[E6] Mindset Week: Surviving Saber Tooth Tigers

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[E6] Mindset Week: Surviving Saber Tooth Tigers
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Ever find yourself being chased by a sabretooth tiger while trying to make a sale? Of course not, but it sure might feel like it at times. This is an amazing time in the history of mankind to be alive. We have so little to truly be afraid of, and so much to be thankful for (as A. J. Jacobs says when feeling nostalgic for the ‘old days’ – remember the phrase: surgery without anesthesia). But part of our mind is stuck living tens of thousands of years ago when everything from a saber tooth tiger to some bad berries could kill us.

This same part of our brain will completely stop you in your tracks from the success you want to create in a sales career (and in life). In this first episode of Mindset week, I will talk about where this fear comes from and what to do about it.

Links from the episode:

Article: Beating The Reptilian Brain (Triune Brain Model)

The book: Incognito by David Eagleman

From Tim Ferris: Fear Setting Blog and his article on Medium:

From A.J. Jacobs: Article and Podcast


Episode 6 – Transcript

Welcome to Episode 6 of The Sales Experience Podcast. My name is Jason Cutter, your host as we take a journey of development and transformation to help salespeople and sales leaders make the shift in focus to creating an effective sales experience to move more prospects to becoming customers.

My goal is to help you on your path both in sales and in life – since most of life involves some level of selling.

Last week was setting up the framework for this podcast, and before we get into some sales techniques and strategies, we have to tackle the hardest part of being a salesperson or managing sales people – the tricks our minds play on us. The theme of the conversations this week is all about Mindset.  And to start us off we must talk about survival and saber tooth tigers.

Have you ever been sitting at your desk or in your cube, and had the feeling that a saber tooth tiger was lurking around, stalking you? Maybe not…but have you ever been making your sales calls or face to face with a new prospect and it turns out they were a saber tooth tiger in disguise and then next thing you know you are running for your life, barely escaping to safety?

No? Am I the only one this has happened to?  So of course there are no saber tooth tigers running around threatening our comfortable way of life. For most of us I would safely assume that your sales career doesn’t involve running from bears, or lions, watching out for snakes or scorpions or killer spiders.

While I have dealt with great white sharks in the past, never while in a sales role – although you do need to watch out for sharks out there. So then it seems like there really isn’t anything to be afraid of harming us during or sales career.

What is my point in all this? Intellectually we know we are safe. The scariest thing these days are probably drivers who are on their phones. Otherwise for most people listening to this you lead a relatively safe life in the best and most safe time to be alive in our human history.

The problem is…we have a brain that has been evolving and surviving for a long, long time. There is a primal part of our brain that people that people refer to in different ways – but fundamentally it is about two things: Keeping us alive long enough to procreate as a way to expand our DNA in our species, and procreation. Food, shelter, safety – all a means to an end.

While you might try and disagree that there is more to life than survival and creating more humans – you are right. And most of us know that. But, there is this pesky part of our brain that is still stuck on autopilot, thinking its 10,000 years ago. That primal, animal, lizard part of our brain is fully worried and anticipating a saber tooth tiger waiting right outside the entrance to our cave. And that part in our heads is balancing all the real or perceived dangers of the world with keeping safe and getting through life.

Why am I talking about this when it comes to sales? It applies to everything in our life, but it has to do with the reasons that cause us to hold back in whatever we are doing. Thinking about calling that prospect back who told you they had to talk to their spouse, but find yourself skipping over that lead to find someone easier to talk to? 

Get to the point in your selling conversation where you should ask for the sale, but stutter, stumble, or just don’t do it? When the prospect you are talking to wont stop hitting you with objections and questions and instead of taking control of the conversation you let them throw verbal punches at you until they finally stop talk and walk away or hang up?

Intellectually you know that nothing bad will really happen in each of those, or any situation where you feel uneasy or stressed, start sweating or feeling anxious. But deep down inside that survival part of our brain sees those situations different. It creates the same feeling of fight or flight from danger. No different that if a saber tooth tiger just jumped out in front of you.

The question is – which one will you let win – the survival part that doesn’t understand that there is very little in our modern lives that can harm us, or the intellectual part which knows that calling that prospect for the third time will either lead you to getting them on the phone or them not answering again.

Either one is totally okay. And if they answer and are mad that you won’t stop – that is okay as well. Nothing bad will happen as long as what you are doing as a salesperson, manager or leader is focused on the benefit your product or service provides to that customer and you see your role as a duty to serve others.

In the 80’s there was a popular phrase that turned into shirts, hats, bumper stickers – and it said ‘No Fear’. I am not talking about not being afraid while bungie jumping or sky diving – that stuff could get you killed. But in sales – there is no reason to fear. If you find yourself hesitating in your sales career, I suggest you step back and take some time to explore what is going on.

There is a technique Tim Ferris recommends called Fear Setting – instead of goal setting. I will put a link in the show note to his article and podcast episode about it You can read all about it, but the basics are that he suggests you define your nightmare. Play the ultimate What If game…what if yourself all the way to the extreme end as a result of not doing something, or for going after something you want and it doesn’t work out. This will help you identify the real fears underneath it all, and then help you see the hopefully ridiculousness of it all.

And, in my mind, I take it one GIANT step further – because my sales life is focused on being of service to others, I define the nightmare for my prospects if DON’T enroll them. What will happen in their life if I don’t help them get out of debt, or get their finances under control? I personally know what its like when your financial life comes crashing down…so I want to help others avoid that pain. And what if I don’t sell them a car, or insurance, or some other product or service? Most likely they will just go down the road and buy from someone else…and there is no telling if they will be looking out for that prospect in the same way I will.

So when feeling stressed or hesitating from taking action – first remember its most likely not life or death. Then confront that part of your brain that is being silly and trying to keep you in your cozy cave. Then make sure you really know what the worst case scenario is for trying, or for not trying – most likely its really not as bad as you thought. And lastly, think about your service to the prospect and what it could mean for them if you don’t help them buy from you.

That’s it for episode number 6. Make sure to subscribe – we are on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Podcasts, and on our website. I would love to have you give the show a rating, and leave a comment – which helps other people discover this show and hopefully spread it around to as many sales people as possible. Until next time, always remember that everything in life is sales and people will remember the experience you gave them.

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