About This Episode
Successful people are great at selling. It could be selling an idea, a product, a service, or their skills and expertise. Despite our negative impression of “salespeople,” selling is a crucial skill for success. Whatever profession or industry you might be in, we all buy and sell every day, whether we realize it or admit it or not.
How can we become better sellers—good enough at the skill—to overcome the heavy stigma attached to the sales industry?
That’s what Colin Coggins and Garrett Brown covered in their book, The Unsold Mindset, and what we talked about in this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, a SUCCESS magazine podcast.
Being in the industry, Colin and Garrett talked to some of the successful people in sales that they know, trying to uncover what they do that makes them stand out in the field. But when they ask these people, “Who is the best salesperson you know? And do you think we can reach out and talk to them?” The answers were surprising.
Soon they found themselves talking to people from all walks of life, not just in the sales industry, about selling. And they found similar themes when talking to these people.
What sets great sellers apart, and how did they break free from the stigma against salespeople?
The Unsold Mindset
Unlike most books about selling, Colin and Garrett didn’t write about positive scripting, objection handlers, mirroring, or NLP. They dove deep into the mindset of how effective sellers think and how great sellers think about sales differently.
They didn’t just talk to salespeople in the field. They conducted interviews with people in every imaginable profession, including teachers, lawyers, army generals, artists, and others, to give us a global perspective on selling.
“We knew from experience, being practitioners and not theorists, that the greatest salespeople on the planet were the exact opposite of what people were saying,” Colin says. They weren’t necessarily gregarious, extroverted, or sociable. They weren’t "knowers."
They were confident, but their confidence didn’t come from a place of “knowing” everything. It wasn’t about being social, but being socially aware. And that social awareness is what helps them listen, empathize, and really make the person on the other end of the conversation feel that they care about what they have to say.
This social awareness, Colin says, helps great sellers realize that they need to become better listeners to ask questions they are sincerely curious to know the answer to, not just look for clues they could capitalize on to say the right things. When they talk to people, those people know that they are actually listening to them; that they are not just waiting to talk.
Dialogues, objection handlers, building rapport, NLP, mirroring, etc. “They have their place in selling,” Garrett says, “but if they’re done inauthentically, they can get really, really cringe-y.”
The book centers on the mindset that sets great sellers apart and how they approach the same subject—selling—differently than other people but do it better.
Make your Kryptonite your Superpower
We have this false notion that to be successful in sales, you need to be perfect. To ensure that your pitch is received favorably, you must be completely knowledgeable about the good or service you are marketing, use the appropriate language, and make course corrections as you speak.
But over the course of interviewing amazing salespeople in and out of the sales industry, Colin and Garrett noticed that the one thing they have in common is authenticity. “They were just giving themselves permission to be imperfect, to be authentic, to be themselves. And that was what made them great,” Garrett says.
Colin says he found it surprising that a lot of successful sellers talk to themselves. This “hyper-authenticity” to be as human as the other person you are talking to and not act or pretend to be somebody you are not, is one of the commonalities they found among these “greats.”
Great sellers aren’t the most sociable…
When we think of sales, we think of NLP, or empathy. In order to make the customer feel at ease and cared for, business leaders are taught to act caringly. That is why a lot of people in business believe that they have to be sociable and outgoing to be successful in any industry.
But consumers can smell that inauthenticity from a mile away.
Self- and social awareness, which go hand in hand with authenticity, is another trait shared by great sellers. They aren’t leaning in or mirroring the other person in the conversation because they were trained that way—they lean in because they are actually engrossed in what they say. They actually care.
They don’t “act” engaged. They ask questions they genuinely want to hear the answers to, which in turn makes them ask questions that consumers have never heard before.
We all have gotten used to the same scripts that salespeople use to get us to buy stuff, and it breeds distrust. That is why there is such a negative image when people hear the word “salesperson”—we think they are manipulative because they act like they care to get us to act a certain way.
But genuine care makes all the difference: It is what makes great sellers better listeners and effective conversationalists despite not being the most social or extroverted person in the room. And it is what transforms consumers into fans—people do business with people they like and trust.
Vulnerability and personal growth
During COVID, in all verticals, the underperformers prior to lockdowns thrived, while the hard-hitters pre-COVID who most expected to stay successful sank. What Colin and Garrett noticed that these underperformers who thrived had in common was their willingness to be vulnerable.
These people would enter Zoom meetings with their wives or kids in the background and say things along the lines of, “These are some weird times we are living in. I am not sure what we are supposed to do.” And they have never seen rapport being built in six seconds or less as when someone feels as human as you, going through similar lived experiences as you do.
When they were working on the book at the height of the pandemic, Garrett and Colin realized that being at home gave them the advantage of being able to talk to people they normally would not be able to.
As they were talking to people, they came to ask themselves, “How do we empower ourselves to give ourselves permission to not have all the answers? To not do the things we are not super passionate about at the cost of authenticity?”
Sales and personal growth live on the same plane. We learn and get inspired not by how the greatest salespeople do sales but by how they live.
How can we shift our mindsets to become better sellers (and people)?
This is Colin and Garrett’s advice for all leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in any industry: Be purpose-driven. Know what your purpose is and tie your goals to it, and you will move and think differently. Know its impact on your career, and on the people around you.
When you create a purpose, the person that you’re talking to reflects your purpose. You see your purpose in them.
Do the work of identifying your purpose, and know why you are doing what you do. It is easier to make mindset shifts when you do. Once you have done the work on your purpose, the next thing to do is to keep it in mind and learn to incorporate it into your day-to-day life. Do everything in alignment with your purpose.
Listen to the podcast to learn more from Colin and Garrett about The Unsold Mindset and how we can become better sellers.
More of Colin Coggins and Garrett Brown
Visit their website, ColinandGarrett.com to learn more about Colin and Garrett, their latest works, speaking events, workshops and classes, and more.
You can also follow them on Instagram and Twitter (@colinandgarrett) and on LinkedIn (Colin Coggins and Garrett Brown).
Get a copy of their book, The Unsold Mindset, on Amazon today!
DISCLAIMER: The people interviewed are well-trained experts and highly skilled in their areas of practice. They take many safety precautions prior to attempting the activities described. The activities or research discussed in these podcasts should not be attempted without qualified supervision and training with professionals.