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Sales is a mental game and mindset is everything. There are four mental leashes holding us back, it’s the challenge of unlearning vs learning.
Jason Forrest, CEO at Forrest Performance Group, is our guest this week and he is a machine. He gives us a perspective and breaks down the gritty details on how sales is a mental game. Jason discovered a powerful realization that the best training isn’t just telling people what to do, or how to do it, or even why to do it. It’s unleashing their mindset. It’s removing those mental chokeholds to help them see the true, fully realized picture of their abilities. The four mental leashes are limiting beliefs every person experiences it’s that voice inside your head whispering you can’t do something. We dig deep into the first two mental leashes: Stories and Reluctance.
Jason is a winner of four international Stevie Awards for his Warrior Selling and Leadership Coaching training programs. He is an award-winning author and has written five books. Jason lives on the leading edge of the sales industry. As a behavioral change expert and maverick entrepreneur, Jason believes the only way to break your sales plateau is to completely change the way you look at sales. And that means an extreme focus on pulling the future of sales into the present. Jason’s mission is to give every sales professional, manager, and executive the tactical, real-world knowledge so they can remove any limiting beliefs keeping them from breaking their plateaus. In the course of that decades-long mission, Jason’s trained billion-dollar companies and everyone from high-powered CEOs to frontline salespeople to increase their effectiveness by driving more profit.
George: Conquerors, welcome to the latest edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. You know, we have an incredible guest for you today. I had the privilege of interviewing Jason Forrest, the CEO at Forrest Performance Group. And Jason, a winner of four international Stevie Awards for his warrior selling and leadership coaching training programs, he is an award-winning author. He’s written five books, and we’re going to be digging into his newest book that was released this month, The Mindset of a Sales Warrior. It’s all about mental toughness, and that mindset in sales is everything.
George: Jason’s going to explain that there’s four mental leashes that are holding us back, stories, reluctance, rules, and our self-image. He had so much powerful information when we sat down and interviewed him, producer Colleen is making us break this thing up into two amazing episodes so that we get all of the juicy tidbits out there into the Conquer Local universe. Today we’ll be covering two of the leashes, stories, and reluctance. That’s coming up with Mr. Jason Forrest on the Conquer Local Podcast, next.
George: It’s the latest edition of The Conquer Local Podcast. And joining us today, Jason Forrest. And Jason, super excited to have you on the broadcast this week. And Jason’s based out of Fort Worth, Texas with the Forrest Performance Group. How long have you had that organization, Jason?
Jason: I’ve owned FPG now for nine years this past July, which is amazing. Before that, I had a different company that we were partners together. Before that, I was the head of national training for a Fortune 500 company.
George: Well, an award-winning author of five different books. Can we go through the different titles that you’ve written when it comes to the business of sales?
Jason: I have to remember this. Hold on. I wrote a book called Creating Urgency in a Non-Urgent Housing Market. I wrote that in the 2008 housing market, actually, which was a great, great time to write the book. The second book was 40 Day Sales Dare for New Home Sales, the third book was 40-Day Sales Dare for Auto Sales. The fourth book was Leadership Sales Coaching: Executive Summary. That book actually won numerous awards, and the training around that book has won the best sales management development program in the world and is used at Highpoint University as their MBA textbook on sales coaching, which is cool. And then the next book after that was a book on service called Service Certainty: The Secret of Customer Loyalty. The book after that was called Why Training Fails. 164 billion is spent on training, 70% fails to reach and ROI. And then the latest book, so I might have more than now five, I guess, and the latest book is called The Mindset of a Sales Warrior. It’s how to unleash yourself to earn what you’re truly worth.
George: And that’s going to be our topic today because there’s so many great things inside this book that will help a salesperson. I do have to tell our listeners. I actually went through something over the last 60 days I haven’t talked about yet. We’ve been running pretty hard at our organization over the past seven years, and have grown from less than 20 people when I arrived here seven years ago, to well over 300 people.
George: And you’re flying around, and you’re traveling, and you’re spending maybe more time on the road than you want to. And anybody that thinks that traveling for work is a perk, just try doing it for a few years. You’ll realize that it’s actually, it’s a huge burden. And I began to get pretty burnt out. And I didn’t even recognize it for a long time. And what had happened in my mind, after just coming back from almost two weeks away, and my wife insisted that I go on a holiday. She actually booked it, and that’s never happened before. So that was a big wake up call for me. It was that I was kind of letting things enter my mind space that usually I would just kick the hell out. So can we talk about how important mental toughness is to being a top performer?
Jason: Yeah. Well, mindset, very simply is everything, so mindset is everything. And the formula that we created and trademarked that kind of everything is based around is this idea of performance equals knowledge minus leashes. So performance is the sales that we make. Knowledge is what we’ve been taught to do. So let’s just say we’ve been taught to ask a customer, “Hey, what’s holding you back from moving forward with us?” Very simple question to ask. What’s holding you back from moving forward with us? That would be the knowledge that some training or book taught us to do.
Jason: The leash is any resistance. So we have four types of leashes. There are stories, which are external. So a story would be, you know what, I don’t think the customer’s going to respond well to that because they’re frowning, they’re not smiling. Or we’ve got a reluctance, which is a situational fear. We’ve got the third type of leash is a rule, what I need to see, feel, or hear in order to give myself permission to do that. And then last is self-image. I don’t feel comfortable or confident kind of pulling that off. And so the struggle that most people have is that we’re not spending enough time on the mindset side, or on these leashes. And it’s more about unlearning than it is about learning.
Jason: And so people, what’s interesting is that where a lot of training really fails, and where we struggle, is that we can teach people the strategies all day long to handle an objection, or to deliver a selling message, but if they don’t initiate contact, if they don’t engage because they’ve got some sort of leash that holds them back, it doesn’t matter. You could throw all the sales training in the world at them, all the process, it doesn’t matter unless they actually engage.
What Stories Do You Need to Reframe?
George: So I like the way that you framed this with these four leashes. So can we dig into these a little bit more? Because I think there’s insight around each one. So what do you mean by stories?
Jason: Well, there’s insight. In the book that I just wrote, there’s 42 different strategies to talk about it, so yeah, there’s a lot. Yeah. Let’s go through each one. So you said stories, the first one?
George: Yeah. Let’s start with stories. Everybody knows that stories sell. So are you saying that stories also can keep you from selling?
Jason: They can, yeah. So stories are anything external that you believe to be true. So we have stories about the economy. So if you ever heard in the old book Think and Grow Rich, they would call them alibis. Right? And he would say, “If only I was born in a different time. If only I was from a different country. If only the customers were interested. If only I had a better product.” That’s external. It’s outside of them. And they’re using that as a reason why they can’t engage, or why they can’t kind of perform and do their job, so stories are a big deal. It’s a simple question you can ask people is: Hey, right now, what do you think, what are the circumstances that are outside of your control? Or what circumstances are outside your control are currently holding you back from earning what you’re worth? And they’ll give all the stories that are holding them back. The difference is that the salespeople who are performing at the top 1% of their industry or their market, they just have fewer stories. It’s just real simple. You’ve got to get rid of the stories.
George: So your advice then for a sales rep is to get rid of the stories. What’s your advice for a sales manager that’s leading a team of people? How do they find out what stories their reps are believing today?
Jason: Yeah. Just one, I would ask that question, so that again, you would … And that’s part of our coaching program that we actually teach, is you would ask that question of, “Hey, so I’m curious. What are some of the reasons why people aren’t buying today? “And if the sales rep says, if they say, “Well, it’s because I specifically need some additional processes or words on how to convince the customer to think differently about blank, or to handle this price objection,” they’re owning it themselves. But if they say anything else outside of that, if they say, “Well, I just can’t because the customers just think the price is too high. Or I can’t because we really need purchasing to give us better features, or better product. Or I really need better-qualified customers.” If they give anything that’s outside of them, that’s a story.
George: When you break it down that way, and thank you for doing that, it makes an enormous amount of sense, and is definitely something that we can coach to with our teams. But also, what we like to do on this podcast is to teach reps to coach themselves because it’s not just salespeople that could believe these stories. It could be sales managers. It could be VPs. It could be CROs. Because it starts to wear on you after a while, it’s a tough business. Sales is a hard thing. So let’s go to the second item that you brought up, and that’s reluctance. Let’s dig into that one a little bit.
Jason: Let me actually … You want me to coach one real fast?
Jason: You want me to coach one of the stories?
George: Yeah, let’s do it.
Jason: So again, in the book, I have 42 different strategies. And I’m a master practitioner in NLP, and so we actually have all kinds of applications on how they can coach themselves. So for example, a simple, simple reframe exercise a person can do is, let’s say they say to themselves, “The customer just thinks that we’re overpriced,” then what you would do is a simple reframe. And you would say, “It’s not that the customer thinks we’re overpriced. It’s that I have not convinced them of the value that justifies the price.”
Jason: So it’s just a simple reframe. There’s all kinds of simple things that a person can do. It’s all about taking ownership over it and stop kind of putting it outside of them.
George: Yeah. I was going to say. So really, at the heart of this, what you’re saying is: Is it an excuse that’s being made?
Jason: Yeah. I think, yes, a majority of people would probably just say it’s an excuse. But the problem with just labeling it as an excuse is it overgeneralizes what the issue is. So for example, it would be like a doctor saying, “Wasn’t the person just unhealthy?” I mean, yeah, that’s a generalization. There’s specific reasons why they’re unhealthy though. So that’s what I want to do for people, is the more we can chunk something down, the more we can really kind of diagnose it properly, and then prescribe the right solution to get a person unstuck.
Reluctances: Tendencies and Fears Holding You Back
George: Well, that’s some great advice. So let’s go with number two, which is reluctance. Can we dig into that?
Jason: Yeah. The company that we partnered up with is called Behavioral Science Research Press. They’re actually out of Dallas. There are 16 different types of sales reluctances that people have. And reluctance is arranging payment, reluctances like yielding. Yielding is I don’t want to come across too pushy. I want to avoid conflict. Role rejection, I don’t want to see myself as a salesperson, and so I call myself an advisor, a consultant, realtor. I don’t even have sales in my business title. That’s a big role rejection sign. Friends and family reluctance, I don’t want to cross business and that. Social self-conscious, I have a hard time selling to the C-suite. I have no problem selling to someone at my same social level, but I can’t sell to the C-suite. Stage fright, I mean, there’s 16 different types of reluctances that we basically can measure.
Jason: And what’s interesting is that these are just, all they are is tendencies and fears. It’s like people can all relate to the whole idea of telephobia. Right? That’s an interesting one. People were raised, and they overheard their parents saying something like, “Oh, I can’t stand these annoying telemarketers.” Well, all of a sudden, as a child, I mean you’re very vulnerable to influence and programmed. And so now growing up, now you’re all of a sudden asked to cold-call people, and you have this parent that’s whispering in your ear going, “Hey, don’t be one of those people that I can’t stand.” And so that’s a reluctance that’s picked up, programmed by our upbringing.
George: Well, I wanted to just leave that there and let the mic drop hit, so thanks for pausing. Because in working with inside sales teams, and working with salespeople that maybe had been doing street-level sales, and now you’re asking them to work the phones, you’ve really got to get them to break through that. That is a thing. And I want people to understand that. Telephobia is definitely a thing, and great, great point bringing it up as one of those reluctances. What do you think is one of the most common reluctances that you’ve found?
Jason: Well, the one that’s most common, and the one that actually costs the global economy billions and billions, it’s actually proven, billions and billions of lost revenue on an annual basis is the yielding tendency. So yielding is the idea of make a friend, make a sale. Basically what happened is back in the ’80s, we kind of went nuts on the kind of soft sale revolution that happened out there. And it’s not a bad thing. And look, behind every behavior is a positive intention. Right? So what happened is during the ’80s, all those movies came out, like Wall Street, and whatever, Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross. And everyone went nuts saying, “Hey, I don’t want to be these unethical, crooked salespeople that manipulate people and screw them out of money.” Right?
Jason: So what did we do? We do what every society does, when something goes too far to the right, to the extreme, we go too far to the left. So then we said, “Okay. Well, let’s just back off completely.” We’re not going to push anything on anyone. And we’re not going to try to convince anyone to do anything. We’re just going to let customers make their own decisions on their timeframe when they want to. And so we went way too far back. And so the yielding tendency says it’s the customer’s terms. It’s the customer’s life. And they need to buy when they need to buy. And so what I help salespeople recognize and notice and realize is that sales, that customers don’t have a problem with sales or salespeople in general. They have a problem with some salespeople that are boring, unhelpful, or unethical.
Jason: And again, if you look at the idea that behind every behavior is a positive intention, as long as you know what pain the customer’s moving away from, and what life improvement they’re wanting to move towards, well, your mission is to liberate that customer from any indecision. It’s to remove the ambiguity. And so if your highest intention is to help them … A yielder’s goal is they just want to help. They want to be a helper. They want to help. Then I have to reframe that, and help them recognize that you are actually not helping them when you are letting them make the decision on their own. When you are taking them through a formal decision-making process that gets them to speed up the decisions faster, you’re actually doing something for them and not to them.
Jason: And once they see that, they’re in what’s called a therapeutic double bind, and people don’t like to be that. When I can show them that the behaviors they’re doing are actually not helping the customer, which is our highest intention, they either have to change their behavior, or they have to change their highest intention, which they’re not going to. And so it’s a better place to be.
George: Well, you’ve mentioned in the past, and I think this really ties in, that you’re working, and your mandate is to remove the stereotype that sales is sleazy, and show that it’s, in fact, a noble profession. So if you truly believe that your product or service can help the customer, it’s on you as a salesperson to bring them across that line and get them to the point where we can get this thing working for them.
Jason: That’s correct, yeah. So one of the things that we teach is there are four levels of a salesperson. So one is, our sales warrior, the bottom level is you’re a follower. You completely just kind of wait for the customer. The next level is you’re a helper. The majority of salespeople are actually in that helper stage. Then you go above the line, and you are a leader. You lead a person to a place they wouldn’t go on their own. But the final level is a warrior. And a warrior is a protector, a protector. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing. I’m protecting the customer from themselves. I’m protecting the customer from making a not thought out decision when they are choosing to spend less, and therefore get less, when they’re focused on the sticker, or on the price, or on their budget. And they’re not focused on really what they’re trying to accomplish and what their mission is. And what are they trying to solve?
Jason: And so a warrior’s a protector. A warrior is, look, I think based upon what I’m hearing from you now, Mr. Customer, we’ve got to talk through this because you said you’re looking for this. You said you were wanting to move away from this. You said this is most important to you. And right now, I’ve got to make sure that we make this right decision because my concern is if you go with brand X, again, yes, it’s 20% less than us. But it’s not going to accomplish those things that you had in mind. And so it’s really just believing. It’s believing in what you offer and who you are and what you stand for.
Keeping Mental Toughness Through the Challenges
George: Well, going back to the theme of the book that you’ve written all around this mental toughness, you have to have that belief. But Jason, on a day-to-day basis, a salesperson’s being beat up on those beliefs. They’re being beat up when they’re in the office before they even go out on the street. They out on the first sales call, they’re getting beat up. What are some things that you would give as advice to keep that positive mindset and that mental toughness while you’re getting beat up on a regular basis?
Jason: Oh, that would be buy my book, book-salesmindset.com. So that’s the whole point of the book. Actually, the opening chapter, you’ll love this, George. I actually said that the modern sales warrior is under siege. And they’re fighting the impossible war because the customer is telling them that customer service is not fulfilling their promises. Prospects are saying they’re overpriced. Their friends and family are saying they don’t get to see them anymore. Their boss tells them, they don’t make their quota, they’re going to get fired. And if they are doing well, then their coworkers say, “Well, the only reason why you’re doing well is you have a great territory.” And so they’re fighting the war on all fronts, which is the impossible war. And so the idea behind it is that you’ve got to say, “You know what, I can’t worry about all that stuff anymore. I’ve got to take my life back, and I’ve got to focus on myself through these 42 different mental strategies.”
George: Well, as part of my two weeks that I was sequestered on vacation, I was up in New Hampshire. And I spent an evening, great band in a great pub in a ski town, but it’s the middle of summer. But just the culture up there, I’d never been to New Hampshire before. It was unbelievable. And I was spending some time with a friend of mine, who is a top real estate professional in the New Hampshire area. He’s been doing it for a number of years, does a lot of teaching. And I noticed off the top of the show, you talked about real estate. There’s an industry where you need to have a lot of mental toughness, is the real estate space. Would you agree?
Jason: Absolutely. And look, one of the struggles that the realtors have, and I’ll just say it like it is right now, is that a lot of the brokers, unfortunately, are attracting or promising the wrong thing, because one of the things that we know, and one of the strategies in the book, is that the most successful salespeople are procedural versus option. So procedural is I have a very specific, ritualistic process that I follow from the second I wake up until the second I go to bed with every customer, every routine, every situation. Just like you, you have a very strict process, or you wouldn’t be a company that’s got 300 employees. And you wouldn’t be able to do this successful podcast.
Jason: The opposite of that is an option based mindset. An option-based mindset is more based on why versus how. And so unfortunately, though, the modern realtor is hired with an option based philosophy, so meaning that most real estate ads, they’ll say, “Hey, if you’re the type of person that likes to have an unlimited income potential with flexible hours, that has an entire career based upon your lifestyle to do whatever you want to do, when you want to do it, come work for us.” There’s not a single top real estate provider out there that has flexible hours built around their lifestyle. It doesn’t work.
Jason: And so they’re attracting the wrong people. And so these realtors, they’re coming in with this lie. It’s a lie. It doesn’t happen. And so in order to be a top producer, you cannot have flexible hours built around your lifestyle. You have to have a very structured, disciplined process, and you put business first. And then when you don’t have business, then you could have your lifestyle that you would like, if you want to make money, if you want to make money.
George: See, I understand you’ve done quite a bit of work in the real estate space. I’ve heard a crazy number that only 2% or 3% of all real estate agents are successful. What is the real number in your experience?
Jason: Well, again, in the real estate, yeah, I would say it’s probably correct. It depends on how you measure success. But based upon the general real estate field, we do a lot of work in the home builder field as well, and the new home sale side, which is a little bit different because the customers come to them. And it’s more of kind of a retail transaction than the general real estate market. It’s more of a prospecting type deal. And I’ll tell you, that’s one of the struggles that I will say that the general real estate population has as well, is that they’ve been kind of told a lie. So their myth is, hey, just get a bunch of listings. You’re really more of a marketer than a salesperson. We don’t even want to call you a salesperson. We’ll call you a realtor. And as long as you get a bunch of listings, if the price is right, the home will sell.
Jason: And they don’t even teach them how to sell the house. They teach them just how to list the house and how to market, and how to get more listings. And so it’s more of a … They’ve just been told a lie. They’ve been told it’s a numbers game and all those things. And it’s just not true.
George: I’m really interested in bringing this to light because I know our audience and where it has come from, it’s been from the digital marketing world and the media space. But now we’ve got some telco reps that have joined the listener ranks. And I think that sometimes we have a tendency to look inside our industries and say, “We’re the only ones that are facing these challenges,” so it’s good to talk about the auto space and the real estate space. And we had a guest a couple weeks back that was in the sports sales space, so selling ice holes on rinks, and selling, the person that sells for the Patriots advertising programs. It’s not just one industry of sales that’s under this battle against our mental toughness. It’s all of them. Wouldn’t you agree?
Jason: It is, yeah. It’s any salesperson, inside, outside, field. I mean, really, it’s any human being that is in any sort of aspect of self-promotion. I mean, that’s it. Right? Which would be an entrepreneur, I mean, every entrepreneur is a salesperson because they’ve got to convince investors to choose them. They’re the one bootstrapping in the beginning, selling their products or service. And so, again, the biggest thing that I think we just haven’t spent enough time on, which makes complete sense, is that the majority of sports franchises have an in house sports mental toughness coach. The majority of sports franchises have an in house mental toughness sports coach.
Jason: And if you presuppose that a salesperson is a modern-day corporate athlete, then why are we not giving them the same exact resources that a professional sports team has? And that’s the mistake that we have made. We’ve just kind of ignored it. We know we’re supposed to do it, but we just don’t put enough emphasis on it.
George: I completely agree. I could just listen to him all day. That was Jason Forrest, the CEO of Forrest Performance Group. We only covered half of what we put together in the time that we spent with Jason. So next week, we’re going to do another edition of the Conquer Local Podcast, all with Mr. Jason Forrest. He’s really taken it to a whole new level when we talk about sales being a mental game. I’ve always known that sales is a mental game. But when I was talking to him, he was bringing up things that I just didn’t even know were a thing, like the stories.
George: He said there were 42 stories, 42. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the story, if only, it’s an excuse. Sales managers out there, I think it’s important that we address this within our sales teams. Make that salesperson own it themselves. Jason hit the nail on the head. People will give any story outside of themselves. Then we talked about reluctance. And listen, this telephobia thing, I had it for the longest time in the early parts of my career. I sometimes have telephobia when I don’t want to make the hard call when you’ve got to talk a customer off the ledge or deal with a fire. But then I also sometimes have telephobia where I don’t want to ask for the business. Because what if they say no? And now it’s going to empty out of my pipeline. That’s just a few things that I was thinking about.
George: Also, he said there are four levels of being a sales warrior. I want you to think about which one of those levels are you. Are you the follower? Are you the helper? Are you the leader? Or are you the warrior? Next week, we’ll have Jason back to give us the last two mental leashes around rules and self-image. So pumped about this series. We’re in season three, and we’re looking forward to feedback from you on LinkedIn. We’re getting all sorts of comments and ideas for our upcoming teaching episodes. We’ve got some things planned. I’m just going to tease you on one of them, political advertising and digital marketing opportunities. We’re going to cover all of that in an upcoming episode. But don’t forget. Next week, one more time, Jason Forrest will be back on the podcast. I’m George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.