June 12

Alice Heiman on Selling


According to Forbes.com "Heiman is a diligent student and teacher of what works. She is among the world’s leading experts on the complex sale." Miller Heiman original with 20+ years growing sales organizations to greatness.

Alice demonstrates how sales performance is directly related to a leader’s mindset. When sales leaders change the way they work with sales teams, results are immediate and dramatic.

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[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to The No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster. Get ready for another episode.

Umar Hameed 0:33
Hello everyone today I have the privilege of having Alice Heiman, here with me. She is the chief sales office,r super brilliant. Recently, I saw her at the Sales 3.0 Conference as the emcee. Alice, you did such an amazing job.

Alice Heiman 0:49
Oh, thank you. It's always so much fun to be with all of the great sales leaders at Sales 3.0. It just gives me so much energy.

Umar Hameed 0:58
Absolutely. And what's going to interesting with that crowd, which a lot of them are kind of extroverted, to be able to keep everybody grounded and interested. And also do a nice introduction for people coming on stage, next is not an easy task.

Alice Heiman 1:13
Yeah. You, you definitely have to keep it it's like a little bit like herding cats, you got to kind of keep everybody in the right direction, get them to sit, sit in their seats, so we can get started and make it interesting them for them to want to tune in and listen to the speaker.

Umar Hameed 1:27
One of the things that has fascinated me for a long time is how we make decisions. And I'll tell you one of my decisions, that was like a really, really dumb decision. A million years ago, I decided I was going to learn how to fly. Oh, by the way, flying is the most boring thing you can do on the planet. Because after the initial thrill, it's like is that all there is. But there was one maneuver that they showed me that you took your little one prop plane up as high as it would go with full thrust, and keep on pulling back on the stick so it goes higher and higher. And at one point, the plane weighs more than the engine can actually make it go higher, and it falls out of the sky. And when it falls out of the sky, if you give it full rudder, you go into a death spiral heading towards the ground at full velocity. And the the reason they do that is to teach you if that accidentally ever happens, you know how to counteract it, and simple techniques you can use to get out of that dive and save your life and all that brilliant stuff. But the one cardinal rule is you have to be at 4500 feet above the ground to attempt this maneuver,

Alice Heiman 2:32

Umar Hameed 2:33
And they had the second rule, because you're learning never go above the clouds. And one day I was flying by myself and the clouds were at 2500 feet. And for some unknown reason, I decided to obey the don't go above the clouds rule, which was not the most important rule in this situation, it was the 4500 feet between you and the ground, otherwise, you're going to die. And I opted to follow the cloud rule. So I came so close to hitting the ground before I recovered, I could see grass blades. But that moment in time, really got me to think oftentimes we have different rules in our heads, what makes us choose one rule to make a decision versus another. And I'll give you one quick example. And then battered over on your side like police officers are here to serve and protect. And they also want to maintain law and order. And sometimes they take one rule more seriously than the other. And most of the times they make the right decision. But sometimes they go overboard and one or the other. So for sales people and buyers making decisions, how do people make decisions? And how can salespeople help them make better decisions?

Alice Heiman 3:39
Yeah, well, I'm fascinated with decision making as well. And you know, the basics of this, we're all human beings, we might work at big companies or little companies, we might have big titles like CEO or small titles like custodian. But we all have to make decisions all day long every day. And we're all doing that in a very human way, because we are human beings. So I think for sales, a little bit of education and psychology is helpful. Knowing that people make decisions using their emotions, even though you're thinking, well, that's crazy. I was there in business, they have to make logical rational decisions for their companies so that they will make the best decision and all of that. It's not necessarily so because people can't help but let their emotions get involved in their decision making. I mean, think about it. Let's just say you're talking to a vice president of sales to get them to buy your goods and services. And you know that you have a great track record of providing products that really enhance sales team's ability to close deals and move sales forward and things that any VP would really want, right? And so you're thinking to yourself, this is no a no brainer, they're going to have to buy this from somebody than as well buy it from me. And then what you don't know is that VP of sales, and maybe the director and a couple of sales managers that are all together making this decision, each in their own human way, are thinking about this decision and how it's going to impact them, and that's emotional. So if I'm the VP of sales, and I'm thinking, well, I really want to do this, because it's going to make a huge difference for my sales team but I'm concerned that my managers won't come along and they won't, they won't change their behavior. And they'll look at me like, "Yo, you're the one who brought this in, and it's not working," and so then they'll be mad, and they're not going to do a good job, then I'm thinking about myself having to work in that situation with these managers who are now mad at me, because I made this choice. So how can I make an unemotional decision, I'm making it based on emotion. And I think that if we can get into our customers heads, and know that they're human, and making decisions, just like we are that there are emotions attached to it, then we can help them make better decisions.

Umar Hameed 6:06
So here's the thing that's kind of perplexing, or so one of the things that we are the best that in the world is rationalizing things. So we get this emotional reaction to let's say, a proposal. And we go, this could be dangerous for my career at some unconscious level website. And then we look at the data from a different lens and we rationalize the decision as if it was an intellectual decision, but you're right, it was an emotional decision. But what do you do when the person that's making the decision doesn't realize that that's happening, to them, it looks like they made a logical decision, when all along it was an emotional one.

Alice Heiman 6:45
Well, I think it's, you know, every sales person's job to build relationships and get to know people and get to know what their motives are, what's behind that the way that they react and what they're doing. Now, that's not easy on, it takes time to build relationships, and we want to hurry up and get a sale. So that's, that's a tough one. But if we are looking at the human side of things, and we see the humans that are making the decisions, making them based on faulty information, or too much on emotion, or without having all of the information together, then it's our job as sellers to lay it out for them and show them what the decision making process is like and kind of guide them through it. So, Gartner, the big analyst firm calls, it makes sense selling. I've seen others, using mutual action plans to map out all the steps in the decision process. And there's many other ways, but when you see somebody who is making a decision, based on fear, that's a time when you definitely want to step in and challenge that a little bit in a very kind way, and see if you can help change their thinking. So the best way to do that is to acknowledge what they're thinking, or what they've said, if you don't know what they're thinking, but what they've said, acknowledge that, and then ask some questions about it, and then bring some insights to the table. So you know, I've heard that you, you're concerned about making this decision, because, and then let them say, yes, that's exactly what I'm concerned about. And then you can say, "Well, you know, I can certainly understand that, I have a few questions for you." And then you can start down, what if you don't do this? You know, what would you do instead that would be better than this on? If you don't make a decision, how will that impact these things? If you do make a decision, how will that impact these things? And then find out, well, if you do make a decision, how can we make this work for everyone? So that it's a very positive decision. So you just have to ask more questions. And then as they answer them, you can bring in the insights that will help them see how this solution can really work for them.

Umar Hameed 9:16
Absolutely. And I think that the heart of that human thing that you mentioned, is the relationship Umar makes with Alice at the earliest stages of our relationship. The stronger that is, the more I have latitude to ask Alice questions, and the more welcoming Alice is to my insights. So that fundamental initial connection between salesperson and buyer or husband and wife is that foundation of trust that gets built and then if you've got that trust, you can go to interesting, challenging places and get the best outcome.

Alice Heiman 9:55
Yes, absolutely. It, again, it's not a is easy to build that trust, but we have to think of ways to do it. And today, with social media, there's lots of things we can learn about people to help build that rapport. If we use referral, selling and get introductions, that's very helpful, because the person who introduced us can often give us some insights. In a complex sale where you have many buying influences, maybe six or eight people who are going to be directly involved in making the decision. If you can develop what we call a coach or champion, and that develop a great rapport with them, then that person can help guide you on the decision making to and they can tell you what they know about the other people making the decision. And if they know them well enough, sometimes they can tell you what their fears are, what their hopes are. And that can be very helpful as well to move a decision forward.

Umar Hameed 10:53
Absolutely. So Alice, let me ask you this. So let's go to the other side of the table, you could have a particular situation where a customer is making a decision that's not in our favor, depending who the salesperson is sitting on the other side of the table, and their ability to make decisions. Some of them will, like you said, empathize with the client. And then with permission, go start exploring what the real issue is. And other sales people will go, "Oh, well, okay. Maybe next time." So how do we help our salespeople, you know, overcome that fear place, so they can actually ask better questions, because we can train them all we want, if they don't execute in a way that was, it was intended, it's not going to work. So how do you train salespeople to be, you know, more confident, more centered in their actions and the decisions?

Alice Heiman 11:46
Yeah, that's a great question because the training is only a part of it. You have to have experience, and how do you get experience when you don't have experience, right? when you're new into sales.

Umar Hameed 11:58
The ultimate catch 22, yeah.

Alice Heiman 11:59
Yes. And that's why I really believe in mentoring. And having sales people who are new, either new to the company, or new to selling to shadow salespeople have been around a while and to have another salesperson working with them. So they sell in teams versus this old lone wolf approach, which really doesn't work very well any more anyway. And I think that there's no substitute for experience. But there are some things you can do to help yourself if you're new to a company or new to a situation, new to selling. The first one is educate yourself. So a lot of salespeople make the mistake of waiting around for someone to give them some training, or for someone to help develop them. Take it into your own hands. So if you want to get better at helping people make decisions, then read about decision making read about human psychology, watch videos, get on webinars, do something to help yourself learn about decision making, and be knowledgeable about it. So knowledge doesn't take the place of experience. But it certainly can help you in many situations. So you definitely want to learn as much as you can about decision making. It's also very helpful for your confidence when approaching someone to know as much as you can about them, their company, their industry and their customers. Now, this all can be found on the internet. Now, you can't know everything about them from the internet but you can know a lot. And there's a lot of social media out there, LinkedIn is fantastic but you can learn personal things about people from their Facebook page. And you know, they can't even tell you're looking at them on Facebook, if you go to have a look. But you can see if they are on Instagram, if they are on Facebook, if they are in Twitter, What kinds of things do they tweet about or post about, and you can get a flavor for who they are from all of those things, then about their company. If they're a public company, company, certainly everything's on the internet. And even most private companies have so much on their websites, they have their social responsibility, they have a message from the president, they have their initiatives so you can certainly learn a lot there. And about the company, you can learn a lot from looking at LinkedIn or Facebook, what kinds of things they're posting, if they're hiring, on what awards they've won. So you can learn a lot on the internet, about people about the company and the industry. You can go to the online industry journals, that online trade shows or events or anything that's online about the industry and find out what's happening in the industry and then think about how that might be impacting the company and the people in the company. And then certainly you can figure out who their customers are most listed on their website and you can extrapolate from there. But you can start to see what's happening to the people who are buying from them, those those industries, those companies and how they're impacted. So you can really do a lot of homework that can give you a lot of confidence. So if you now do have a buying influence talking to you, even if they're a higher level than you, and you might feel nervous, so maybe it's a VP of sales or a CEO that you're talking to as a salesperson, when you have all this knowledge, it can help you bring them insights, or at least frame up good questions.

Umar Hameed 15:19
And I think the questions part is a brilliant thing, because that is, I mean, smart guy can tell you something cool. But a wise guy can ask you the right question. And just kind of adding on to the information that's available, they have this thing called Crystal Reports on LinkedIn, that you can get the personality profile of someone's profile that you're looking at, this is the way you sell to Alice. And we live in this age of a lot of information and yet, some salespeople don't feel confident enough or bold enough to go take action. So if you were coaching, someone that is not fully reaching their potential, what are some of the areas that you start helping them kind of feel more confident and powerful?

Alice Heiman 16:08
Well, the very first thing that I like to do is help them understand their customer better. The likelihood is they know their company, and they know their products. Now, if they don't, of course, start there, it's always good to learn more about your own company, and more about your own products and more about your own industry, no doubt. But typically, I see that lack of confidence comes because they really don't understand their customer. So I want to dig into that with them right away. And again, it's just what I said, helping them understand. So these companies in these industries are typically buying from you and the people who get involved in the sale have these titles. And so we know that now what can you do to help yourself, know that these people better and know what might be in their mind. So if you are, you know, between 20 and 30 years old, and maybe have been working in sales for five years or so, you're probably not really familiar with what a CEO thinks on a daily basis, what their job is what they're doing.

Umar Hameed 17:17

Alice Heiman 17:17
You're not familiar with what a VP of Sales does, you're probably not familiar with what an operations manager does, or a general manager, these titles that you're calling on, you're probably not familiar with their day. So one of the things I love to do is get a customer who's willing, who has that title to talk to the salespeople. And if you you know, arrange this with your sales manager, like who can I talk to that has purchased from us that has one of these titles? And then just ask them, tell me what your day is like, tell me the things that are troubling, you tell me the challenges that you come up against? What do you want from a salesperson. And I think one of the best things a sales leader can do is set up these panels of customers that have the titles your salespeople are calling on, and let them interview them and talk to them and ask them questions. And I think that makes a huge difference for somebody who's, you know, lacking confidence, feeling tentative, or just not hitting their number on, they just need to start with understanding their customer better. And some other things too, but that will help a lot.

Umar Hameed 18:24
So Alice, let me interrupt you there because that is like frickin genius, so thank you so much for sharing that. It kind of reminds me of I used to be in the retail industry selling high tech products into the retail market in the US. And they had these conferences called Retail Vision where they had the largest buyers from all the large stores like Best Buy, coming to one location. And in one of the sessions I sat down in it was a few of the key buyers in the country. And the whole conversation was about, this is what our day is like, this is what we need from you, this is what makes us buy. And it was the most important presentation I think I've ever been, been to and you're talking about creating that not only for the newbie sales people, but I bet you a lot of the veterans in the company would also go, "Hmm, I never knew that." So...

Alice Heiman 19:16

Umar Hameed 19:17
...I'm taking notes on that. That is a brilliant, brilliant idea. The other thing you mentioned earlier was you know, always be learning and we have a mutual friend, Gerhard,

Alice Heiman 19:17

Umar Hameed 19:17
from Selling Power Magazine. And that dude is always thinking about new things and learning new things and people at the top of their profession, no matter what it is, are deeply curious and always learning and I think that's if we can encourage sales people to do that. That is one of the key indicators that you're going to be a rock star.

Alice Heiman 19:51
Absolutely 100%. There's a great book I read a couple of years ago, which is just so relevant even more today. It's called Deep Work, and the author is Cal Newport. And for any salesperson who really wants to get ahead in their career, I would read this book, it is not about sales, it is about being a learner. It is about taking time away from the day to day to really dig into how you can do what you do better, how you can learn new things, how you can improve, and continue to be on top. Because a lot of talk is going around about AI for sales, and...

Umar Hameed 20:37

Alice Heiman 20:37
...how to replace a lot of salespeople. Well, this is is really not true, I think we already have some ways that we can make sales better using AI. And we certainly have a lot of ways for customers to serve themselves these days. But especially in a complex sale, or an anything like purchasing a home or insurance you you need someone educated and knowledgeable. What will happen though, if people don't stay on top of their game, they will be the ones who are you know, gone, because there will be other salespeople who are more knowledgeable and more experienced and constantly learning that will take their place. So it is really important to think about your future, and how you're going to stay on top. And that can only be done through continuous learning so read Deep Work by Cal Newport.

Alice Heiman 20:43
I wrote that down on my reading list. And I think what we need to be as human beings to be effective is to be relevant to the world that we live in. And for salespeople, keeping your finger on the pulse like you suggested, talk to your customers in that way to figure out what's happening for them. The second thing is to be highly focused in the area you want to focus on. And that third part, I think, is just having that integrity of always learning and being that resource to your customers. Because as soon as you stop learning, you diminish the resource that you're providing to your customers.

Alice Heiman 22:07
Yes, that's right. You're not as valuable if you don't have the information that you need. So you and it's hard to move a sales cell forward without having good information. So you've just got to continue learning. And again, you can't wait around for anyone else to give you the you know, the training that you need. You've got to make a development plan for yourself and figure out each week, what are you going to learn and look out into the future to see what will I need to know, and make sure that you provide that for yourself?

Umar Hameed 22:42
Absolutely. So Alice, what are you learning right now, like what's got you fascinated?

Alice Heiman 22:45
Oh, I'm learning a lot of things. I, I am I probably read at least two business books a month and at least one, you know, fiction book just for fun. And even that I'm always learning with that. But most recently, I have been learning more about marketing, I consider myself a sales expert. And I'm very good at sales, especially at the complex sale, and coaching people to be able to close complex deals. But on the marketing side, I'm self taught, and I have been digging into some interesting things. marketing is always changing and the human brain is so interesting. So I've been learning about neuro marketing and persuasion. I've been learning about some better ways to put messaging on our website. And I'm constantly learning to be a better writer. So I'm a very good content writer I have I stay on top of things. And I have a lot of opinions and ideas about sales in this world today and I write about that all the time. But I also am learning right now how to be a copywriter, which is different than being a content writer. Copy has to be catchy, and it has to make people want to click on it. And so you need like it's really good titles and short catchy emails that make people take action, so I'm learning about that right now. And yeah, and some other things about my computer and how to do some interesting things on a computer in easy ways. So I'm always learning something.

Umar Hameed 24:21
So you and I have something in common. I'm actually in the middle of a copywriting course myself, because writing persuasively is critical in the new world always has been but more so now. Alice, thanks so much for joining me today. It was a joy sharing your wisdom with our listeners.

Alice Heiman 24:41
Oh,l thank you it's always a pleasure.

Umar Hameed 24:49
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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