Are you a thinker? Cerebral? Someone who often gets caught up in their head, playing through various thought tracks and analyzing data points? I am. And like many of the cerebral sales brothers and sisters I’ve met over the years, thinking is both my super power and my kryptonite.
In my earlier years as a research scientist and engineer, being cerebral fuelled my love of learning. I was captivated by the laws that governed the physical world. But I found what I loved more than learning was explaining what I had learned to others to help them on their journey. Like Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo, in the Matrix trilogy, turning ones and zeros into easily digestible perspectives was my passion. Then about 10 years ago, a single event ignited a spark that changed the course of my professional career.
It was back at my third startup, Rypple, where one of our early investors was one of Canada’s most prominent education philanthropists. Because he was so passionate about learning, he would periodically give us copies of his favorite books. Then one day I arrive at work to find a gift sitting on my desk; a copy of “Yes! 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive”. As a scientist turned sales leader, this book was magical for me because, like the laws that govern the physical world, it revealed many of the persuasive forces we experience in our daily lives but are rarely aware of. For example, the little tricks waiters use to increase their tips or the way hotels get you to reuse your wet towel simply by changing the verbiage on that little card on the bathroom counter. For me, this single book instantly elevated the sales vocation into the scientific realm. And while learning about sales process and execution remained critical to helping me in my role, I found my curiosity around the cerebral elements of selling deepened.
Why do customers find most sales outreach bothersome? What messages do customers pay most attention to? How do great leaders build and inspire their teams? How do top sales people develop conviction and resilience despite repeated rejection? What stereotypes do buyers have of sales people? How do they react when those stereotypes get triggered and how can we avoid triggering them?
Taking a cerebral approach to selling involved examining the hidden forces most salespeople don’t often consider, yet, are critical to sales success. Feelings, motivation, coaching, mindfulness, purpose, and emotional intelligence.
As someone with a predisposition for advocacy, the more content I consumed on these topics the more I shared with my team members and customers. My favorite books about focus, execution, prioritization, and happiness started to manifest in piles at my desk and I encouraged others to take and read them. I would even give them out to executives at customer events because I was so convinced of the impact their insights would have.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and the experience reignited my love of writing. I took every opportunity I could to harmonize my learnings with the experiences of my sales teams in the field. Like-minded people began to take interest in my musings which catalyzed a series of invitations to contribute my content and speak at a variety of events.
While I’m still early in my journey, dozens of articles and talks later I believe that single book 10 years ago started a chain reaction that has spread to thousands since.
My why, my long game and the reason I do what I do is clear. To help others see the world of sales like the matrix; a complex, elegant system of people, processes, and technology sitting at the intersection of logic, motivation, and emotion.
That’s why today, I’ve finally taken the next step in my personal journey to consolidate all these insights in this one place! While my journey is far from over, I hope these resources will continue to help leaders and teams alike in their quest to grow their businesses and better serve their customers. The secrets are out there to discover. We just need to put our thinking caps on!