Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and CEO of Selling Power Magazine, and CEO of the Sales 3.0 Conferences, joins me on this episode to discuss why personal mindset is one of the most crucial weapons or enemies of a sales rep and how to uncover the keys to its success.
The Sales Enablement Podcast with Andy Paul was formerly Accelerate! with Andy Paul.
Andy Paul 0:56
Hello and welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. I’m excited to be talking with my guest today. Joining me is Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder and CEO of selling power magazine and CEO of the sales three Dotto conferences, which many of you may have attended already? If not, you should definitely put that on your calendar.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 1:37
Thank you, Andy. It’s an honor to be with you. I’ve watched a lot of your interviews and listened to them and I think you have a mindset that’s driven by curiosity.
Andy Paul 1:48
Well, yeah, let’s talk about that mindset. But first, before we jump into mindset, which is the topic today, tell us a little bit about yourself on how to get your start in sales and how’d you end up publishing and selling power magazines.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 1:59
Well, Grew up in Australia. And I always was impressed by salespeople. I remember the first successful salesperson I’ve ever met. I was in a coffee house in Salzburg. And he was sitting there having a glass of champagne every morning. And my friend and I got to talk with him. And I said, I was curious, what are you doing? What are you celebrating? And he says, well, had a great week, guys sold like, you know, today’s dollars and maybe like $50,000 worth of stuff. I said, What are you selling? He says, washing machines. I said, Well, how can you make that much money with washing machines? He says, I let the customer do the walking. And I said, What do you mean? He says, Well, I invite people to a hotel, I display the product. I talked to about 40 or 50 people at a time, and then usually sold 30% of the people. So he was a showman. He did magnificent presentations. And he went through a little spiel with us and showed us the presentation. He didn’t want to recruit us to help himself. So I was really impressed by that. And I thought this away, I was in an amateur theatre group. So I became an actor part time. And then I learned how to direct and I really enjoyed the whole process of directing people and helping people step into a role and later, when I got the responsibility for sales training for a multinational French company handbook. I helped salespeople literally impersonate a professional.
Andy Paul 3:48
Right? So what was the product you’re selling at that time?
Gerhard Gschwandtner 3:53
Construction equipment and it was from you know, $50,000 to a million dollars, right and I retrained 1600 sales people across the world in 41 different countries and recreated sales training material in four languages and I traveled all over the world and ended up in the United States and after two years working with them in the United States, I started my own company, and I did sales training for other companies. And then my wife had twins, and she says, where you’re traveling all the time, is there a way where you can make money without traveling and teaching people? And I said, Sure, I designed a course and I sold it through direct mail. And it worked. Okay, but it didn’t get me off the road. So I thought maybe I revised the formula. So I came up with the idea of creating a newsletter that I called selling power. I sent it out to sell my course and people liked it and I changed the format to a newspaper, because it was cheaper to print on. And I called it personal selling pie at the time. Sure, I remember that. Right. And it was designed to sell my course. But then people wanted more copies. And, you know, over time, I realized I can’t charge subscription money. And then I committed to six times a year. And that was in 1987. We came up with six issues and sent me $12 for a subscription. And by the end of that year, I had 7500 subscribers, and then it became the biggest sales management publication in the country. And then, you know, I still love training people because I’ve interviewed so many super successful people like billionaires like Marc Benioff, or, Michael Dell, or Mark Cuban Richard Branson. Mary Kay had a lot of really fascinating people. And I always was curious about your mindset, you know, what’s going on through their mind? How did they think about the world? What do they think about sales? What do they think about success? And what I’ve discovered over the years and discussing it with psychologists and doing research, that it’s really the mindset that shapes the salesperson skill set. In sales success, to me, is a combination of the right mindset, the right skill set and the right tool set.
Andy Paul 6:32
But the mindset comes first. That’s the baseline.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 6:35
That’s the baseline and a lot of people have sort of their mind set on automatic, you know, they’re not mindful, they’re mindless, right? Because mindful people, they focus on the present moment. They’re aware of themselves. So boy, the other person and the average sales person Really is either preoccupied about the past, so that something that was troubling five minutes ago or five days ago, is still in that present moment. And a lot of people are worried about the future, what may happen tomorrow or five years from now. And that kind of mindset is not very conducive to understanding the customer because they don’t understand themselves. So how can I understand the customer in our world? It’s all about next, next, next next versus now, what is important now? How can we focus on the present moment and make the best of the present moment?
Andy Paul 7:46
So if this is the foundation, so why is this not something that’s routinely taught him if we go look at the sales training curriculum of sales trainers across the country, if not the world, the focus is all on skills are processed.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 8:04
But yeah, rely on mindset and look at the stats, how much traction, the skills training.
Andy Paul 8:33
Right? Well, if you’re training people on mindset, and you know, I get into some of the research that you’ve talked about and some of the things you’ve written, but isn’t the same thing sort of true. If you’re teaching mindset or teaching the behaviors that follow mindset? It still has to be put into practice, right? It still has to be some sort of repetition involved with adopting a mindset, I would assume.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 8:57
I think the biggest thing is that when people understand that there’s an inner seal, there is that prefrontal cortex right up above your eyes, which is the location of the executive function of the brain.
Andy Paul 9:16
Now you just call it the CEO of the brain.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 9:18
You can look at situations from different perspectives, right? You can assess the situation in a way that it becomes self enhancing instead of self destructive. A lot of people when they pressure they see a threat versus seeing an opportunity. The CEO has two functions. One is to understand the foundation of your mindset and make better decisions in the future and create a platform for growth. And the second function of being a CEO is to grow in areas where they haven’t grown before. One area would be no limit thinking. And, for example, when I don’t know, do you play golf? badly? Okay. So one of the people is in a course. She asked him about, you know, how does it apply to golf? And, well, no limit thinking is about not telling yourself that you suck at golf. No Limit thinking means that if you own applause, three that you can actually reach the green on apply three, or that you could shoot a hole in one. So, if you tell yourself I can shoot a hole in one then all of a sudden, your belief system changes, your behavior changes, your action changes. And a woman actually applied this on the golf course and shot a hole in one place after you know what caused it, right? It’s the same with salespeople what I say, well, this year, I have a goal of a million dollars. So why not think in unlimited terms and ask yourself? What would happen if I had a goal 300%? What if I did $3 million? Then all of a sudden the thinking changes, you know, do I need to call on the same accounts and do I need to call on different accounts? Probably you want to go high up the food chain call on sea level, and then work backwards and say, What do I need to do? Who do I need to call? What conversations do I need to have? Right, I need to push. So then people set goals that are far beyond where they are at the present moment.
Andy Paul 11:43
When I thought I’d skip the insert there for a second. I think for people listening, I think one of the things that to me, a really important aspect of what you’re talking about is that you talked about research has shown that some of these belief systems are being formed, you know, starting to the moment we’re born. And that, you know, it gets back to the same. This is really, the environment is really important. I mean, this is a case of nurture versus nature. I mean, nature is nature’s not your destiny.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 12:11
I give you that example, I interviewed Cal Ripken, and he has an amazing record of consecutive games,and went way past Lou Gehrig’s record by over 500 games. And I had a conversation with him about his belief system. And he says, Well, I believe in a strong work ethic, I believe in showing up. And it’s not just about, you know, honoring your teammates and being there for them, but also, it’s a commitment to be the best you can be. And I said, Let’s peel back the layers of the onion and he said, “ Where did those beliefs come from? You don’t wake up one day and say I want to be a consistent performer. No, it comes actually from influences in childhood where children watch their parents, they watch their mom, they watch it, they add their caretakers, their siblings, family members, and then they become aware of how the world works.
Andy Paul 13:23
Gerhard Gschwandtner 13:24
Yes. He drilled into them that work ethic and so he understood the relationship between a good work ethic and action steps and success. So when we work with people, we talk about what is it that you want to do? What do you want to be? And what are your goals? What are your dreams, and we actually encouraged salespeople to cut out pictures and put them on their walls like in many offices’ business scoreboard. If a dream board is right next to it So you show your vacation home, show the gallery that you want to drive, whatever it is, or your sailboat or you know, your family going to college, your kids going to college, create those images. So you want to visualize your dreams then the conversation changes in the office from scoring to achieving dreams and then they call themselves the dream team team that helped each other win. And this is the magic that it’s not just the goal setting but we also have deeper conversation about the why. Why do you want to achieve more to you saying you want to achieve and the bigger divide bigger to try that? How and then we have action steps but we don’t stop there we go a level deeper because we know that dreams are fleeting and everyday people get exposed to about 60,000 thoughts okay? 80% of them are negative. So you have this little goal marching against this avalanche of thoughts that enter their minds that make him forget about the goal. So what we do is to in order, in order to grow, you need a partner, you need somebody who believes in you. So we help them assign an accountability model. So they talk to each other on a weekly basis and say, This is what I have achieved. Those are the difficulties I have encountered. Give me the benefit of your thinking, how would you approach the situation that I’m in right now. So two heads are better than one. And if you process your experiences through somebody else’s brain, they’ll look from the outside and see things differently, that can help you gain perspective, right? And you can find new ways in dealing with the challenges that you’re facing. But there’s another thing there is a key Hayden’s to success. And you want to be in that flow, where you have sort of a voice in the back of your mind where I say, Well, next week on when I talk to Andy, I want to tell him about that success story. I, you know, I want to make a commitment now to reach that weekly goal so that I can feel proud when I talk to Andy and report about my success.
Andy Paul 16:25
Right. So a question for you. So, let’s talk about, you know, people that need to develop a new belief system, if you will need to modify the one they have is because I think people sort of tend to think that hey, I’m gonna just flip the switch and I have this epiphany and suddenly, it’s different. Um, it’s not that simple. Right. So what are the steps right the basics so somebody says, come to one of your courses and says, Look, I I want to become like Dan Waltman you know, who we all know is Krugman motivated, inspirational figure.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 17:04
One is understanding the foundation of your mindset and three levels. So one is the implanted mindset, which is what you get from your parents and caretakers. So, as a kid, we watch our parents, we look up to them, they look really big. I know everything. I don’t have any pain, they don’t have emotions, like we do, and they know exactly what’s what, give us the do’s and don’ts. So that’s the implanted mindset. And we become little puppets of our parents for a while and then we go to school and then we have the imprinted mindset. We get exposed to teachers to coaches, to role models to men to us in a job. Those that imprint a mindset are people that impress us that leave an impression on us and we play with those behaviors or we simulate, we run with some of the ideas into our belief system. So we already begin to change our parents belief systems, through the exposure to people that impress us, right? There’s a third level, which is the inspired mindset. The little inner voice that tells us we are special, we have a talent, where we want to make a commitment to developing that talent, like you have the talent of curiosity. So you are using that talent by interviewing interesting people and sharing that information with a lot of other people. So that’s sort of in a nutshell, the mindset system that the industry needs to examine. So let’s say you want to change a belief about your work and let’s say you, you like to goof off, you like to party a lot. And so you want to find out what my belief system was and how was it formed? I’m more influenced by my mom or my dad. And in your case, it was your mom that read a lot of books. And exactly. You saw her smile when she had a book and, and she was happy. So you said, I want to try that. So that’s a good thing. And when you think about the implanted mindset, think of it like a garden that has flowers that has fruit trees, that has a lot of good stuff. But also, it has a lot of weeds, right? So we want to make a decision to stop watering the weeds and continue to water the flowers. So you don’t perpetuate the negative habits or the things that hold you back. And you want to take a sheet and say this is my belief system about work. actually write it down, write it down, and say, well, is my belief system helping me reach my goals? And if it isn’t, that he asked yourself, the more questions is my desire to have a party helping me act on the belief that hard work is a good thing for reaching success. Is that behavior of the party helping me reach my goals? And how is that serving me? So if you have that analysis, that belief assessment, that you become much clearer about the beliefs and the conflicts that you have with your beliefs and reality, then you become more congruent, and you become more consistent in the pursuit of success.
Andy Paul 20:35
But one of the things that malicious people have , even if they’re sort of embedded in sort of bad behaviors, is a certain comfort level in knowing those behaviors, right that they have with them. That’s what makes it so difficult to change. So how do you help people overcome that fear of change in going through this process?
Gerhard Gschwandtner 20:54
Right, and that’s where the conversation with other people comes into play. I give you an example of those. A Bob clog found off often payment systems. He started off by raising a million dollars and then 10 years to build a billion dollar company went on the New York Stock Exchange and he sold the company in 2016 for $4.3 billion. And he became a very wealthy man. Right? He’s interviewed me a couple of times and also read his book. And where he talks about his mom and his dad, and his mom was a well adjusted, very loving, supportive woman. His dad was not a model citizen. And he left a family when he was like 13 and Bob Claus said I had a challenge because growing up without a dad or with a dad that was self destructive and abusive at times. He’s a curse. So you have a choice to say, Well, I want to buck the trend and do something constructive with my life or give up and get depressed and, and self medicate for the rest of your life, which a lot of people do. Sure. So she had that idea, that curiosity that I want to learn from US presidents. So he started interested in presidents and adopted them like surrogate fathers and said, how would Woodrow Wilson handle this problem? Well, what would Jefferson say about this? And or James Madison? Write about it, people that inspired him, right? That was sort of a shift from the implanted mindset, to the imprinted mindset. So if you have a challenge, and if you’re listening to this, and you don’t Want to step out of your implanted mindset system, expose yourself to people that you admire, that have at the job that you want to have in the future will do the work that you want to do in the future, right? So you start out with the future vision, and then work backwards and say, What are the six or seven people I want to learn from? I want to study, study, read biographies, watch their videos, listen to their speeches, listen to the audio podcast, and then begin the process slowly of transformation. You can’t do it overnight, and you need a lot of support.
Andy Paul 23:39
And so if somebody is an individual, outside, they don’t have the structure of having an accountability partner, which I think is a really important thing for a coach or an accountability partner. You know, where are they gonna find that? I mean, there are coaches, I know they’re out there.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 23:54
I want to give you an example, I did a peak performance mindset workshop. Two weeks ago in Los Angeles, and I had 175 sales managers in the room. And I asked people, what are your goals and dreams? And it was a young guy, a young manager, who, I asked him, What are your goals? And he says, I want to make a million dollars. And I said, Well, that’s that’s kind of vague. Give me more. You know, what, why do you want a million? He says, Well, I want to get married. I want to create a family. I want to build a house. So there was some structure to the dream. What is the timeframe? You know, what do you make right now versus when you got to make a million dollars? So he said, Well, three years and I said, Well, do you have an idea who can help you with that goal so you can reach it? accountability partner? He says, I don’t know. And I said, well, would you guess how many people in this room of 175 people if your peers do you think would be willing To help you get there and be an accountability partner, he says maybe three or five. And I said, Well, now let’s test that reality. I asked the audience, how many in this room would be willing to invest time to help this young manager grow to that level? About 28 hands were counted. And I said, you see how many secrets and sadness you have out there. And you thought there were less than a handful. So we are underestimating constantly. And we have a sort of irrational belief that we are all alone in this world and we are not right. There’s so many people that are willing to help. So all you have to do is ask.
Andy Paul 25:43
Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be people in us or even work with us you found out in that workshop.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 25:46
See, the thing is we make mindsets make the world more complicated, and more difficult because we have a belief system that we are all alone, and life is really hard life is really difficult. And the opposite is true. Life is much easier when you have a good support system. And that’s easily built because people want to help each other.
Andy Paul 26:12
Well, here’s a question for you. So, I mean, you see the same trends I do. And sales are certainly in certain segments of the sales business we’ve seen over the last few years serve increased emphasis on process and sales technology. That almost seems like it’s being put forth as a substitute for mindset. But just fall, just follow the process, the numbers and it’s all going to happen.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 26:37
Well, I think that technology is mindless and it accelerates everything. And it’s technology is a wonderful thing. However, we need to keep in mind that sales is a people business and not a technology business. If it were a people business, we would have every company sell like Amazon where there’s no salesperson. And it doesn’t exist. And a lot of people get educated by the IT departments, you know, follow the process, make so many dials talk to, let’s say 18 people and prospects a day. And, you make 80 to $100,000 a year. And that’s sort of the proposition, right. And people think that maybe social media is the way to prospect. Well, the reality is, people want to talk to people. So you can make a lot of cold calls. I just did an interview with four luminaries, they all have best selling books out there, right but this same thing that technology is getting creating the illusion that we don’t need to work anymore that we don’t need to pick up the phone. And we had this conversation on Sunday and I said to Jeff, why don’t you take out your phone and dial a number? Anybody and sell them something? Let’s see how, what you can do with a non plan out of the blue. And he picked one one person in May he dialed and you sold them five bucks.
Andy Paul 28:31
On a Sunday. Interesting. Very interesting.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 28:35
I think that there is a term called machine learning. We’re moving towards sales, 3.0 sharp nose, there’s a lot of analytics. There’s a lot of artificial intelligence out there. You know, data science less. We need to bake humanity into the conversation with the customer and not automate everything. Right. And we cannot automate the Hyatt.
Andy Paul 29:06
Well, I mean, first of all, as you point out early on so you know, people are very complex and even in relatively simple products you’re selling there’s a complex individual talking to another complex individual. There’s a lot of things on there but machine learning is something I would pick up.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 29:23
I would say that if you took a million dollars, and you have a good technology platform right now, and put the million dollars in more technology versus put the million dollars in creating peak performance mindsets, I would bet that the million dollars invested in a peak performance mindset is going to give you like 50 x ROI versus more technology because we are entering an age that is becoming more unstable. more insecure. There’s so many Blyton’s security breaches in winter. So making machines betta is, in my opinion, an investment in fantasy, versus making people betta is making an investment in reality.
Andy Paul 30:21
So the last question for you then is, you know, you’ve been in sales training for a long time and, you know, dealt with, as I haven’t helped thousands, thousands of people, individuals. You know, is there any way that, you know, some of these lessons you’re teaching about mindset and so on as a way they can sort of be carried over from generation to generation? Because it seems like, you know, part of the issue, pick up any sales book, and it’s, yeah, basically talking about things that were talked about decades ago, right. I mean, it’s, how do we get some continuity, right, we fundamentally change the culture.
Gerhard Gschwandtner 30:57
You know, we need more modality like 20 years ago, you still have positive thinking versus negative thinking, you had been creative versus not being creative. What psychology is teaching us now is neuroscience. There’s so much research out there that blows your mind about what is possible. And what we have created with the peak performance mindset is 12 modalities that we all put together into one course, that you cannot escape from learning. You cannot escape the aha moments, but you learn more than just thinking positive thoughts. That’s simple, but how to deal with your belief system, how to change that, how to become well limited, how to regulate yourself emotionally, or self activate, how to find better meaning. Those are more difficult conversations, but very productive. conversations and people engage 100% and everybody says, This is life changing.
Andy Paul 32:37
Good. Well, thank you for being on the show today. And friends, thank you for spending this time with us. Remember, make it part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. And one easy way to do that is take a moment and join these conversations I have every day with top business experts like my guest today Gerhard, who shared his expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks for joining me! Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everyone. Thanks for listening to the show. If you liked what you heard, and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for more information about today’s guests, visit my website at AndyPaul.com