Ep 51: Multiple Personality Disorder in Sales

BuzzSprout Audio

“If as a sales leader, you are not aware of your salespeople’s motivations, then it’s gonna be pretty tough for you to get the most out of them. If your heart’s not in it, how can you expect your head to be in it.” – Taylor Barnes



Josh Sweeney: Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney, joined by my co-host, Taylor Barnes Barnes. Taylor, how are you?

Taylor Barnes: Josh, I’m good.

Challenge Illustration

Taylor Barnes: I’m bad. I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m sleepy. I’m energetic. I don’t know, man.

Josh Sweeney: That’s a lot. Are you okay?

Taylor Barnes: I think I’m just suffering from a bit of a personality disorder.


Challenge Follow up ( I too have been through this… )

Josh Sweeney: Man, that sounds like a great topic because I feel like maybe we deal with salespeople that have the same disorder here and there.

Taylor Barnes: On a daily basis.

Josh Sweeney: All right, so, obviously, we aren’t really doctors and we’re not really talking about the real multiple personality disorder.

Taylor Barnes: Right, let’s be clear on that.

Josh Sweeney: All liability waivers have been signed and explicitly mentioned for this broadcast.

Taylor Barnes: That’s right. We did watch the movie Split. We did watch the movie Split but that’s about the extent of our knowledge so we’re going to stick to what we’re good at, Josh.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely.


The leaders challenge/purpose

Josh Sweeney: So, let’s talk about that leader challenge. The leader has to manage people, salespeople, who seem to have multiple personalities from a maybe minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, or day-to-day basis. So, why does this happen?

Taylor Barnes: Man.

Josh Sweeney: Why does this go down?

Taylor Barnes: What an emotional sport this is, you know? Bottom line, sales is a high and low game. There’s going to be some amazing moments and you’re going to feel that momentum. As some people call it, Big Mo, you’re going to be able to ride the Big Mo wave and things are going great. You get into this flow state, kind of like Kobe used to get where, I mean, the hoop is enormous and you can’t miss, right? And on the flip side of that, you hit a rut sometimes, right? And, for whatever reason, you’ve lost a lot of deals in a row. You’ve lost deals in the 11th hour, deals have been canceled. Whatever it is, the high-low is a big one, Josh, and I think when reps feel that, managers don’t necessarily know how to manage to that.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I love the quote. I mean, sales is an emotional game and those high-lows are high highs and low lows, like you said. I mean, one day, you’re doing account management and trying to close more and then the client’s unhappy about something and you lose an account and then, a day later or maybe an hour later, you sign a huge contract and it’s awesome.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, it’s great. Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: That’s a lot to deal with as a sales manager.

Taylor Barnes: 100 percent. 100 percent. In any sport and any manager and any job, doesn’t matter if you’re in sales necessarily or some sort of other performance game, if you hit a rut, if you’re doing awesome, that high-low whiplash is something that’s very, very tough to manage to for the individual but absolutely for the sales leader. You know, another reason that I see this a lot and I see this on a daily basis in our organizations is that it seems that their work-life is a balance versus an integration and the things that we try to coach in my organization, not to get into the solutions too much, but, you know, it’s an integration, it’s not a balance, at least in my opinion. It’s one of those things where I don’t think you can do one without the other so if one’s messed up, it’s going to throw things off and it’s going to bring potentially a different kind of personality into the office that day, you know? Things might not be right at home or things might not be right at work or things might not be right in either case and you experience that same kind of thing, Josh, with the high-low and the whiplash.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. I mean, there’s a lot of emotional baggage that carries over from home to work, right? And we all have to understand that, you know, we’re all people at the end of the day and there’s distractions and there’s other reasons people might not be on their game or might be crushing it, you know? You think they’re crushing it because we’re doing great jobs as sales managers and providing everything they needed and it was like really they got elevated because, you know, everything’s firing at home on all cylinders. You have no idea that that’s the reason.

Taylor Barnes: Exactly.

Josh Sweeney: So there’s all kinds of impact from, you know, the external environment, home, and other things that are going to impact that high-low as a salesperson.

Taylor Barnes: 100 percent. And have you seen this one, Josh, let’s say me and you work together, me and you are good buds, you know, we’re in the cubes together and whatnot. You’re killing it, I’m not.

Josh Sweeney: Oh, yeah.

Taylor Barnes: That’s the one that I see the most of where sales reps are like, “That’s ridiculous! Why am I here? This guy’s no better than I am,” but his numbers are good and that level of, again, it’s an emotional sport, that level of, “He’s better than me. This is crap,” the victim mentality starts — again, so many personalities come out in a day-to-day basis. Have you seen that one?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely, and I think it can actually go both ways. So, I mean, you mentioned the way where somebody else is crushing it next to him and it’s demotivating. You know, for some people that are more competitive, I think it’s motivating —

Taylor Barnes: True.

Josh Sweeney: you know? So I like to take those people and go get their LinkedIn picture and put it on my wall and —

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: — have a big marker handy so I can draw an X through it when, you know, when I crush the sales quota, you know? I’m like, “Okay, passed that person no problem,” you know? But that’s not always the case. I mean, some days you do just feel down from it. You’re like, “Man, I gotta flip this around,” and that — who knows why that is each day.

Taylor Barnes: I know, I know. And, you know, you mentioned that it sometimes flips. You’re 100 percent right. In that same vein, the individual is either motivated or demotivated based on his peer doing better than him or her. The peer that is doing better might be in this middle of this extreme arrogance game, this egotistical game, and now they’re just walking into their sales manager’s office and they’re like, “I’m the best. Don’t worry about me, boss. I’m good.” That’s just another emotion — this entire thing, you know? And so these managers, I’m telling you, I know you and I have been there, we see it all.

Josh Sweeney: Oh, yeah, definitely. I think another one that comes up for me is everybody has different personal motivations and it doesn’t always seem to be consistent, you know? I know —

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: — I sit down with employees and say, you know, “You need to know your goals so that I can help you achieve your goals at work and in life and if you don’t know ’em, I can’t help you get there,” and sometimes it’s like, “Uh, I don’t know,” or, you know, “Well, what are you trying to achieve with, you know, if you’re gonna sell more and you’re gonna make more revenue, like what are you trying to do it for? What are you gonna buy? What are you gonna do? Are you gonna go on a vacation with your kids that is memorable?” “Uh, I don’t know,” you know? And it’s like, well, it’s really hard to, you know, drive motivation in that way but — and it changes though, right? It changes. It can change from day to day around personal motivation and how they’re feeling.

Taylor Barnes: 100 percent. And, I mean, again, without getting too far into the solutions which we’re about to jump into, if, as a sales leader, you’re not aware of your salespeople’s individual motivations, then it’s going to be pretty tough for you to get the most out of them. I mean, basically, if your heart’s not in it, how can you expect your head to be in it, right? So, on a day-to-day basis, these sales leaders don’t understand the individual motivators, money, family, community, service, whatever it is, you’re really going to make — you’re really not just banging on all cylinders.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah.


Josh Sweeney: So, I mean, that leads us into some solutions and, you know, first on our list was knowing their motivators. So —

Taylor Barnes: Absolutely.

Josh Sweeney: — there’s a couple ways we can find out motivators. Personality assessments often tell what their actual motivators are. I find this is really interesting because, as a topic, a lot of people say, “Well, it’s a salesperson so they’re motivated by money,” right? And, really, what I found is that’s not actually the case, they’re motivated by what money goes to buy them, right? Or help them achieve. So, you know, if I’m really motivated by spending quality time with my family and money goes to paying for those trips, that’s really what I’m looking for. And, as sales managers, we’ve got to jump to that end game to pull out the emotion of that trip with their family and what they’re going to get, not that they’re going to get a bigger check, because that’s not really — it’s not really getting to the heart of matters. What are some other ways that we see where we can solve it with understanding their motivators or how we can understand their motivators?

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, I mean, to boil it down at a very mind blowing science experiment here, ask them. Ask them what motivates them. I mean, it is, I know, you can hit rewind if we’re losing you here —

Josh Sweeney: We’ll play that one again.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, you can go back 10 seconds or so. This is something that I think a lot of sales leaders overthink. As we talked about, some people are motivated by money, some people are motivated by family and time and community service and giving back. Teamwork, in some cases. The younger generation, specifically, according to the numbers are very, very motivated by a team sport versus an individual sport to bring camaraderie and branding and whatnot. Now, there’s a lot of different, you know, for most organizations, a sales leader is going to have more than one person on their team so we can just assume that different people are going to have — there’s going to be more than one motivator on your team. What I like to think of here and a lot of — is getting along the lines of creating an impact plan, an immediate impact plan, and if you do that, you know, you’re obviously going to be able to align and synergize with your individual salesperson immediately but you’re not going to be able to even begin that impact plan until you understand what gets them out of bed in the morning, their why, you know? And as Josh said many times, there is money as a motivator, okay, you will probably get that answer when you ask. And money being a motivator of a salesperson is a great thing, you know, if it’s channeled in healthy, energetic ways, but what you really want to uncover is what Josh said, what does the money buy? Does it buy things? Does it buy freedoms? Does it buy experiences? And whatever that is, that’s where you can really lean into it and start relating things like their performance into what the ultimate output could be for them.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. And, I mean, I think you hit on the action plan was one that, you know, came into my mind because I would love to be able to, not only for salespeople but for anybody, you know, reach into their employment file and pull out the action plan and know what it is, you know? Especially when you’re managing multiple salespeople, it’s a lot to keep up with —

Taylor Barnes: Totally.

Josh Sweeney: — what motivates each person but if you have an action plan that you sat down and really thought through with them, I think that’s one way, you know, we can really solve the multiple personality because when they do have some sort of challenge or they do have that low, we can bring it out and say, “This is what we’re going for. This is what we’re trying to achieve,” and you can reinforce that. Visuals are always great for it especially if the action plan has some visual elements.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, totally. And I’m sure you’ve seen this one too. I think another solution to getting people to — I’m sorry, to get sales managers to help, you know, with the multiple personalities is really just it comes down to coaching. Obviously, as sales leaders, we are there to, you know, bolster our teams, to create rock star sales teams, to produce top line revenues, etc., but I would say that what comes along with that, especially in the sales game, is really the need to explain that information is going to be good and bad throughout this entire journey, right? It is — they’re going to get good news, they’re going to get bad news. In fact, Josh, I’ve never heard of a closing percentage above 50 percent, so most of the time, it’s bad versus good, you know what I mean? It’s probably more bad than good. You probably lose more than you win in sales, if you break it down to a percentage. Now, granted, regardless, what we need to be able to coach and the earlier example we were using with the peer to peer is that, to quote Tim Grover from Relentless, you can’t believe in your own hype when you’re doing great and you can’t lose your shit when you’re doing terrible. You got to find a way — mental toughness, the definition of mental toughness is avoiding those two things, is staying very even keel, right? It’s like the Stoic philosophers used to say, they would control what they can and let go what they cannot and information, bad or good, would just become information, like cars in traffic going each way. And if you can kind of get your mind wrapped around that, I realize that that’s kind of a little bit deep typically for sales, but if you can, you know, paraphrase it in your own words to where they’re not going to have that whiplash effect based on what you can coach them into knowing is coming, then I think you’re going to get ahead of the game.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I mean, that mental toughness comes in every day, you know? You have to grind it out. Like you said, the closing percentage is probably not 50 percent.

Taylor Barnes: Right.

Josh Sweeney: If it is, great. You’re working a lot of premium leads and they’re awesome.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: But the reality is a lot — it’s going to be lower than that in most cases, especially in larger organizations, you know? You’re going to get a number of leads in and you got to be mentally tough, you got to stick it out, you’re talking to, you know, for every 10 conversations, you’re probably getting really one deal a lot of times or one opportunity out of those when you’re prospecting and doing other engagements. So, like you said, I mean, you’re losing 90 percent of the time with those types of metrics.

Taylor Barnes: Absolutely. Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, we got to coach ’em up.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, exactly. And good segue there. I think, in general, we can coach the salesman to gain some mental toughness by not adhering to the high-low, but I also think we’re going to have to take it a step further and coach them into a little more work-life integration. This might be a little tough for sales managers because it does get a little bit personal but, in the same breath, guys and girls, we can’t kill it out there unless we’re preparing in here, right? We have to practice before we can perform. There’s a lot of different analogies and metaphors and everything I could use here, but if you think you can do one without the other, I guess is my point, then I think you’re severely mistaken. Work comes with life and life comes with work. They supplement each other, they feed each other, they’re completely contingent, in a lot of cases, on each other. So the idea of balance, in my personal opinion, is a myth. The idea of integration I think is healthier. So you could possibly gain some education, gain some wisdom, ask around, read books, whatever it is, but help your individuals through more of a work-life integration than a work-life balance. Expecting them to be one person here when they’re a different person at home probably is not going to be sustainable.

Josh Sweeney: And that work-life balance is really, like you said, getting into providing additional assistance to them and it may seem personal but it really leads us to our last solution which is understanding them at a human level. You know, understanding that it’s more than just showing up for work, you know? People are having health challenges, you know? Challenges with teenagers, you know? Younger kids, spouse, you know? There’s all kinds of dynamics that are happening and it’s almost just sticking your head in the sand if you don’t try to address or help or acknowledge those in some way. And it’s the right balance but you do have to understand them at a human level and then see how you can help. Where do those bounds, you know, where do those bounds start and stop? And what I generally find and would say, I would think most sales managers don’t go far enough, right? They don’t recognize the human level. They don’t see how else they can help and there is an opportunity to do that and when you do that, you get to build a really good relationship —

Taylor Barnes: Yes.

Josh Sweeney: — and it needs to be a trusted relationship so that when things arise, when somebody is having that low game, you know, that high-low, or having a bad day, you know, it’s easy to have those conversations because you actually have in-depth conversations on a regular basis instead of it being your first one, you know?

Taylor Barnes: That’s right. That’s right. And tell me if you agree with this, when I look at the sales manager asking and gaining some wisdom on what motivates the individuals, for me, this is looking from the outside in. It’s a win-win. You’re going to learn something about your employee that you can lean into down the road and probably get the most out of that employee. The employee immediately knows that you care and you’re willing to invest in a different kind of level in them, at the human level, which is only going to do things like, you know, have them show up to work ready to work for you, enjoy their time and their energy for you, consider you a captain that they want to go to battle for. It’s a win-win. And I will warn you — “warn” is the wrong word, I will encourage this because simply based on the rep’s reaction when you ask them this is worth it. It is absolutely awesome to see the rep go, “Whoa, wasn’t expecting that. Thank you for asking,” and I really think the pros significantly outweigh the cons. Even if you think it’s too personal, I agree with Josh there, it’s not that personal.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, they’re probably really surprised when you’ve done nothing but ask ’em about why they’re not hitting quota for two years and then all of a sudden you take interest in their personal life so —

Taylor Barnes: That’s it.

Josh Sweeney: — that’s why you have to start early, you know? Start in the hiring process of really getting to know them.


Final Question

Josh Sweeney: So, the final question: What are you doing to recognize when a second personality shows itself and how are you managing it?

Taylor Barnes: And this has been Barnes and Sweeney with Purpose-Driven Sales. Now, go lead on purpose.

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