with greg layton

The Inner Chief is for leaders, professionals and small business owners who want to accelerate their career and growth. Our guest chiefs and gurus share powerful stories and strategies so you can have more purpose, influence and impact in your career.

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In this Best of Series episode of The Inner Chief podcast, we feature Co-Founder and CEO of Better Sales Coach, Dean Mannix, on overcoming your limitations to design and live a bigger life and selling like the best in the world.

I interviewed Dean for this podcast in September 2018.

Dean is the author of Australia’s largest library of video sales and service training and has delivered sales performance projects in over 25 countries.

He is recognised as one of Australia’s leading sales performance coaches with 30 years of legal, finance, sales and management experience, advising coaches and training senior executives from many of the world’s leading corporations.

Dean has also been the CEO of a leading property development and childcare management company which he built to a team of 140 employees. He then developed and led a highly successful sales team in the technology space and simultaneously grew his consulting business.

Dean has got an Executive MBA from AGSM and is also a qualified yoga teacher.

In this episode we talk about:

  • How as a 15-year old he coped with the murder of his father and the framing of his brother who ended up in jail as a result
  • How he built a multi-million dollar childcare business and then lost it all by 26
  • How he has become the trusted sales coach of the world's biggest companies and the most important steps to sell like the best in the world, and
  • Resilience and living a bigger, better life by design.

Connecting with Dean Mannix

You can reach Dean on LinkedIn and via his website.

Books and resources

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – by Steven R. Covey

“Don't try to teach your salespeople to sell the way that you do; no-one is ever going to sell the way that you do, because they don't have your DNA, they don't have the drive that caused you to push through whatever you had to push through.”


On early life lessons

  • It's easy to underestimate how, just little things can make a big difference when people are going through challenges, and you don't have to become someone's psychologist to help them through a tough moment. You just have to be in that space, and help them refocus and do things that are outside of, I guess, moping, worrying and being concerned.
  • Just take the initiative. Don't wait for your boss to define what the next step is. Have the courage and the guts to take your own initiative.
  • When you don't know the 57 reasons why you should fail, you just do it.

On being a young leader

  • Being fantastic getting things done, does not mean you're fantastic at getting others to get things done. From a management perspective, learning how to manage human beings, at that age, the majority of them older than me, was a brutal experience.
  • For people starting out companies, get your accounting right. You cannot underestimate how important it is to have your numbers and your accounting right, right from the start, because if you don't have real-time reporting, if you don't understand what those numbers mean, if you don't have a good numbers person to talk to, you make insane mistakes.
  • I think you've got to remind yourself every single day, what your bedrock is. So where does your expertise come from, because that's where your authority ultimate comes from, if you're a young leader or a young manager.
  • You've also got to really be very, very clear about your values and share those values with others, because values will enable you to influence others more than anything else. If it doesn't, then you've got the wrong people working for you.
  • Don't be overly consultative. If you've got to remind yourself, you are the leader and leaders need to collaborate, leaders need to consult, but leaders need to make decisions. Have the courage and the guts to make the decisions, and stand by them.
  • But understanding that those need to align with your work values, and making sure that if someone asks you what does a value mean in the business, that you can actually explain it with a story, or an explanation that's real and tangible, and that you genuinely believe down to the core. 

On prioritising all health

  • Health is not just physical health. Health is mental health and health is emotional health, and the three go together, and the bottom line is you need to be deliberate about all three.
  • This is one of the reasons I love physical challenges, is because when you conquer a physical challenge, there's a physical manifestation of the fact that the limits you're placing on yourself, are not real and that ideally flows through into the emotional limits you're placing on yourself, the relationship limits you're placing on yourself, the financial limits and so on.

On overcoming your self-imposed limitations

  • How hard people will fight for their limitations, and how little they'll fight for their growth.
  • The thing that stops us growing, I think, is we are anchored. We hang on to what we know, because it gives us significance. It gives us a sense of power and control.
  • So I think that one, recognising the ego in why you're not doing what you're doing, but also fear.
  • You've got to keep re-defining what the next level is. Good to Great was to me, one of the best book titles ever, because it is so true. I was listening to Tony Robbins speak the other day, and he was saying that basically, he got from $30,000 to a million dollars in one year, but then he earned a million dollars for the next six.

On letting go – and why it’s hard!

  • You've got to be brave enough to let go of the things that made you successful this time around, so that you can grab on to the things that will make you successful the next level. And I think that's back to, we talked before about tragedy and how did that shape your life and impact your life. Having gone through emotional despair and financial despair, and come back out of it, and then financial despair and then come back out of it. To me I've got nothing to lose, so I've got no fear of changing because if I blow it up it's okay, I know I'll find a way to come back.
  • I think a lot of people who are going through a classic corporate career, who've never been in the valley of financial despair, and who have the mortgage, and who have the kids, and who have the school fees, I can totally understand why they're clinging very tightly to the stuff that they feel, gives them their power.
  • I've been personally very, very successful at selling to large enterprise, and I believed that I could train other people to sell the way I sold into enterprise companies, and scale the company up that way. After five failures, which I take plenty of responsibility for, in terms of sales people that tried to sell my system, I had to let go of the fact that I'm not going to be the guy that trains up an enterprise sales team, and focus more on McDonaldisation of the sales system and focusing on the client base that are going to get massive value out of that.

On what makes the best salespeople

  • The most successful sales people in the world that I've worked with, were actually introverts.
  • People can never be more passionate about your product/solution than you are, and so if you're not feeling that, or you're not creating that, don't be surprised if others aren't experiencing it and aren't buying.
  • The first thing people get wrong is ignoring who they're sending a message to. The bottom line is the receiver, is more important that the transmitter, because if the transmitter doesn't connect with the receiver, it's irrelevant what you transmit. So you've got to pay more attention to the audience you're speaking to, and what's going on inside their heads, and what matters to them.
  • I can empathise and I can position effectively, and I can tailor in the moment, and I can do all the things that I need to, to help you understand how I can help you. And I can motivate you to take action.

On the major drop-off points in a sales cycle

  • The first major drop-off rate is, people don't engage their audience, as in their prospect with a credible reason. So they engage them based on ‘I need to sell you something' versus, this is going to make you want to make inquiry and make you interested. So they don't do the work.
  • This is why so many conversion stats are rubbish. When people tell me they've got a 50% conversion rate, I tell them that they're lying to me, because they're ignoring all the people that didn't enter their funnel that should have, as a result of a breakdown in that area.
  • The next major breakdown is failing to confirm that someone actually wants a solution, before providing a solution. The number of people that are just recklessly quoting, and the number of prospective buyers that say ‘Yes, send me a quote' to get rid of someone, is staggering and that wastes so much energy and time for sales people and organisations.
  • So if you think about that in your own organisation, whether you are selling to customers who are never going to buy, what a waste of time and effort, or you're in your organisation and you're trying to tell all sorts of people in the business how important your project is, but no-one wants it.
  • Stop selling to people that aren't ready to buy. So focus on causing people to be ready to buy, and make quick decisions if there's no need there.

On the importance of values

  • You need to understand the impact of your environment. If you're in an environment that is inconsistent with your values, you will behave in a way that is inconsistent with your values, and unfortunately, when you're in an environment which has 10000 people in it, all doing the same thing, you start to question your values, rather than the organisation's values.
  • When you've got someone who doesn't know what their values are, in an organisation that professes to have values but doesn't live them, and then you have a very, very strong environment that's saying, ‘You need to get me seven of these products, and six of those products, and five of those products', and everybody else around you is toeing the line, it's very easy to ignore that gut feeling that says ‘this isn't quite right'. I think this is why values and understanding values is so important for salespeople, and a genuine passion and understanding the problems their product solves is so important for salespeople.

On where salespeople and sales leaders go wrong

  • They don’t ask, “What are the problems that my product of solution solves?” They need to become consciously aware of the problems that their product solves.
  • Where am I most likely to find people with those problems? And then, in relation to the person that I'm about to go and meet, how can I both educate them and elicit whether they have those problems?
  • Other reasons:
    • Lack of a compelling story.
    • Inability to motivate salespeople to sell it. 
    • Inability to motivate prospects to want it. 
    • Poor targeting so too broad or wrong people. 
    • Failure to engage on customer centric basis and on scale. 
    • Persuasive or non-persuasive presentations that cause people to say no, rather than yes. 
    • A failure to turn retention and customer service into advocacy. 
    • A failure to build confidence daily, because it's required daily and motivation daily. 
    • A failure activity plan in a way that's actually linked to goals and success.
  • I often listen to my own content. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but the reality is, it's amazing how many things I pick back up that I've stopped doing. I'm very, very engaged in social networks and reading tidbits, and then I'm good with getting out with people and asking them what they're doing.

On corporate professional development programs

  • Your organisation's budget is the lowest amount that they will accept, to have the average group of sales people on the payroll. So, if you're setting your goals and your aspirations around those provided to you by your corporation, you are way below where you need to be, unless you desire a life of mediocrity.
  • They've averaged it out across all their sales people, they may tip is up a little bit, tip it down a bit, but it's life's common denominator stuff. The budget's not success.
  • People who fist pump and go ‘I'm on budget', it's like you are kidding yourself. That's like coming into the offices saying ‘We turned the lights on'.
  • How can I help my people perform more effectively today? So just go in there realising that your performance is your people's performance, and that comes down to two things, you're either promoting the cause of success, or you're removing or reducing the causes of failure.

Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders 

  • Be flexible. Just be flexible and don't attach your identity to your job/employer, because it's going to have to change so may times, that if your identity is attached to that, you'll be in turmoil for the rest of your life.
  • You've got to define your identity, and then work your career and the way that you earn money, in an around that.

Stay epic,