530: Getting Psyched Up To Sell (Isn't Just For Sales) w/ Daniel McGinn

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Daniel McGinn, a Senior Editor at the Harvard Business Review and author of "Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed."

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcginn/

Looking for a guaranteed way to create content that resonates with your audience. Start a podcast, interview your ideal clients and let them choose the topic of the interview, because if your ideal clients care about the topic, there's a good chance the rest of your audience will care about it too. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the be to be growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green and I'm James Carbury. Let's get it into the show. Welcome back to the be to be gross show. Today we are joined by Daniel mcgin. Daniel is a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review. He's also the author of site up how the science of mental preparation can help you succeed. Daniel, welcome to the show. Hi Jonathan, it's a pleasure to have you on the show today. I'm thank you for for carbon some time out of your busy schedule to join us sort of share your thoughts, your wisdom. We're going to be talking today about getting psyched up to sell, and I know this is a it's a little bit of a departure from some of our our more marketing centric episodes, but you know, I'm just excited to have you on the show. So that's why we're going to be breaking from the pattern a little bit. But before we get in to that today, Daniel, tell us a little about yourself and kind of what you've been up to. Sure. So I work at Harvard Business Review, which is a magazine for managers that's produced in conjunction with the business school here at Harvard. I also write books on the side. For many years before I came to Harvard I was a reporter at Newsweek magazine, mostly covering business and management, and one of the things I cover at HBR is sales. So anytime you read a sales article in our magazine, there's a good chance that I was somehow involved in it. Ha, ha ha. That's great, that's fantastic. So you know, and again today we are going to be talking about this idea getting psyched up to sell. Daniel, you know...

...kind of take it away. What do you what do you mean by that? Sure, so, if you watch any kind of big time athletes, whether you're watching Michael Phelps in the Olympics or Tom Brady get ready for an NFL game or starting the season soon, they have a process that they go through in the last few minutes before they compete. They've probably been taught it by a sports psychologist. It usually involves a series of positive thoughts, things that are going to increase their confidence, reduce any anxiety they have and get them really energized to be able to do their best. The thing that I make the point in the book psyched up is that, you know, most of us are not Michael Phelps or Tom Brady. We're out there, maybe we're lawyers litigating, or we're doctors about to do surgery, or where salespeople making a big sales call. We should all have the same kind of routine that we use in those last ten minutes before we go into the room. It might be listening to certain kinds of motivational music, it might be a couple of techniques to boost your confidence or some techniques to make your little bit less nervous. Every person is different and the techniques will vary, but the main point is you should have something you're doing in that waiting room rather than just sitting there and being nervous. Right, and you did. You had mentioned Michael Phelps. Do you think that that the lessons were going to be talking about today also helped prepare him for when he swam against the shark during Shark Week recently? I think he was probably going to mentally outperform the shark no matter what happened. But I think anybody swimming against the shark is going to have an extra sense of motivation to keep moving quickly. I think you're absolutely right. So we've kind of Daniel, we've got sort of three main takeaways for today in terms of in terms of getting psyched up, and you know, I like how you have related this. Definitely it's we're talking about getting psyched up to sell, but, like you had mentioned, this can be applicable to any sort of, you know, high pressure situation. You...

...mentioned a couple different scenarios, doctors, lawyers, whatever it is that you're doing. So you know, I do and definitely encourage our listeners to sort of tune in and take this away for their next high pressure situation, even if it's outside selling. So, Daniel, walk us through the steps here sure so. I first got interested in this topic many years ago when I was actually a high school football and basketball player and I wasn't very good at either sport, but I got fascinated by what we would do in the locker rooms and what the coaches would say and basically kind of the rituals of the pregame to try to get US psyched up. Back then, I had a very simple view of what it meant to get psyched up. I thought it was like a light switch and I thought it had a lot to do with adrenaline, that it was very simple on, off, binary kind of thing. Once you start doing the research and talking to psychologists and talking to high performers, you find out it's at least a little bit more complicated than that. Now, instead of a lights which I think about a Stereo Knob and I think about you know, in the same way you might adjust that the trouble or the base on a Stereo, I think you need to find techniques to boost your confidence up and reduce that anxiety down and get that energy level right. Those are really the three knobs. One of the best ways to boost your confidence is to think about your greatest hits before you go into the room to make a big sales pitch, reflect back on the last sales pitch you gave where you just crushed it, you know, in vivid detail. This is what athletes are taught to do. Their taught to imagine their greatest hits. Some of them will actually watch highlight videos before they take the field so that, you know, they remember in really vivid detail everything they've done great in the past. So if you know, as a writer, before I sit down to write something, I'll off and go take three minutes and go back and read one of my greatest hits in the past. It reinforces the idea that hey, you know, I really did a good job on that piece, I can do a great job on this one. So one of the most effective ways for people to increase their confidence for their next performance...

...is to reflect back on their greatest past performance. So I'd encourage, as a confidence boosting technique, everybody to find a way to do that. That's an interesting technique and you know, feels like you have to get past. You know, for our listeners, would you say you have to get past this almost narcissistic sort of Oh, I you know, I don't want to just be watching or listening or reading my own personal greatest hits. But I mean you are really sort of internalizing that, you're you're recognizing. You know, I can succeed, I can achieve. I mean, but what do you think? That there's this idea that like, oh, I I'm embarrassed, I don't want to be watching myself. That feels to narcissistic. Yeah, no, I get it. So some of the things that people do before they perform are really showy and elaborate and public. If you think of Lebron James, the basketball player, he has a very complicated pregame ritual and one of the things he does is he goes over to this table in the middle of the basketball court where they keep chalk dust and powder to for the players to put in their hands to dry their hands. Now a lot of players will just very non elaborately, you know, put a little powder on that. He has this very ritualistic he throws it up in the air with hand gestures. A crowd gets into it and that's a very public thing. But if you look at other performers, one of the people I talked to for the book was Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian and he has a backstage ritual he does, but it's mostly internal. You know, he spends about five minutes reviewing his jokes and then it exactly the five minute mark before he goes on his stage manager comes over. They're very precise about the timing. He puts his jacket on and then he walks in a certain pattern until the curtain goes up and it you know, again, nobody who watches him would think, wow, he's narcissistic, he's doing something very elaborate. He's just sort of internally doing this ritual, so it doesn't have to be something that anybody...

...else is going to recognize you doing. That's fantastic. Okay. So getting confident before the you know, your big sales pitch, getting confident before the main event, whatever it happens to be. And and point number two, though, is this idea of how to handle nerves and anxiety before hand. Let's talk a little about that. Yes, so there's a lot of things you can do, you know. So that's third of the second dial on as you want to be really confident, but you also want to try to tamp down whatever anxiety you have, and there are a bunch of different techniques you can use. I went to juilliard, to the music school in New York City, and they have a whole semester course where they teach musicians how to try to not be too nervous before their auditions because auditions are so pressurized in their profession. And they have, you know, breathing techniques and mental visualization exercises. They work, but they're pretty somewhat complicated to learn. You almost have to work with a w the sports psychologist, to learn that sort of thing. One of the simpler techniques that I came across was a bit of research that's been done mostly at Harvard, where I work. They have studied a technique called reappraisal. Reappraisal is very subtly shifting how you evaluate something, and here's how the research has gone. They looked at people who are about to participate in a singing competition. They took half of them and before they went on the stage they had them say out loud I'm so nervous, and then they took another group and and before they went on the stage they said I'm so excited. And they did it in music, they did it with people taking math tests they did it with people giving speeches. In every case the people who said I'm so excited pretty dramatically outperformed the people who said I'm so nervous. Now, if you think about it, nervous and excited, they're both high arousal states. It's just that excited is a more positive form of it. So subtly shifting from that negative nervous to that positive excited that's one thing you can do to reduce your anxiety. is so would you say, then, that sort of this idea of even saying it out loud...

...is is like a certain technique that people can use? I mean it is definitely one thing to say a Oh it's it would be better if if, in my mind I was I was reframing this as as excited versus nervous or excited versus scared. You know, are there are there other things that that our listeners could do as they're trying to, you know, almost convince themselves or as they're trying to reframe and and reappraise what how they're looking at the situation? Yeah, I think the basic idea behind reappraisal that you're going to do better if you try to push yourself, nut yourself towards the positive and away from the negative. On the surface, that sounds like a simple idea, but it's act. It actually goes against what many people have a tendency to do, and I'm guilty of this myself. A lot of people have a tendency to engage in what psychologists call defensive pessimism, and I did the I did this recently I had a child that was drive, going to for their drivers test, you which you know, if you remember when you back when you're sixteen, seventeen years old, that's pretty nerve racking right of passage. Oh Yeah, and I was driving my child to this test and trying to figure out what was the right thing to say. And so here's what I want with. I went with, you know, this is really nothing to be nervous about. If you fail the test, you only have to wait one more week and then you can take the test again. So, you know, the worst thing that can happen here is you have to wait a week to get your license. Now that sounds like a very logical thing to do. It's sort of presenting the worst case scenario and trying to rationalize why it's not so bad. It turns out, according to the research, that's almost always the worst thing you can do because you're mming somebody to fail. You don't want to talk about failure before you go out there and perform. You want to focus on the upside. You know totally if you're sitting on the first tee of a golf course and there's a water hazard to your right, you don't want to think to yourself, don't hit it to the...

...right, you want to think to yourself, hit it towards the center. In every sort of thought and action you have prior to performing, you want to think about the positive outcome, not about avoiding the negative. It's sort of like, if you know, if you start looking at something on the right side of the road when you're driving, your car has a tendency to sort of pull itself in that direction. Your mind is the same way. So you want to try to constantly keep pulling your mind into that positive frame of reference before you go on stage. That's fantastic. Yeah, and I mean and and, like you said, it's it can be very natural to say, Oh, what's the worst that can happen, but reframing your mind to be focusing on success and and not failure. That makes a lot of sense. So, Daniel, let's let's move to this third point. You know actually how to give a pep talk to your team to get them psyched up, and I think this is going to be great. I think our listeners are going to get some tremendous value out of this because we have a lot of listeners who lead team. So what do you do when you when you're talking about sort of this external idea of getting your team's make up? Sure? So, if you think about the career of a salesperson, the biggest leap most of them will make is when they go from being an individual contributor and individual rep up into that sales leader, sales manager role where the performance is no longer something that they can control themselves, but they have to act through other people and, especially in that environment, finding the right words to try to get people positive and energized and motivated. That's a big part of being an effective sales leader. When I was reporting the book, I actually went down to Yelp, the online review site. They have about a seventeen hundred person sales force. I went down there on the last day of the month when they typically make two to three times as many sales as they do on an average day because everybody's rushing to try to meet their quota. And on that day the head of the sales department gets up and gives this kind of rousing motivational talk. And then I looked at the research in terms of what those talks typically have or what they should have, and it turns...

...out there's a rich body of academic literature. It's called motivational language theory and it comes down to a three part formula. The first part of a good pep talk is the direction giving, which is, you know, the actual specifically what you want the person to do. So if you're you know, if you're given a pep talk to a basketball team, that's where you're talking about. The excess knows the offense and defense to actual strategy, the specifics the the second thing that a good pep talk has is empathetic language. That's language that shows that you understand what the what the person is going through, tries to draw a personal connection between the leader and the followers. So anytime you're saying you know, I really want to say thank you for what you've done. You want to sort of thank individual people. You want to acknowledge that what you're asking them to do is hard. That's creating that bond of empathy. And then the third thing you want to do in these pep talks is what they call meaning making language, where you're trying to take the individual tasks that you're asking people to do and put it into some larger context, something that makes it feel a little bit more important than it might. You know, you sort of raising the altitude a little bit, telling them how their individual piece of this task fits into the larger organizational landscape or even the larger societal landscape. So if you think of a military situation, before you go into combat, you know you're asking the soldiers maybe to take that hill over there, but the leader could sort of draw that out and try to talk about why that hill is important in the landscape of this campaign and, you know, in this sort of national struggle were in. Yeah, perfect, Daniel. I love this content. I love the fact that, you know, we're talking about getting psyched up to sell, but I just might feel like this is so applicable across the board, to to other high pressure situations, to leading a team. This is this is perfect so, Daniel, if any of our list senters are interested in following up with you learning more about today's topic, what's the best way for them to go about doing...

...that? So I'm on Linkedin at Daniel mcgin. I'm on twitter at Dan mcgin. So I'll close by saying this. salespeople were one of the groups I had in mind when I was writing the book, but I've been surprised how strongly that group has responded to it, to the point where a few companies have actually bought the book for entire sales teams to read and discuss, and some of them had me get on the phone with them afterwards, because I think sales managers realized that if they can get their reps to have something productive to do in those last few minutes, it can only help the perform a little bit better. So I really do think this is a profession. It makes a lot of sense to try. Absolutely so, and and Daniel's book again the site up how the science of mental preparation can help you succeed. Check out the book, Daniel. Thank you so much again for your time today. Was a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you again. If you've been getting valued from this podcast. You can help us reach more people by reviewing the show on itunes. Here's how you can leave a review in less than a minute. Open your podcast APP and tap the search icon in the bottom right corner. Type in fee to be growth, then select our show. Once you're there, tap the reviews tab and tell us what you think of the show. These reviews help us out of time. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (1779)