The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

October 31, 2016

Embracing Your Inner Salesperson

Most of us have negative associations with the term “sales.” Get over it. If you want to have any influence on any other human, you have to be able to advocate for your ideas.  You have to be persuasive about things you care about. You have to be a salesperson.

View Transcript

Voiceover: It is a Northwest lifestyle weekend on KOMO news. Now, a show for anyone who is or has a boss. This is The Boss Show, with Jim Hessler and Steve Motenko.


Jim: Welcome, I am Jim Hessler. I am The Business Guy. I am the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development, and the author along with my co-host of the book Land on Your Feet Not on Your Face.


Steve: Hi there, I am Steve Motenko. I am The Psychology Guy, co-author of that same book. I am an executive coach as well as a personal development coach, or as it is sometimes called life coach here in the Seattle area. Welcome to the show for anyone who is or has a boss.


Jim: You got it. Today, we are going to talk about a five letter word, Steve. A very naughty five letter word one.


Steve: One that I can spell?


Jim: Sales


Steve: Oh God, no not sales.


Jim: What do you, what is your literally just your gut reaction when you hear that word?


Steve: Well, I guess my gut reaction is habitual, is a leftover from decades old gut reactions. My cognitive reaction is nowhere near – you know has evolved a lot since then. I now see sales as a potentially very positive and very healthy thing. But the gut reaction grooved into the neurons is “oh god, a salesman.” I do not want to talk to a salesman. I do not ever want to be a salesman. I do not want somebody telling me that I should buy something that they are selling, because really what it means is they want to line their pocketbook with my money.


Jim: Yes, so I think most of us would agree. I think the approach that you see a lot of businesses taking is to step away from this sales model. We do not generally like to be sold to. I think that is a natural human reaction. Therefore as a result of that, I think we develop some very negative points of view about salesmanship in general. I am not just here to talk about salesmanship today. I want to talk specifically about sales as an element of leadership, as a good management tool if you will to help us get done what we need to get done, the work of leaders. So, I am going to suggest that we could embrace our inner salesperson and use it to our benefit as leaders.


The reason that I wanted to talk about this is because, like you I think you are the way you [sue 00:02:31] well described your resistance to selling, is probably something that most people would share. Most people would share that, that kind of achy, put off feeling about the whole concept of sales. Like bosses, salespeople in popular literature in movies and television shows are most often perceived as manipulative, greasy kind of mildly or totally dishonest human being.


Steve: Self-absorbed …


Jim: Self-absorbed who are just out for a commission. Because of that, I also think that there is a resistance in general to putting our ideas on the table and pushing them forward. I am interested to hear more from you, Steve on this because I think that I come from a school that says, if you have got an idea and there is something important that needs to be done in your organization, it needs a very vocal strong advocate. It needs a champion. I am not sure how that might be old thinking. I do not know .


Steve: No, I do not think it is old thinking at all. I mean we are talking here, living a purposeful life. I do not think that is overstatement at all. If you want to live a purposeful life, a life with meaning, a life in which you are manifesting some sense of mission in your life, you have to be persuasive about the things that you care about.


Jim: And, yet in my experience and about yours, in my experience most leaders do not do that well. It seems to be something that they struggle with. Part of what I to want to do today, is maybe explore some of the reasons why leaders do not want to sell their ideas. Why they do not want to advocate more forcefully and persistently for ideas that they believe in that are important, and to challenge people are out there who want to run a good business to say that whether you are not, you admire or embrace salesmanship as a value, as a plus, as a positive behavior. You really need to. It is kind of love or hate sales. You have got to do it. You have got to be a sales person.


Steve: We talked about an article sometime ago that said, that sales is the single most important quality sales ability that a leader can have. So when we come back let us talk about exactly what that means. You are listening to The Boss Show.


Voiceover: It is a Northwest lifestyle weekend on KOMO news. The Boss Show continues.


Jim: I am Jim Hessler. I am The Business Guy


Steve: I am Steve Motenko. I am The Psychology Guy, and you are listening in the show for anyone who is or has a boss. Hope you are in one of those two categories. Otherwise, put the headphones down and go listen to something else unless you really like us. Which of course everybody does. And if you have an idea for a boss show topic, we would love to hear from you. You can e-mail us at You can also leave a message on our listener comment line and that number and get ready. It is 2069737377. While you are, at it tell us what you think of The Boss show and how we are doing.


Jim: You bet. We would love to hear from you. Today we are talking about bracing your inner sales person. I said sales love it or hate it, but you got to do it. This really applies to any I think successful career, let alone a position of leadership is you have got to be willing to advocate for your ideas, for your principles, for your values, for your product for, your service whatever. You need to get past the idea that there is anything unethical necessarily about persuading other people to your point of view.


Steve: Yes, I mean that opens up a huge conversation about what, you said the word necessarily is not something necessarily unethical but clearly sales is done often in an ethical way.[crosstalk 00:06:37]


Jim: [crosstalk 00:06:38]Yeah


Steve: Are we going to get into that today[crosstalk 00:06:36] talking about


Jim: [crosstalk 00:06:40]Well, we can. I think part of where I am coming from here is that, there is kind of a school of thought out there or an attitude that maybe I will call it. I call it that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink kind of thinking which is. My job is not really to persuade people to move. My job is to just kind of put an idea out there and see who wants to glam onto it, who wants to jump on board. On one hand that makes perfect sense to me, and it is kind of a perfect world scenario. You are running a business for example and you say, hey you know I think we should relocate to Puyallup. For those of you who not in the Seattle area, that is actually a city in the Seattle area.


Then just expecting the brilliance of your idea to kind of win people over, versus recognizing. You might need to work on that idea for six months before people begin to embrace it.


Steve: Or six years


Jim: Or six years. Yes, and I think some people feel that really it should be enough just to put a good idea out there.


Steve: Yes, it almost feels, I do not want to say passive aggressive it is probably the wrong term. When you are talking about an ideal world, in an ideal world people will take any suggestion, fully research it, compare the benefits and drawbacks to other alternative suggestions and make a rational decision. The world is never that ideal.


Jim: Right, and I think one of the reasons we need good salespeople in the world is to help frankly coach us through that process of deciding whether to get on board or not. Certainly this describes leadership to a large degree. We are kind of maybe a ship’s captain. We are selling the idea of going to a particular destination. At some point people need to get on the ship or not. We should not just say, okay two two here we go, get on board or you are screwed. There has to be a certain amount of persuasion. I know that there is times in my life when I need to be persuaded. When it is in my best interests to be persuaded by another person’s idea or another person’s perspective or direction. That persuasion always needs to be set in the context of opening to different perspectives that you have not yet been turned on to.


Steve: That is a great point. That also describes I think effective salesmanship is to help put an idea into someone else’s context or perspective in a way that they might not have been able to do without you, right.


Jim: Right.


Steve: There is nothing. To me the ideal is making the best case you can possibly make while still the most persuasive case you can possibly make, articulated in the best way possible while still opening to the possibility that you do not know all the information that there is to know about this decision.


Jim: Yes. We have to go to a break here pretty soon but I just teed up what I want to talk about next which is, a sales person selling a product or service is presumably selling something to you that you need. In the leadership world, sometimes we have to sell things that are not good for people. They create pain or disruption in their lives and yet they still need to be sold and they still need to be persuaded. So embrace your inner salesperson. I think it is important from a leadership perspective more on that when we come back. You are listening to The Boss Show.


Voiceover: Now back to Jim Hessler and Steve Motenko. This is The Boss Show on KOMO news.


Steve: Hi, welcome back. I am Steve Motenko. I am The Psychology Guy.


Jim: Hi, I am Jim Hessler. I am The Business Guy. We are talking about the role that salesmanship plays particularly in leadership roles. I thought it might be good to take a second and kind of talking in positive terms about what a good salesperson does right.


Steve: Right. Let me throw you a little bit of a curveball. Could we if we replace the word sales, with the word with the phrase cultivation of influence exactly, is that was a good enough for you?


Jim: Sure.


Steve: Okay.


Jim: Do we need to go back to the beginning of the show [crosstalk 00:10:58]and change some[crosstalk 00:11:00]


Steve: Okay[crosstalk 00:11:03] I am just curious whether there is a difference[crosstalk 00:11:05]


Jim: I think maybe that is helpful in terms of looking at sales generally and putting it in a different way, “Cultivation of influence”. Let us if do not mind, my let us just keep using the word selling[crosstalk 00:11:17]


Steve: Oh no, know of course[crosstalk 00:11:18]


Jim: [crosstalk 00:11:18]For a few more minutes.


Steve: I was just curious whether that work for you [crosstalk 00:11:19].


Jim: What does a really good sales person do? If you really break this down, it is really a pretty good list for salesman for leadership. They listen deeply and they seek to understand.


Steve: Right. Again that is not that the what is the word, cultural kind of stereotype of salespeople, but it is the evolved[crosstalk 00:11:39]


Jim: A really good salesperson is a really good listener, and a really tuned in to people’s body language and empathetic to their relationship they are having with the conversation, and how it is landing[crosstalk 00:11:53]


Steve: Which all of which as you say describes good leadership.


Jim: They are solution oriented in that in the sense they look down the road and say, what would be the best solution for this person for this organization. They match up a need with a solution right. It is good leaders do this. A good salesperson understands a return on investment. Why you might want to invest more or less in a particular solution or product. It has to make good business sense from a kind of an analytical perspective. I think a good sales person does that. They understand the math behind the investment and the purchase. They do not sell as a sport. It is not just a game to see if they can get you to buy something.


Steve: It is not about winning by selling.


Jim: Right. It is about really delivering a solution. They respect their clients. They approach every sale with a sense of the dignity of the person they are selling to. The need for that person to complete the transaction, with a sense of completeness and their dignity intact and the feeling that they have been treated as an equal and fairly by another human being.


Steve: If the old stereotype of sales is about win lose, in other words I do not care what happens to you the person I am selling to. What matters is that I get income from this transaction or power or whatever, and the new definition description is more of a win win, how do you strip the salesperson’s ego or more primal needs i.e to make money or materialistic needs from the sales intentions?


Jim: Not sure I understand the question.


Steve: I guess it is more of a kind of a psychology guy question so maybe I should be asking myself. How do you know, if you are selling something, how do you take, how do you strip away your own desire to make money from this transaction from the deeper purpose of a win win?


Jim: I do not know that you can completely. I think that is a really difficult thing to do because no matter how much integrity you want to hold onto during the sales, there is still something that you want to see happen at the end of the sales process.


Steve: The benefits to you.


Jim: Generally yes. There has to be a certain amount of self-interest present in this for salespeople and for leaders.


Steve: Yes I would like to say a little bit more about that when we come back from the break. It is the Boss Show.


Voiceover: Common news. The Boss Show is back on the Northwest lifestyle weekend. Here is Jim Hessler and Steve Motenko.


Jim: I am that Jim Hessler, and I am The Business Guy


Steve: I am Steve Motenko. I am The Psychology Guy. We are talking about sales as a kind of an essential leadership skill. Right before the break, we were talking about how do you know if you are selling an idea that you are coming from a win win place as opposed to a win lose place. In other words, how do you take your ego or your primal needs out of the equation. I guess the answer to me is the best answer that I can come up with is that, you can do a thought experiment when you are intending to sell something or an idea. You can do a thought experiment with yourself where you say a) Do I have all the information that I need to truly give this person an informed choice? b) If I were not to benefit from this transaction, what I would I want to be selling it?[crosstalk 00:15:38]


Jim: I think that is a really good gut check. I think that where we go wrong in sales is is in many ways the same way that we go wrong in leadership, is when we attach our ego so much to the outcome of the process that we intentionally kind of lose our integrity in the process. It is really our ego that really wants to make the sale or wants to get the program or the project move forward. We talk repeatedly with our clients about how good leadership really requires the suspension of ego in so many cases. If you really think about that, one of the things that I think most people would say that drives a good sales person is the ego of winning. Now we are asking you to try to sell at the same moment that you are kind of putting that aside.


Steve: Right, because I think that the ego of winning again is reflective of the old stereotype of sales people that we started out the show talking about that most of us are resistant to, as opposed to the more evolved description of of sales which is[crosstalk 00:16:56]


Jim: Yes, I think you know as I have gotten older and hopefully gotten a little wiser. I find that one of the things that is happening for me, it is kind of nice is I still like having ideas. I still like coming up with ideas. I still like enthusiastically kind of championing those ideas and moving forward. I am also quicker to stop and ask myself, if it is really is a good idea after all. I have less kind of aches than I might have had as a young man that saying, mum you know maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.


Steve: The interesting thing to me that comes up is that, people who do not have that who do not pause and try to get more information or try to think is this really such a good idea. People who are more impetuous about their perspectives, and about trying to influence others on their perspectives without the full set of information tend to be promoted in leadership world. You end up with a lot of bosses in a lot of organizations who are really strong willed and have been promoted because they are really strong willed, not because they are really, they adopt the perspective of other to consider other perspectives.


Jim: Yes, and they are very willful kind of plow forward like a freight train. Actually does result in many cases with them getting a lot of stuff done. Maybe there is some damage that accrues along the way


Steve: [crosstalk 00:18:33]In relationships


Jim: [crosstalk 00:18:34]There are some bodies left on the side of the highway as this person is plowing forward. They do make things happen. This is where, there is an ambivalence for me about this. Because again there is this kind of perfect world of leadership. I think sometimes Jim The Business Guy goes into the nitty gritty of the realistic which is sometimes organizations need to be moved forward in ways that they do not want to be moved forward. Sometimes, it really does take a very willful strong take no [personas 00:19:08] attitude to get things done in a difficult change resistant environment. That is difficult because sometimes there are casualties. Sometimes there are people that are hurt or disaffected in that process.


Steve: So more on the sales persona as a leader when we come back. It is The Boss Show.


Voiceover: It is a Northwest lifestyle weekend on KOMO news. The Boss Show continues.


Steve: Welcome back to The Boss Show. Thank you for being with us. I am Steve Motenko. I am The Psychology Guy.


Jim: I am Jim Hessler. I am the business day. Today we are talking about kind of embracing your inner salesperson as a leader and getting used to the idea that part of leadership is essentially selling ideas and maybe as Steve used the term cultivating influence in a way. Here is a couple of ideas that I found first of all very helpful. Formalize your ideas, this is for leaders at all levels. There is a lot of good ideas out there that never find their way on to a white paper, or a presentation or even a diagram on a whiteboard.


Steve: Or the ear of a boss.


Jim: Or the ear of a boss. Formalize your idea. The process of formalizing your idea helps you sell it but it also helps you test it. As you putting your idea into some sort of formal structure, it also helps you shoot holes in your own idea before you actually start yapping about it to somebody else.


Steve: And refine it.


Jim: Yes. The second thing is to, again this is back to the ego thing we were talking about a few minutes ago. Be open to trashing your idea, I mean you are not going to have all good ideas. Do not just fall in love with your own ideas. Test them, sit with them maybe for while and and let him percolate. Sometimes they percolate in a what I found is, they find they gain more energy. You get more and more excited about your idea over time. And then there those other ideas that have less energy and less value as time goes by. This happens to me all the time.


Steve: An alternative to sitting with it and percolating with it.


Jim: Doing with others[crosstalk 00:21:20]


Steve: [crosstalk 00:21:20]is to actually express it early, before it is fully formed. Do it in a container in which you are going to get really good feedback from people about how to refine that.[crosstalk 00:21:31]


Jim: I think you would agree that I do a great deal. These are what we call my Friday morning, my Friday afternoon e-mails which are often quite long and very kind of reflective like kind of what do you think about this kind of communication.


Steve: Right, which is why I block my emails from you right on Friday afternoon.


Jim: They make your brain explode. The other thing about getting an idea across and sewing it and cultivating influence, is find as many different channels to sell it if you can. Some people take things in through the ears. Some people take things in through their eyes. Some people need to hear an idea sixteen times. Be patient with that, and also find other people who can help you sell your idea.


There is a great book called Leading Change by John P. Kotter. He says, whenever you are trying to drive change in an organization, you have to form a guiding coalition. You have to find those kind of early adopters like the technology companies do. And say, who is an influencer who else is an influencer in this organization. So they are not just hearing it from one person. I think another thing you do is, as a good leader/sales person is to really seek to understand both the opportunities and the costs and risks of the change you are asking for to all the stakeholders that you are asking to. I find a lot of good ideas are good ideas until they really hit the road, and where you see where they land and the impact. I guess it is unintended consequences should be [another 00:23:05]. Try to gain the best understanding of potential unintended consequences of what you are asking.


Steve: Yes, and added to that, know the culture that you are introducing this idea or trying to introduce this idea into. Because all of that, all of what you have just said might be different in a different culture. So, understand how to frame your message in a way that fits the culture, or how to frame the idea in a way that fits the culture[crosstalk 00:23:29] or understand it once [crosstalk 00:23:30]


Jim: [crosstalk 00:23:30]It is a really great point Steve. Because even just understanding your culture’s appetite for change. There are some organizations are not happy unless  they are embracing a new idea every Tuesday. There are others that move much more slowly.


Voiceover: You are listening to The Boss Show. Now back to Jim Hessler and Steve Motenko. This is The Boss Show on KOMO news.


Steve: This is the Boss Show. The show for anyone who is or has a boss. Hope that is you. I am Steve Motenko. I am The Psychology Guy.


Jim: I am Jim Hessler. I am The Business Guy. Today, we have been asking you if want to be a leader to kind of embrace your inner salesperson, and understand that sometimes it really takes a strong figure champion at the top of an idea to push it through the organization. We all, you can help people’s build people’s confidence. You can support them. You can challenge them. We all need support. We all need challenges


Sometimes that comes in a form of a sale that somebody is making to us, that is going to challenge us to move to a better place. Embrace your salesperson. Do not be afraid to pitch your ideas forcefully, enthusiastically and persistently. I find a lot of leaders not willing to do that and they get a lot less done as a result.


Steve: The Boss Show was produced by Boss Media Productions. Our sound engineer today as usual is Kevin Doggerel.


Jim: If you missed any of this show you can get it in its entirety online at the You can also go there to subscribe to the podcast or to contact us for any reason at all.


Steve: Like bring us into your workplace. Thank you for listening.


Jim: And do not forget, Rule Number six.


Steve: Rule Number Six



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *