The modern sales process is fast-paced and rapidly-changing. This requires constantly developing the necessary skills…and at a faster pace. Joe Semaan, a modern sales expert and domination mindset coach, reminds us that if we stick with what we “think” has worked for us for too long – without reassessing – we’re likely to be on our way out of the game. Adam Markel and Joe dive deep into this important conversation. For the last 14 years, Joe has mentored over 350 companies in over 20 industries worldwide and is known as a “secret weapon” in the world of selling. Listen in and learn why accelerated learning and adaptation are essential in dominating the world of sales in this new economy.
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Dominating The New Economy: Modern Sales For The Contemporary Entrepreneur With Joe Semaan
I’m sitting here feeling good, and mostly because I’ve found time to be quite creative. I’ve been working on a book. It’s been draining, but it’s been a wonderful process. The book this going to come out in spring 2020. I’m convincing myself that the process is going smoothly and that this time around, maybe, it won’t be painful. I’m lying to myself, but we’ll see. I’m also monitoring that little chatter that says, “It doesn’t have to be painful.” I’ll let you know. I’m thrilled. I’ve got a great guest on the show. His name is Joe Semaan. He’s somebody that I think you going to have to learn a lot from. I’m interested in his philosophy. I’m getting introduced to him. I don’t know a whole lot about him, but I want to read a bit of his bio, and then we’ll dig in like we normally do.
Joe Semaan is a modern sales expert. We’ll talk about what that means. He is also a new economy keynote speaker and domination mindset coach. We’ll dig into that as well. He has mentored over 350 companies in over twenty industries in the last many years, including audiences like Microsoft, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Equinox. In many ways, Joe is known as a secret weapon because he’s invited to speak on his secrets of selling and domination. Joe, I’m happy to have you on the show, to be with you and for us to be together. Thanks for joining me.
I’ve been looking forward to this.
You’ve got a very impressive bio. What’s one thing that you’d love for people to know about you?
That aren’t pretty. You might love my Instagram posts and all the other things that we put out there, but I promise you, about 80% of our time, my time, and many others is spent trying to figure out, “What did we do wrong? What did I do wrong? How come it didn’t go the way that I wanted?” I love what you said that, “Maybe you’re lying to yourself as you move forward.” I’m always finding myself having to do the same thing like to trick myself into moving forward, but when they say, “I love the process,” of whatever it is that you’re working on.
I don’t know if love the process is maybe the best way to put it because I can’t say that I’m in love with the process of the type of growth topics that you and I like to talk about, but more so of understanding how important it is. It truly is important to keep leveling up your game, your mindset, skills, all of the above, and which leads us to a lot of those domination economy or that new economy mindset that you need to have in order to be a strong individual, professional, provider. All those things going into this new world that we’re in.
We’re living in disruptive times. If you’re not a fan of disruption or if you don’t like change, it’s going to be a grind. It’s already been a grind for a lot of people and not that I prognosticate too much, but I think it’ll continue to be a grind and painful. Unless you at least consider what Ram Dass said which was, “To make friends with change.” I think you’ve got to make a change your best friend these days. Maybe we’ll use that as a way to leg into the conversation around modern sales. Maybe define a little bit of that for us.
I have to walk you through the short version of the story, because like many entrepreneurs or sales professionals, whatever you want to call it, everybody has to be doing some level of selling now. It’s the way it is, especially with it as competitive as our economy is getting and the world economy for that matter. I spent the first sixteen years of my career in sales and types of sales positions. A couple of things fascinated me throughout that journey. I’m not going to say I became mature but as I became more mature, I became fascinated with why in my sales career and then helping to lead many others. Why are there so many ups and downs in something that I practice every single day? I compare myself to an athlete. “If I were an athlete and I had this many ups and downs in my career, where would I be?”
I wouldn’t be on the starting lineup. I wouldn’t be in the NBA. I wouldn’t be respected by many. I’d always have that fear lingering in my background of maybe limiting my aggressiveness or limiting my creativity because I’m wondering when I’m going to be strapped or budgeting again, or what disaster is around the corner? You and I both know, and hopefully, most of the audience knows by now whether you’re young or old that you can’t predict where next year is going to be. Right then and there, I realized what it was and it was that people develop their skills far too slow for the world that we live in. They become romantic about their experience. Meaning once it works for them, they tend to get attached to what works for them.
You need to realize in the new economy, that what works for you is probably for a temporary period of time and more importantly to anticipate where you think things are going, or at least be prepared. As you pivot and add to your skills, add to your network. Don’t be so emotionally attached to something that previously made you successful or something you read in a book ten years ago or whatever the case may be. The one skill that we don’t tap into enough, and we probably never will, unless Elon puts a chip on our brain or something, is we forget how fast we can learn and how good we can get quickly. We forget the thing that makes us human as how fast we can adapt. The fear of change is constant. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to be willing and ready to accept the fact that constant change and adaptation is now either a part of your life or it’s not. If it’s not, the next 3 to 5 years might be challenging for you.
To be a modern sales entrepreneur or someone that utilizes modern sales techniques, is that means somebody that knows how to leverage the power of uncertainty or leverage resiliency? What’s a signpost to somebody that can do those things?
Many people ask me all the time like, “What exactly do you mean by modern? Are you just using that word because your popularity is now growing and you’ve found it to be a great catch piece or a hook piece?” That’s not it. It came from the frustration of me going through the last big economic shift or pivot period of ‘07, ‘08, or ‘09.
It was a brutal time in many people’s lives. Many years ago, more even now, but we can still remember the blood was thicker than the water.
Because of human behavior, fundamentally a lot of rules and associations with sales are still there. A lot of the human details are still there. What I noticed is quickly and constantly becoming outdated are the tactics in sales. The number one reason for that was because people are sold so much that our customers are adapting to how we sell a thousand times quicker. When we say modern selling, what we’re saying is be ready to adapt your tactics, adapt your language, adapt your questions, constantly be looking for a more meaningful, more effective way to communicate. Your customers can’t see your intentions. All they can do is hear your words. If you’re face-to-face, somebody’s language too. What I find in every industry I’ve been to, every single 1 of the 20 I’d been to is 80% of their tactics are handed down to them. That’s what you do.
They’re playing from using a playbook that’s been passed down from predecessors?
There’s nothing wrong with that. You’re still going to be able to do business. You’re probably not going to end up in a domination type of performance culture, or consistent level of a paycheck for your people. The most notable way, the most recognizable way for me to measure that over the past many years after being so intimately involved in so many industries is seeing that their average conversion ratio has gone down over time. They’re not as effective, which means they have to market more, spend more. Your company becomes top-heavy and you become focused more so on, “How do I build my brand? How do I market my product?” Which are important now.
If you’re a high-level consulting type of industry, not like small-ticket items, and the customer is still looking for that consultation or that conversation in order to provide clarity or to help them make a decision, you got to be aware that people have been selling in your industry for a while. Your customer is finding it difficult to, “Who do I choose? Who do I go with?” Their mind can’t differentiate well between your approach and my approach. People tend to lean into their product, brag on their product, educate their product. What you’re doing in the new economy or now the domination of economy is when you lean into your product too much, you’re inspiring your customer to go shop and research. Even the rule to educate your customer was created pre or prior to the internet.
You used that word domination economy and domination mindset. What distinguishes that word? What does it mean in now’s context?
What it means is to be competitive is a fair play, a safe play, but to be in a domination mode, means that you’re 4 or 5 steps ahead of everybody else. It comes back to accelerated learning and adaptation, whether it’s an organization or an individual trying to assess, overwhelming themselves with skills that are not common in their industry yet. Being the pioneer, being at the forefront of cutting edge, whatever that is in your line of work. Instead of waiting for your customers to demand it or waiting for your competition to try it and then reacting to it, to be in a domination mindset is to invest time, money, and effort into learning things that are going to advance your career and provide access of value before it’s too obvious and hits you in the face.The modern entrepreneur is one who knows how to leverage the power of uncertainty. Click To Tweet
It’s about planning for change ahead of change. Disrupting your own way of doing things, SOPs, or whatever process it is that’s part of the paradigm of your selling or the paradigm in many areas that exist within the company that you’re either running or the one that you’re working in. You disrupt that paradigm before the market disrupts it. Is that correct?
There are indicators that you’re behind the curve, your productions up and down all the time and your sales team has a sporadic array of conversion ratios and performance results every other month. It’s constantly going up and down and you start blaming the environment instead of like, “People aren’t consistent. They don’t put in the time.” What we should be asking is, “How can we massively improve our client’s experience every single month? How much time are we spending on developing our people skills? Who and where are we finding those skills?” It can’t all be internal unless you have somebody in your company that’s constantly studying human behavior, psychology, modern research, Gallup foundation results, all these different things and constantly innovating. We underdeveloped and under prepare our sales and leadership teams completely proportionately to what competition is like in the new economy.
When you go into an organization to look at what their numbers are, what’s the first thing that you’re looking for typically? Is there something you look for before anything else?
The first thing I noticed for most companies, they measure their sales not their losses. You see whiteboards, reports, printouts, “How many calls did you make? What’s your call time?” They’re doing all these things that they’ve been taught, but they don’t properly expose or measure conversion. That’s the first indicator that I know that somebody liked me or were similar can help them out. The second thing that I noticed is that when I listened to them in their industry, I hear the sounds of selling. I’m able to tell right away because a lot of the industries that I help are fairly fluent in. I can tell when they think they’re a unique organization or have a unique product, but when I listened to their sales or I played back their phone calls or whatever the case is, I tell them, “The 90% of the words and the techniques that you use are extremely common in your industry.”
I monitor for a week or two, and then I’ll explain to them the psychology of what needs to change and we work on it little by little. If your customer cannot tell that there’s a significant difference in the way that you’d lead them towards a decision and that the many of, even the words, even the sounds, the questions, the qualifying, the pitch, the benefits are similar in your industry make it difficult for a customer to choose you. Instead, what they’re going to do is then resort to price shopping. If everyone looks the same, drives the same car, takes me to the same restaurant, orders the same drink, listens to the same music, who do I choose? It’s uncovering their sales patterns. What are the sales patterns in your industry? Start there. With the most common sales patterns, either eliminate them completely or look for a more meaningful way to communicate those to your client.
What have you noticed in terms of sales patterns that have changed while we’ve been seeing this pandemic unfold?
It depends on your industry. As an industry becomes popular, its sales patterns accelerate. Let’s take the mortgage industry for example. Rates are super low. What’s the pattern now? The pattern is going to shift much more quickly. What can I anticipate because of that? Three-quarters of the country is going to have a low rate in 2021 and then they’re going to call asking for cash. When they call and ask for cash, what’s going to happen to their rate? That’s going to go up. Now, my customers are forming the pattern of, “Give me the lowest rate. I want it for 2%.” I’ve got to shift my language to be able to appreciate and align with those things, but then lead them in a more intelligent direction.
It means if you’re still using the same words questions, approach, and your sales call in 2020, as you are in 2021, then your customers going to expect the same result or they’re going to shop the same result. Already, companies will reach out to me and they’ll be like, “We’ve already worked with each other,” or they understand how this goes now because of what I’ve been preaching. If they want to have a rock star first quarter, they start developing now. We started anticipating the patterns that we’re going to see that are forming.
Anticipating the change ahead of the change.
What’s going to have to change in our sales process or in our communication flow so that we can better consult a customer when the tides change? It’s not as easy.
You and I talked before the show that we both experienced our fair share of challenges in our lives and the ups and downs, including coming out of the last Great Recession. Let’s talk a little bit about resilience. I’d like to get your personal definition of what resilience is and how it was that you applied that definition to picking yourself up, getting back in momentum, and creating something out of the last great financial challenge that you faced.
Gary Vee and a bunch of others might argue this, but I think resilience is the fastest way to build self-awareness, adversity. Tough times are the fastest way to build self warrants. It’s a game of how fast can you be honest with yourself? About what’s happening. You can tell when people lack, going through challenges or at least having to face them or take responsibility for them because their downtime is so much longer, there’s so much more reactive. They’re much more likely to flip somebody off in traffic than I am. They’re much more likely to be too emotional about the normal everyday stuff in life.
You’re not suggesting that people shouldn’t care about these things that get them upset. They’re upset for a reason. It’s not about not caring. What is it then? How do you flip that script?
It’s the acceptance that is a profound life. That is a life well-lived. It’s a life full of adversity, challenges, trouble, drama, heartache, and financial setbacks. That is a life well-live if you can finally, in this modern, luxurious world that we live in, say to yourself, “When I want bigger things for myself, when I have higher standards, when I have morals, these things are supposed to happen. It’s how quickly can I accept it? How quickly can I learn from it? Is there something that needs to change?”
It’s a catalyst in other words.
It’s a major catalyst for growth. Maybe resilience comes from that type of experience. There are people who go through things all the time, but they don’t become more resilient. It’s lacking the self-awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness piece that you need in order to say, “I’m still here. I still woke up. How long am I going to draw this out? How long am I going to use this as an excuse? How long am I going to make my past part of my presence before I finally wake?” People go through this all the time. One of the more evolved things that people are accustomed to is breakups.
You can spot when somebody has gone through a breakup and has caught themselves. What things do they do when they’re on the comeback? Where do they go? The gym, new hairstyle, all of a sudden, there’s a new car, or maybe they move, maybe they’re more vocal. Maybe they’re more active on social media. It’s like, no matter what’s happening in your life, it’s like, “What does this set back telling me?” We heard people say that before millions of times. “What is this doing for you, not to you, but for you?” Resilience is a big piece in business, sales, and leadership. It doesn’t necessarily make you successful on its own. What it makes you is less sensitive, less sissy, and able to recover quickly.
I think 2020 and who knows maybe 2021 too is a major wake-up call for how resilient people are. Let’s have some real talk. We’re not going to have, all of a sudden, the majority of the country or the world become resilient because of this pandemic that we’re going through. For the readers, if you’re reading this for a reason, you subscribe to certain channels for a reason, you’re trying to pick up information that allows you to progress faster in life. That’s what you’re trying to do and 2020 is a great opportunity for you to find out, “What areas of my life can I become more resilient in after experiencing what I’m experiencing?” Both emotionally and physically now, “What are those improvements that need now? What planning needs to happen? How can I become stronger?”
What do you do daily that produces more resilience for yourself? Do you have rituals for certain things? Do you have practices that have been with you for years? What’s your process?
It’s not as if I have some daily ritual that helps me to build resilience. What’s most important is when I’m experiencing, when my mind that’s been conditioned by the world partially, and especially through bringing new learn things and mediocre type mindset stuff. When I find myself slipping, thinking negatively, or feeling bad for myself or whatever the case may be, the exercise comes in how quickly I catch myself. How quickly the voice in my head, the new guy says, “Stop bitching. Remember, you’re the one talking to people about, catch yourself quicker, make a pivot, change your course of action, release that relationship, learn something new. Who can you talk to that can help?” It’s more of a catch yourself type process.
If you get into daily rituals and everybody got their daily routine in the morning routines. I always say to everybody, “You don’t do that 100% of the time when you wake up. Tell people, ‘I don’t do it a 100% of the time.’” I’m okay with the rituals and whatnot. I think what’s more important is a self-awareness piece, especially in business. I’m not a life coach by any means. I spend the majority of my time mentoring and training the sales teams, sales professionals, and sales leaders or entrepreneurs. It applies in that world because it’s a performance-based world, but if we’re talking about resilience in general, you don’t have to wait to go through something difficult to become self-aware of what resilience is.
How would you define resilience inside an organization if you’re looking at a sales team? I speak to organizations all the time, same as you, and a fair number of those organizations have me speaking to their sales teams. If they’ve had a bad year or quarter, they can be down on themselves. They’re looking for something as a catalyst to perform better, to be better, any number of improvements that they’d like to see. What’s resilience look like within an organization in your view? In other words, how do you create it? Do you think it’s important at all within the organization itself or is it something like a soft skill?
I think not only is this one of the most important areas, but it’s one of the most lacking areas is having open communication with your entire staff. Communicate, figure out what it is, where the challenges are coming from, not in a closed-door meeting, but listen to your people, what are the challenges? Find the common denominators and then you have to come to a little bit of honesty check again and a little self-realization check, “Do we have the resources or do we need to bring somebody in? Maybe these things are happening because we don’t have a skill, a resource or a platform that we need to fix it. Maybe we have to bring in a mentor like yourself to help accelerate this part, to speed us up? Maybe it’s the fact that your recruiting process is not what it needs to be.”
The most challenging piece I find maybe because of egos, maybe because most business leaders don’t go through leadership training, they evolve into that position, usually through sales performance or relationships or having money in the bank or whatever the case may be, is the transparency of communication. Being able to set everybody down and say, “Here are some of the challenges we’re having. No matter what we’re committed to getting through this, let’s get everybody’s input, and let’s go find somebody who does this way.”A life well-lived is a life full of challenges. Adversity is a major catalyst for growth. Click To Tweet
More transparency, better communication. What other things do you think organizations ought to be looking at improving to become more resilient?
Visual performance and accountability. Not waiting so long before people are slipping down the rabbit hole and then addressing it. This is for some reason, sales organizations usually wait to address something, and then they try to have this intervention type of platform or period. That type of quick shift. It’s not as nourishing. It tends to create a lot of problems within an organization. I’m sure you’ve seen it before. I’ll see an organization that has 25 sales agents. We won’t do much work together and I’ll come back in nine months and sixteen of those people are gone, there are new people. I find it hard to believe.
Turnover is a sign of that. That’s a big issue in so many companies is that they see high rates of turnover. When you see that’s a telltale for you, what do you want to be looking at when you spot that?
I’ll give you an example. I started a new relationship with a pretty large organization, a multi-state organization in the finance field. One of the questions that I get is they show me everybody’s production and they’ll say, “Should we let these ten people go and recruit new ones?” We’ve been giving them like, “It’s their 4th or 5th chance now.” I want to look at all the other indicators. I’m like, “Not yet.” If you’ve got ten people that are lacking performance for six months, why would I come in and say, “Not yet?” It’s because I recognize that you haven’t developed these people in a manner that is fair to them yet.
You haven’t set them up for success.
I’m not going to come out and say that. What I would tell them is, “Let’s give them 90 days in the program that we’ll work on together and then see how they do.” A significant number of those people, not only turn themselves, their boats around, but I have dozens of video testimonials where those people have become the top producers. What raises a big question, “Is it a turnover, because there are no good people out there, Joe?” Is that why you have a turnover or is there a lot of turnover in your organization because you’re not properly developing and holding people accountable from day one?
You’re setting them free because of their experience. This person has been in the field for four years. They should know what to do. You’re trying to take the lazy man’s way of building a team. Whether you have 20 years or 2 months experience, everybody has to go through the same divine. There’s a sense of entitlements. “This person doesn’t have to go to training. We don’t have to monitor that person’s calls as much. They have twelve years of experience. He’s 46. I don’t want them to get offended.” He’s like, “You guys are going to micromanage me. I’m out of here.” Kill that cat early.
We monitor everybody. We constantly train. We love it. It’s part of an athletic type of mindset. “Who’s your favorite athlete?” I’m sure you know they do that all the time. We do that here all the time. Is that okay with you? If it’s going to get annoying to you or your participation is great, you got to communicate that right upfront, but if you wait until somebody is not performing and then say, “We want you to start working with this person. Shadow this person. Go do this.” Now it feels like punishment. Now it feels like you’re being isolated.
What I am hearing you say is you got to be proactive.
It becomes a part of your culture. There are certain things in your family that are given from day one. You don’t wait until the kid’s fifteen years old and go, “We’re going to add a few more rules now that you’re fifteen.” It’s a cultural thing. If you’re a seasoned organization and you’re afraid of making that shift because of how people might feel or what they might say, that means you have a communication problem. “I got to communicate with my staff. Here’s what we’d like to see. You guys are capable of more. We’re capable of more. We’re going to start discussing ways that we can improve accountability and improve performance. Not everything’s going to be comfortable, but we’re going to communicate about it for 30 days, and then it’s going to become mandatory.”
I’ve got one final question for you, which is, if you’re given access to the most influential companies on the planet now, what’s the one thing that you want to tell them that they’re not hearing from other consultants or other people? Meaning, what’s your fresh idea or thought for them?
If I had to narrow it down, I would say, invest massively into understanding human behavior. The rarer of human skill becomes, it’s proportionally becomes more valuable. That misunderstanding of our customers, our workforce, or our industrial environment on the human behavioral side especially if you’re a sales-based organization. I get it. You have a product, you should know your product, but you don’t make money because you know your product, you make money because you know your customer.
That’s sage to not only be studying human behaviors as it pertains to the people you’re selling to, but also the people who work for you, the people that work within your organization.
If you look at the big ones, the ones that are killing it right now, you’ll hear them allude to that customer-centric culture.
I don’t hear too many people talking about studying human behavior in quite as right certain ways you explained. I appreciate you inspiring us with that idea. That is quite sage. For our readers are a combination of people that are running organizations, as well as people that are founding starting up. I’ll amend my question to ask you to somebody that’s in a startup right now. I asked you about the most successful companies, what’s your advice for somebody that’s in a startup space now?
I’m assuming that you have a product that has already been well-researched or you’re going into an emerging market, meaning you’re not picking something that you’re in love with, but it’s popping now. Assuming that I would say, the first thing you need to do is learn how to sell it. You need to perfect your communication skills and stop reading books that are twenty years old. You’re not going to find the new economy skills in there.
A new paradigm selling. It’s different now than it was ten years ago. It’s different now than it was six months ago.
I’ll leave with this for the newcomers, my number one rule of selling is the one who understands the customer the most will have the greatest commitment.
As we conclude this episode, I’ve enjoyed the conversation. I think more now than at any point in my lifetime, things have to be re-evaluated. What was the status quo? What worked 6 months or 1 year or 10 years ago is something that may not work now. We can’t say it won’t work, but for sure it has to be evaluated. You said that early on, “We got to assess these things.” You can leave a comment at AdamMarkel.com/podcast. As we opened, I was expressing my gratitude for being here and having this opportunity to have a conversation with a new friend. I’ll leave with my own ritual, which is something that I do every day, but I haven’t done it every day for my entire life.
It’s also something that I have to remind myself to do. Occasionally, when I wake up in the morning, I’m not immediately set to feel grateful about that. I want to feel grateful. I realize that when I go to bed at night, there’s no guarantee I’m going to get to wake up the next day. It’s an ongoing practice and one that I think Joe, you pointed out, it’s not something you can dial in. You’ve got to be vigilant. I know I have to be vigilant every single day to wake up with a certain consciousness in this case of being grateful. When I put my feet on the floor, I start my day differently than when I was a lawyer. For many years when I started my day in that profession, I used to feel not at my best and often even anxious at the start of the day.
Now I don’t feel that I haven’t felt that probably the better part of many years. I still have anxieties and challenges. When I start my day, I put my feet on the floor and I will myself to be in that state of appreciation. I say these words out loud, “I love my life.” Four simple words that have gained meaning for me over time. They have not been easy to say every single day. I don’t expect that they ever will be, but it’s what Joe and I discussed in this episode. It requires a certain awareness. You’ve got to be able to assess where you’re at, become aware, and often it’s through adversity that we become even more greatly aware. That practice, “I love my life,” waking ritual for me is an adaptation. It’s me going inside and saying, “I can be my best if I set myself up to be my best, or I can be my worst if I set myself up to be that as well.” Joe, I appreciated the conversation and I know that people are going to love it.
I appreciate your time. Good luck to you.
About Joe Semaan
Joe is a 14-year modern sales expert, new economy keynote speaker, and domination mindset coach. Joe has mentored over 350 companies in over 20 industries in the past 14 years including audiences at giants like Microsoft, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Equinox, and many other leaders in the financial, technology, professional services, and marketing world. During this time, he has built a reputation for doubling and tripling sales for thousands of professionals and dozens of companies creating tens of millions in additional revenue for his clients.
Joe is known as a “secret weapon” and has recently become a “man of interest” and invited to speak on numerous stages and podcasts all attempting to unveil his modern secrets of selling and domination. These invitations stem largely from his massive success at disrupting the sales training and mindset industry and have been called the most modern sales expert of our time. But his stage appearances have gained notoriety because of his powerful culture-shifting “New Economy” keynotes like Domination Economy and Domination Selling.