Sep 13, 2020
We welcome to Scale Your Sales Podcast, Leigh Ashton. Author of iSell and founder of The Sales Consultancy. Leigh Ashton develops Sales Leaders and their teams to think and perform at a higher level to meet and exceed multimillion targets.
I read the book, iSell, many years ago. I did not make the connection when I met Leigh. We were both speakers on the panel for International Women of Power in 2015.
Leigh explains more about sales growth mindset her sweet spot.
Many years ago, as a sales leader, she realised that skills and capabilities were only a tiny part of what made people successful. The primary catalyst for sales success is the sales growth mindset.
Now not everybody has a growth mindset naturally, and it is relatively easy to spot the people that do have it. Because they are the ones that fall and get up again and keep trying different things all the time.
Rather than 'I can't do that' it is 'I can't do that yet', they keep trying all different angles. Someone who's naturally growth mindset they account for the 10% top performers in every company.
It does not matter how good the sales leadership is for them because they are going to do it anyway. Many people have a fixed mindset and some that will be a growth mindset in one context and fixed in another.
Leigh hears people saying, 'I can't draw' or 'I'm not creative' because somebody laughed a picture they drew when they were a child, and that is left a lasting impression. But she says, if you did a bit of drawing every day, you would soon get better.
Leigh was a successful salesperson with a growth mindset, and it was straightforward as a salesperson to be successful because I did not rely on anyone. She just did it.
Then she got promoted to sales manager and honestly, Janice, I felt like a failure.
Some of her team would go, that is amazing, 'I'm going to go and try that' and would go and do it. The second group would go, Lee, that is amazing, I will try that and then carry on doing what they were doing before. Then the third group would say that will not work for me, my clients, or my territory.
Her manager said, 'you were so good at what you did as a salesperson, now you have to find a way of teaching it to others'. So, Leigh consumed so many books on sales and leadership and through her quest to try and figure it out, she realised that it was all about the way people think. As soon as she focused on the human being instead of what behaviours she wanted them to do. When Leigh concentrated on what was going on in their head just before they were going to do a specific sales activity, that is when the magic happened. Growth mindset so resonated with Leigh and she noticed that it had a positive impact on other areas of their life.
If you think positively in one area, it is going to respect all the aspects, says Leigh, because the way you are doing one thing is the way you do everything. People get more confident in themselves generally and happier and more resilient. They give things a go and step out of their comfort zone.
It was like a magic bit of fairy dust says Leigh who decided she wanted to spread that fairy dust everywhere and started her business in 1995. Leigh came from the sales context because fundamentally Leigh is a salesperson. She loves the whole arena or sales, sales leadership she does not think there is anything quite like it on the planet. Leigh believes it is what she was meant to do, helping people and get paid for it, is amazing she says.
It is a ripple effect says Leigh and the good thing is when sales teams work with her on mindset once she has changed the way they think, they do not need as much ongoing training because they think differently. All the sales leader needs to do is to maintain it and notice when they are team is not their best and say, how is it going?
She hears salespeople say that their sales manager would say, how are you doing? But they do not care about the answer.
How are you doing? And jump to - How's your pipeline? It is a segue to get to the question of the numbers.
Leigh says to focus on the client's map of the world. You must go at your prospects or your customer's pace because the minute it feels like pushing, they will back off.
It is about how do you join, bringing an issue to the table that they want to resolve and how can the sum of the parts be greater than the whole? Working together makes it better for everybody. Buyers do not call you in for a conversation wanting you to fail. Buyers call you in because their thinking, is this organisational or person, the person who is going to take this problem away, take this pain away or stop us having the pain, resolved this issue, get buyers where we want to get to. Both sides do want the same thing. It needs to be win-win. And if you communicate with the buyer in a way that works of them. You cannot communicate with another human being in a way that works for you.
You must be a bit like a detective and find out through excellent discovery questions what is going on for that person and what is important not just in work but how that would impact on there was a human being. When Leigh first got into sales, she would say to the buyer, what is it you want? And then the people would tell her what they wanted, and Leigh would say, that is great because 'I'd love to do that for you'.
Leigh was good at asking questions, and she would chat with people. She would repeat what the buyer said even that was before she knew about matching and mirroring. It gave her a few minutes to collect my thoughts to listen and think, OK, based on that, what am I going to say next?
Leigh says it always starts with sales leader. She was delivering training for an organisation recently, and some of the sales leaders said, 'I wish I could get my people to do X'. Other agreed they had the same problem. Leigh replied, if this is a global problem, then you need to look in the mirror because if lots of people are not doing X, what is the reason they are not doing it? Are you focusing their attention on it? Are you finding out why they are not doing it? What is the thinking behind that?
Most sales leaders are successful salespeople, and leadership in sales is always about numbers. Leigh believes that salespeople are more like athletes. They must be in their best state of mind to be good at what they do in the same way that athlete not in the best state of mind will not win that race or they will not score that goal.
What she believes is missing, and it is the same in most of the countries she has worked in, they always focus on the numbers. Sales leaders need training in is how to support a human being, and how to make them the best that they can be. Sale leaders need coaching skills so that they know how to coach. Leigh says, many sales leaders think they are coaching and there not, they are all telling. Have you done this? Have you done that? Well, this what I would do. You do not have to train sales leaders in managing numbers; they know how to handle numbers; what they do not know is how to manage human beings. It is vastly different.
If you are on a desert island on your own, Leigh will take her audible app because she is constantly listening to something. Leigh is always an avid reader but my audible app because you can listen again and again to a book and get something new each time you listen, and you get energy off the author.
When she is listening to two of her favourites, Simon Sinek and Brene Brown, she gets an energetic download almost of the way they feel about what they have written.