves and then there’s imposter syndrome. But some of those things make them really well positioned in sales to be that much more successful. [13:12]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, wow. And where does active listening come into play here?

Kelly Lichtenberger: Absolutely. So active listening is a big part of emotional intelligence, and it comes into a few places. It’s going to come into social skills. It’s going to come into self -awareness, but really the social skills of understanding. When again to let somebody speak and you learn from and you actively listen to have it be heard where you could say back to them, ask additional questions about what they just said. Not all the time when we call someone, I must remind people, we may love our product, we may think that every single person on the planet needs it, but not everybody does, or maybe they don’t see it. So how do we have conversations to really open what they do need? And if we fit, great, if we don’t, then at least still how to build that relationship because down the road there might be something new added into your line of products that they could need. [14:22]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, yep. You know, we hear, we take a no as a not now. And we look at a no as a positive because we’re getting closer to our yes.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Absolutely. There are three potential answers. Yes, no, and maybe. “Yes” is obviously fantastic. “No” is great too, because you know where you stand. The worst answer is “maybe”. That’s where you’re falling down in sales. [14:50]

Nancy Calabrese: Right. You got it. Yeah. And, you know, I feel sorry for salespeople that take a maybe as yes, you know, and then they continue to follow up. But maybe I would go right back to them and kind of politely challenge them. You know, if this is your way to, you know, politely get me off the phone, that’s okay. But I’d really push for the yes or the no, you know.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Absolutely. Absolutely. Pipelines are built on maybes and then sales reps get to the end and go, but I thought they really liked what I had. So that’s why I have it in the pipeline. Well, liking it and actually needing it are two different things. [15:29]

Nancy Calabrese: You got it. So how do you keep your team motivated day in and day out?

Kelly Lichtenberger: So, with sales development, with inside sales, again with the repetitive, we must add some fun. And so, what I like to do is different contests. We do things that we compete as a team. So yes, you’re in sales. So, you still have a stack rank, but we like to do it together. So, we’ll do additional blitz days where there’s prizes. We’ll do things where we’re creating new email content or new ways to get into somebody on the phone. And the first one that their new way to try and get somebody works, they win. Anything that we can do to keep it interesting and exciting. Otherwise, it is, it’s too repetitive and you can get lost in it. [16:28]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, we here, you know, we use Microsoft Teams, and everybody checks in. My people are all over the world. And when somebody gets, you know, an appointment, we all post stupid GIFs, you know, to celebrate them. Yeah. Isn’t that cool? I love it too. You know, no, no, go, go.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Yes, we do too. I love that. That’s fun. And again because you’re in, oh, sorry. I was gonna say because you’re in different areas all over the world, it connects people, and the laughter gets everybody on the team to know each other a little bit more. [17:05]

Nancy Calabrese: Yep, it’s fun and I’m very lucky. Turnover inside sales reps. What’s your experience with that?

Kelly Lichtenberger: It can be huge. I, on the other hand, I will say it’s one of the things I pride myself on. I do not have large turnover. And I think because how I lead is you must know your team. So, I, the same way I’m trying to build relationships with prospects, I’m going to build it with my team first. Not every single person on the team wants the same thing. So, I must know what every single employee, what they’re motivated by. And then I’m going to work with them on that. Some are more vacation time. Some it’s more pay. Some it’s, you know, more opportunity within the company. But you must find out. And I want to know my staff. And I want to make sure what I say to them is what they see that I’m doing to help them in their career and to get to where they want to go. And that’s how you keep them is showing up every day as the leader that is behind them. [18:10]

Nancy Calabrese: Yep. I’m lucky also. And I think it’s recognizing, acknowledging them and being appreciative because without them, I have no business.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Absolutely. And again, it’s hard work. And I want people to be with me. I want to build my team, my portion of the company together with the same group and see them do fantastic. If they’re not achieving their goals as the leader, I’m not achieving mine. It’s that simple, which means the company is not going to get to theirs. So, we all have a mutual benefit to everybody being happy and wanting to stay. [18:54]

Nancy Calabrese: Yep, no cancers, no cancers in the company. Yeah, I can’t believe we’re up in time. This is such an engaging conversation, Kelly. Oh yeah, what is something, what is the one takeaway you want to leave the audience with?

Kelly Lichtenberger: Correct. Yes. that I want to see more people get into sales again. It’s not used car. There are so many benefits to getting into sales. And if you’ve ever thought about it and never been, starting with inside sales, learning a new technology, there’s so many things that that’s where the AI can help us. Come give it a try. Come look for some of those mentors and have yourself a fantastic career. [19:42]

Nancy Calabrese: I love it. I love your passion. How can my people reach you if they want to be in touch with you?

Kelly Lichtenberger: Absolutely. So, they can reach out to me at my email address, which I have kelly@prospectlikeagirl.com, which is the best way now to reach me for all the latest in training. [20:06]

Nancy Calabrese: Prospect like a girl. I love it. I can’t believe it. Listen, folks, you’ve been listening to an expert. She’s passionate about what she does. She has a lot of good experience. She has great management experience. Take advantage of her expertise and be sure to reach out. Kelly, we’re going to have to do this again because it was just too short. We have so much in common and I’m really appreciated that you spent time with us this morning.

Kelly Lichtenberger: Thank you so much for having me. I would be honored to be a guest at any time. Yes, we have so much in common. So, I have followed you and I just love this conversation. So, I look forward to coming back soon.

Nancy Calabrese: Awesome. And everyone out there, pick up the phone. Pick up the phone. It is your friend, not your foe. Make it a great sales day. Yeah. All right. Have a good one. [21:06]

Kelly Lichtenberger: I agree! Thank you.

 

 

Isabelle Fortin: The Rebel’s Guide to Sales Success

About Isabelle Fortin: Isabelle Fortin is a standout mindset facilitator, entrepreneur, and public speaker. Her journey is marked by determination and creativity. Through Izzy Fortin Coaching, she uses her experiences and insights to help others grow professionally and personally. Isabelle faced a significant challenge when she was just five years old: she lost her mother. Being the youngest of three siblings, she had to learn how to be strong and resilient early on, and these qualities have guided her throughout her life. Isabelle’s career path is wide-ranging and impressive. She served in the Canadian Air Force, an experience that taught her discipline and structure. Afterward, she spent 23 years as a devoted massage therapist, improving her ability to heal and care for others. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Isabelle.

In this episode, Nancy and Isabelle discuss the following:

  • Isabelle’s transition from military to sales
  • Definition of a rebel and the importance of rebels in sales
  • Strategy: “Make friends before you make clients.”
  • Value of honesty and authenticity in sales
  • Aligning company culture with sales team needs
  • Impact of military experience on sales approach
  • Turning rebellious salespeople into rock stars

Key Takeaways: 

  • You can’t go against who you are
  • Make friends before you make clients
  • If you give the rebels the tools that they need, they will become rock stars
  • Always quit a toxic relationship

“I think that most sales rebels are extremely people-oriented. They’re extremely community- and relationship-minded. And it is truly for them about cultivating relationships more than anything else. They make friends before they make clients. Of course, you know, the business that you are in has to give you that opportunity. I mean, if you’re a salesperson in a store, maybe, you know, that’s a little bit less, especially if it’s a chain store, it’s a little bit less of that. But even then, how many great people do we find or quite the opposite? You go to a store, and the person, you know, won’t look at you, engage with you, or ask anything. Well, we are less likely to go back, right? So, I think that that’s in their nature—to build relationships—and it is about selling who they are first.” – ISABELLE

“I believe that, of anybody, but especially when it comes to salespeople, thrive when the culture of the company that they work for understands that they cannot be treated like every other employee because they are different. And I find that you know, sales managers—only 6% of them get training in management. And yeah, only 6%. The stats are scary. Very often, I believe that either the company took their top salesman and decided to make them the manager, or worse yet, they took somebody from another department and decided, “Hey, you’re a good manager. So, you can now lead the sales team.” Sales is a different kind of species. And if you treat them the same as everybody else, they’re going to underperform, and they’re going to look for a job very quickly. And I think that that is the biggest mistake that most companies do—is deal with their salespeople the “wrong” way.” – ISABELLE

“The connection that I brought to my personal life from the military was you can work well with somebody you don’t like and don’t need to. I hear coaches say that very often—find the commonality, find, you know, if that person likes ballet or bowling or whatever, and you like that too, then you know, that’s something to base the relationship on. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Sometimes, the commonality is that you’re both humans living on this planet. So, you don’t have to share a passion with somebody to get along with them. And that’s where I got that from the military because in service, you literally, like a firefighter the same way. Police officers are the same way. You don’t have to like someone. You need to recognize that that person is doing their best with the hand they’ve been dealt. And so that’s what I bring from my military career to my consulting company now.” – ISABELLE

Connect with Isabelle Fortin:

Try Our Proven, 3-Step System, Guaranteeing Accountability and Transparency that Drives RESULTS by clicking on this link: https://oneofakindsales.com/call-center-in-a-box/

Connect with Nancy Calabrese: 

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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, and it’s time again for Conversational selling – the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today and it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Isabelle Fortin, owner of Rebel Sales Consulting and speaking at Izzy Fortin Coaching. Isabelle spent 10 years in the military. When she was putting her life into someone else’s hands, she learned to respect others despite their differences. And after the military, she entered into the world of sales, but she was, in a word, unmanageable. Then she created her own coaching company focused on mindset, managed her own sales force using her rebel sales strategies. She knows how to deal with rebels because she is one. Welcome to the show, Isabelle. So happy to have you on.

Isabelle Fortin: Thank you, Nancy, so kind of you. [1:16]

Nancy Calabrese: Oh, my goodness, all right. Why are you a rebel?

Isabelle Fortin: Oh, oh my God, just because that’s my nature. It’s it is as easy as that. You can’t go against who you are. So, you know, you have to some people are rebels and some people work better inside the lines and I don’t fit in a box. I’m too tall. [1:39]

Nancy Calabrese: Hahaha, too tall? Oh, okay. Well, okay. We can’t tell via the podcast, but okay, that’s a nice height. But you know, and then you say all salespeople are rebels. And if not, they should become one. Why is that?

Isabelle Fortin: Yes, I’m five foot ten. No, exactly. Yeah. I think that most salespeople are really, they have an entrepreneur mind, and they just work for somebody else. And so, they, they, they don’t want to be confined. They don’t want to be, they don’t want to be at the office from Monday to Friday from eight to four. They don’t, they want to be free. They want to do their thing. Don’t ask him where they were on a Tuesday at two 14. They were at the movies. They don’t want to tell you. So, I think that most of them at all of the ones that I met that were extremely good at it were all rebels. [2:43]

Nancy Calabrese: Really interesting. I never thought of myself as a rebel, but I know I’ve never liked anyone to tell me what to do. So, I guess I am a rebel, right?

Isabelle Fortin: And that’s a rebellious mind, isn’t it? I was just saying that. Yeah, that’s the nature of a rebellious mind.

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, I guess so. I never realized. No wonder my parents had a hard time with me. So, what are some of your skill strategies for Rebels?

Isabelle Fortin: Oh, I bet you were a great kid. I think that most sales rebels are extremely people oriented. They’re extremely community and relationship minded. And it is truly for them about cultivating relationships more than anything else. And they make friends before they make clients. Of course, you know, the business that you are in must has to give you that opportunity. I mean, if you’re a salesperson in a store, maybe, you know, that’s a little bit less, especially if it’s a chain store, it’s a little bit less of that. But even then, you know, like how many great people do we find or quite the opposite. You go to a store and the person, you know, won’t look at you or won’t engage or won’t ask anything. Well, we are less likely to go back, right? So, I think that that’s in their nature is to build relationships and it is about selling who they are first. [4:33]

Nancy Calabrese: Right. True.

Isabelle Fortin: And then once the person trusts you, they’re going to buy anything you must sell once they trust you. [4:43]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So, talk about what is your unique idea that’s different and sets you apart?

Isabelle Fortin: Make friends before you make clients. It is, yeah, that’s one of my mottos is show up with the real true intention to help the other person and not crunching your numbers. So, when it is truly about showing up for the other person and how you can be there and help that person, then that’s, for me, that’s what works the best. [5:30]

Nancy Calabrese: So, can you give us some examples of how you would make a friend? Say you’re walking up to me and what would you ask me or do?

Isabelle Fortin: I would make the entire conversation about you. So, you know, give real human interest. So, one of the things that I tell my client all the time is, it doesn’t really matter what kind of questions you ask, as long as you truly care about the answer you’re going to get. So, it’s not, for me, it’s not so much like the technique or the strategy, it’s more care about the answer and listen to the answer without having a preconceived, either notion or preconceived script as to what you’re going to say after that. So, it’s about truly listening for real to the human. And I have a real-life example. 17 billion years ago when I was you know selling for somebody else, I went to this company and the supplier they had for this specific item was an extremely good company that they had good service, they had good prices. And to be honest, then see, as far as pricing was concerned, we truly couldn’t beat them. We couldn’t, it was, they were unbeatable. And what happened is, you know, I met with the with the buyer and we started talking and, and I said, do you mind me asking who you’re dealing with right now? And he said, you know, company so and so and I said, oh, I don’t want to waste your time. I can’t beat their prices. And he was so shocked by my answer, but I was honest. Said, listen, I know most of the folks that work there, they give great customer service. They are good. Their product is good. Their prices are unbeatable. You know, you are extremely well served. So, you know, it was a great pleasure meeting you. And if you have any other needs for any other, you know, packaging, because it was in the packaging industry, then you can, you know, give me a chance to, to, to submit, you know, pricing, but you know, you’re extremely well served. And that person referred to me to at least 50 % of my clients afterwards, because I was honest. I was honest. I told them the truth. The person that you’re dealing with right now, I can’t beat that. I really can’t. So, I made a friend and I’m still that was 28 years ago now, which, you know, I disagree with but it worked and I do, I didn’t do it to get the results I got, I did it because it was the right thing to do in that moment. [8:44]

Nancy Calabrese: Sure. Are you still in touch with this person?

Isabelle Fortin: I am. He’s retired now, but yeah, we stayed connected for all these years. Yeah.

Nancy Calabrese: I wonder if there’s an opportunity at his firm now that he’s retired. You know what? The mind of a salesperson, right? Stop pushing forward. Is there anything in particular you want me to spotlight?

Isabelle Fortin: Hey, maybe. Oh, I think that real good salespeople thrive better if they’re in the environment. Well, I believe that of anybody, but especially when it comes to salespeople thrive when the culture of the company that they work for understands that they cannot be treated like every other employee because they are different. And I find that, you know, sales managers, there’s only 6 % of them that get training in manager. And yeah, only 6 % the stats are scary. And very often. Very often it’s my belief that either the company took their top salesman and or salesperson, excuse me, and decided to make them the manager or worse yet, they took somebody from another department and decided, Hey, you’re, you’re a good manager. So, you can now lead the sales team. Sales is a different kind of species. And if you treat them the same as everybody else, they’re going to underperform and they’re going to look for a job very quickly. And I think that that is the biggest mistake that most companies do is deal with their salespeople the quote unquote wrong way. [10:58]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. And you know, I’m curious, did your military experience have anything to do with you wanting to go into sales? Was there a connection?

Isabelle Fortin: Um, there, the connection that, that is between the two is that what I brought to my personal life and my professional life from the military was you can work well with somebody you don’t like. And, um, you don’t need, I hear coaches say that very often know, find the commonality, find, you know, if that person likes ballet or bowling or whatever, and you like that too, then you know, that’s something to base the relationship on. And it’s, it’s, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m saying sometimes the commonality is just the fact that you’re both humans living on this planet. So, it doesn’t have to be like you don’t have to share a passion with somebody to get along with them. And that’s where I got that from the military because in service you literally like firefighter the same way. Police officers are the same way. Military. You don’t have to like someone. You just need to recognize that that person is doing the best that they can with the hand that they’ve been dealt. And so that’s, that’s what I bring from my military career to my consulting company now. [12:45]

Nancy Calabrese: Interesting. So how do you turn rebels into rock stars?

Isabelle Fortin: By helping the managers understand and how to deal with the salespeople. So, you don’t micromanage, you set clear expectations. And you know, I say that to my clients all the time. You don’t need, if you’re dealing with real salespeople, you don’t even need to set high expectations or high goals as to as far as their sales numbers are concerned because I’ll bet you anything that their targets are higher than yours because they’re working for themselves. They are self-motivated. They want the new toy and the new shiny car and it’s in their go getters. They are naturally going getters. If you help, if I help and I do help the managers understand how to individually tap into the unique abilities of every single member of their teams, then the sky’s the limit. That’s how you turn a rebel into a rock star. Because if you give that person the tool, if you give the rebel the tools that they need, they will become rock stars. [14:17]

Nancy Calabrese: So, you give them all the tools, but they’re not becoming a rock star. What do you do next?

Isabelle Fortin: Find out why. Because there’s a reason the company culture is not aligned, although maybe your communication style isn’t aligned with the way that they understand the world. You find why because there’s always a why there’s always if you tap into the true motivation of somebody there, they are going to. Become rock stars, it’s inevitable. [14:54]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So, tell me a fun fact about you.

Isabelle Fortin: Make sense? I’m a ballroom dancer.

Nancy Calabrese: You are! Cool!

Isabelle Fortin: I wasn’t expecting that question. I don’t think you were expecting that answer. Yeah, I’ve been dancing since 1998. And, and that is how I recharge my batteries is by going dancing.

Nancy Calabrese: Wow. I love it. What does it do? Does it make you just forget about everything?

Isabelle Fortin: It makes me connect to another human being in a whole different way because it’s about truly paying attention to your partner, and it is about 100 % being in the moment. And that’s for me, that’s the greatest escape from my life and from my mind, because we’re all in each in our own way, right? We’re all humans and that’s part of the human experience, I think. And that’s the way for me to take a break from my mind is to go dancing. And a good night, Nancy, a good night of dancing, which I had two days ago. Saturday night I went dancing and I left the dance floor. My feet were bleeding and I thought, ah, that was a good night. [16:24]

Nancy Calabrese: Oh really? All right, well, we’ll take a sidebar on that one. I don’t know about bleeding feet is where you want to go. Tell me something. Yes, it does. I don’t know. Tell me something true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Isabelle Fortin: It sounds masochistic, doesn’t it? Yes. Oh wow, oh that’s a great question. Oh my, oh, I wasn’t prepared for that question. Don’t hang on to, regardless of the nature of the relationship, if it’s toxic for you, then don’t hang out. And I take that to a whole new level. I will cut ties with my siblings if they become toxic. I find that people in general offer, other people more than the relationship, not the people, but the relationship is worth. [17:35]

Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. By the way, I totally agree with you.

Isabelle Fortin: And I… Well, thank you, but I get a lot of pushbacks. Do you?

Nancy Calabrese: Well, I have walked away from certain people because it was toxic. And yes, I do get pushback, but I stand firm on it. It makes me sick. It’s not for me to be around.

Isabelle Fortin: Yeah, yeah. But I find that we, I, you know, I was raised Catholic. I, you know, I grew up with the, you know, but yeah, but they give that person a chance or, you know, they didn’t do anything wrong to you or blah, blah, blah. And and you push yourself in a corner and you hang on to people and we do the same thing with our mistakes by the way. We hold on to mistakes because we’ve been doing them for so long. Well, if it doesn’t work for you, move on, take the lesson and leave. [18:37]

Nancy Calabrese: I totally, totally agree with you on. You know, we’re, we’re, I can’t believe, I told you this was going to go by fast. Last two questions. What is the one takeaway you’d like to leave the audience with?

Isabelle Fortin: Let yourself, if you’re a salesperson, if you’re any human, but especially for sales, because this is the topic, if you’re in an environment that is not aligned or is not letting you be who you are and celebrate the way that you do things, find another place. If I’m speaking in front of 200 people and 200 people boo me, it’s not there’s something wrong with my message. It’s because I’m in the wrong crowd. So, find a better crowd. [19:35]

Nancy Calabrese: wrong crowd. You know, I love that. That’s a really healthy way to think about things. How can my people find you?

Isabelle Fortin: Oh, LinkedIn is pretty much where I hang out all the time. I have a YouTube channel, but I’m it doesn’t have a lot of subscribers. Yeah. So, hey, maybe that’s a great place to for them to go check out my stuff. But LinkedIn is where I spend most of my time. Yeah. [20:04]

Nancy Calabrese: Okay, so it’s Isabelle, I -S -A -B -E -L -L -E, Fortin, F -O -R -T -I -N. They will come speak you out and I so appreciate you taking the time to speak with me and share your rebelliousness with our audience. You’re great and everyone out there, you know, if you’re not a rebel, you need to be a rebel, especially if you’re in sales. So make it a great rebellious sales day and we’ll see you next time. [20:41]