Archive for Behavior

Prioritizing your professional growth

At the gymI was visiting recently with someone who’s been involved with Sandler in a different city for several years-he had been in President’s Club for five years. We had an interesting conversation about where his focus was and it ended up challenging me!

When I meet with people who’ve been in Sandler for a while, I like to pick their brains a bit. So I asked this man-we’ll call him Frank, though that’s not his real name-”How in the world are you still getting something out of this after five years?” Frank told me that he wasn’t getting a lot out of Sandler initially, and he had to have a pretty big mind shift in order for that to change. After being involved with Sandler for about 18 months, he was getting really frustrated at his lack of growth.

A peer in his President’s Club class noticed this and told him that he was going about it in the wrong way. Of course, Frank asked what that meant, and the peer shared with him some observations he’d made.

He told Frank that he often saw him on his computer-sometimes taking notes, but also checking his email and his phone. He recalled that Frank had told him he went to the gym regularly, and he asked, “What type of focus do you have at the gym versus what you have in President’s Club?”

Frank said that hit him like a sledgehammer over the head.

He was totally focused at the gym! He wasn’t checking emails, he wasn’t checking his phone for texts, and he wasn’t stepping out for phone calls. He realized that he needed to make a shift and put that same level of focus into his professional growth if he wanted to see any real change.

I’m guilty of that too, sometimes. There are things that I know will benefit me as a professional, but for whatever reason I’m unwilling to give 100%. But we’ll get out of most things what we put into them.

If growing as a professional is important to you, does it show in your behavior? Are there ways you could channel more focus into things that will benefit you professionally?

Who’s making your gut reactions?

Inner childHave you ever been frustrated by a friend or a colleague who was limited in life by the things they heard when they were young? Or you know someone who thinks they can do no wrong no matter what they do?

Both of those mindsets can be caused by transactional analysis. Transactional analysis is the psychological processing in our subconscious that drives our thoughts and actions.

It creates the subconscious tapes that play in our heads and inform our gut reactions.

People react to these tapes in all kinds of ways, though. The three parts of transactional analysis are the parent, child, and adult tapes. But the parent and child tapes are the ones that can trip us up most easily.

Here’s how the parent and child tapes can affect people well into adulthood:


The parent tape is associated with judgements-judgements on what’s acceptable and what isn’t, what’s a normal way to interact with others, and what life goals are worth working toward.

One of my clients, for example, remembers his dad working two full-time jobs for most of his childhood. Because of that, his dad often told him to never work for someone else, but to do his own thing. Years later, this client started his own business.

The parent tape is based on what your parents said, did, and valued when you were a child. It doesn’t have to be explicitly based on what they said, although it was for my client.


People react to their parents’ behaviors in all kinds of ways. The child tape is where that emotional assessment of their parents’ behavior is made and becomes engrained.

A different client has shared with me that her dad was always hard on sales people. He outsmarted them at every turn and was pretty merciless about it. This client, in a rebellious stage, refused to even negotiate with sales people but paid them in full because she felt bad of them. She didn’t want to fight with them because she saw her dad do that too often.

Your parent and child tapes affect the way you react to situations and how you instinctively judge circumstances and people. You may not even be conscious of it!

But once you are aware of transactional analysis, you might be able to see how your parent and child tapes play into your day-to-day life. Once you do, you can decide what part of your tapes is helpful, and what part you want to ignore.

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Careful with those fighting words!

Fighting wordsThe customer’s always right... Right? That’s great in theory, but it’s not always feasible in practice. Promises made and unkept are worse than promises not made. But not making the unreasonable promises of an angry client or prospect can seem like the makings of a fight!

That’s where Sandler Rule 28 comes in: When under attack, fall back. Falling back can be very appropriate when you’re trying to cool a heated situation.

If a customer is upset with your projected timeline, for example, falling back would look like this:

“Help me understand. If we’re not able to make this shipment within 3 months, we’re probably going to lose you as a customer. Knowing that’s the case, what would you do if you were me?”

It’s hard to stay angry at that. It gets everyone to a more okay place, and it gives the other person an opportunity to give you a suggestion they would be comfortable with.

One of my clients had a meeting scheduled with two team members from another company, to see if it made sense for them to do business together. Their Up-Front Contract stated that only those two team members would be present, but the CEO had other plans.

While the CEO wasn’t initially invited, he had a pretty dominant personality and decided he should attend. So he did. The CEO was very uncomfortable with the industry that my client works in-distrustful, even-but he kept asking technical questions during the meeting.

The answers to those questions required my client to use some industry jargon, and it didn’t go over well. The CEO accused my client of using a lot of words but not saying anything. My client was angry, but didn’t want to lose the rapport he’d already built with the other two team members.

At this point, my client knew he needed to fall back. He told the CEO, “I don’t have a horse in this game. If we aren’t a good fit for you, that’s really okay. I’m happy to explain the technical side to you, but if you don’t want me to, that’s okay.”

The CEO left early. But the other two team members actually tried to sell my client on how he wouldn’t have to deal with the CEO! They still wanted to do business with my client.

When you’re trying to get your needs met, instead of falling back, it’s easy to get defensive and lose bonding and rapport.

But my client wasn’t trying to get his needs met at the expense of this other company. Because he didn’t fight back when the CEO wanted him to, he was able to maintain bonding and rapport with the other two people in the meeting.

Instead of fighting back when you feel under attack, try to make the other person feel okay. You’ll be surprised at what doors will remain open.

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Transactional analysis overview

Listening to tape

If you’re familiar with transactional analysis, you probably know that most people don’t put conscious effort into the transactional analysis they experience.

You should, though. Transactional analysis affects too much of the way you interact with the world for you to ignore it.

Transactional analysis is a bias based on past experiences. It’s psychological processing that happens in our subconscious and drives our thoughts and actions.

That bias can be positive or negative, but it’s always initially subconscious. There are parent, adult, and child tapes that make up each person’s transactional analysis. These tapes influence your judgement calls and decision making.

Your parent tape and your child tape record from birth until about about 6 years old. So much of what makes up the tapes happened before you even had memory of it! And then those tapes don’t change.

The adult tape never stops recording, though. That part of your transactional analysis changes and grows as you do.

We can see this with something like investing. Investing decisions can be very logical, but for most people, they tend to be somewhat driven by their intuition as well.

One of my clients has someone whose investing advice he really admires. In fact, a lot of that advice goes along with what he already believes! This investor happens to be giving advice that already matches what my client thinks and what his child tape says makes sense. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to know why that happened.

For anybody, you’ll hear a variety of advice on investing, and most of us tend to believe the guy whose theory is similar to what we heard our parents discuss when we were children.

Here’s an example. Some parents either told their children or showed them by their actions that precious metals are a good investment. If that’s how your parents were, and someone told you that gold is a good investment right now, it’s very likely you’ll agree with that statement.

But if your parents were skeptical of people who suggested investing in precious metal, you wouldn’t be open to that. Transactional analysis happens that quickly.

Because transactional analysis happens so quickly, it’s important for you to know what your tapes tell you. Your parent and child tapes can’t ever be erased, but you can choose whether to play them or not.

That’s where your adult tape comes in. You can choose which instinct to listen to, and it’s in your best interest to choose which one actually works best for you, whether or not it’s what you learned as a child.

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Don’t take it personally

Instant dislikeWhen you introduce yourself and what you do for a living, do you often see other people tense up?

You’re not alone. And it’s probably not you they’re reacting to. Experiences lead to expectations-and you can see it so quickly in a conversation.

In my world, I never introduce myself as a sales trainer. But when I’m at events, someone will sometimes introduce me to another person as a sales trainer. I can read the other person’s face, and they can’t wait to get away! To most people, the only thing worse than a sales person is a sales trainer.

There’s nothing personal about this. They don’t even know me! But their experience and expectations about salespeople create a gut reaction in them. I have to be aware of that if I’m going to have any meaningful conversation with them.

If you aren’t careful, you can lose opportunities really quickly because of other people’s assumptions about your industry.

Depending on the industry you’re in, prospects might assume that you’re trying to confuse them, trying to squeeze a hefty commission out of them, trying to sell them something they don’t need-you can fill in the blank. And I’m sure you’re familiar with the gut reaction that people have to your industry.

This is why the traditional sales model of “present, present, present” is flawed. There’s such a small number of things we encounter each day that we quickly agree with. Most of the things we encounter we either disagree with or only agree with somewhat.

And “present, present, present” doesn’t just happen in sales interactions. You might find this mindset in your company’s marketing, advertising, and customer service, just to name a few.

Think of how quickly this happens to you when you’re in the buyer’s shoes. When you are able to approach a sales interaction from a different perspective than “present, present, present,” that’s a pattern interrupt. And it can be a really effective one.

What you’ve got to think about is how you can change the interaction. You have the ability to control and change that if you choose. Change your messaging and approach.

You might even find that people who tensed up when you introduced yourself are interested in what you do after all.

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Literal versus reality when disqualifying

Money leakIn Sandler, one of the things we talk about is disqualifying prospects. If you go into an interaction with a prospect looking for red flags, you’re likely to save a lot of headache later.

However, as with all concepts, you can definitely overdo it. We call that literal versus reality. If you’re too literal in applying the concepts we teach, and don’t adjust them to fit your reality, you can shoot yourself in the foot.

A client of ours who is in online marketing has been with us a number of years, and realized this not too long ago.

One of the things he latched onto fairly early in his journey with us is the fact that he would save a lot of time by disqualifying prospects early on. Before he engaged with us, he was taking on a lot of bad clients. So he quickly started saving himself time and headaches by disqualifying.

However, after about four years of working with us, he finally realized he’d gone to the other extreme. He realized that if the door was open for a conversation, he needed to have that conversation before disqualifying the prospect.

When he began to realize this, several things started to change for him. In one instance, he received an email from a prospect that initially sounded like she wouldn’t be a good fit. She wanted a specific type of website, and had specific requirements for the timeframe.

My client could fit either the timeframe or the type of website she wanted, but not both. In the past, he would have disqualified her and simply sent her an email sharing that he wouldn’t be a good fit. This time, he called her up and had a conversation instead.

As it turned out, the conversation led to an out-of-the-box solution, where my client would make her a lower-end website that they could get online faster, then upgrade the website later.

Of course, the prospect had no clue that option even existed, so she wouldn’t have known to ask for it. Without that conversation, they never could have done business together!

While disqualifying prospects typically prevents a lot of frustration, disqualifying too quickly can lead to lost opportunities. When my client shifted from literal to reality, it made a huge difference.

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Your competition is every other salesperson

SalespeopleIn Sandler, one of the things we talk about frequently is that your competition is every other salesperson your prospect has ever run into. In other words, they have assumptions on how you’ll act based on everyone else in sales they’ve ever run into.

Here are a couple of stories that illustrate the power of that.

A while back, I got an email from a client sharing a story. Everyone at his organization was in one room having a staff meeting, when a salesperson showed up. He walked through their front office, and opened the door to their staff meeting.

“Hey, we’re in the middle of something here,” one of the people shared with him.

“It’s okay,” he responded, “I’m not annoying, I’m a salesperson.” He then proceeded to disrupt their staff meeting with a sales pitch.

Do you think they’ll have a positive image of salespeople in the future, or a negative one?

Here’s another story. A while back I got a voicemail from a company asking for a quote for some sales training. Since I was in meetings all day, it was a couple hours before I actually listened to the voicemail. By that time, I had several emails from them as well, all essentially saying, “Help, we need a quote for a client and we’re in a hurry! Here’s an RFP.”

The RFP didn’t have much information in it, other than a little information about the company-not the company’s name-and the fact that they needed sales training.

I picked up the phone and called the individual back. “Let me see if I can help your client,” I said. “What are they looking to accomplish with the sales training?”

He paused for a moment. “That’s not in the RFP.”

“Okay, how many people will be at the training?”

Again, the person replied, “That’s not in the RFP.”

“How many sessions?”

“That’s not in the RFP.”

“Is there anything in the RFP other than a little bit about their company and that they want a quote for sales training?”

“Nope,” he responded

“Okay,” I said, doing my best to sound confused. “How in the world could I put together a proposals with knowing objectives, number of sessions, location, people...”

Turns out, the three other companies he’d called about sales training had given him a proposal without even talking on the phone with him!

Did the salespeople from those other three companies give him any reason to expect other salespeople to ask intelligent questions? His expectation was that all salespeople jump at the chance to send in a proposal or quote because they’re desperate for the business.

Both groups of people were left with a distinct impression of the salespeople they interacted with. So when you approach them-or others-in a sales role, it becomes part of your job to overcome those impressions, so you can have a real conversation about whether you should work together or not.

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Guts and humor

Laughing BusinessmanOne thing that David Sandler always taught was how powerful it was when you combine guts and humor. An experience a client of mine had a while back demonstrates that.

A client of mine had been calling on a potential referral partner. Considering he didn’t get thrown out the first time, he visited him multiple times. Eventually he became a little frustrated, as he wasn’t sure if the relationship was going anywhere. So he thought he’d try a variation on something that David Sandler did years ago.

After walking back to his office and sitting down, my client summoned up his courage, and asked, “I’m curious, how many times am I going to have to come here before you give us a shot at helping one of your clients?”

The prospective referral partner laughed. “Actually, I really like you! I like your persistence. Absolutely keep showing up. I just don’t have a lot of need for your services at this moment.”

“Well,” my client responded, “Can I ask you another question, then?”

“Sure,” he replied.

“How do you generate your business currently?”

That turned into a longer conversation about where he got his business from. Turns out that some of his referral partners would actually make great referral partners for my client as well!

The original story of David Sandler goes something like this. Sandler was visiting a prospect, and just like always, they didn’t talk about Sandler’s services at all. Getting frustrated, Sandler pulled out a small note card.

“Can I ask you a question?” he asked the prospect.

“Sure,” he said.

“How many times do I need to visit you before you’ll consider doing business with me?”

His prospect told him, and he wrote the number down. “Great, is it okay if I count this visit?”

“Sure,” the guy replied.

For the next few times they met, they didn’t talk about Sandler’s services at all, but at the end, he always pulled out the notecard and asked, “Is it okay if I count this visit?”

After just a handful of visits, nowhere near the number on the notecard, the prospect laughed and said, “Okay, enough with the notecard! Let’s talk about doing business together.”

What worked for my client and what worked for David Sandler was combining just 5 seconds of guts with some humor. Most salespeople don’t combine those!

So the next time you’re stuck with a prospect that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, try that technique. It’s crazy what using guts and humor does to a sales interaction!

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The lesson from buying a condo in Colorado

Skis in snowIf you don’t ask questions and uncover information, you’re missing sales opportunities. A friend of mine saw this first-hand years ago when he was looking for a condo.

My friend and his wife were looking for a condo in a ski resort town in Colorado. They began working with a real estate agent who was supposedly one of the highest producers in the area. The guy spent several weekends driving my friend and his wife around, showing them condos.

The approach he took was definitely a traditional sales approach. He would show them a condo and spout its features and benefits. Of course, he was puzzled when none of the houses caught their attention.

Finally, one weekend my friend attempted to connect with him, and the agent brushed him off. He said, “Sorry, I’ve got another commitment. I can’t help you. You’ll need to work with this other person in my office.”

The “other person” was a much younger, less experienced agent. However, by sheer coincidence, it was someone that had some familiarity with the Sandler selling system. Specifically, he was aware of the concepts of questioning and knew that people buy emotionally.

My friend and his wife spent about 20 minutes with the new agent on the phone. Remember, the other agent had already spent hours driving them around town for several weekends. But in that short phone call, the new agent asked questions and uncovered something the more experienced agent hadn’t.

My friend and his wife had young kids at the time. And it was important to them that wherever they lived, the location made it easy to ski with young kids.

The younger real estate agent knew that some of the neighborhoods have private clubs. The advantage of those clubs is that you can call up and say when you’re going to be there, and they’ll have your gear (and your kids’ gear!) ready for you.

He agent picked my friend and his wife up. Before going to any condos, he took them to a club. He knew that at this particular club, at that time of day, there would be a lot of parents getting their kids ready to go ski.

When my friend and his wife got there, their jaws dropped. “Holy smokes!” they said. “This is what we want!” They turned excitedly to their agent. “Where is the nearest condo?”

They bought the very first condo they saw in that neighborhood. Because it wasn’t about the condo. It was about access to that club.

The first agent didn’t ask many questions. He invested hours and hours driving my friend and his wife around, but he didn’t find out what was really important to them. The younger, less experienced agent invested just 20 minutes in that initial phone call, but spent that whole time asking questions. Then he spent less than a day with them before they made a decision.

Asking questions and knowing that people buy emotionally helped the second agent close a sale that had escaped his more experienced colleague.

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The time is now!

Start line on roadWhen is the right time to start a new habit? When is the best time of the year in your industry? When is the best time to actually start a business? When is the best time of day to make cold calls?

Those questions are all different, but there’s just one answer: Now!

Depending on your industry, December or January may have a reputation for being a bad month. In fact, many people even refer to certain businesses or industries as “seasonal.”

Winners, At-Leasters, and Losers

In Sandler, we talk about the concept of winners, at-leasters, and losers. Winners and losers are probably self-explanatory. At-leasters are people that say things like this:

“At least we haven’t gone out of business.”

“At least I’m doing better than that competitor of mine.”

“At least I sold something this month.”

“At least I had some revenue.”

Hopefully you get the idea.

Thinking about those three categories of people, how would you categorize the people that gripe and complain about how their business is seasonal?

Whether you said “at-leasters” or “losers,” one thing’s for sure. They’re not winners!

There’s success and opportunity to be had at any time of the year, regardless of the industry.


Let’s say you’re in an industry whose down-time is December. Other people in your industry are expecting less business, so they’re taking it easy. They’re not calling on potential clients or customers, and they’ve mentally checked out until at least January or February.

Nobody else is out there! There’s no competition! Sounds like a great time to be selling!

Seeing Opportunities

It’s like that old shoe salespeople fable. A shoe company sent two salespeople into a third world country to see what the market looked like. After several weeks abroad, they both returned to give a report.

The first salesperson went into his boss’s office. “It’s horrible, boss. There’s no way we can expand over there. Nobody’s wearing shoes.”

Dejected, the boss sent the first salesperson out, and called the next one in. His hopes weren’t high, but the salesperson was actually excited and energetic. “You won’t believe it, boss! The market is prime for the picking! Nobody’s wearing shoes!”

As the Chinese proverb goes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

What are you waiting for? Get started!

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