Have you ever been in a selling situation where you just felt like your mental game wasn’t there? Or the prospect pushes back and you don’t know what to say? Or you just get nervous?
That’s why I sat down with our Head Sales Coach at Sales Insights Lab, Tiffany Torres, to give you our most effective tips for sales mindsets.
Check out the following conversation to learn how top performers think, and why your mindset is key to selling more. Check it out:
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Sales Mindsets of Top Performers
Marc Wayshak: I’m here today with Tiffany Torres, our Head Coach at Sales Insights Lab. What we really want to jump into is the issue of sales mindsets. Tiffany, let’s start with you telling us about where you were at with your own sales mindsets early on, when you first started selling.
Tiffany Torres: I was in such a tough place with sales mindsets. I remember that when I would try to call people, or when I would have a discovery meeting with somebody, I would just go into the space of thinking, “Oh no, what am I going to say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I lose it?”
It was all very self-conscious. And what I found was that it really made the prospects freeze up and feel like I was trying to push something on them.
Marc Wayshak: Yeah, it’s like they can sense the nerves, right? I was recently using the analogy of the bear in the woods: If you’re scared, the bear can sense it right away.
When our sales mindsets aren’t right, we tend to just do the wrong thing no matter what.
Tiffany Torres: Exactly. We tend to step on our own toes, and we try to say the thing that we think prospects want to hear—when usually we haven’t even figured out what is really going on in their world.
Marc Wayshak: So let’s just dive right in and go through some of the sales mindsets that we both think are critical for being successful in sales.
The Win-Win Mindset
Tiffany Torres: One sales mindset that’s been top-of-mind for me recently is this concept of win-win. The fact that when sales is done right, it’s a win-win scenario.
Your prospects get so much value out of the types of questions that you ask. And they get value just by having a conversation with you—because you get to talk to so many different people that are just like them.
The win on your side, of course, is the ability to ask deep questions. Go really deep into the challenges that they’re facing and the way that they’re experiencing what you know is already going on.
Marc Wayshak: This idea of a win-win sales mindset is really revolutionary for a lot of salespeople. Many of us think that when we close a sale, it’s like we won and we took value from the prospect, and they lost. Or if we’re in front of a prospect and we’re going through a discovery, it’s like we’re winning because we’re doing our process and they’re losing.
The reality is that all of these things are total win-wins. With the right prospect, with the right process, and the right approach—and, of course, the right product or service fit with the individual—it’s such an obvious win-win.
Because if they go through a strong sales process, even if they don’t end up buying, they’ve still walked away with a much clearer idea of what they need or what their challenge is. If they do buy, then the win for them is that we’re actually helping them solve the challenge that they have.
Tiffany Torres: Exactly. The flip side of that is getting ghosted by the prospect, which is one of the things that keeps salespeople up at night. If we get ghosted for a meeting, we often think of it as, “The prospect is taking something from me.”
But what gave me a lot of confidence in the process is the sales mindset that if a prospect ghosts you, they’re taking something away from themselves as well. And all of the sudden, thinking of it from that perspective really opens up the door to helping them to not get in their own way.
Sales Is Just a Game
Marc Wayshak: Right, I love it. One of the other sales mindsets that I talk about a lot in our community is the idea that sales is just a game.
Obviously, the nature of video games is super different today from when we were little kids. Nowadays, to my understanding, you go online and you’re connecting with other people and engaging in some kind of game, whether it’s a fantasy game or a war game or whatever. And that’s literally what so much of selling is nowadays.
If you are selling by Zoom or you’re selling by phone, it’s literally just a video game. You are tapping into a video game that everyone’s playing.
Now, of course, if you’re going door to door or you’re face-to-face, it’s maybe a little bit different, but the reality is that it’s still just a game. They’re not going to hurt you. They’re not going to attack you, they’re not going to punch you, they’re not going to do anything physically violent to you. There is no physical risk to selling. And yet most people, when they’re in a selling situation, behave as if they’re in the middle of this intense contact sport where if they don’t look the right way, they’re going to get leveled from the side.
The mindset that sales is just a game takes so much burden off of us as salespeople: You can start to realize, “I’m just playing.”
Tiffany Torres: Yeah, it’s huge. I think that what gets confused is that sometimes when we’re on the phone with a prospect or we’re making a dial, they don’t even know we get to hang up and try again. It kind of triggers our brain to be like there’s a bear chasing me and I’m in physical danger and there’s no actual danger.
With every call, with every meeting, you basically get to respond. Seeing it from that perspective, it’s funny because it does the opposite. You perhaps think that it makes you like, oh, willy-nilly, whatever, but it actually gives you the freedom to make the mistakes that you need to make in order to grow and to just treat it like it’s a game.
They’re Lucky You’re Calling Them
Marc Wayshak: Yeah, it’s so true. What’s a sales mindset that’s really important to you when you’re making dials or kind of more in the cold realm of prospecting?
Tiffany Torres: I think just remembering that they are lucky that I call them. That is really something important. And it’s not an obnoxious kind of standpoint. It really is just the confidence of saying, “I’ve selected my audience to reach out to, and I am hugely passionate about what I do and the audiences that I serve. The fact that I have an opportunity to call these people is huge for me, and it’s huge for them as well.”
The other thing is that the loss is asynchronous. It is my job, it is the nobility of our profession to do a good job of trying to hold these conversations together because these people are honestly usually struggling with something. When I’m on that call, I am not thinking about, “Oh, how do I sound?” or any of that stuff. I’m sitting here thinking, “What do I need to do to make sure that this prospect doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot? That they don’t put themselves in a position they really shouldn’t be in in the first place?”
Marc Wayshak: Yeah. This idea that they’re lucky to receive a prospecting call is so counter to the way we typically think of prospecting calls. A lot of people think of telemarketing as similar to prospecting calls, but the reality is they’re very different things. That’s like saying a spam email is the same as receiving a great, thoughtful, intentional cold email. It’s not.
When it comes to a prospecting call, it’s like, yes, are we interrupting their day? Yeah. Are we calling unannounced? Sure, but if they’re the right person, we’re going to be bringing tremendous value to them as a result of this process. It’s like we’ve got to have that mindset that it’s like, this is a good thing and every time I’m making a dial, yes, are some people going to get really cranky? Of course. So what?
Tiffany Torres: I actually got a prospecting call from somebody—and it’s always funny when that happens, because I’m now in this space so it’s interesting to be on the prospect end of things. I got a prospecting call last Friday and it wound up being something that I had been looking for that I hadn’t really necessarily taken that first step to researching, and they were able to hold the conversation together. It was actually a really good call. The person got the appointment, and I am excited to see what their next step is. There is definitely a sense of, “I’m grateful that they called.” I feel like my prospects feel the same way about those conversations as well.
Marc Wayshak: I think that’s actually a really good example, too. As salespeople, we should behave the way we want our prospects to behave with us. Now that doesn’t mean listening to every crappy cold call or responding to every dumb cold email, but if you are dealing with someone who seems like they’re doing a good job, maybe there’s something there. That’s funny you say that because we just started working with an agency that’s helping us with some of our video content and it was a cold email.
It wasn’t a cold email as we would teach it, but it was a really solid cold email. It showed that he really knew our YouTube channel. He really understood what was going on and the timing was right, and so here we are and he’s got a $3,000 a month contract with us. I mean, that’s a huge piece of business from a cold email, and it was exactly what we needed in that moment.
Tiffany Torres: That’s where it goes back to win-win. I’m happy that they called me, and they get an appointment out of it. Before having the insights that I’ve gained from all of the training, I used to think of it as this thing where I needed to go and put people in awkward situations. Now on the flip side of it, it’s just such a beautiful world where I get to be a problem solver for my clients. And sometimes I will make my dials, and I’ve got everything so niche and optimized that they’re just like, “Whoa, how did you know to call me?” They honestly think that I’m psychic, and it’s a beautiful experience.
Be Clear on Your Ideal Prospect
Marc Wayshak: I think that’s worth unpacking. This is a sales mindset thing as well: Being incredibly clear on your ideal prospect. Because if you’re prospecting to your ideal prospect, you don’t really need as much personalization in every piece of outreach or as much data if you’re super targeted as to who you’re reaching out to.
I think you’re one of the best people in terms of having such a laser focus. I think that it’s also a mindset thing because I think a lot of people are afraid to niche down because they’re afraid of missing out on the other stuff. Can you share your niche, and then tell me what drew you to having such a deep niche?
Tiffany Torres: We were a general marketing agency before, and then we decided to niche into one specific thing because we wanted to get good at speaking to a particular audience and doing an amazing job for one audience. At that point we had just had our first child, so we chose preschools and daycares as what we were going to go into.
Really focusing on that audience meant everything—every ounce of what we were doing could speak in their language and could talk to the way that they think about the world, because everyone’s slightly different in terms of how they see their challenges. They’re going to describe not having leads in terms of not having families and that’s a different set of language.
Be Willing to Piss People Off
Marc Wayshak: Right, that’s awesome. One sales mindset that I wanted to bring up that struck me as we were talking is this idea of being willing to piss people off. Now, this is kind of going in a different direction from the idea that we’re helping people and all of that. And while that is a hundred percent true, I think it’s very compatible with the idea of being willing to piss people off. The reality is that if you are in sales and you are terrified of making someone annoyed or pissed off, then you are not going to make it.
Just take cold dials for example. There are going to be moments when you make a prospecting call to someone and who knows, maybe they just got into a fight with their spouse, or they just received bad news, or maybe they’re just having a bad day, and you are the person that they’re in front of and you’re making a prospecting call and they say really mean things.
For a lot of people, in fact I would argue most people, that’s a terrifying and devastating experience, but the reality is you’ve got to be willing to piss people off. Now, I always want to caveat that the goal is never to piss people off, but you’ve got to be okay with the fact that there are going to be people that are pissed off no matter what you do or say. Give yourself permission to essentially be misunderstood and to shake it off and roll it off in any sales situation, not just cold prospecting.
Tiffany Torres: I think a lot of the pressure there can come from feeling like your performance is going to be judged on each individual experience as opposed to the cumulation of everything that’s going on.
Coming back to the game scenario, I was a big Zelda gaming person. In Zelda, you had all these people in the village where their job was either to be an active part of your video game experience or they would just point you in the right direction for some information.
I mean, really, if you piss people off they’re either going to hang up on you, or it’s just not going to be a sale, and either way that was somebody that you have to learn from. Maybe it’s because you’re asking them to look at something that could be scary for them, and change is scary. I mean, that’s one of the things that we have to remember with prospects is that if we’re helping them overcome a challenge, that means they’re in the middle of a challenge.
I always like to give my prospects the opportunity to walk it back to see if it’s just that first layer of defensiveness, and I can do that because I’m not taking the things that they’re saying to heart. That’s a really powerful experience for everyone that’s involved.
Marc Wayshak: It’s almost like the experience of a therapist just uncovering some latent memories. I mean, obviously that’s not what we’re talking about, but it’s the same kind of thing where it’s like it has nothing to do with you.
Either way, regardless of which bucket you’re pissing off falls into, they’re not going to find you, they’re not going to attack you, they’re not going to remember. They’re going to forget in a couple minutes because, again, it had nothing to do with you as an individual.
You Don’t Have to Close Every Single Sale
Tiffany Torres: I think that in terms of sales mindsets, understanding that you don’t have to close every conversation was huge for me.
I would get into every conversation thinking, “I need this, I need this.” But it was a game-changer for me to be okay with just walking away from things that aren’t a good fit, asking the questions that I need to, and then understanding that there’s more people out there.
You have so many more prospects that you need to reach out to over the course of the next month or the next year. You don’t have to force something to be a fit.
Marc Wayshak: A hundred percent. This idea that great salespeople can “just sell anything to anyone”—that’s not true. I guarantee you that whomever we’re talking about can’t sell anything to anyone because no one can sell anything to anyone. It’s a dumb goal. We need to find the right people and have good conversations with them, and some of them are going to buy, and some of the right people are not going to buy.
I talk to salespeople every once in a while who will say, “I close 95% of the sales I get on.” That’s just not true. There’s no level of pre-qualifying that you could do to have a 95% close rate. Don’t try to sell anything to anyone. In fact, be very clear on who’s not a fit up front and move on and end it—because this idea of trying to close everything is what gets us into this death spiral of following up and think-it-overs and putting all this pressure on people and ultimately creating bad clients.
Tiffany Torres: Yeah, it’s a waste trying to sell everything to everyone. It’s a waste of time because you’re going to get stuck. People are going to feel that pressure, they’re going to ghost you, which means your calendar is not going to look the way you actually want and it’s a waste of energy. Then you’re basing how you feel about your performance at the end of the day off of a number that you really shouldn’t have had in your mind to begin with.
Marc Wayshak: Totally, I love that. That’s a really good one. All right, well, I think that’s a really good way to end this conversation about sales mindsets. My takeaway from this conversation around sales mindsets is that we have to really listen to what’s going on inside of our head. We have to recognize those records that are being played in our heads, we’ve got to remove that head trash, be aware of it, remove it, and then replace it with these empowering mindsets around win-wins. Around the fact that we’re helping people, that we’re willing to frustrate people, that not everyone’s going to be a fit. All that stuff is important, and that’s what kind of keeps us centered.
I hope this conversation on sales mindsets was tactical and useful for everyone. Thanks so much, Tiffany.
Tiffany Torres: Cool, thank you.
So there you have it. Now you know Our 6 Best Sales Mindsets Tips on How Top Performers Think. Which of these sales mindsets did you find most useful for your own selling approach? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below to join the conversation.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.