July 22

Terry Ledden on How to Boost Sales Productivity

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As a professional sales performance consultant, trainer and coach for over 30 years, Terry has dedicated himself to the growth and development of consultative sales people, sales managers and their results.

Over half that time he resided in Chicago as VP Sales and Marketing for Holden, an premier international sales training company working with Top Fortune 50 sales organizations at EDS, Bell Canada, IBM, XEROX, HP, Sprint, Unisys, Ernst & Young and others.

In the early 2000's Terry discovered Sandler’s unique training and consulting strategy proven to drive long term, sustainable sales improvement. Acknowledging the failure of traditional 1 – 3 day training bootcamps to deliver lasting quantifiable impact, he joined the global Sandler Training and Consulting team and adopted the model of incremental improvement over time, through shorter workshops at a higher frequency rate, spread over time.

His Sandler no pressure conversational Selling System is a 180 degree pivot from traditional solution selling. It addresses the buyer pattern of withholding information from salespeople, stealing all their knowledge and expertise, lying about their intention to do business and then entering witness protection when it comes time for the decision. The Sandler trained sales pro gains the ability to control the Buyer – Seller Dance,  while applying principles from psychology and human dynamics to allow the buyer to feel comfortable, in control and honest. The Sandler Selling System takes the qualification process to a deeper level eliminating unintended waste of resources in generating quotes and proposals that will never close, best characterized as free solution consulting. Clients routinely see conversion rates from first contact to close rise between 30 – 170%.

Terry lives in Ottawa, Canada and when not driving full out sales growth for his clients you’ll find him driving full out as a Certified Level II High Performance Driving Instructor and Coach around motorsports road courses like Circuit Mt. Tremblant, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) and Ottawa’s Calabogie Motorsports Park.

Contact Terry:

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:40
Hello everyone! Today I have Terry Ledden here with me today. He is a Sales Guru, and more importantly, he's a Car Head. He's one of those instructors that sits beside you and tells you to go faster and don't break when you're in the hairpin turn and welcome to the program.

Terry Ledden 0:56
Hey, thanks a lot Umar. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to spend some time with you. It's funny, you bring that up, and there's a real strong analogy and there's a real transference from a more on the track with people who have never driven their new Porsche, at a rate of speed that would be socially unacceptable on the street,

Umar Hameed 1:14
Yes.

Terry Ledden 1:15
has never gone north of you know, 160 200 kilometers an hour. There's a mindset, there's a framework that kind of kicks into gear that goes, "No, this isn't right," and as we're coming into a corner, they've got to be following certain techniques in order to be able to negotiate that corner effectively and come out of it unscathed. not go off track. And you know, there are so many connections to sell it, so...

Umar Hameed 1:39
Absolutely!

Terry Ledden 1:39
...have you ever gone off track in a sales call, right?

Umar Hameed 1:42
Many times.

Terry Ledden 1:44
Yeah. If you go off track in a sales call.

Umar Hameed 1:45
Have you ever been on track Umar on a sales call? And I said...

Terry Ledden 1:49
If I say, good question, right?

Umar Hameed 1:51
So Terry, let me ask you this. I had heard the second hand, I've never experienced it, somebody was saying that we're sitting with a driving instructor, they're saying when you coming into a turn that you don't know that turn, that you need to look at how fast the scenery is going on the right side of the road versus the left side of the road, and there's something about that speed differential lets you know if you're at the right optimal speed, does any of that make sense?

Terry Ledden 2:15
Oh yeah, for sure. It's a whole sensory experience and what people do, and again, transfers over into sales. When panic anxiety sets in, our peripheral vision closes in, and we're looking right at the moment, and before we mechanically, if you think of the neuroscience, before we're able to react to where we're at, we're already past that point. So the faster we go, the further we have to be looking. And in the cell cycle, if you want to collapse your sales cycle, accelerate go faster, you got to get your eyes up, and you got to look further down the sales cycle, and figure out what's going to happen like chess, two, three steps out, and be able to correct now, right?

Umar Hameed 2:56
So let's break that down. Because that first scenario that you described, that's how it biologically created, because when the fight or flight kicks in, what happens...

Terry Ledden 3:04
Yeah.

Umar Hameed 3:04
....is we are at our stronger selves, we don't feel pain, but we hyper focus on where the danger is, and we do not have peripheral vision anymore, so you have to train yourself to fight the instinct. So tell me how you do it for a driver in a car, and then we'll see how we can map it over to sales.

Terry Ledden 3:20
Yeah. So we look, we look at the physical characteristics, right? So we're always glancing and watching the observer, we're observing the track, where are we? What's our speed, etc. So as we build up the speed, and at the same time, we're building the confidence of the driver, right? getting them a little bit out of the comfort zone, but not too far off, where they get into trouble. So we're looking at hand grip on the steering wheel as an example, do we see a death grip?

Umar Hameed 3:42
Yeah.

Terry Ledden 3:43
Are they, is or is her head and her helmet kind of down? Or are their eyes up? Are they relaxed? And in fact, you can drive the right kind of vehicle, of course, you know, well, over 200k.

Umar Hameed 3:55
Yes.

Terry Ledden 3:55
You can you can, you can navigate curves and corners merely by steering with your index finger and your thumb. And the other fingers are up in the air and you're just very, very light grip on the steering wheel, because the reason...

Umar Hameed 4:07
Because any normal reaction will cause an issue so you need to be very light.

Terry Ledden 4:10
Yeah, very light. You want to be able, to be able to sense everything that the car is telling you, and if you have a death grip, it's like your hands are numb, right?

Umar Hameed 4:20
Yup. You definitely said it.

Terry Ledden 4:20
It's the same. Same thing in a sales call, like if you've got a death grip and a sales call, you're not listening. We need to be in the moment, we need to be active participating, we need to be totally glued, in the present moment, with a light grip on the prospect not squeezing. I'm trying to get him to say yes, but go off, breathe, relax. That's another thing we observe is a breathing pattern of our driver, right? Are they breathing?

Umar Hameed 4:44
Oh yeah. Absolutely!

Terry Ledden 4:45
Are they holding their breath, right?

Umar Hameed 4:46
And you don't realize you're holding your breath when you're fuckin' holding your breath. Someone has honey breathe in is like, "Okay, that's a good idea." So let me tell you one of these profound moments for me it was, I was watching something on about the Red Bull Formula One racing team, you're on this thing that we're talking about, you know, we don't have the best drivers, but we want to win races. And so what we thought was, it's not getting to the finish line first, it's getting to the finish line sooner. And by asking that different question, they were like, well, since our drivers can make up the time, where can we find that time. And one of the ways they found it was, they got low tech solution, is when you change tires, they can change it as fast as everyone else, but they started bringing electric blankets in to warm up the tires in let's say, a wardrobe, and that would save them like three or four seconds for the first lap that everybody else lost because the tires weren't warmed up. And so when we come down to sales, when we look at is not just getting them to sign, there's other things that we can be focused on. And I think one of the things you were talking about before we started recording was, we're so driven to go for the yes, that we lose value of the no, so please tell us more about that again.

Terry Ledden 6:07
Yeah. So I mean, sales hunters were bred go out, you know, find them bring it in, right? And we've been raised by well meaning managers and coaches and trainers to convince. And so if you if you went outside, and you know, pre-pandemic times, and we gathered 10 a 100 people brought them into a room and we ask them the following question. When I say the word salesperson, I want you to come up with three adjectives,

Umar Hameed 6:35
Douchebag.

Terry Ledden 6:38
It's not gonna be good stuff, right? And what we've learned is that when a salesperson engages on an unsolicited basis, with a potential decision maker, or a buyer to explore potential, they go into a pattern of behavior, they hold the cards close to the vest. If the salesperson is really good, and they've generated some modicum of interest, the buyer then starts to ask a bunch of questions. And the typical salesperson is going to hear those interesting kind of questions and make the assumption, "I got a hot one, I got a hot one," and they're going to be highly motivated to answer all the questions. And at the end of a half hour call, or whatever it is, these buyers have learned the best way to dismiss a salesperson, you say, "Wow, Umar, I never knew you existed, I had no idea you had these kinds of solutions? How quickly can you get me a proposal," and then the traditional sales process would suggest, "Perfect, my next step is to get a proposal in front of them, because to buy...

Umar Hameed 7:39
I'm going to get the sale, I'm going to buy the Porsche now.

Terry Ledden 7:42
That's what's going on in their head, too, right? And so they're highly motivated, you know, they want to push this thing across the finish line, they they spend all weekend, spend no time with their family to get the proposal done trying to prove, "I want to earn your business, I'll really, you know, see how high I can jump on this," to get the proposal in front of the buyer, nothing happens, the wheels come off, they don't return phone calls, and you're wondering what happened. So when I salespeople when we first get together, like what's your close rate on your deals on your proposals? I mean, you've gone through the whole discovery qualification process, you put the proposal together, which close rate 38%, 50% we're really good. Well, let me ask you this question, if you could figure out ahead of time, whether that deal was going to be the 50%? or that you got or more importantly, that you did not get, when would you want to know that? And everybody says sooner rather than later. Well, then why don't we stop trying to convince people, and instead of going for yes, which is present, bring and brag show and tell, let me do a demo of driving to your knees, let's take a breath, let's slow down, you know, it's like, again, back to back to the track, back to the racing high-performance driving, slower in is faster out. So let's slow down in the discovery process, and instead of trying to convince and keep our foot on the throttle, let's do this instead, let's explore deep and wide, and look for any and all reasons why this deal will not move forward positively, and figure out if we can do something about it. And if we can't do something about it, let's pull up. And so it's it's a 100% paradigm shift, it's a pivot, it's 180 degree opposite of the traditional selling model, which is about go for yes, convinced, take no prisoners, and instead go for no.

Umar Hameed 9:42
So let me interject there because I love that idea, but here's what's coming up. Is that, do you know any sales people that are super busy but not accomplishing what they should be accomplishing, we all do, right?

Terry Ledden 9:54
Yeah, for sure.

Umar Hameed 9:55
Sometimes the reason we do that is that we need to have a sense of, I'm doing something I'm busy, and so sometimes going for the no, although it's more efficient, but sometimes I would suspect that'd be untenable, because it's like, no, just having the illusion of these deals are coming is it's like buying a lotto ticket. It's the three days before they pick the lottery numbers aren't miraculous days. And so when you lose, you don't get the winnings, it's like, "Oh, well, let me kind of move on, but I got the $1, it gave me three days of peace of mind." So for a lot of salespeople training, when they hear you say what you're saying they're gonna go, "Terry, that is amazing. I love that," but I wonder how many people really execute it, because that need to feel busy?

Terry Ledden 10:38
Well, surprisingly, when you peel it back, a lot of salespeople actually push back and there's a fear, there's an uncertainty, that if I start going for no, I'm gonna lose a deal. Well, you can't lose what you don't have,

Umar Hameed 10:49
Yep.

Terry Ledden 10:49
Right? And if you come back to the actual stats, again, you're not winning them. And if somebody actually is into you, and they're moving it forward by exploring the reasons why it might not move forward, is that going to convince them that they don't want to work with you, in fact, it does the opposite, because the trust level with your buyers goes way up. So for example, at the start of a sales call, we'll talk a little bit about technique for secondary, just to kind of make it real,

Umar Hameed 11:14
Hmm. Of course!

Terry Ledden 11:14
And get it off theoretical. So the very beginning of a sales call, the very first conversation, and we have to carry this all the way through the sales cycle, mind you, if I set the framework for the conversation, kind of like this, I'd say, "Umar, hey, I really appreciate you giving me some time here this afternoon or this morning, I'm not really sure where this is going to go. And at this point, I'm not convinced we'd even be a fit together, because I just don't know what your objectives are, what you're trying to accomplish. I don't have a clue in terms of what your expectations are. It's a first conversation. So can we agree just on this? And then we're not making any decisions to do business today. But if we could agree that toward the end of our conversation, if my answers to your questions, don't line up with what you need to hear? Would you be good enough just to tell me that and you know, we can stop the process, we don't need to take it any further. And by the same token, if the answers I need to hear from your side, don't give me a good solid feeling that I can add any value, I want to be comfortable just sharing that with you. And we can part we can part friends. So maybe this is not the right time to be doing anything together. Are you okay with that?" So that we can come off the call with, "Hey, here's the next step we should go toward, or you know what, it's really not, in other of our interest to take this any further." Now, that's the reality, that's the technique we would teach. But conceptually, I hear a lot of times in the Zoom call, or in the physical training room pre-pandemic times, "Whoa, if I ever did that, that buyer is gonna think I'm too assertive or I'm too aggressive," and that's a paradigm, that's a belief that's anchored in that salesperson or that human from past experience.

Umar Hameed 12:23
So let's time out there just for a second, because this is a quote from the Talmud that says, "We do not see the universe as it is, we see it as we are." Because when you just describe that upfront contract, which is very Sandler, and it works really, really well, as you break down what's being said, there's nothing aggressive about it at all,

Terry Ledden 13:16
No.

Umar Hameed 13:16
But they're keeping it as something aggressive, and that's kind of like that mindset piece. So I wonder where they come from, because I think a lot of times salespeople are like, they love this yes set kind of idea, "I just want to get yes, yes, yes, yes yes," and I'm miraculously this will bamboozle the person, say yes for the deal. But like you said, if we can get to no faster is better, and nothing you said there was, basically you said, "Look, there's a million reasons why this may not work, could not be the right time, could not be the right fit, we don't have the right solution, you don't have a budget, let's just have a conversation, figure out what we're going to do next," which is something you would do for your best friend, if you were going out racing that day, "Hey, we just want to have fun, we're going to do this, let's see what happens." But we have a different set of rules when it comes to, "I'm a salesperson and I need to be selling, I need to be reporting to my VP of sales, and more importantly, my spouse on what's happened." So how do you help people get over that mindset gap, and realize, this is actually respecting everyone's time and respecting everyone's position?

Terry Ledden 14:17
Right. Well, it is based on an approach of incremental change over a period of time. So I would take what we just did in the way of what we call the upfront contract or upfront agreement, right? where we're, we're kind of nailing up a game plan together, co, co developing the, and I'd say to them, "Take one little piece of it and just stick your foot in the pool over the next week or two weeks, try it and when you come back to our next workshop, let's debrief how that went. Get comfortable with that and get a little bit more out of the comfort zone a little bit more like I've been at this 19 years, right?" So I remember when I had the more from that traditional salesperson, I was a VP of Sales or a very well known, high end sales training company that work particularly with high tech companies. And we were the traditional go in, bring them, brag show and tell pitch, pitch pitch, and my close rate was a bismal, was like 30%. And then I decided, you know what, I'm pretty too many too many Ferrari's in the garage of the owner of the company, I was at VP, and I decided, I'm gonna go do this myself, so I became part of the Sandler network. And it was like a whack on the side of the head, I now learned how to sell. And it took me quite a while and the slow learner, it took me a long time to kind of get through that just the upfront contract is an example. I remember going on sales calls, and a little voice in my head is going, you sound really weird. But I, you know, I, I had invested significantly to be certified in this process,

Umar Hameed 15:49
Oh yeah.

Terry Ledden 15:50
The master, I had to get over the other side of this thing. And then over time, practice, practice, practice with some good coaching from my Sandler colleagues. The lightbulb went on, and I realized, like, disconnect yourself from the outcome, that was the magic magic pill I swallow. When I can go into that sales call and disassociate from having to score, wow, the pressure went off my shoulders, the pressure went off the buyer shoulders, and now I'm developing the best clients I've ever had. I'm a trusted adviser to them, they never feel like I'm trying to sell them, and I'm always looking for how we can add value and they really open up. And when you do a great upfront contract, and you follow some good questioning, when your prospect can say to you halfway into a conversation, "I feel like I'm speaking to a psychiatrist," wow, you know, you're in, you know, you're in.

Umar Hameed 16:46
Absolutely and I think that thought of just breaking things down into small chunks, like sometimes I'm teaching someone to cold call, the only thing I care about is the first 30 seconds.

Terry Ledden 16:56
Right. Cold calling's over.

Umar Hameed 16:58
The first 30 seconds, then you got it. It's just trying to do the whole thing and not breaking it down is like scary as hell. By the way, this is no joke, but it's a good one, are you ready? Terry, how do you make a salesperson shut up? You give them a telephone!

Terry Ledden 17:03
Asking for a prop...Oh, okay, I'm gonna say ask him for a proposal. That's a good one. Yeah.

Umar Hameed 17:18
So where are you? So you've been doing this for a while, you live it, you breathe it, you teach it, you use it?

Terry Ledden 17:24
I use it to build my business. Yeah!

Umar Hameed 17:26
Yeah. So where are you finding, Terry, where's the next area you need to improve? They're going, "Yeah, I'm noticing I need to gonna tweak here." What's that thing you're working on now?

Terry Ledden 17:36
On myself.

Umar Hameed 17:37
Yeah.

Terry Ledden 17:37
I mean, yeah, yeah.

Umar Hameed 17:38
Never done. What's the next thing for you?

Terry Ledden 17:40
Yeah, it's ongoing improvement, right? And there are three interesting question, I wasn't thinking you were gonna ask me that, but it takes me to the three things that I'm al, always focusing on. And I journal about this, we believe in journaling, at Sandler, right? where you journal your thoughts, your feelings as you're going into your day to keep your head focused on the positive.

Umar Hameed 18:01
Yes.

Terry Ledden 18:02
And that's always a work in progress, because there's always bad stuff that's happening, whether it's pandemic-related or a deal that went sideways or whatever. And so we've got to manage our mindset. And we've got to maintain an attitude and a mindset of possibility and abundance, which comes back to going for no. So if I'm an individual, and this was me, at one point, I was more scarcity and limitation, so achieve the goal for no, I'm going to miss out on opportunities, right? And so we have to manage that positive overload constantly. So I journal on that, and good days, better days not to miss it.

Umar Hameed 18:41
Nice.

Terry Ledden 18:43
Okay. Second one, it's one that's called need for approval. And that was inherent in my DNA before getting into the sales development business and moving to Chicago and working with that other company. I worked in a, you know, Fortune 3 in Canada as a regional sales director, VP of Sales, kind of guy. But I was on a career trajectory, and I was more worried about what people thought of me than I was, you know, performing in the moment. So I have tons of opportunities to get in front of people and express my ideas, I was more worried about the tie that I wore, and whether it was going to come across as knowledgeable or not. And we have a term for that, we call it need for acceptance or need for approval,

Umar Hameed 19:27
Right.

Terry Ledden 19:28
And so, if I feel my need for approval going up, and I feel that little bit of anxiety before a sales call, I dial it back down by again detaching myself from the outcome so it can be focused and performing in the moment.

Umar Hameed 19:41
Nice.

Terry Ledden 19:43
And then the third one, and this is like the trifecta. Okay, so we have our outlook, need for approval, and the third one is emotional control, maintaining objectivity. And so you know, what's my trigger point and there would be a point in my sales career where a moment of my key hot buttons or trigger points is one have invested time, and my client, my prospect says, "By the way, I'm looking at two other providers," competition, that would really tick me off because obviously, I've not impressed you at this point need for approvals kicking in and losing emotional control, I'm strategizing on the fly, stupid things are coming out of my mouth, I'd be embarrassed to share with you some of the examples. So those three things as a human, you know, I've got to arrest the reptilian brain, right? You gotta like calm it down, and the way to do that is detach yourself from outcome. So if I breezed through some good breathing technique for a minute, detached from outcome, care less about where it goes, then I have a happy half hour coming up.

Umar Hameed 20:49
There is a second way of doing it, drink Canadian beer, not American beer, and that helps also.

Terry Ledden 20:56
Yeah!

Umar Hameed 20:56
So Terry, before we part company today, thank you so much for a great interview. Is there one mind hack that you use to boost your productivity or effectiveness that you could share with everyone?

Terry Ledden 21:09
Yeah. Get up early, I'm up at five. I get rid of all my maintenance things so there's some reading that I do to get my head straightened in the right direction. I, you know, I'm not evangelizing but I believe a lot of my faith carries me through some of the tough times. And again, I start my day by detaching from outcome. Now I got my list of things to do, but I'm less concerned about perfection. And just, just get it done.

Umar Hameed 21:36
Words To Live By. Terry, thanks so much for being on the program, I really appreciate it and I took notes, and thanks so much.

Terry Ledden 21:43
Hey, this was fun. Thanks a lot Umar.

Umar Hameed 21:50
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro-linguistic programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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