Feeling good about sales is the foundation for success in business. Entrepreneur, keynote speaker, podcast host and author of the bestselling business book, It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set, Chris Spurvey helps turn business owners and new sales professionals into confident and effective sellers. Chris has sold over $300 million in consulting services and has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and professionals in their efforts to close more business and create win-win relationships with their clients. He shares with us a sales mindset that can move us from a stereotypical approach to true authenticity. He also shares some tips on opening even more doors by tapping into and leveraging the unique part of our own personalities and identities.
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The Sales Mindset: Selling In A Truly Authentic Way with Chris Spurvey
I am feeling very good at this moment to be able to spend time with all of you. It’s one of these interesting dynamics where it’s present time where you are in that moment. We collapse time and space and we’re together. I’m feeling blessed and grateful for this moment to share with you. I’m also feeling great. I’m going to have a guest on the show that you are going to enjoy. This gentleman was introduced to me through a mutual friend. His name is Chris Spurvey. He is an entrepreneur, keynote speaker and podcast host. The author of the bestselling business book, It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set. This is an interesting topic. It has come up a couple of times. The subject of selling. The subject of how it is that we can sell in a truly authentic way and not be the stereotypical and sleazy salesperson.
I remember I was probably about seven or eight years old and living in an apartment with my parents and my baby brother at the time. There was a ring at the door. We were in an apartment building and the doorbell rings. I remember my dad going to the door and there was a stranger at the door. He was dressed nicely. He was wearing a suit. They had some conversation. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but he got invited in. The next thing I knew, he was this guy who we’ve never seen before. He was sitting at our dining room table which was right in the entrance way to this tiny little apartment. He was sitting there with my dad and he got this big book on the table; the fattest book, the heaviest book I’ve seen in my whole life. You probably can guess at this point. That guy was an actual door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. About an hour or so later, maybe it was a little longer, he left, they shook hands. My dad signed some paperwork that I later found out was him agreeing to this contract to purchase these Encyclopedia Britannica. It’s the entire set, every volume. I don’t remember how many volumes there were but probably twenty or so books, A to Z with atlases and maps. Everything you could think of.
I remember hearing later on that my dad had spent $1,800 on this set of encyclopedias. My dad at the time was a civil servant for the city of New York. He was parks director in a recreation at a local park and a preschool teacher. He probably at that moment wasn’t earning $25,000. He might not have even been earning $20,000. $1,800 take-home pay was a lot of money back then. For years after that, any question that my brother and I had pretty much my dad would say, “Go look it up. Don’t ask me the answer. Go pull out one of the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica and look it up.” That was my first experience with salespeople. Chris Spurvey, thank you so much for being on the show. Welcome.
Thank you for having me. I’m honored to be part of your show. I’m tapping into the energy as you’re sharing that story. We’re kindred spirits. I have the same story. It’s not encyclopedias. It’s the Electrolux vacuum cleaner door-to-door salesman. My mom and dad in 1983 on a Sunday night, bought a vacuum for $3,000 which interestingly enough is $12,000 in now’s money. My mom was a teacher making $30,000 a year or maybe even less. I can relate to your story. That sales guy was trained in how to fight objections. How to push himself into the environment and get the sale. I had that same image on the screen of my mind. That’s what sales were.
I briefly let folks know about you. I would love in your own words to tell our audience a little bit about yourself. Something that’s not written in your bio that you would love people to know about you.
I love to share with people my personal life. My wife and I, we’ve been together since we were thirteen years old. Believe it or not, we’re definitely what you would consider childhood sweethearts. We’re in our early 40s. We have the benefit of having an eighteen-year-old boy and a fifteen-year-old girl. We’re living the luxury of being free. Our kids have their licenses. We’re living a beautiful life. It’s amazing and I’m very grateful for the fact that my wife and I have been together since such a young age. We have a wonderful and beautiful marriage. I’ll share that as an opening even though it has nothing to do with sales. I find that is the foundation for life. For me, it’s the relationships that we’ve built and that’s what sales are all about. I love my life and I love my family.
There are so many synergies, it’s scary actually. I wrote some articles on LinkedIn about this idea of what does it mean to close sales. People have a closing mentality. I think that might have been the movie, Boiler Room. There have been a lot of other portrayals of aggressive salespeople that had this closing mentality. You hear a lot of folks talk about closing percentages. That has bothered me for some time. I started to write this series of articles under the title Stop Closing Sales, Start Opening Relationships. Is there anything more important than the process of opening a relationship? Re-framing that whole idea instead of closing something. You don’t want to close anything. You want to open something. I’d love to get your sense if you’ve got a philosophy of sales and selling. You podcast about this. You’ve written books about it. You teach and coach probably people in this area. What’s your philosophy for this?
My philosophy is almost exactly what you said for every door that does close, it first has to be opened. The openness is where the importance needs to be placed. If we focus on the open, we don’t have to be a “salesperson” to close the deal. We can be ourselves, our genuine, authentic selves. For me, as a result of my own personal journey what we want to do to become good at opening doors. We want to tap into some unique part of our own personalities, our own identities and leverage those. For me as an example, when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in sales way back about fifteen years ago and I tried to do with the old way. The way of doing whatever it takes to close the deal and I failed miserably.
I then started to say, “Chris, who are you? Who are you as a person?” For me, I’m a problem solver and I’m a curious individual. I love to learn about people. I love to learn about their story. When I meet somebody, the open is all about learning about them. Asking questions about their family. I’ll ask them questions about their occupation, about what they like to do in their spare time. I have an acronym FORM: Family, Occupation, Recreation and Motivation. I’ll ask questions in and around that. I find as I ask questions, they start asking me questions. It’s my curiosity though that opens the door. I come across as being genuine and authentic. Eventually, it comes into them giving them to learn about me and my value proposition. For every door to close, it first has to be opened. We don’t even need to focus on the close to do this right in my opinion.
It’s just different languaging. We call that setting a context. How did you create a sacred space? Part of my goal with us was that we would close the gap. That our connection, you and I are feeling more connected. You’re in Newfoundland and I’m in San Diego, California. We’re quite a few miles apart and yet we wanted to maintain or create this wonderful connection. We knew that that would translate into not only a deeper connection with the audience, but it would also have the potential to model something and thinking, “How is it that I opened up a conversation with a total stranger?” You and I hadn’t talked before.
We have a mutual friend and we’re introduced. I know you’ve spoken to my wife and here we are. We’ve not met before. Language is important. There are a lot of languages that people use in a way that we take for granted. It doesn’t mean what it says. Like in internet marketing language, they have things called tripwires, lead magnet and funnels. If you were thinking about establishing a meaningful, sustainable relationship with someone, would you use that language? Would you describe them as a lead that you’d want to create a magnet to attract them? Would you want to funnel them? Would you want to trip them in some way? Trick them or create a mouse trap for them? Is that how you would speak to your grandmother? Would that be the language for somebody you loved and cared about? It’s not. Language in many ways is the context. How is it that you establish a great opening and a great context to be in with someone?
FORM and then from there, you eventually become a topic in the conversation as well. If I had to sit down and analyze my sales conversations, I would estimate I’m talking 20% of the time at the most. It’s the person who I am looking to engage and solve their problem who’s doing all the talking. It’s a diagnostic conversation. Asking questions and then sharing bits and pieces of my value proposition and doing it in such a way that I’m framing it up to be the solution to the problem that they have and sometimes they don’t even know they have. Working the questions we ask deep down to finding what the intrinsic motivation is for that individual.
For example, in a B2B setting, if I’m going in and I’m selling in the past, I’ve sold software. They’ll originally give you business reasons for upgrading their software. The more questions you ask, the more trust you build. You eventually bring it around into intrinsic motivations, which are around their desire to grow within the company, to feel validated within the company. You know you’re getting closer. You’re creating that bond and trust the more they share of themselves and their real reasons for wanting or desiring to solve the problem that you can solve. That to me is the ticket to effective sales.
I want you to circle back to that. You said it articulately and clearly and yet I’m thinking there are people going, “I want to get that.” If you can reverse back and explain the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
Maybe it’s a use case. I’m working for a company. I am the Director of IT and I report up to the vice-president of finance or the CEO. I’m in meetings throughout my day. I’m on the topic of upgrading the software for ERP, enterprise resource planning or scheduling or whatever comes up. I’m stressed because I’m the Director of IT. I’m in-charge of getting this project done on time and on budget. The extrinsic motivation is I need to do this because the software is out of service and not being supported by the company that runs it anymore. If it goes down on a weekend, I’m going to be the one called. The CEO’s going to come down on me.
The extrinsic motivation is because it’s out of service and the software product is not being serviced anymore. The more you get into a deep relationship and you understand that individual and maybe their desire to make more money and serve their family better on the weekend and create a beautiful life with their family. Maybe they want to have more free time in their lives. They want to grow inside the firm to get that autonomy such that the CEO lets them run their own shop. These are the types of intrinsic motivations that us sellers can tap into and speak to in such a way that the person feels we know them, and we know what makes them tick. Selling is all about growing that trust. We can only grow trust if we truly get to know that individual at the internal level and what their internal motivation is.
Trust is a big deal. It’s the heart of any relationship. It’s not a belief, it’s a feeling that you can trust someone.
It’s a feeling that we have the best interest of the individual in our hearts as the seller. I can get on calls all day long and sell something to somebody because I can talk. If I’m not doing it with heart in the game, I don’t feel good about going to bed at night. I want to be there to solve a problem for the people I work with effectively.
We call it the heart of enrollment. We believe everything is an enrollment conversation. You’re having an enrollment conversation with people all day long. Whether it’s the conversation with your fifteen-year-old to make sure that they’re driving according to the rules you’ve given them, they’re at home at certain times. To ensure that they’re doing their homework or they’re brushing their teeth. Those are all enrollment conversations. It’s a collaborative thing. It’s engagement and it’s relationship building for sure. Is there a recipe for your style of selling, your style of engagement or enrollment?
I’ve never sat down unnecessarily codified the recipe as such effectively. I’m a real believer in personal branding. When I say personal branding, what you’re doing here and what I’m doing here is we are sharing ourselves with the world through reading to a blog or reading my Sunday morning newsletter or reading certain emails I might send to my list. They get to know me, like me and trust me through what I share with them. What sales looks like for me is I only enroll people who know, like and trust me. Most of them haven’t even spoken to me up to a point in time. I invite them to join me on a call where I get on the call with them and they’ve already pre-sold themselves. I’ve identified the problem I solve for people.
Then I get on a call with them and we bridge the gap. Sales to me now feel a whole lot easier than it did many years ago when social media and this idea of personal branding. The recipe for me is certainly the personal branding is a big element to it. Whether we call it personal branding or professional branding, it’s all about putting ourselves out there in such a way that people feel us through our sharing of our knowledge and be willing to do that. That’s the recipe I’ve centered around and become used as my pivoting. I’ve pivoted into creating a brand around myself. I call myself Chris Spurvey 7.0. I’ve pivoted into 7.0 and Chris Spurvey now is Chris Spurvey the sales trainer/consultant/coach. I don’t necessarily have to go out and sell people anything. They come to me and say, “Chris, I want to avail your services.” It would not be possible if I never put myself out there with my book, my podcasts and various other assets.
People that are saying to themselves, “That’s good for Chris and we’re happy for you. I don’t have a book. I don’t have a reputation. I don’t have a podcast. I want to tackle this fear that I have or this feeling that somehow when I’m selling I’m different. I’m not my authentic self or I feel hesitant or not confident when I’m selling because it feels odd to me.” What would you say to somebody like that?
Number one, to respond to your thought that people are saying, “That’s good for Chris Spurvey.” I started four years ago with no assets either. I decided to start. If I never had decided to start four years ago, I’d be still sitting here not knowing what to do. We start and we pivot around what works and what doesn’t work. We want to sit down and we want to do a little inventory of what makes us feel good around serving clients. I mentioned I tapped into curiosity and problem-solving. I went out and started talking to people through the lens of those two unique abilities. The conversations became a whole lot easier when I did that than having scripts, methods and tactics to go out and “sell.”
I encourage people to try to find some aspects of their personalities that they can leverage rather than being something that they’re not. That’s typically what I’ll work with people around. I do believe as well and I should know that there’s a big aspect of motivation that’s at play here. Sometimes we’ve got to do stuff that we’re not comfortable doing. I know reflecting on my early parts of my career, I was thrown up on a stage at a very young age just out of university and having to speak to groups of four and five.
Did you say you were thrown up or you were throwing up?
I was thrown up. I was hired by an insurance company to go around Canada and sell the philosophy of eBusiness. This was an insurance company that was going online. They had me going up on stage to sell their clients on the idea that insurance can be transacted online. I would get up in front of these large groups of clients, trustees and associations. I had never spoken in public in my life up to that point in time. I read a quote, “To get the energy to do the thing sometimes we just got to do the thing.” I would repeat that to myself as I was walking up on stage. Then I would find myself in the midst of my first sentence I would then take-off from there. Sometimes it’s a matter of going out there, falling down and picking ourselves back up in order to learn and what works and what doesn’t.
One of the things that our company specializes in is training speakers, training people who want to be on larger stages and get paid to do keynotes or do TEDx Talks or even to be able to do what you described. In a company meeting or an association to be able to have a talk and feel like they’re not going to get sick, but to be able to leverage that talk for some useful purpose in the business or otherwise. We give folks a little bit of a different mantra on that which has to do with recognizing that when we speak at any time or when we’re going to connect with other people, we can make it about them before it’s about us. It’s not about me, it’s about we. It’s this idea that we want to close the gap or bridge the gap and that’s the primary context that we want to set at the beginning internally for ourselves. Then energetically with what we verbally say to other people.
We’re setting this context and managing the energy of it and we find that at least it’s been in my experience too, I’m not an extrovert by nature but an introvert. Yet, I spend so much time in front of people and speak so often. Part of that is because there’s a higher purpose to the speaking. There’s a higher purpose to doing that thing. To get the energy, you’ve got to do that thing that you may be hesitant to do. Then to plus that, I suppose when there’s a higher purpose, there’s a bigger why for doing it. We can get past through our own little voice or the inner critic that says, “You suck.” Are you willing to dare to suck because something is more important? Sales are so similar, don’t you think?
To me it’s identical. I see so many analogies between the two. If we believe in our product and we believe in our offer, especially if we have had a personal story that’s somewhat attached to the offer, get out there and share the story and see where it goes. You’re going to learn through interactions and conversations. I take a lot of indirect routes to sales. For example a tactic might be, “I’m not trying to sell you anything, but who do you know that has this problem?” By taking that indirect route, it takes off the pressure of you as the seller. It takes the pressure off to the person that you’re talking to because they think they’re being sold, “I’m not selling you anything, but I’d be interested if you know anybody who has the problem,” and take that approach.
I love this idea that we have a purpose behind everything we do. If we tap into that purpose and the idea of sharing it with people, over time the passion will ooze out and you’ll become very effective and natural at doing it. It’s not to say it won’t be scary. I still now get up and do talks and I’m nervous before I get up, but that’s just the energy coming out of me. I try to tap into that energy and say, “Chris, you’re excited about getting up. You’re a bit nervous, but you’re excited.”
If I was going to create a context, the word for how it is that you create a context with people at the start, it would be curiosity. What’s natural for you is this curiosity about where they’re at and how it is that there might be a good fit potentially between your product or service and meeting them where they’re at. That’s an exploration. Whether it’s curiosity being that context is very authentic as a word in part of what your intention is at the outset. It’s great advice here for folks who are thinking, “How is this actionable for me? What can I do with this?” It’s to establish what is that thing that would be a word for example or a phrase that describes your intention for that conversation or for that engagement. Curiosity is a great one. Exploration, wanting to explore, wanting to see, is there a fit? Is there a win-win in this? Is there something that would feel good on both sides if we were to do business together? Would it be okay if we explored that?
Without attachment, without having to come down to one uncomfortable moment where, “I’ve shown you my wares and now I’m going to ask you, which credit card would you like to use?” Some awkward and artificial moment like that, it’s more upfront, “I would love to share something about what I do and learn a great deal more about what you’re up to. How it is that what I have or what I do might serve you. If it seems like there is some synergy or some connection that’s meaningful and there would be a win-win, I’d love to be able to explore that further with you. Would you be open to that?”
That’s what I throw out with the people I worked with and I try to achieve through all my conversations is a win-win. That’s part of the problem is that the people’s initial instinct is to go to a competitive mindset where someone has to win and someone has to lose. I try to flush that out of the system and look at every opportunity as a win-win. You have the solution and they have the problem so let’s match those up. They get the win out of a solution and you get to win having done that and perhaps getting paid in the process.
As an initial matter, in terms of how you see that person. The word prospect doesn’t offend me but again, would you call your grandmother a prospect? Thinking about the words and the language that you use to describe people and describe the process itself. That’s why closing sales or having somebody be a part of your closing numbers, your month-end or your quarterly-end numbers, did you make your numbers and where does this person fit in the quota? You lose a lot on the side of what it takes to open relationships and care for and nurture relationships when you see people as numbers.
We who are involved in the human services aspect of life where we are truly helping people, we can be different and we don’t have to take the old philosophies. From my past life, I’ve worked with some of the larger organizations. Oracle comes to mind as one of the large software vendors. They have these methods of sales changing price based on the time of year in an effort to hit year-end quotas. We don’t have to be that in this world we’re living in where it’s truly a heart-based approach to selling.
Those calculations, those manipulations, I suppose there’s a place for them. Since more often than not, our audience is not necessarily people running huge organizations who are focused on those metrics. For most people and I think this is the driving force in the world economy is decentralization. There are some great books on this and clearly, the cost of communication has come down. Lots of technological advances are already with us and more to come which only makes it possible for people to have greater freedom and to work more from a virtual place anyhow. This idea of decentralized leadership is more the name of the game. More people are becoming entrepreneurs now and, in the future, than people who are going into the job market.
You and I are using this idea that we’re coming from our hearts. Creating this heart space for those engagement conversations. That’s much more important and it will be much more effective than people adopting or trying to adopt some artificial methodology or even system of this is the script for how you close somebody. Move them through a conversation that leads to a sale. I appreciate your thoughts and your insight on that. I would love to ask you as well, what are some of the things that you do on a ritualistic basis? We talked about rituals as being master habits. Habit being something we do unconsciously and there’s nothing wrong with habits. We’re all creatures of habit. The show is called The Conscious PIVOT. We’re focused on the things we do with more of a conscious intent and we call those rituals. What are some of the success rituals that you’ve established?
In 2016, I walked 3,000 kilometers with my two Golden Retrievers. In 2017, we walked 3,500 kilometers. I do all of that between the hours of 7:30 in the morning and roughly at 8:45 every morning. I walk a trail, which is wooded along a river. I use that opportunity to get myself ready for the day and mentally rehearse my upcoming meetings. To set an intention for each meeting that has win-win outcomes. I get the benefit of some exercise and I also get the benefit of thinking through and visualizing my meetings or my upcoming interactions in advance. You would be amazed, and I know I’m speaking to convert it. You would be amazed as to the outcomes of 90% of the meetings I have or interactions I have on my schedule. They go down the path.
I attract into my life the outcomes that I’m looking to achieve and it’s a win-win. The ritual for me is getting out in nature. This may sound very stereotypical. It might sound like something you read in a book and I’m sure you do, but I truly put it to practice. During that hour and a half, I spend walking with the two dogs. I go through the ritual of gratitude. I display gratitude in my own body for what I have in my life and I think gratitude is the foundation of everything. If you’re not grateful for what you have, do or be in your life, you can’t build upon any foundation. Gratitude is the foundation. Outside of that, I am pretty ritually-oriented. I run my day in similar patterns. I have meetings most of them on lunchtime onward. In the mornings, I spend more of the cerebral types of activity, whether it’s writing or producing. I find my creativity is highest in the morning. In the afternoon, I feed off the energy of interaction. I try to drive my day through with that type of pattern.
It’s been a pleasure to have you share from the heart, which has been powerful and I know valuable to a lot of our audience. I never liked to think of these as endings. They’re always beginnings. As we bring this show to its conclusion for the moment, I want to remind everybody of something that piggybacks and dovetails nicely with what Chris shared, which is that gratitude is so powerful. It is certainly something that we get to cultivate. I am amazed and yet not amazed at how deep the well goes. There’s no bottom to it, this well of gratitude. My prayer for all of you is that we get to wake up. That you get to wake up tomorrow as you did now because that wasn’t guaranteed. There are people that didn’t wake up now that probably would have loved to but didn’t. This waking moment is a blessing and it is something to feel grateful for. My prayer is that you wake up tomorrow, Chris, you and your family and everyone in your world. Everyone in the audience, I wish the same thing for all of you and for everyone. That we get to wake up tomorrow.
As we are waking up and taking that first deep conscious breath of the day, that we are aware that there will be people taking their last breath at that moment and there will also be people taking their first breath. Babies being born into this world, taking their first breath in that morning, at that moment and that is a blessing and something that we can all feel tremendous gratitude for. Regardless of whether we have challenges as we almost always do anyhow, but that there’s still this opportunity to start the day with gratitude. To explore that deep well of gratitude.
Part one is to wake up and part two is to feel that gratitude. Part three, if you’re willing to do it is from the bed or when your feet hit the floor if you like to declare out loud these words, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” Chris, you said that and we remind our community all the time. I do hope people aren’t sick of hearing me say that because I don’t think there’s anything more profound that I’ve learned that in the years I’ve been around than to express that statement out loud. To live and to see the universe meet us in that place where we want to love our lives. There’s all the reason in the world to recognize that we do. Thank you, Chris.
We’d love to get your review. Please leave a review on iTunes and leave a comment as well. We’ll respond right there. If you want to join our Facebook community, which is growing leaps and bounds and people are just loving it. Loving the vulnerability and the authenticity and the support that’s happening in that space, you can go to PivotFB.com or on Facebook, it’s the Start My PIVOT community. We’ll see you all soon.
- Chris Spurvey
- It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set
- Stop Closing Sales, Start Opening Relationships
- Chris Spurvey’s podcasts
- The Conscious PIVOT Podcast on iTunes
About Chris Spurvey
Hi, I’m Chris Spurvey I believe that feeling good about sales is the foundation for success in business. I turn business owners and new sales professionals into confident and effective sellers. I help sales-minded entrepreneurs and leaders who are not scaling fast enough for their liking. I help them automate their lead generation, sell through relationships – not being pushy, and leverage their book of business so they make more money, more meaning, and more freedom.
I am an entrepreneur, keynote speaker, podcast host and author of the best-selling business book It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set. My work has been featured in many major media outlets, including Forbes, LinkedIn and Inc. I have spoken to entrepreneurs and professionals worldwide, on how to leverage their unique ability to sell. I spearheaded the growth of a consulting company to the point that it was acquired by one of the largest consulting companies in the world.
I am a former Vice President, Sales at KPMG. I have sold over $300 million in consulting services and have worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and professionals in their efforts to close more business and create win-win relationships with their clients. And, after countless requests from entrepreneurs and sales professionals who have struggled daily to close more deals, I’ve decided to re-launch, revise & reignite your passion in the most important aspect of business – sales, by sharing with you simple step-by-step easy to apply strategies to close deals and feel good in the process.