Christine Schlonski | Eliminating Your Sales Phobia

You do great work for your clients… you love what you do. But “selling” yourself and your services has been a challenge, even though you know it’s essential to the growth of your business.

Christine Schlonski says it’s time to have more impact on more people… while making more money. You have to switch your mindset; you have to change the negative view you have of sales. 

That’s when you can have the sales breakthrough your business needs. 

The good news: sales is a learnable skill, says Christine. She gets you started on your journey to sales success and also talks about…

  • Creating an always-full pipeline of leads 
  • Your first step in eliminating negative feelings about sales
  • Why the right relationships can have an exponential impact
  • A trick for overcoming “overwhelming” obstacles
  • How empathy can transform your sales approach and dramatically increase your sale ratio

Listen now…

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Transcript

Steve Gordon: Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Gordon. And in today’s episode, oh, this is going to be a good one. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, we’re going to cover something that I think creates a lot of tension for a lot of folks listening. And the very intelligent lady that I have on the line with me today is going to solve all of that tension for you. Today I’m talking with Christine Schlonski. She is the queen of the sales success mindset. She’s an absolutely multi-talented leader in the field of sales mindset, motivation and strategies.

She works with heart-centered entrepreneurs who love what they do but have a really difficult time selling their products and services, even though they know that they rely on sales to build their business. And I know from all the notes and comments that we get from all of you listening, that probably describes an awful lot of you. And in many ways that describes me too. So I’m excited to have Christine here. She’s going to show us how to make sales with ease, grace and confidence so that we can serve more people and add to the bottom line. Christine Schlonski, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO. Thanks for being here.

Christine: Yeah, thank you so much, Steve. I’m excited to share today.

Steve: I am super excited. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. You and I have known each other for a little while and I just find that you have such great insights. And I’m excited to be sharing with everybody. So before we get started, will you please give everybody just a little bit about your background so they know how you got to be such an expert in sales mindset?

Sales Can Actually be Fun

Christine: Yeah, well, first of all, I would love to share that. I never ever had the intention to be in sales. Never ever. So I just thought, you know, I have a career, I studied international marketing and then you know, I work in a cool company and do cool stuff. And selling was not one of the cool stuff. So I, when I looked for a job, I really wanted to move to Berlin.

And so combining that desire to move to Berlin, Germany and needing to find a job that was a good fit. I thought I start with the company first. I looked for a really great company and then hopefully they have something in marketing or organization or whatever. So I found the company but they didn’t have that job. But I applied anyway. And then the sales director called me and he was a very good salesperson and he offered me a job in the sales team, which was high-ticket selling over the phone.

Cold calling all day long. And maybe you can imagine, like my first reaction, I wasn’t too excited anymore. When I heard sales at like, really I cringed inside. It felt uncomfortable. And I start just, you know, I don’t want to be somebody picking up the phone, talking to strangers and selling them stuff and asking for their money. But as I said, he was a really good salesperson. He told me that sales is a learnable skill, that it will be a lot of fun, that I will bring a lot of value to the people I talked to. So to make a long story short, I wanted to move to Berlin, I took the job.

And so that’s how I actually got into sales and I stayed there over 12 years. And at the end of the day, when I left, I was a sales director for over four years, building teams along the way, helping the company abroad, building a team in London, helping out in Tokyo and Barcelona. And because I had managed to not just learn the skill set of sales, but also to put it together with what I learned when I became a coach and coach training. So making that connection from, you know, putting my mind and my heart together and then making those calls really caring about the people I called and wanting to make that difference, that made all the difference in my sales.

So my sales doubled and tripled, I was a good performer anyway before, but after I figured out that, once you connect your head with your heart, you’re so much more powerful. It really took off. So yeah, that, and so for everybody struggling which are those people I am dealing with today is just know that it is okay. Even people that you perceive as being really awesome have struggled at some point because we’re not raised to ask for money and to sell all the time.

Steve: I think that’s the fundamental kind of conflict that so many professionals go through when, you know, they go and they get educated in some discipline and they want to go practice that discipline that, you know, they’ve spent four years or six years or eight years or, you know, in the case of some professions even longer than that, becoming an absolute expert in that thing. And they just, they’re so anxious to go out and practice that. And then they realize wait, before I can practice my profession, I gotta sell somebody something, you know? Yeah, I think that’s a shock to people and it creates a lot of conflict. And I love the approach that you have.

Christine: Yeah, yeah, totally. It’s a huge conflict. And, you know, most of the people like, let’s say like a consultant or a financial planner, or maybe a healer, a creative, a small business owner, they are so passionate about what they do, that they feel like selling is just in the way, they just want to execute. And once they understand that building that relationship through the sale, makes that relationship and working together stronger, from my point of view, because you start way earlier.

You know, you’re not just sending a salesperson, but the salesperson, you become the face to the customer, right? In case you have a small company or a bigger company. It’s not, it’s probably not going to be a big sales team that is behind you. So you really need to figure out how you can serve, how you can make it personal and get that really great relationship. Because one thing I have learned over the years is, the better your relationship, and obviously you deliver a great product or service, your customers become loyal fans. I had customers like, kind of throwing deals at me because they just loved how I took care of them.

Steve: Yeah. And you said the R word. You said relationship, I think, I mean, the more I spend time around internet marketing and a lot of the tactics that are out there, and some of them are very, very good, but not always appropriate for high-ticket and high trust businesses. The more I believe that the answer is right there in front of us. It’s going back to what we used to do before the internet, which was all about relationships.

Christine: Yeah. Yeah. And it still is because, I mean, one client basically is unlimited potential. So if you go for the approach, you know, get my $200 course out or my $2,000 online course and whatever, you will not see them again. I mean, it’s good for the moment, but it doesn’t build those long term relationships. it doesn’t the fans who sent you more clients and help you to make that bigger impact that you might want to make with your work.

Steve: Absolutely. Well, I know that as you came into this world of selling, and you developed just amazing skill at it. It wasn’t probably always easy and wasn’t probably always smooth sailing. So as you think back over your career when you run into challenges, how did you push past those and really stay unstoppable?

Taking it Step by Step

Christine: Yeah, what a great question. So you know, my first call, I still remember today and it’s been quite a while. I know that when I dialed my first number, my hand shook. My heartbeat was like at double speed. I was really relieved that I found some words and that I didn’t stammer. But, you know, you come up to challenges all the time. Like somebody giving you the first rejection, somebody slamming the phone. You know, things like maybe you send out a big contract, and then it doesn’t come back. So what I always used to do, and I’m still doing it today is when it gets overwhelming, then you just take a step back.

You know, just, you know, going for a walk brief, get a little bit distance between you and the challenge, and then just focus on what would be the next best step that would help you to move forward in the next direction? Don’t think about the 10 steps that you need to do, just the next one. And then once you’ve done that one, you think about that next one, right? So you take it like step by step so that the overwhelm or the feeling like, well, I can’t do this, it’s too complicated, it’s too difficult that this goes away when you just focus on one single thing.

Steve: I love that advice. And I would imagine one of the keys is picking a next step that you can do very, very quickly. So you’re already sort of in motion right away.

Christine: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I something, usually you break it down. So sometimes the step you need to make is pretty big. And that can be scary and disheartening as well. So you kind of try to break it down, what is the next thing that kind of makes sense in that situation and moves you forward that you can take action on right away?

So That you see some momentum building up. Because then, you know, it’s like that saying like, how do you eat an elephant? Even though I don’t like the idea about eating elephants, but it kind of gives you the picture, you know, it’s one piece at a time. You cannot eat the whole elephant all at once, so don’t get stuck into that cycle.

Steve: Absolutely. I love that. Well, thank you for sharing that. I want to take a quick break. We’re going to come back with more from Christine and we’re going to dive into the idea of sales mindset and really how to connect with your heart and what you want to do with your clients to serve your clients, and then infuse your sales with that. So we’re going to be right back with more from Christine.

Commercial Break: Hi, this is Steve, I hope you’re enjoying this interview. We’ve got more to come in a minute but what I’d love for you to do right now is rate this podcast. Leave us a review rate us on iTunes. It will really help others discover the podcast and help us help other CEOs, other business leaders become unstoppable. So if you go to unstoppableceo.net/itunes, you can find instructions there and links that will take you right to where you need to go to review the podcast. Thanks so much. Now back to the interview.

Steve: Welcome back, everybody. This is Steve Gordon. And today I’m talking with Christine Shlonsky. And Christine, where we left off was really just at the beginning of jumping into talking about sales and how you work with people to get the right mindset around sales. And so as we think about that conversation and knowing that the people listening are folks who are doing amazing work, but they may not see themselves as professional salespeople. When you’re working with someone like that, I know that’s who you work with most often, where do you begin with them to kind of take them through a process that improves their ability to sell.

Sales Power Formula

Christine: Yes, that’s such a great question, Steve. So I developed the sales power formula. And where we start is with the peace with the past. First, we find out like, where is this negative or where are the negative feelings in regards to sales come from, right? Why? Because everybody has a sales mindset, but it’s just not a good one for most people. So I call it a sales success mindset. So it’s a mindset that helped you to eliminate these blocks around selling, it’s redefining sales for you. Because sales can be something so fun, so beautiful, so from the heart that you know your client really wants to buy from you when you approach it in the right way.

So we have that look in the past that we just get an understanding what experience have you made or maybe a family member that gave you the idea that selling is a bad thing to do? Or that selling needs to be something that is uncomfortable, or that you are afraid of being like salesy or pushy or whatever you put into those thoughts. And then from there, the power is the, O, the next step. It’s about opportunities and outcome. And usually, as a human, we always ask the question, like, What’s in it for me, right?

So, but in this case, we kind of turn it around, like what’s in it for your client? And it’s not just the surface level, like you help them you consult them and they have done they get x y that as a result, it’s even going deeper. So when your client gets that amazing outcome, what happens to that person and what happens to the people around that person, right? I’m just going to give an example because I just love this example, one of my clients, she is a relationship coach.

And so her job is to say, for example, the relationship or the marriage. So just imagine if she would not do her job, if she would not sell, the lawyer would make pretty good money. And when she does help, and the people get results, then through that better relationship, they are happier. It’s not just one person, it’s two in this case, and maybe they have kids. So when they fight less, those kids will be happier. And because the kids are happier, they are less stressed.

And that might lead to the fact that they get better grades in school so that they then can pick a different college or they can pick a college at all. And that’s just a tiny thing. So I take my clients through a process where they see that when they overcome their blocks, their thinking, and they can go into this how can I even serve better and deeper was what I already love to do by selling it, it changes the whole world. And then we go to the W, power the Why? Why do you do what you do?

And we also take that to a deeper level, not just well, because I do it for my kids or my spouse. Like the deeper why. When you go to different layers or deeper layers, you might discover that you really want that freedom. And because you want that freedom you also desired for others. And then the E is all about emotions, handling of your emotions, changing your thought patterns so that you can feel the right emotion that you actually get excited that you can change a sales conversation into a fun conversation.

And who doesn’t like those? And then the last letter and power is the R, for results. That you understand how many fun conversations do I need to have that the right person says yes to my offer? That I can invite those people? Like, how many people do I need to approach? How many leads do I need to have? Like all the numbers in regards to sales, so that we kind of make it to a predictable process that is fun because often I see that people let their pipeline totally dry up.

And then when they really need that next client for their business, they are in this needy space because they need to pay their bills. And that changes the thinking and that changes their energy. So when you come from that needy space, usually you are not really able to make it about the other person, it’s more about paying your bills and getting the pressure off of your back. And needy spaces don’t create magic. So in a needy space, you might be too pushy or you might be too salesy.

And then at the end of the day that feeds into the bad sales mindset, because you waited too long to have the next fun conversation because you did not have the right mindset. So, we are really looking for these numbers as well, that you have a strategy that you know if I talked to 20 people, five will say yes, or seven or eight. How many people can I serve so that I can deliver amazing value, and I really can deliver on my promise as well? And then how many people do I need to talk to so that my pipeline is filled? And that’s basically a system I take people through.

Steve: I love that. And I love the way that you’ve broken it down because you’re dealing with in the first, so if you look at the word power there are five letters and the first four letters are sort of dealing with all of the mindset baggage people have. You’re looking at their past, you’re getting them now to look forward to the future of the people that they’re trying to serve, looking at opportunities and outcomes.

And I love that because you really can begin to frame this. I was having a conversation last week on another podcast that I do around the idea of sales as a noble profession in that we have this sort of moral obligation. If we have a solution to a problem and there are people in pain that have this problem and we can solve it, we have a moral obligation to at least let them know that there is a solution, right?

And that’s really kind of the idea that I think you’re talking about, there’s connecting them with that. And then you kind of take them internally and personally and connect them with their own Why? Why am I doing this? What’s my motivation for doing this? And then you’re dealing kind of reframing the emotions. I love the word that you used. You call these conversations fun. And I don’t think that’s a word that people use with sales conversations very often.

I think that they use words like stressful, you know, some may use words like confrontational, you know, or other things, but I don’t think very many people use the word fun. And I love that word because I know when I approach this, I always look at it like I’m just there to make friends. You know, that, for me, that thought removes a lot of the mental stress from it. I’m just trying to make friends. Not everybody in the world is going to want to be my friend. Just like in kindergarten, you know, and my mom told me in kindergarten, you know, if they don’t want to be your friend, that’s their problem.

Christine: Yeah, great advice.

Steve: Yeah. So you go through those four things, which sort of deal with the mindset, but then you bring in the results. And you empower someone with the numbers they need to make this a system. And I think that’s by the, by combining the two now you’ve done something powerful. So as you walk a client through this, what happens next? So they go through this process, they see it, where do they go next as they’re working with you to get better sales?

Your Approach is Everything

Christine: Well, you know, working with me, depending if it’s one on one, so really tailored, or in a group coaching session, they always get kind of a homework because I want them to start moving. Because once you experienced that, it is a fun conversation you cannot unlearn that experience. So for example, one of my clients, she used to sell her packages for $500. But she really truly wanted $2000. And the package was even worth more. So I took her into that process and she sold the next package for $2000 feeling completely confident. And she had a great conversation.

That was still, you know, a little bit stressful because she tried these new ways and was trying to feel the new emotions. But after she’s done it and somebody said yes to her, and we close that gap she can never unlearn it. She got totally excited. And she took that confidence into her next conversation. So you can build up momentum while you practice, right? You always have to practice and when you approach the conversation with the intention, this is going to be a fun conversation, if they are a perfect match, they will say yes.

Then you come with a totally different mindset that will support you in the conversation, to give more of you and to be better than when you are fearful and you’re just trying to avoid pain because that’s not going to work out. So when you approach with an open mind, or as you just said, like, you know, I want to make a friend. Let’s see if this person is a match, then you just have different opportunities and the different energy you show up with and that usually makes people happy.

Steve: That idea of momentum is important, I think. I see a lot of professionals, they’ll do something like that. They’ll begin some business development process, whatever it is. It could be calling, it could be going to networking events, it could be doing a seminar, whatever it is they’ll do something. And they’ll do it, oftentimes just once, or maybe in the case of calling where they need to do it a few more times to get a result, they’ll do it until they get a result.

And then they go, Yeah, I got the result. And then they kind of stopped doing it. They turn their attention to maybe serving that client. But because you’ve sort of worked out the number of these fun conversations they need to have. It’s almost like you’ve created the expectation that there’s still more work to do. Get back to it and keep the momentum rolling.

Christine: Yeah, and especially if you keep the momentum rolling, if you feed with your experiences into the big, fun bucket, it becomes easier and easier and easier. And then when, you know, you become better in those conversations as well. Because at the beginning, you know, you might not really find your words are you might not really tune into what’s needed. And we’ve all been there when we learn a new skill at the beginning. You know, like take walking. You fall down so often or like learning how to ride a bike.

It, you know, it looks pretty shaky at the beginning but after you’ve done it a while, you become so much more confident and you know what you do and that confidence kind of radiates out. And probably, you know, confidence sells. So people who would not have said yes weeks or months earlier because you did not yet have the confidence, will say yes at a later point. And then when you know your numbers, you need to find out well, if I call 20 potential clients, and five say yes, what do I need to do to call 20 so that eight or 10 say yes right? It doesn’t, you don’t necessarily need to make more calls. But maybe you need to become better in those calls.

Steve: And I would imagine some of the people that aren’t a fit today, I mean, that’s just sort of the natural order of, you know, the population of prospects. They may be a really good fit, but just not today. And so you’ve now introduced yourself. And I would imagine that with any reasonable amount of follow up, those now become opportunities because if you’re approaching this the way you talk about and having fun conversations, you’re creating great new relationships.

Christine: Yeah, and you never know. Maybe that person will never be a fit. But all of a sudden, they stumble on somebody who would be your perfect fit and they just refer that person.

Steve: You know, it’s easy to sort of talk through this and see how well it works. When your clients are going through it, what are we maybe one or two of the biggest stumbling blocks? Where would somebody get tripped up in this process?

Feeling Pain With the Client

Christine: Depending what your background is, so I work a lot of business coaches and consultants and but basically it’s valid for everybody. One of the stumbling blocks is that people don’t go enough into the pain of the client. Yeah, they don’t go deep enough, which means if I don’t really understand the pain, I’m also not as good in showing the client or the potential client the benefits.

So you really need to open up that space to understand completely what this as a challenge the client has, he really, he or she really wants to do something about it. But what else is attached, right? If that not works, and I’m just going to take it like, you know, if you don’t do sales at some point you will not have a business. So what does that lead to? Well, you know, maybe you get stressed in your relationship, or you cannot fulfill your dreams, or you know whatever it is.

So really going into this pain to understand the situation and then from there, talking and leading into the benefits. Like when we work together, what would change for you? And how will that look, right? So all of a sudden, when you are really amazing in sales, you have fun conversations, and people say yes, and, you know, you sell instead of 500 for 2000 and you still provide even more value than the 2000, all of a sudden, your bank account fills. Now what can you do with the money, right? M Maybe you can take your family on vacation. Maybe you can buy the next course that you wanted to buy to learn another skill. There’s so many opportunities.

And it’s really important that you are strong enough to stay in pain with the client. So that’s one. And then I see also a lot of people having that issue in asking for money. So being clear on your own value, what you deliver and how you deliver it, but then when you describe it don’t get lost in the details, right? When you book a vacation, you want to know where you’re going. You don’t really care what airline you’re flying with, or what type of plane it is. You just want to know what happens when I get there.

Like how’s the beach? How’s the weather? How’s my room or my little hot at the beach? You don’t, the benefit is not that I took the biggest plane on earth to get there, right? The benefit is the outcome. So you really want to focus on that. So go into the pain, stay there, try to understand it as fully as you can so the client can also experience the pain because pain makes them take action.

And then from there, your task is obviously not to leave them devastated in that pain. You want to show them how your solution helps them to not only solve the pain but to get all these amazing other benefits that are created with the new solution. And you don’t want to bore them with the details. Like, it’s 12 modules, we talk each day for three hours, right? They don’t want to know. They just want to know how to get there and what to expect when they arrived.

Steve: That’s great advice. I see that all the time with all kinds of people in business, but most often I see it with professionals who are so sometimes in love with the details of what they’re delivering that they think that that’s the important thing. Not all. I mean, I think a lot of them understand it, but I do see that a lot where they get into the deliverables more than the result that they’re actually trying to create for the client. So it’s a fantastic reminder. Well, Christine, if folks want to learn more about the work that you’re doing, where’s the best place for them to go and connect with you?

Christine: Well, they can just hop on over to christineshlonski.com. That’s SCHLONSKI. And, yeah, there I have empowerment notes where I share, you know, things that are going on in my business. struggles or how I overcame them. Great stuff, tips, advice, just empowerment. And then I also have a podcast, Heart Sells. So if they want to learn more about selling from the heart with authenticity, and being true to their own values, that would be a great place to be. And that’s also at christineshlonski.com.

Steve: And it’s a great podcast. You definitely want to tune in and subscribe to it. And check out everything that Christine has to offer. She really, I think, has a very sound and a unique approach to really getting you to a place where you’re very comfortable selling. So, Christine, I’m grateful that you took a little bit of time and you invested it with us today so that we can get better, and then we can go and grow our businesses. Thank you.

Christine: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

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