Simplifying Entrepreneurship

27. How Good Humans Sell with Catherine Brown

November 16, 2021 Pete Mohr Season 1 Episode 27
Simplifying Entrepreneurship
27. How Good Humans Sell with Catherine Brown
Show Notes Transcript

Catherine Brown joins me today for a great discussion around her book How Good Humans Sell. We had a great conversation around sales culture and the fact that selling doesn’t compromise being a good person. She shares an eye-opening study she did called the respectability scale and so much more!

Here’s a glance at what you’ll learn from our discussion in this episode:

  • Catherine’s MVP list for understanding selling
  • How to create the proper incentives within your sales team
  • How to create a culture of appreciation and support by reframing beliefs
  • Accept the fact that most people (including those in sales) have 

For more information on Catherine, you can visit her website at:


As promised, here's a link to The Four Ways We Grow Belief 

If you’re ready to transform your entrepreneurial frustrations into freedoms by cutting through the chaos and using frameworks that help you run an even better business and enjoy an even better life, simply go to:   www.Mohr.Coach

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Catherine Brown  00:00

All those questions can be characterized into those three bubbles. So picture these three circles that have this in a middle point. That's comfort, security and status. Everything a person worries about falls in those three categories. So whether I'm selling shoes, or I'm selling software, or I'm selling sales, training services, I'm evaluating the quality of the thing before me, truly, I don't want to have a broken pair of shoes or bad sales training. But I'm also simultaneously evaluating comfort, status security. And when a salesperson understands that, then they ask questions that get the prospect to begin to share things, they may not divulge all of it, but they could give you they could, they could give you information to help you realize could really help this person, then you have this moment where you see opportunities to be a guide.


Pete Mohr  00:56

Hey, it's Pete, and welcome to another edition of the simplifying entrepreneurship podcast. It's the series designed to provide the tips and tools that will help you cut through the chaos and create the clarity that will transform your business in life as a leader. After all, you lead your business, it shouldn't be leading you And today, I had the opportunity to speak again with Katherine Brown. She was on episode 11 a few months back really excited here to have her back here today as we go through a lot of things around her best selling book How good humans sell. And today we're going to dig into the MVP list the respectability scale, you know, selling doesn't compromise being a good person. And that's sort of all around the idea of her new book. So we'll dig right into it with my conversation with Katherine Brown. Hey, Catherine, thanks so much for coming back on the simplifying entrepreneurship podcast. We're going to talk a little bit about sales today again, and it's just great to have you back.


Catherine Brown  02:00

Thank you so much for having me back. I'm delighted to be here.


Pete Mohr  02:04

You know, one of the things that we just talked about a while ago, and it's like, oh, we have to do a podcast on this is the idea that you came up with an assessment and went through what you called the respectability scale. We need to hear a little bit more about the respectability scale and how that all works with regards to sales people, Katherine.


Catherine Brown  02:25

Okay, great, thank you. So I have noticed for 20 plus years did my whole sales career, I've had a couple different kinds of sales consulting firms. And over the years of having dozens and dozens of clients, I've noticed that people in various sales roles hold back, they seem to be worried about being perceived as too pushy. They have what some people call a call reluctance, you see all these different ways that negative feelings about sales come up in people's behavior, for sure. And so one of the theories I wanted to test and one of the reasons that I named my book How good human cell is, because I believe that this is juxtaposing this issue. Can you really be a good person, a respectable, likable, honest human, and be wildly successful in selling or will selling compromise something in you and require something of you that will disqualify you from being considered a good human? Right, so to test that, I have done a lot of anonymous surveying, I made sure that people were professional, full time sales employees when they filled out the survey. So we, you know, throughout the people that were part time, or even the owners of a business who are the sellers, we wanted them to be sales employees just for the purpose of this survey. And what we did is we I named seven professions, I was testing this idea of respectability, and what people think about the respectability of their own profession in sales, and I purposely picked a combination of blue collar and white collar professions, I even threw in a little bit of religion just to see, I actually thought that would get lower respectability, just because it was such a wide sampling of people. And so I had religious leader slash pastor has one of the choices and how it worked Pete is you weren't ranking all of them against each other saying, This is most respectable, you know, lawyers most respectable and pastors, least respectable, you weren't doing it that way. You were independently rating on a scale of one to 10 one being the least respectable kind of job you can imagine. And 10 being the most respectable kind of job you can imagine. You were independently reviewing each of the job titles. And what happened that was just so heartbreaking was that the sales professionals themself ranked sales last


Pete Mohr  04:50

that is mind boggling. It got


Catherine Brown  04:53

a 6.4 out of a possible scale of 10. And everything else was running. above it,


Pete Mohr  05:00

and they're working in sales, their salespeople. That's an amazing, really, and so sad is,


Catherine Brown  05:07

so they would rather be IT professionals, they'd rather be doctors, they'd rather be religious leaders, they'd rather be plumbers. I mean, those were all other choices that were given to them. Wow. Or maybe that's not the right way to say it. Maybe it's not that they would rather be they just said that was a more respectable profession. So what I'm wondering then, and what I was seeking to do after that is say, Okay, if this is the case, if Overall, we have an average of 6.4, on the respectability scale, what do we do from here? Does that affect our actions? And yes, it does affect our actions.


Pete Mohr  05:41

It's gonna affect the mindset, right? How are you saying, okay, here's what we've got now? And how do we move the my head,


Catherine Brown  05:47

right, because what I have come to believe, from my research is that actually, you can't build a team. If you have several people, you're going to have a wide variety of what people think no matter how hard you try to screen out for this, because the feelings are not all over. Some are covert, meaning Some are hidden even to themselves. So first, we have to know that that's true. So for entrepreneurs, for business owners, I would say that's true. And acting like it's not true doesn't serve us, we know it's true. Second, we incur it, we've talked about it openly. And we encourage our staff to begin to notice what they say to themself. So that could be in the form of, they're just in their mind, like self talk, self suggestion, it could be reflected in things they say, let me give you an example. When a person says I'm just trying to follow up that has an implication, potentially, that they think they're bothering someone, the just word, the just word. So we want to notice what we say. We want to create a culture where people can reflect, hey, Pete, I heard you say this, because these are also nervous filler. So we don't always know when we're doing those things, right. And so we train ourselves to listen to ourself, we know what's going on between our ears, nobody else knows we start practicing paying attention. We notice what our coworkers are saying, we watch what kind of culture we're building, we're honest about this issue. And then there are other ways that you can go about reframing sales and building a different culture and even building different individual beliefs about what's possible, and what purpose sales can serve inside a business. But you have to be very deliberate about the way you manage a team, what you encourage them to do themselves to build that these beliefs, their steps you can take for that.


Pete Mohr  07:37

Tell us a little bit about your book that was recently released. Thank you.


Catherine Brown  07:41

So the book is called How good human sell. It's a combination of some of the things we're talking about here with some original research, how social science applies to selling. I talked about phenomenon’s like how does cognitive dissonance show up in selling? How does imposter syndrome show up in selling we talk about is the spotlight effect like part of why people shrink back and don't pursue and follow up on leads as much as they should is because they actually mistakenly think the spotlight is on them. And they think people are paying attention when they're not. So I look for where I can apply those principles that are coming out in social science and behavioral economics, and then tie them to sales and say, This is still true here, notice where these things are true. I protect the innocent, all the names are changed. But all of the examples of do this don't do this are True Stories of Real Life, business to business clients I've served where we talk about times, we were rewarded for being more persistent, common beliefs, we want to notice that I was able to coach someone through and so there's some live examples, too.


Pete Mohr  08:50

That's awesome. You know, their stories, right? And we're both sort of affiliated with on the story brand side of things with business Made Simple, and your story ran certified coach as well. And you know, those stories make the book that much better to write


Catherine Brown  09:05

right. In fact, the last chapter of the book in chapter eight, it's not very long, it's 110 pages, not a long paperback. But in chapter eight, I talked about this Hero's Journey metaphor that is so popular among the business made simple and straight brand community. The idea is that everybody's on journey. We're all the hero of our own story. When we make ourselves be the hero of someone else's story. We talk about ourselves all the time and sales, then we're inverting the order. And we're disturbing the order because what's tricky Pete is Hollywood teaches us to identify with the hero. So we actually think in sales that when we think about story, we think, Oh, I have to tell stories about my other clients, or I have to tell you the story of how my grandfather started the company 40 years ago, but that's not what we mean. We mean, no, they are the author of their own story. And that in sales would come along as a guide, recognizing, I have an opportunity to meet you just at this right moment. And Time potentially, and help you with whatever is next in that journey. And when I see myself in that role, I should have more confidence since in movies and literature, that guide is the one that actually is the stronger character. Yes,


Pete Mohr  10:15

absolutely. And I mean, I think some of the stuff you wrote the idea that they're looking for status and security and comfort, right? And you're there to guide them through that.


Catherine Brown  10:26

Yes, exactly. So I put status, security and comfort. I talked about those as what I call the MVP list, that every question a person asked themself about their own motives for buying or their own values, they're measuring up and saying, Is this gonna get me where I'm trying to go? any possible internal question, I mean, internal, like in the head and heart, the person is considering while making a purchase, how much do I value this? How much do I want it? Will this make me look good? Is this a threat to me? will this help me get promoted? Will this make me get demoted, all those questions can be characterized into those three bubbles. So picture, these three circles that have this in a middle point. That's comfort, security, and status. Everything a person worries about falls in those three categories. So whether it's selling shoes, or I'm selling software, or I'm selling sales, training services, I'm evaluating the quality of the thing before me, truly, I don't want to have a broken pair of shoes or bad sales training. But I'm also simultaneously evaluating comfort, status security. And when a salesperson understands that, then they ask questions that get the prospect to begin to share things, they may not divulge all of it, but they could give you they could, they could give you information that help you realize could really help this person. And you have this moment where you see opportunities to be a guide. And that's


Pete Mohr  11:49

where you start really feeling good about your job, when we kind of started off saying that, you know, all of the respectability was low, it's like you start really feeling that power that you're contributing, and you're doing really well. One of the things we like to do on the podcast is gives people a few actionable steps. And you know, how can you be a good human and sell a lot more than you are right now? What are the what would be a couple of good steps for salespeople, and for business leaders that are listening, because business leaders are selling everyday to they're selling internally to themselves, like in to their own teams, and all that sort of stuff, they have to sell their vision. And they also are selling externally as well. So what would a couple of action steps be as sort of a final takeaway here for for the day,


Catherine Brown  12:32

so I think of two Pete one is the four ways that an individual can build beliefs that and literally change what they think about something so many of us in, you know, coaching circles and things like that will talk about attitudes about money, right? Or attitudes about success, or what I think is possible for myself as a person. Well, anything we want to change about ourselves, there are these four steps you go through that have to do with you practice visualization, you want to have clear goal setting or these different steps. And so in the show notes, one of the things I can provide is I can provide more detail about the four steps because we don't have time to go through all of that, there are very practical steps that an individual can take to step in answer I would give. And this would be about really, for managers and people who oversee a sales team is that I wish that one of the things we would do is have some incentive and some performance metrics around referrals, and qualifying and disqualifying sooner, and just doing the right thing. So what I mean by that is, the bigger a sales team gets when you start to have someone oversee that sales team and be a sales director or sales manager, what they do is they're really obsessed about opportunities in the pipeline, and days to closure and forecasts. And we understand why because we have numbers to make, and we have budgets to hit and things like that. But what happens is, a lot of times there are actually incentives to not do the right thing, and not really be a good human. Because sometimes being a good human is realizing earlier, I need to give this person an out and stop standing in the meeting and acting like this deal is going forward when it's really not going to go forward. We don't have that culture. And we don't have a place where we truly reward and commend people or have strategic relationships where if someone's on a fit for me, maybe there's a place I can send them, that is still beneficial to us.


Pete Mohr  14:25

It hasn't been accepted, you know, for a long time to allow that sort of thing to happen and to honor it basically, for the client.


Catherine Brown  14:32

But then I think what that does is because people already are worried about respectability, as we talked about in the beginning, that reinforces the idea that really what I have to do is I have to push even if it's not the right thing for you and that goes against the guide metaphor, or the guide is saying look, I can help you I've got skills, but I mean I'm not going to make you come along with me. No, right I'm going to offer and that's where we get to cognitive dissonance when we have key performance indicators, and metrics and reward systems that are not actually rewarding high sales and other elements of just being a good human being.


Pete Mohr  15:11

And I think that's a really good takeaway here, Catherine, because most people that listen to this podcast are the leaders and the entrepreneurs themselves in the business. And that's what they need to do in order to allow that to happen for their salespeople to right, they've got to set that up. And I understand


Catherine Brown  15:26

I mean, sales makes people streams. I mean, you need lots of sales to have business, for sure is it businesses flourish, then everybody flourishes. But I do think that, as leaders, we have a responsibility to also be playing the long game and realize that when we do the right thing, for that prospective client and this prospective customer in that moment, we will have a lifelong relationship with them the lifetime value, right? Yeah. And so you wouldn't be long term minded and train people to be that way. Because when you're 27 year old sales rep, you haven't lived very long. And so you don't think like that naturally, because you haven't had that many relationships that have been that long. But when you're a 47 year old relationship, and you realize you've sold to the same individual three times for three different companies, because they follow you around because they like you, and you've treated the wealthy at work, right, you see that you see that principle at play. So doing the right thing in this moment, and having that be part of the culture, that helps being a great salesperson, and being a good human go together. And that's what really reduces cognitive dissonance. And that's what everybody who's selling really wants. That's where they want to feel.


Pete Mohr  16:34

I love that. And I think that's a great spot to end our little episode here today. Thanks so much for being a part of it again, here, Katherine, love to have you out. And hopefully, you'll come back again. And we'll talk another episode sometime down the road on some sales, and all the structures around that. I just love having you as part of this. We heard a little bit about your book, but why don't you tell everybody how they can get a copy of the book, or how they can get in touch with you if they want a little bit more information.


Catherine Brown  17:00

Thank you for that. So everything about me can be found at my website, which is called And so that there's a link to the book, which you can also purchase on Amazon, probably on all the social platforms. I'm most active on LinkedIn, I can also be found there.


Pete Mohr  17:21

Awesome. That's great. Well, thanks again. And really appreciate your time here today. It's been a pleasure.


Catherine Brown  17:26

Thank you. My pleasure.


Pete Mohr  17:31

Well think about how you can apply today's simplifying entrepreneurship topic all around Catherine's book, How Good Humans Sell. And you know what, if you have the opportunity, pick it up, it's on Amazon, pretty much anywhere out there, where you get your books these days, I've read it, it's a wonderful book, and really will give you some guidance, whether you're leading a sales team, or even if you're just the leader of the business and sales as a portion of it. It's just a really good way and a framework to look at sales. We talked about that respectability scale, and how to create a culture of appreciation and support the MVP list for guidance. You know, I really like that idea around the status, the security and the comfort, and the four ways to build belief. So with that, I'm going to include in the show notes as well that link to get the four ways to build beliefs, and how to create incentives around referrals. So many good things discussed and a few short minutes as always here on the simplifying entrepreneurship podcast. So thanks for spending some time with me here today and think about these things. What can you do to put them in action and that's part of what the simplifying entrepreneurship podcast here is short clips of good stuff that you can immediately put into action. So always remember, clarity creates confidence and confidence ignites momentum. If you like the podcast please share it with your friends if you know some other sales leaders, this may be a great one to share over for them as there's so much good content here. For more information on my coaching and leadership programs, visit Mohr.Coach or you can email me directly at Pete@Mohr.Coach. Always lots of stuff going on. I'm on Instagram, Facebook, you'll catch the latest tips of the day and all sorts of different things over there as well. So until next time, make it a great day.



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