Episode 85: Developing a Successful Sales Mindset – Will Barron

Predictable Prospecting
Episode 85: Developing a Successful Sales Mindset - Will Barron
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Having issues with mindset and skill set can amplify issues that we may have at the top of the sales funnel. Will Barron the host of The Salesman Podcast is here today to talk about mindset. He has so many skills and there are so many topics that we can talk about, but I wanted to hone in on mindset because having the right mindset can amplify our sales success.

Will has interviewed so many people and has had so many conversations that he brings a wealth of knowledge to the show. The Salesman Podcast is the most downloaded award winning B2B sales show on iTunes. The reason Will started his podcast was because he was hitting his sales marks, but he wanted to go beyond that and smash it. Now he shares some of his deep dive sales knowledge with us here today.

Episode Highlights:

  • How Will has personally beat his chronic procrastination through habits.
  • His biggest sales mind hack was actually understanding why he wanted to work in sales in the first place.
  • He worked in sales because he wanted to save up cash to start a business.
  • Once he made this plan he worked harder, put his head down, and got things done.
  • Having an end goal can be an underrated sales tool.
  • How he started asking the questions of what he wanted to achieve through his sales work throughout his life and minimize regrets.
  • Projecting your future happiness and asking if what you are doing now will lead to your happiness.
  • Marginally acceptable goals, acceptable goals, and whoopie goals!
  • Focusing on blocking out time for productive single focused goals.
  • Will’s passion is getting people excited about science. His motivation for doing the sales podcast is leading to his goal of starting his new Excited About Science podcast.
  • He wants to break the mundaneness of life by giving people fun facts about science every morning.
  • Will shares his routine and how he timeblocks and protects himself from distractions. Then it is habit and process.
  • How getting a 25 minute pomodoro task done helps to build momentum.
  • It is easier to carry on with the work then to change the task.
  • Start in small blocks and work your way up. Start with 25 minutes and work up.
  • Being specific with our goals and making sure you physically have the time to fill in the slots or else you have to be more efficient.
  • Use trial and error to move your blocks around until you find the best nuggets of time to get stuff done.
  • It’s about highest impact and lowest effort.
  • Working the way your prospects work to have those conversations.



Marylou: Hey everyone, it’s Marylou Tyler and I’m honored to have today as my guest Will Barron. Those of you who don’t know Will, he is the host of The Salesman Podcast. It’s a very wonderful service that he provides sales people in multiple roles. I am thrilled to have him today on my podcast.

I asked Will what he’d like to speak about today because he’s interviewed so many people and had so many conversation, there’s just a wealth of knowledge in that man. We thought we would concentrate today a little bit on the mindset because sales process – this is what we do at top of funnel, sales process. But there are things about the sales process that amplify and accentuate when we have issues with mindset and skill set. Because Will has had so many conversations with people, I think he can really share his information with us, shed some light on where we can begin to start developing really good habits as sales people.

Welcome to the podcast, Will.

Will: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Marylou: So, where do you wanna start? Mindset.

Will: Mindset. The biggest leverage point for myself, and I’ll preempt this with when I worked in sales, I would always hit my target but I won’t smash it, that was one of the reasons for starting this podcast. I wanted to improve as a salesperson myself. That in mind, and also at the back of the audience’s mind as we go through this that still even to this day, I’m a chronic procrastinator. There’s numerous ways that I personally beat this and then I’ve interviewed olympic athletes, I’ve interviewed astronauts, and habits obviously come into the conversation, process come into the conversation, as well as we can dive into that perhaps.

But I think, it’ll be interesting to hear your thoughts on this as well, the biggest leverage that I had working in sales as a mindset hack, as a motivation hack, as a kick in the bum to put all the brilliant process that have been put together by the engineers in the company and the sales management of the company. The biggest hack that I came across was understanding why I wanted to work in sales in the first place. Because a lot of times, the crazy, stressful environment, it’s ups, it’s downs, it’s rejection, the highs of closing those huge deals, so I was in medical devices, my sales would be anywhere between £50,000 to a couple of million for a full operating room or operating theater. They were the best moments and then there’d be three months of downs and miserable conversations leading up to those occasions.

I think we all need to stress out why work in sales. I think the biggest leverage point for me was understanding I was working in sales because I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I wanted to start a business. I worked my last two, three years in that sales role to save up two years worth of cash so that I could start the podcast, so that I could start other things on the side, and I can experiment with things. As soon as I got that in my head, I worked harder, I doubled down on the process, I stopped experimenting, procrastinating, and I just got my head down every single day because I knew that in a two year period, I was gonna save X amount of cash. I was gonna come out of it and do something with it.

I knew this is a really an underrated tool for sales professionals. It’s something that probably sales managers and sales leaderships should be discussing with the sales teams. As I said, as soon as I knew that I had an end financial goal, put all the work, all the hustle, all the late nights, all the not going out on Fridays to see my friends, and spending it in an operating room with a surgeon looking inside patients, was just essentially my Friday nights and Saturday mornings for that period.

The motivation was there, the mindset was there. Everything else clicked in place as soon as I had that end goal.

Marylou: How did you get to that end goal? Did you do exercises to sort of write down, make a list, how do you zone in on that really strong why that keeps you motivated?

Will: I read Tony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within. That gave me some really interesting insights as to what my personality is built upon. The elements of my personality that drive me to do things and then drive me to run away from things as well. I highly recommend the book. It’s well worth, it’s a beast to read. It took me two months to read it, reading everyday. It was well-worth it. I took a bunch of insights away from that.

After that, I started asking that question of “If I’m only gonna be working for 50-60 years, I’m gonna spend 5, 10 years in the sales role perhaps, 20 if you really love it and you’re in a vertical that you enjoy, you’re selling a product that you enjoy, you’re in a team that you enjoy working and communicating within. What do I wanna achieve with that? We’re probably going quite deep, pretty quickly, Marylou. But it was almost a mortality kind of conversation I was having with myself of the worst thing, I think, I can do when I’m looking back at 95, 120, wherever I am, is to have regrets. My goal was always to minimize those regrets.

If I’m working in sales, I’m earning great money. What is the point of doing it? I’m trading my health to a certain extent with the stress I was under, with the running around, even with – because this is field sales – the amount of time I was spending in a car that dramatically increases your risk of dying on the road for a car crash which sounds crazy but the numbers are significant for field sales reps. The numbers of them that get in accidents just because of the amount of time spent on the road. When you factor all this in, it comes into a bigger conversation of, “What do you wanna do in two years time after you’ve crushed it and you’ve hit your target?” If you spread it over your lifespan and the youthful years that you’ve got in sales, when you’ve got that drive, that hustle, and I had zero responsibilities, I was somewhat single at the time, no mortgage, no car loans or anything, I had a company car, I could invest essentially all the cash I could into this one lump sum that will allow me to then start a business and do other things on the side.

A long-winded answer to your question here but it was just putting things in perspective. I think we take things too literally in the moment. We look at the small scale of it and we don’t scale it off of the long term. An exercise from that Tony Robbins book that I do regularly is if you just have a minute to yourself, if you think if I’m doing what I’m doing right now, I’d do it for a year. In a year’s time, I’m gonna be happy. Most people, it’s like, “Well, if I plot along and hit my sales goal, I could go on this holiday, it will be fine.” If you do that over five years, in five years would you be happy? The answer is probably no because you want that career growth, you want personal growth, you want business growth. You wanna have invested, maybe you want that Rolex, whatever it is.

But then when you scale off 10, 20 years, things start to get a little bit scary. I find, from speaking – I’m 31 – when I speak to mentors that I have that are 50, 60, 70, whether they had huge success or not, they always look back and think that they should have done more, could have done more, and they didn’t set their goals big enough because they were essentially having success but plodding along. Again, we’ve gone crazy deep, crazy quick here. For me, it was just sorting out what the point of this sales role is. Why am I doing this? Then, leveraging that into something bigger and moving forward.

Marylou: I do a very similar exercise every year. I have what I call marginally acceptable goals, acceptable goals, and then whoopy goals. I put them into three separate columns, and then from there I figure out – I’m all about hourly rate right now because I am in the service business. Then from there I figure out, “Okay, if I want this whoopy goal, this income, and I wanna work X number of hours a year, what is my hourly rate to achieve that goal?” When you start looking at the numbers that way, all of a sudden those tasks of staring out the window or trying to talk to a colleague or going to the water cooler more than you should, they all start adding up as, “Is this a really good use of my time?”

I think, for me personally, that putting it into that perspective of if I wanna reach this monetary goal and it’s a whoopy goal, my hourly rate is X, I’m not gonna be doing the tasks, the things that get in the way of that. I really focus on blocking out time that’s productive and single focused so that I can reach my goal that way.

I have been in sales now, I’m gonna be 60 in May, I’ve been in sales for a long time. Love it, but I have to constantly reevaluate my goals. Are you finding that as well? You mentioned the one year goal, maybe a 5 year, 10 year, do you sit down at the end of the year each year and reevaluate where you are relative to the goal?

Will: I do every quarter. I’ll take a full weekend, and for perspective now, The Salesman Podcast, it’s grown from nothing from about two and a half years in now, we’re about 600,000 downloads a month. It’s a multiple six-figure business. We work with some of the biggest players in the sales industry, HubSpot, LinkedIn, SalesForce, all from nothing. It’s not that I’m a genius, I scratched my own itch with the show. There was a lack of, I thought, content for the B2B sales professional for them. There was loads of content for leadership, and so just luck and timing that the show’s grown at this pace.

In perspective with that, that is one business. I enjoy it. But it’s not my passion and I talk about this on the show. I’m happy to hustle down. I’ve promised the audience 1000 shows. We’ve got just under 500 recorded. We’ve published about 370. I promised the audience 1000 shows. I’m in it now for at least another two or three years just to get those numbers that I promised when I first started off.

My passion is getting people excited about science. With the money from The Salesman Podcast, all that revenue at the moment is being funneled across to grow The Salesman Podcast, grow the audience somewhat organically, somewhat paid advertising. We’re about to launch a new podcast which is launching in January called Excited Science which is me interviewing professors from all around the world about all kinds of crazy science subjects.

My motivation now for doing the sales podcast, as well as helping hundreds and thousands of people every month. The emails that I get on a Friday afternoon as they’ve just got in from hustling, doing a 12-hour shift essentially, on the phone or driving around off to people and they thank me for keeping them company in the car as they’ve been going back and forth. That keeps me going. But it’s also the fact that I’m working towards what my real passion is. The business is essentially funding the next business, if that makes sense. That’s my perspective in all of this.

Every quarter, I ask myself, I want to be 50, 60, I wanna be known as someone who helped break the mundaneness of life for people who give them cool, interesting science facts every morning and got them excited about science, technology, developments on that front. The sales podcast is helping me do it. That’s how I stay motivated. That’s how we put out three, four shows every week. That’s how I’m travelling all over the world, going to different sales conferences, interviewing people at these conferences.

I probably spend two hours every evening and then a little bit of time every morning emailing people from the audience who are asking me questions, and most of the time, I’m just referring them to other people because I’m probably not the specialist on all the subjects and I know the specialists in those areas. The tale is that I’m motivated to grow my sales audience because it’s not necessarily an X amount in the bank that’s motivating me. I don’t really care about being a millionaire, although cash is allowing me to do something bigger and greater in five years’ time with the science podcast and what will become of that.

Marylou: We have our why. We feel very deeply in our hearts that we’re on the right path. How do we take that into our daily actions, our daily habits? What do you recommend there?

Will: I’m a terrible procrastinator. As you described then, process and habits are the only thing that keeps anything I ever do together. I get up every morning, I do the show notes for the podcast that’s going out that day, I think you alluded to before, Marylou, that I time book my diary. My phone’s off, and for an overlay of this, no one has my phone number. The only way that anyone gets in touch with me is Skype. I protect myself on multiple layers so I don’t get distracted on this. I time block, I use a technique called the Pomodoro technique which essentially you set a 25-minute timer, 5-minute break, 25-minute timer, 5-minute break. That’s the only way I can get myself going in the morning. As much as I wanna do all this, as excited as I am to help my audience, as I said, build cash to start the next podcast which is gonna be the 20 year project, I still need a kick in the ass every morning from this time that I set.

And then, it’s just habit and process. You gotta know what you wanna do each morning, so I write my to-do list the day before. That only kicks in at about 1:00 o’clock. Before that, it’s my daily tasks. In medical device sales, my previous role, that was clearing my inbox of incoming requests because we’d have lots of requests from somewhat emergency from doctors wanting to loan equipments from [inaudible 00:14:19] and things like this, so clear my inbox. And then, I would spend a little bit of time on the phone, then I’d sort out where I’d be driving to, sort out the traffic, make my driving around Yorkshire where I am in the UK, I’ll make that as efficient as possible. And then, I would ring up, before I left the house, again, process habit, I’d ring up every surgeon, theater manager, procurement officer, I’d ring them up before I left the door so I wasn’t arriving at places and they’re busy, things have changed, their plans have changed. I’m just making that 10-minute investment of time which is a habit. I did it religiously everyday, that will make the rest of the day more efficient as we went forward.

For me, it’s all about process, it’s all about building habits. We all know the clichés of it takes 66 days to build a habit and I found that to be true with different things I’ve implemented, whether it’s going to gym and all this kind of stuff as well as sales. For me, to beat that procrastination, as long as it’s a good sales process in place that you can follow, it’s just get your head down. I don’t think we should ever complicate this. It’s just sucking it up and getting on with that first few bits of work every morning which then allow you, over time, to develop into a habit, it becomes easier and then you start the next one.

Marylou: That’s what I do. I actually keep a Google worksheet of my block time when I’m in the office. I block out email, I could do email all day long because I get a lot of requests and questions from people, I only allow myself 30 minutes of email early AM and then 30 minutes of email in the PM. Then from there, I actually work myself up to two hour blocks now of work time. I do the same thing you do though with the timer. How funny is that?

I have a timer, I learned this from a copywriter actually, one of the best copywriters in the US used to do this regularly. I do 33 minutes of timer. When that comes down, then I have a five minute break, I can get up and do whatever I want. But during that block time, I do single tasks. I only do working on my intellectual property or I’m working on a client work but I don’t look at my phone, check my email, work on a client. I don’t do it like that at all. I even block out my exercise time and my break times because I feel that rather than be slave to time management, like from 9-10 I’m doing this, from 11-12 I’m doing this. I just do things in blocks and I just make sure that the blocks are completed before I go to bed.

If I wanna get up at five in the morning and do my work, great. If I wanna get up at 9:30AM or 10:00AM, I will still get my work done. A lot of people don’t have that flexibility working for a company. But business developers, especially those who work where they’re servicing clients in different geographies, they’re gonna structure their day that way because they’ll have a better chance of getting ahold of the people if they work in block time.

Will: Got it. Just to reiterate the time elements of this, I set that 25 minute time, obviously, that’s a nice number that rounds off the hours. I set that timer to when I sit down I say, “I’m just gonna do 25 minutes of work.” Single tasks, as you described them, Marylou. If I do 25 minutes, it’s been a great day. It doesn’t matter about the rest of it or what happens then if I get that momentum of once I’ve got 25 minutes done, your brain is focused, there’s probably tons of studies and science on this, once I get focused and zoned in, I don’t want that five minute break then, often I’ll work through it.

For me, it’s the drain and mental energy of switching different tasks that really fatigues me throughout the day. As we know, we only have a finite amount of willpower and I believe that the change of tasks drops my will power more than anything else really. I have my phone on airplane mode, I’ve got a nice, big monitor in the home office I work from, and I just have one huge page on and I just nail through that content. That work, that podcast uploading, those email outreaches, those customer requests, those sponsor requests that come in, all I’m doing for that 25 minutes is that one job. But then I find that I wanna carry on after that because it’s easier to carry on with the work than it is to change and start a new task.

Marylou: Exactly. For those of you listening, block time or time blocking, whatever you wanna call it, is the way to reach those goals that you so desperately want and you know you can achieve but you’re just not sure quite how to get about it. Just start in small blocks and work your way up. For me, I work to two hours now. But I’ve been doing this for a long time. When I first started and the folks I’ve worked with coming out of college that are in sales, I do what Will does. I try to get them 25 minutes of structured single-focused task, and just like Will said, once you’re in the rhythm, in the moment, you just keep going. It’s a beautiful thing.

Will: The other thing to layer on top of this, I think you may do it slightly different, if you allow your blocks to be moved around. When I’ve got something in the diary, that is it. That is happening then. Nothing can be rescheduled. If I’ve got a call to go on Oprah and then talk about whatever it was, maybe I’d bend the rules a little bit for that. But anything other than Oprah, I’m 100% sticking to my diary. What it allows me to do is I say to myself, I’ll use the science podcast, “I wanna record 20 episodes of science podcasts so we can launch it at the beginning of January.” I will look in my diary for 20 hours worth of recording slots and there just wasn’t any. I physically could not fit that in without sacrificing something else. That allows you to be very specific with your goals. It tells you whether you physically got the time to achieve them or not. It’s one thing for a sales manager to say, “You need to make more calls.” But then when you look at your diary, there’s physically not enough time in the day unless you stay in over four hours each evening to physically make more calls, then that changes the game, think about sales specifically for a second. Then you need to become more efficient with your calls rather than just make more of them or more emails or whatever it is.

I think it was Andy Paul on my podcast a little while ago, that changed the game for me of you only have so many hours in the office, on the road, wherever you’re selling. By doing that, the excuse or the simple and not very useful advice from sales leadership of doing more of X can easily be disproven or can be shown to just not be effective when your diary is full. You physically can’t just dial more, then you gotta request new auto dial, you gotta request new email automation software, you gotta do something then that changes the game. But until I get it all down in my diary, I don’t really know how long a task is gonna take. I don’t really know if I’m gonna fit it all in. Because like most sales people, we wanna get as much crammed into the day as possible. I think we overestimate what we can and can’t do.

Marylou: That’s for sure. The reason why I talk about this rotating block time is because a lot of times, we’re trying to figure out best time to call, and we’re working with certain buyers who are in the office at certain times, so I’d like to have the call blocks set. But I allow them to be moved around based on the best time to call. Same thing with the email blocks, I like to move those around based on the best time to email. We’re on trial and error mode for quite some time until we get a good rhythm. Then, you have to overlay that with not all sales people are just prospecting. There are sales people who are in multiple roles of prospecting, closing, servicing. We have to find just nuggets of time in their schedules to do prospecting alone. We really have to set those block times, move them around until we figure out the best time.

Will: Sure. In medical devices, I’d block out every single Friday as just relationship building time. That’s the easy Friday afternoon evening job for me to just got and sit with a procurement officer and go hang out with the NHS here in the UK, I don’t know how to describe it, as amazing as it it, winds down a little bit, probably most industries I guess, winds down a little bit on a Friday. That’s why I’d always block Fridays for that. Tuesdays would always be a contract and deal negotiations. In hindsight, I would do some more of that as well. Narrow down specific days, specific times to specific jobs, but I guess I probably was less flexible.

I’m learning as we go from this conversation as well, Marylou. I was less flexible than perhaps what I should have been because you’re taking the same amount of effort, the same amount of time, but you’re making it more efficient by having it perhaps just nudgable in different directions to do the same amount of calls but get .5%, 5%, whatever is the high response rate within that same time period.

Marylou: Yeah, a classic example of that is a client that I worked with in Florida. We had block time for calling from let’s say 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM, they weren’t getting very many connects obviously, they would get put into voicemail. We moved it around, we came in one morning at 7:30 AM East Coast time and within half an hour, they had their five meaningful conversations. It was consistent. It wasn’t a fluke. We kept moving this stuff around and everytime we went back to this one day at 7:30 in the morning, we had a better shot at getting our conversations. Maximizing return on effort. Highest impact, lowest effort is really the reason why I’m totally fine with moving stuff around, in blocks though. In blocks. It really does make a difference.

For me, personally, Friday afternoons and Sundays are when I hear from sales managers and executives. I know to keep that time open and I have office hours in those time blocks. They could pick up the phone and call me anytime.

Will: I think you just took some stuff in here which I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, and that is I think salespeople are selfish. I think we’re trying to pigeon-hole our customers down into social selling, for example, tweeting them rather than essentially communicating on the platforms that they wanna communicate on. I guess this dribbles down onto the time as well of, “We don’t wanna come in at 7:00 in the morning to speak to customer.”

We’re selfish. I wanna be rolling out, well, not me personally, but I’m up at 5:00 everyday. There’s people who wanna be rolling out of bed at 8:30, having a shower and rocking and rolled in at 9:00 AM. That’s not a choice that we get to make. That’s a choice that the market makes and we gotta follow the market.

Marylou: We have to do what our buyer does. I can remember sitting in parking lots at 6:30AM with a cup of coffee waiting for the CEO to drive in. That was the way I rolled because I knew I’d have that conversation, and it’s all about getting that first conversation and working within the way they work. You become them. You become your CEO. You become your COO, your IT person when you’re getting ready to have those conversations. You have to look, think, act, and behave like your prospect. Some of you have more than one person sitting around the table that you need to talk to so you’re a little bit of a chameleon as well.

Will, we are running to the top of the hour here, how can people get ahold of you? I know you said The Salesman Podcast, we can look it up, I’ll put the information on the page for everybody, where else can we find you?

Will: Super simple. Just search Google for The Salesman Podcast or head over to salesman.org, there’s a new blog that’s launching in the next few weeks. It’s gonna cover sales and everything else that goes alongside that, widen your audiences, business acronym. But if you search Salesman Podcast, you’d find us everywhere, hopefully.

Marylou: What about the science one, I’m so excited because my sales process is actually highlighted in a table of elements format.

Will: Nice. The science show hasn’t launched yet. It’s gonna be called Excited Science. The premise of the show very simply is to get the audience excited about science so they can share facts and different tidbits with their friends, colleagues, as they go throughout the day after listening in the morning or the evening. That’s over at excitedscience.com and should be off and launched beginning of February, end of January 2018.

Marylou: What a wonderful gift, especially if you have children and you want them to get as excited about science as you are. I know that for me, with math, it’s been a wonderful experience to hear my daughter come home from school talk about the Pythagorean Theorem but do it in a way that talks about the history of it. It’s just so amazing when you get down to that level, how exciting these topics are. Thank you for doing that with the science thing. I love it.

Will: No problem. I think we all get stuck in our own heads. Salespeople do this as well. I don’t think it does us any harm rather than listening seven days a week to your show, Marylou, to my show, if we just choose one, it doesn’t have to be necessarily entertainment, I’m not talking about watching The Bachelor or nonsense like that, but one podcast where we learn something. That allows us to have more interesting conversations with our customers, it allows us to just broaden our knowledge in general. It allows us to just think outside the box in a lot of scenarios. I read a lot of science books, non-sales books.

I’m always coming out with different tidbits and different elements of business that I never thought would be applicable for sales. I’ve interviewed on the podcast a neuroscientist, we interviewed a psychopath, I’ve interviewed olympic athletes, I’ve interviewed recently Jordan Belfort, the dude that The Wolf Of Wall Street film was based on. I think it’s important for us as salespeople to make conversations everyday. We need to be interested. I feel you become interesting by consuming content that stretches your comfort zone, stretches your mind a little bit. I think that is the bigger competitive advantage, you being an interesting person the customers like. When you pick up the phone, they like speaking with you. That’s as big as a competitive advantage as sales process, as mindset, as anything else.

Marylou: Well said. Thank you, Will, so much for joining.

Will: You’re welcome. Super excited to be here, Marylou. Thanks again for having me on the show.