Hamish Knox on "Better Than Zero" in Sales | Mind Training for Salespeople and Sales Leaders

Hamish Knox on “Better Than Zero” in Sales

A member of the global Sandler network, Hamish supports private organizations in Southern Alberta create and maintain a scalable, repeatable, consistent sales engines and an engaged, motivated team by holding them accountable to implementing the structures, systems and processes shared in our sessions.

Hamish worked in a variety of industries including media, communication services, software and professional sports before joining the Sandler network, which melded his passions for sales and education.

Hamish was named the 2020 David H. Sandler Award winner, Sandler’s highest honor, becoming the first Canadian trainer to receive that award. He was the first two time author in the Sandler network, writing books on topics no one likes to talk about. His first book was on Accountability the Sandler Way and his second on Change the Sandler Way. Hamish is regularly invited by Sandler Home Office to speak at Sandler’s train-the-trainer conferences and Sandler’s public Sales and Leadership Summit in Orlando.

Committed to giving back so other entrepreneurs can enjoy the same opportunities he had when he launched his business, Hamish is an active mentor with Futurpreneur Canada, is a Maple Leaf Club donor to Enactus Canada and is a volunteer judge for regional and national student entrepreneur competitions.

Contact Hamish:

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:04
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 0:35
Hello everyone, today I have the privilege of having Hamish Knox here with us today, he runs a Sandler franchise, he’s a guru in sales he’s written two books on horrible, horrible subjects, one of them is accountability, which no one wants and the other one is creating change, which, once again, no one wants. Hamish, welcome to the program.

Hamish Knox 0:56
Thank you very much for inviting me.

Umar Hameed 0:58
You know, what’s really interesting is this, is people feel very comfortable holding other people accountable but it’s really difficult for themselves to hold themselves accountable. What do you think that is?

Hamish Knox 1:10
Well, there’s a bit of a cliche that helps describe this, but it’s cliche because there’s a grain of truth, which is we judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. So…

Umar Hameed 1:21
Yes.

Hamish Knox 1:21
…if someone says to us that I’m going to exercise three days a week, and maybe they only exercise two days a week, or we’re aware that they’re only exercising two days a week, and we go, “Yeah, I should exercise three days a week but I’m kind of wanting to watch the bachelorette tonight.”

Umar Hameed 1:36
Yeah.

Hamish Knox 1:37
Well, I’m still a good person, because I wanted to exercise but you’re a bad person because you said you were going to exercise and you did.

Umar Hameed 1:45
Yeah. It’s not amazing how we judge ourselves versus the rest of the universe, because if you ask drivers probably in Calgary, you know, “How would you rate yourself as a driver?” they would rate themselves very good. And how would you rate the average driver? really mediocre or bad, but everybody cannot be very good and very bad at the same time so we have this two sets rules.

Hamish Knox 2:04
Absolutely we do. There’s a data point I saw that said it was a study of medical graduating classes of medical schools, and the average, average across all these medical school graduates, 86% of the graduates thought they were going to be above average doctors.

Umar Hameed 2:22
Absolutely. You know what’s going to interesting, I’ve seen some research where, when medical students the first time they see a patient, they don’t know anything. And they ask the patient, what was that interaction like, and then they as they go through their medical career, and they become doctors, it turns out that the height of their powers in terms of connecting with human beings was when they were green. And the more sophisticated they get, the more education they get, it actually diminishes that connection with patience.

Hamish Knox 2:50
Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, we were we were chatting when we first got connected about about language, and I’m very, very passionate about language and nuances. And I started listening to George Carlin when I was eight years old…so

Umar Hameed 3:02
Uh, I love them, yeah.

Hamish Knox 3:03
…and and he, he actually had a bit of why I later in his career that includes the line, it’s the context that makes the words good or bad. Now, the bit has not aged well so I would not encourage the listeners to go find the bit because it has definitely not aged well but there’s the the truth in that, is that it, it is con, it is contextual and speaking of doctors…

Umar Hameed 3:28
Yes.

Hamish Knox 3:29
…oftentimes we use the word expert to describe them. And what my experience has been is that someone who labeled themselves an expert is exactly has stopped doing exactly what you described, which is learning and growing and being curious, whereas someone who says they have expertise, and it’s fascinating, because lawyers are actually not allowed, at least in, in, in my state to say that they are an expert in a certain area of law, but they’re allowed to say they have expertise. And what I’ve discovered is individuals who say I have expertise, leave that little wiggle room open to like maybe there’s something else to learn, instead of going well, I’ve been in business for 15 years and ta da da da da.

Umar Hameed 4:12
So what’s interesting is, let’s pick me as a guinea pig for this, because I describe myself as an expert in changing human behavior but for me, I’m always learning stuff. One of the reasons I do the podcast is to get insights from people like you because you’re looking at the human equation from a different angle but language is incredibly important. I guess it is if you bind to the title, like I know everything is a short sign that you don’t.

Hamish Knox 4:35
Yeah, yeah, very much so and also that we have to think about, it doesn’t, it matters what the other person hears or reads, it doesn’t matter what we say so we have been socialized especially we’ll say in North America, that when we say, see or hear the word expert, we immediately elevate that person to a higher…

Umar Hameed 4:56
Yes.

Hamish Knox 4:56
…place. So we go well, he clearly must know what he’s talking about because he says he’s an expert, well, that’s great marketing, it may actually not be the case, on on the back end with delivery but that’s where when we’re looking at, at sales and selling and human to human interaction, whether the professional or personal is what is the other person actually hearing when we say whatever we’re saying? Because I could say something to you that you think that I think is sunshine and roses and to you It sounds like I just handed you a big bag of poop.

Umar Hameed 5:32
Yep. Hamish, let me ask you about this, you know, you’ve worked with a lot of people helping them grow in their sales career. And there’s probably some people that might come to mind as I asked you this question that, “Hamish, I am going to do this,” and they truly 100% meant it.

Hamish Knox 5:51
Yeah.

Umar Hameed 5:51
And they didn’t execute like they were supposed to, that’s what we’ve been discussing. So think about one of those people but at some point, they got an epiphany or an insight that got them over the other side. C,an you think of someone that first was struggling with the if it was like, you know, “Hamish, I’m gonna do it.” But they didn’t really mean it, they knew it, you knew it, that’s different. But people that really thought, I’m going to do this, but couldn’t do it for whatever reason, then you got them over the threshold. Tell us about one of those stories, who that was and how you got them over the threshold to kind of go, “Hmm, I can own this.”

Hamish Knox 6:26
Yeah, they, there’s one actually I was, I was speaking to them and speaking about them this morning, oddly enough. And we work we do a lot of work with leaders, we always start at the top of the organization so a lot of our work is with leaders and we roll down to to the salespeople. And, and one, one of the leaders, they are they have a very technical background, they are very ambitious and driven individual and in their own words they were able in a kind of shock with not only their people, but also they are partners in the business with family members, and they have teenagers at home. And when they started working with us, they started learning about their communication style and they’re very task oriented, they’re very driven, they’re very active communicators. So they tend to think taught to think, as opposed to thinking and then talking now not..

Umar Hameed 7:19
Yes.

Hamish Knox 7:19
..good or bad. I am I am a talk to thinker, which drives my wife, and she’s the opposite. But what we also help them understand was, how their scripts and their ways of viewing the world were actually manifesting in their communication style and their behavior, both professionally and personally. And actually, they started with us early one year and within six months, because Father’s Day is about, was about six months after we started working together, they shared in one of our leadership sessions, the cards that they were getting from their children who are teenagers saying, “I don’t know what’s happened, but I have always loved you but I love you even more because of the person that you’ve become.” And what their aha was, is because of they, they said they were going to do it but they were being necessarily eye centered.

Umar Hameed 7:27
Yes.

Hamish Knox 7:46
And they weren’t being other focused. And so once they started to shift their focus and think about what is the other person going to perceive this message to be? they actually started asking more questions because if we don’t know, instead of making a statement, it’s way better to ask a question.

Umar Hameed 8:38
Absolutely. This is a quote from the Talmud, the Jewish text, “We do not see the universe as it is we see it as we are.”

Hamish Knox 8:45
Yes.

Umar Hameed 8:45
And oftentimes, we just assume it of, “This the way I like it, is the way everybody likes it.” And it takes someone’s kind of asked that question, you know, how do you learn. I had this young lady come as an intern to work with us. She was still in high school, they have a program here in Baltimore County, where the county picks up the payroll, but they want people to get real experience.

Hamish Knox 9:07
Oh nice.

Umar Hameed 9:08
So she came in, and one of the questions I asked her was, you know, “How do you like to be led?” like, “How can I be that leader for you?” And she was like,” I don’t get that.” And it was like, tell me about a teacher you had in high school that you would go above and beyond for, she says, “Oh, Mr. so and so.” Then how did he inspire you to do something she said, “Oh, he would show me once and let me do it and then I could go back and ask him questions and that was the best way”, is like thank you because if you don’t ask you don’t know no one else.

Hamish Knox 9:35
There you go.

Umar Hameed 9:36
In my case, thank God no one else is like us. It makes the world a better place.

Hamish Knox 9:41
Yeah, that doesn’t need to be more of me in the world either. I get that.

Umar Hameed 9:46
Hamish, you know, you’re on a journey yourself, you’re learning as you go. Tell us about one of those internal blocks that you had in the last couple of years, because the problem is when you’re first starting out, where you’re messed up in the head is pretty glaringly obvious, if you don’t know your wife will tell you but as you get more advanced, it becomes harder to find. So tell me about one of those things that you discovered, “Oh my God, I’m doing this,” and then how you overcame it?

Hamish Knox 10:13
Well, so for background, I grew up on a, on a hobby farm in the middle of nowhere in, in British Columbia, which is the state next to mine, where..

Umar Hameed 10:24
Nice.

Hamish Knox 10:24
I am right now. And little village of 500 people is a great place to be from right, my parents still live there. But when you grow up on a farm, and when you grow up in a rural area, you have to keep your word, because that’s part of how you keep that’s..

Umar Hameed 10:38
That’s the law. Yeah.

Hamish Knox 10:38
…keep us together, right? so I’m a commitment guy, and I wrote a book on accountability. But I actually put myself in a very negative position with my business by making some commitments financially and these weren’t like stock market pets or anything it was like, a marketing program here, and a marketing program here and a software program here. And eventually, I was underwater. And I, first of all, took the big step of going to my team at the time, and I said, “Hey, guys, here’s where we’re at,” And one of my team members left immediately and the other one is still with me to this day. But what they said to me was, “We need you to go back and figure out where you’re going to cut.” And to even hear the word cut, I was like, I don’t get that I don’t get what you’re talking about, what do you mean cut, I gave my work. And when I called up one of the I was doing radio ads at the time, when I called up my rep, I couldn’t even use the word cancel, I use the word pause, I said, we have to pause this for a few days, and I meant cancel but I couldn’t get I, couldn’t say it. I got over it very quickly, I called him up next day, I said, “Listen, I, I lied to you yesterday, I didn’t mean pause, I mean, we got to cancel it like full stop, I’ll clear up whatever I owe you right now but this is done.” And so since then, I have become very, very much more specific in analyzing opportunities, and also reaching out to my trusted advisors, so like, I’ll reach out to whether it’s it’s my coach John, or whether it’s this long term team member of mine say, “Okay, I want to go down this path, but I need you to check my head and if you say that path ends in a cliff that you’re going to fall off of, I will stop, and I will redirect myself to a different path.” And fortunately, I’ve learned how to develop a bit of a sense of like, how to analyze opportunities so when I do…

Umar Hameed 12:43
Nice.

Hamish Knox 12:43
…my trusted advisors, they’re like, “Yeah, you’re on the right path but I don’t think you’ve considered these two things.” So maybe you want to adjust like two degrees to the left, and that will put you on a on a better path but yeah, you’re going in the right direction. But for me, that whole I’m a, I gave my word was a massive amount of head trash I had to get over a few years ago.

Umar Hameed 13:04
So you may have noticed Hamish that you’re not dead, and the reason I mentioned that is what you did when you were at that crossroad and you went to your team and said, “Hey, I’ve overextended, the company’s in danger,” I’m sure the thoughts like showing weakness, what’s going to happen and then one person leaving a one person staying that takes courage, right? because I’m sure you were afraid doing it. But most people won’t do that step and they’ll try and hide what’s going on, and at some point, you have to fess up but if you can be that kind of leader to step up and speak the truth. So tell me about what it was like coming to that point where you actually had that meeting, and you shared the truth? like, was it an easy thing to do or did you have you talk yourself into it? What was that like?

Hamish Knox 13:51
Well, the bonus of being a commitment person is when I say, “I’m going to do something,” I’m going to do it. So I hadn’t actually shared this with anybody, so it was I’m committing to myself, that I’m doing this but I got to the point where it was literally turn off the lights, close the doors and say to my team, “I’m sorry,” and my clients who trust us to support their growth and development, or be vulnerable, and say, “I have made these mistakes, I own these mistakes, they were my choices, I did not, was not influenced by anybody, I made these mistakes, I will recover from them but I need your support.”

Umar Hameed 14:36
Yeah, it’s amazing, how challenging that is. I remember when I was like really young, less than like 16 or 17, I used to go to this electronics store to buy you know, transistors and stuff to build projects. And I remember one day the owner was getting a phone call from I guess some bill collectors…

Hamish Knox 14:52
Okay.

Umar Hameed 14:53
…and he said, “Look, we don’t have any money right now, I can’t pay you , there’s no point calling me, but we’re gonna get back on our feet in 60 days call back then.” And I thought, okay, most people would have, “Oh, yeah, yeah, I know,” I would have like not spoken the truth, would have been totally stressed for the next 60 days. And this guy was just like, “Hey, this is what’s going on, that’s what we’re doing, let’s make it happen.” And there’s freedom in that honesty, and you need to live up to your words but…

Hamish Knox 15:18
Yes.

Umar Hameed 15:18
…oftentimes, we start the conversation off with communications, how do we communicate with other people in a way that we get connection? And if you are honest with someone, like a good example of that would be if I said, “I have no money,” and I’m like really aggressive about it, it creates a barrier but if it’s very much like, “Hey, let me tell you what’s going on, this is the roadmap, this is what’s going on, can you help me figure this out,” opens up the world.

Hamish Knox 15:48
It does. And one of the challenges that we have in communication is because, humans are, humans are animals, and we’re social pack animals. And animals actually have no capacity to process language, right? We talk in our dog, we think we’re having a conversation with our dog, the dog is just enjoying the fact that we’re paying attention to them, they’re not…

Umar Hameed 16:09
Yes

Hamish Knox 16:09
…actually cognitively processing our words and I see this a lot with with leaders. And in fact, there’s someone in my network who got a new manager, they’re not a client of mine, someone in my network, they got a new manager, and the manager was when they came into like, “Accountability, accountability, accountability,” but their behavior was the complete opposite of what they were saying. And as I said to this person in my network, because they were preparing for a performance review, and they reached out for a little bit of support, because like, “How do I tell my boss that they’re a hypocrite, because? And I said, ‘Well explain it to them in this way, which is I just you know, that humans are animals, and we can only observe behavior,” I said your manager is telling you everything you need to know about accountability, through their behavior, not their words, but I bet we’ve got mad at you or one of your teammates, because they weren’t being accountable and they’re like, “Yeah, you’re right.” I said, “So what we need to understand is, it’s the behavior side,” and like you illustrated with that story, that owner was making a commitment that they would have to deliver on through their behavior. And if they do it now, their credibility goes up, but if…

Umar Hameed 17:18
Absolutely.

Hamish Knox 17:19
…they go, “Yeah, I got no money and you know, I’ll get back on my feet in 30 days, and I’ll pay you back.” And they, and in day 31, it’s like, “Hey Umar, like, stuffs come up, I’m really sorry.” Well, now, we have no credibility.

Umar Hameed 17:33
Absolutely. And what’s kind of interesting is that you talked about, you know, walking your talk, what’s kind of interesting is, the reason there’s other people in the world other than you and I, is to teach us about ourselves. And one of the things I look for is, when I find someone that is really irritating, as I can’t believe that person does that, what I do is, what attribute do they have that is causing me such grief? and whatever that attribute is then I look within? do I have a component of that? And almost always is like, “10, yes! I’ve got that same thing!” And soon as you heal it within yourself, that other person to do that behavior, it doesn’t irritate you anymore. And it’s all about not only communicating with other people, but how do we communicate with ourselves because that’s the hardest communication, is the one understanding who we are and communicating with ourselves is way way tougher than doing it with for other folks.

Hamish Knox 18:28
Absolutely. Actually, you just brought to mind. I’ve been training in Muay Thai for literally 10 years, this week was my 10th anniversary..

Umar Hameed 18:36
What is that?

Hamish Knox 18:36
…starting in Muay Thai or Thai boxing,

Umar Hameed 18:38
Ah!

Hamish Knox 18:38
thai boxing. So art of the eight limbs, the world’s deadliest martial art. And I’m actually on the path training for my second level black belt, but one of my former coaches who was a multi-time world champion, he’s also a very focused on communication and learning and human connection. And one of the things that he shared with me, we were doing a private lesson, and we, we would get on the philosophy while we were taking breaks in between hitting pads. And he said, “If you’re having a communication challenge with someone, write down all of the things that you desire in great communication, and then look at the list and ask yourself where you’re not giving that person those things, because that’s probably what’s happening.”

Umar Hameed 19:25
But Hamish you don’t understand, soon as they start behaving, I’m gonna start doing this stuff, but I’m not gonna do this stuff till we get caught trap all the time.

Hamish Knox 19:33
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s it’s the I’m not going to do until you do and, and it’s that, it’s that, and yes, reciprocity is incredibly powerful, which is exactly why the point you’re making is, we go first and if we go first and we start continually being consistent, that’s another thing. Humans love consistency, because we’re all wired wherever you believe we emerged from as humans. We like consistency because in consistency, and this, you know, my second book was on change, we’re all hardwired because we don’t like change because way back wherever we came from, change either meant one of two things, either you died, or you went hungry, which probably meant you die.

Umar Hameed 20:15
You die!

Hamish Knox 20:16
So you’re dead either way, you’re just more or less hungry when you died. And so same sort of thing with consistency of we’re consistent and that’s why one of the key things we teach our clients in all of our programs is, be better than zero every day, if you just make that one small, little move. And so if we’re talking about a communications challenge, whether it’s personal or professional, make the better than zero mood, do that one little like, ask how you how the person’s day was, or go put a hand really gently, like on the top of their arm, so it’s not intimate, but it’s that that familiar touch and get a little bit of connection going and be consistent with those behaviors. Over time, you will get a huge payoff but you’ve got to go through the suck to get there.

Hamish Knox 21:05
Absolutely. And may I steal that idea, “be better than zero”?

Hamish Knox 21:09
Yeah, please go ahead. I’ve done several videos and…

Umar Hameed 21:14
I think there’s magic there because oftentimes, it’s like, “You got to be 100% a day, you got to do this, you got to do that,” it was like I just be better than zero, it’s like, “I could do that.” It just gives people permission.

Hamish Knox 21:23
Think about where we’ve come from, right? like think about, we’re almost 12 months into some form of lockdown, some form of not what we had before. And for our clients, who stayed with us all the way through, we didn’t lose a single client over the past year because of the pandemic. And one of the things that they shared, especially April, May, June last year, when everybody was in the pit of despair,

Umar Hameed 21:49
Oh yeah!

Hamish Knox 21:49
the Princess Bride reference, which I use regularly is, they could be better than zero every day and whether that meant asking for one introduction, or calling up a current employee and saying, ‘Hey, how’s your day going?” that kept the ball moving forward, because as soon as we stop, inertia takes over, and it’s way harder to get going. But if we can just keep moving, we will eventually get through whatever we’re going through.

Umar Hameed 22:17
Not sure if you’ve seen one of these videos on YouTube, but they have these hurricane force winds, and they have like a 767 on the runway, harness down. And because the air is moving over the wings, it creates lift and these huge machines are just lifting off the ground.

Hamish Knox 22:35
Yeah.

Umar Hameed 22:36
And the airplane in order for it to be an aeroplane, you need to go down the runway. And I think oftentimes, we just keep the parking brake on and go, well, nothing’s happening and what you need to do is just take any movement forward is going to help you do better.

Hamish Knox 22:51
Absolutely, absolutely. Just keep the momentum going, keep it rolling, eventually you’ll get to the payoff. But also because we’re very present oriented creatures, again, going back to where we came from, it was like, “I need to eat today or I’m gonna die.” And so we’re very present focused and that’s why for a lot of our clients, and we’re very, we do this from the very first moment we onboard, journaling and gratitude, and because if we’re journaling, and we’re being grateful, we can start to see our progress. And I saw, I read something a couple of years ago that said an aeroplane is off course 95% of the time. So even if I was flying from Calgary to Vancouver, which is like a 54-minute flight, the airplane is off course 95% of the time, so if we’re not consistently tracking how we’re doing and the progress we’re making, we could end up being completely off pace, never know it. And then we’re going to do two things, we’re going to beat ourselves up for being over here, and we’re going to beat ourselves up for not actually getting towards our goal.

Umar Hameed 22:52
Absolutely we’re good at that, on beating ourselves up. A couple of things before we part company. Number one, and this is a sales podcast, we didn’t talk about sales, but we spoke about sales because underneath sales are human beings and that human connection is what it’s all about, so thank you for doing that. And two, you mentioned gratitude, so I’m going to ask you a question, Hamish, tell me one thing that you’re grateful for that comes to mind right now in your life?

Hamish Knox 24:21
My health and vitality and I say that for a couple of reasons. Number one, we are in the middle of a global pandemic, so I am very grateful for my health and vitality but also I’m, you can’t see it from the video, I’m six-foot seven and tall individuals over six-foot four, if they don’t take care of themselves, they can end up having a lot of challenges with joints and lower back and like that. And so I am very grateful that I have the health and vitality to play with my two daughters who are six and eight training Muay Thai, cross country ski, talk to a wonderful human beings like yourself. But I would also like to share a tip if I may on gratitude.

Umar Hameed 25:02
Sure. And I’m going to give a tip back as soon as you share yours.

Hamish Knox 25:05
Thank you. So the one thing that we coach our clients on in gratitude is, when we’re being grateful for a person, we need to name them, so like my wife, and my kids are esoteric concepts that are brands that really grasp. But if I said, “I am grateful for Kim Taylor and Lexi,” who are my wife and my two daughters, those are individuals I can picture, I feel warm, I smile. So with gratitude, the more specific we can be, the better it resonates with us.

Umar Hameed 25:37
Absolutely. So let me, what was the name of your daughter?

Hamish Knox 25:41
Taylo, is my oldest.

Umar Hameed 25:43
So I want you Hamish to think of a specific time in the last couple of weeks, where you are being physical with your daughter, like your vitality was there and you were connecting, can you think of a specific time you were like horsing around with her?

Hamish Knox 25:57
Literally this morning before I went to my training center.

Umar Hameed 25:59
So just kind of go back there, see what you saw, hear what you heard, and you get to re-experience, and the reason I wanted to share that is, as you were telling all that story, it was still very analytical and as soon as they got you to remember that there’s a big smile on your face it was this morning. So take gratitude one step further, one make it personal, like you said. And two think of a specific moment when you had that gratitude, because that’s what the juice is, that’s where the energy is. And Hamish, this was such a pleasant, enlightening conversation, I took some notes, and thank you so much for being on the show.

Umar Hameed 26:09
Thank you for inviting me, you are a wonderful host, this felt like a conversation amongst two old friends. So thank you very much for inviting me I had a wonderful time.

Umar Hameed 26:38
Brilliant.

Umar Hameed 26:44
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 nolimitselling.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.

About the Author Umar Hameed

I am a performance coach who uses Applied Neuroscience to help individuals and teams break through their barriers so they become awesomer! Take a look at my Motivational Speaker Kit

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