The Death of Tired Sales Assumptions

Black and white photo of Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock with arrows to facial expressions and their emotions expressed via facial coding, in the play "Death of a Salesman".
Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock on stage in Henry Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Two plays have most defined how we see salespeople. One is shown here, from the original staging on Broadway of Henry Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman. There’s rage, but most of all there’s sadness in a drama in which Lee J. Cobb (playing the broken-down salesman Willy Lowman) moans: “The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.” In vain his wife, played by Mildred Dunnock, tries to comfort him.  

“The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.”

Lee J. Cobb in Death of a Salesman

What’s the other play? It’s David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Again, rage plays a role but really the key emotion is the fear that gets instilled in a crew of salesmen. From the film adaptation that added the character of Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, here is the movie’s most famous moment: “We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see the second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired.”

“We’re adding… to this month’s sales contest…first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado…Third prize is, you’re fired.”

Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross

Let’s broaden and update the picture. As Daniel H. Pink pointed out in To Sell is Human, we’re all salespeople. Something like 40% of our time on the job is devoted to cajoling—persuading—selling others on what we would like to see happen.

What’s the real key emotion of effective sales nowadays? It’s surprise: eyes-wide-open curiosity. As Colleen Stanley points out in this week’s podcast, a salesperson who’s constantly learning about prospects, their needs, their hopes, their fears, and how to better connect with them, including online during Covid-19, is who you actually want to hire. Yes, steak knives are for losers but not in the way Blake meant. Serving up spoonfuls of comfort and hope would be more like it.

A Few Sales Tips

Using EQ to Build a Great Sales Team

Released today: episode 19 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Colleen Stanley, the author of Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode. 

What does it take to connect successfully with somebody you’re trying to “win over”? 

Stanley is the president of SalesLeadership, a sales development firm. She’s been named by Salesforce as one of the top sales influencers of the 21stcentury and also a Top 30 Global Sales guru.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • In hiring, what should you be on against in both yourself and the job candidate? An eye for the “something” missing that you may or may not be able to resolve is one key.
  • Exploring a variety of buyer personas, including specifically: The Poker Face prospect, The Nitpicker, and The Glad-Hander. How best to dislodge an incumbent vendor so you can make the sale?
  • What is mean by helping a person on your sales team “untell” a story that is hindering that person’s effectiveness.

Dan Hill, Ph.D., is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Why Six to Seven Participants Is Ideal

What size work team is most efficient? Hint: the number of fishermen in this 19th century painting provides the answer. Tom Peters has suggested that teams shouldn’t be bigger than what two large pizzas can feed (about six to seven people). Along those same lines – a listener should ideally be within five feet of a speaker to hear well. Sitting almost shoulder-to-shoulder, that precept limits a group to no more than seven members.

In a year where Learning Pods are sprouting up as private tutors offer in-person learning to small groups of children, I’m following suit. Forget anonymous-feeling webinars; I prefer to foster a sense of community and intimacy, through a highly interactive experience. Until a safe vaccine arrives to save us all, I’m launching EQ Learning Pods capped at six participants each.

The content will cover six areas:

  • Executive Leadership
  • Manager-led Workplace Culture
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Market Research
  • Customer Experience (CX)

The insights presented in these pods arise from my 20+ years of research studies conducted for over 50% of the world’s top 100 companies, plus the information contained in my eight books, speeches, books I’ve been influenced by, and what I’ve learned from hosting great authors on my podcast. The pods have been distilled into 45-minute select portions of content to spur questions and discussion. To learn more, go to www.sensorylogic.com for details, and to enroll. EQ Learning pod sessions are limited to six persons at the cost of $25 a person. I look forward to being your guide!

Deep Listening & Seeing, Deeper Learning

Touching the Soul: Musical and Psychoanalytical Listening

Released today: episode 18 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast series, featuring Roger Kennedy, the author of The Power of Music: Psychoanalytic Explorations. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Why is music so powerful in eliciting emotions?

Now at The Child and Family Practice in London, Kennedy is a training analyst and past President of the British Psychoanalytical Society. This is his fourteenth book.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • The ability of music to reward close listening because of qualities like movement and the web of interactions involved.  
  • How music can draw on and has parallels to a range of situations, like “baby talk” sounds shared by mother and child, and the sounds animals make (especially in mating rituals). 
  • Discussion of parallels between music and entering a dream state, rich with free association as opposed to a concrete, logically coherent “narrative”

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

“Palace” Intrigue

Researchers who study chimpanzees have found they will forgo food, if need be, to maintain a clear view of their leader’s face. Survival depends on knowing how your boss is feeling. Is now a good time to seek a favor? Or is it best to hide and stay out of harm’s way? Human beings are genetically 99% the same as chimpanzees, and we behave similarly. For us, too, palace intrigue provides both entertaining gossip and vital survival tips.

Let’s start with the entertainment. Anybody who watched the final night of the Republican National Convention last Thursday was treated to Melania Trump revealing her true feelings about Ivanka Trump. Melania’s forced smile turned to lip-curling scorn and a glassy-eyed stare the moment Donald Trump’s favorite child passed by the First Couple to join them at the podium. A jealous rivalry for the president’s affection and attention underlies the moment. That the Donald finds his daughter attractive enough to have basically lusted after her on an episode of Howard Stern’s radio show is an open secret.

As to survival, we’re all screwed if the Donald has his way. The second photo shows Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director Stephen Hahn apologizing for hyping the benefits of a Covid-19 plasma therapy the day after Trump bullied Hahn into doing so. Hahn’s forehead wrinkles make his concern transparent. Add in other shenanigans like preferring not to test asymptomatic people (to hide the dimensions of the pandemic), and you’ve got a serious case of Trump trying to have the government protect his re-election interests over our health interests as citizens. Welcome to the jungle.

Data Manipulation

$3.3 Trillion Dollars of Greed, Fear & Inertia

Released today: episode #17 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast series, featuring Paul Offit, the author of Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too FarListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Why Do Unnecessary and Often Counter-Productive Medical Interventions Happen So Often? 

Offit is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. A prolific author, he’s also well known for being the public face of the scientific consensus that vaccines have no association with autism.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • The degree to which opportunities to make money and avoid law suits drives the behavior of doctors, though inertia and unwillingness to accept advances in knowledge are also common explanations for being at times too active in treating patients.
  • How the marketing campaigns of pharmaceutical companies can warp treatment plans.
  • The conclusions from countless studies that in at least the 15 common medical interventions covered in this book, many patients are better off with more basic, common sense approaches like eating well, exercise, et cetera.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Working Remotely, Feeling Likewise

In The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, there’s the entry: “ALONE, adj. In bad company.” On the packaging of this mock Fisher-Price product offering, the despair of a crying baby is a burden wine promises to relieve. While “Covid-19” will win hands-down as 2020’s Word of the Year, being “remote” from colleagues, from happiness, and from one’s other numbed feelings, should be on the runners-up list. Look at the upside: at least this parody product isn’t cross-branded with Clorox to include ingesting some bleach to solve your woes!

A World of Zooming and Zapping

Another runner-up for Word of the Year in 2020: Zoom, in all its manifestations. For everything from conference calls to being fired.

Communicating Virtually Is Like Eating Pringles Forever

Released today: episode 16 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast series, featuring Nick Morgan, the author of Can You Hear Me? Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Nick Morgan and his book cover "Can you Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World. The Book cover is blue with yellow and green communication doodles. The title of the podcast episode is Communicating Virtually is Like Eating Pringles Forever.

How can we protect ourselves amid the emptiness and treachery of virtual communication?

Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. He’s written for Fortune 50 CEOs as well as for political and educational leaders, and coached people for events ranging from TED talks to giving testimony to Congress.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • What’s the likeliest way to lose the trust of others during a conference call, and how can you best hope to restore it? 
  • Why are most online webinars a disaster and what kind of format improves them best?
  • If powerpoint presentations are no longer the way to go in selling to prospects in online calls, what’s the alternative?

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

The Intersection of Ambition, Anger and Fear

In my book Two Cheers for Democracy, the correlation between anger and disgust (versus happiness) and being a totalitarian leader was clear-cut. China’s Xi Jinping fits the mold, leaving Betsy DeVos a wanna-be dictator.
Don’t let Xi Jinping’s smile or Betsy DeVos’s fear fool you; they’re both determined as can be.

Lately, I’ve been obsessing over how anger and fear are often two sides of the very same coin: fight-or-flight responses to danger. I got there, first, due to the three-headed monster of Covid-19, the resulting economic tailspin, and the justified civil unrest ignited by the murder of George Floyd. In every case people feel uncertainty, a sense of circumstances beyond their control. Where things get emotionally complex is that fear can turn into anger. That’s because the anxiety that comes with uncertainty can—in an emotional sleight-of-hand maneuver—be “resolved” by anger that offers relief from danger by compelling us forward to take charge of our destiny. (See my earlier blog, Anger Management: Emojis Cloud the Picture)

So I started my obsession by seeing how fear and anger intertwine around the issue of control. Then I started looking more broadly at another intersection: between ambition and a desire for control. That step brings me today to China’s leader Xi Jinping and to the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. 

I can’t think of anybody more ambitious on the world stage right now than Xi. From the crackdown in Hong Kong, to almost daily military incursions into the waterways and air space of Taiwan, to suppressing the birthrate in the Muslim province of Xinjiang, China is on the march. And that’s just a part of Xi’s goal of overturning the previous century of Western domination. Look at Xi’s facial expressions and the one constant is low-grade smiles tightened by the presence of anger. And yet underlying that anger is concern about whether China’s Communist Party can maintain its control over its vast population. 

Turning to America’s home front, DeVos’s facial expressions on national TV this past weekend were a study in fear. How to justify sending students and teachers back into the classroom this fall with a pandemic raging and no meaningful federal government response? From Fox News to CNN, DeVos dutifully made the media rounds: angerly supporting Donald Trump’s threat to cut off funds to school districts that don’t comply by opening up again soon. At the same time, however, that DeVos’s words ran hot her face betrayed anxiety whenever she was challenged by a news anchor to explain how this will all work. Open-eyed looks and rising eyebrows did nothing to convey assurance that this will all work out as not-planned. What didn’t waver was DeVos’s long-cherished goal of challenging the validity of public schools, given her faith- and class-based preference for “saving America” with more private, parochial schools.

This week’s new podcast is also to no small degree about fear, anger and ambition. My interview of novelist Siri Hustvedt concerns the character of S.H., who moves to New York City to become a writer and must cope with isolation, self-doubt and slights, large and small, from various men –culminating in a guy attempting to rape her. That scene falls at literally the midpoint of the novel, with half its pages still to follow. And there at the heart of the book occurs a change of heart, as S.H.’s greater assertiveness is manifested most clearly in the pocketknife that she begins to carry around with her for self-protection.

Now, not everyone carries a knife (or a gun). But in every case, anger can become a virtual weapon—perpetuating harm—or a benign source of self-empowerment. The choice of how we utilize anger lies at least somewhat within our conscious powers of control. Stay tuned: anger and fear aren’t going anywhere. Those two emotions will undergird almost every major news story you read for the rest of 2020. Of that much, I can assure you.  

Coping with Danger: How to Build Up Your Resiliency

Mysteries of Time & Memory

Released today: episode 10 of Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight podcast, featuring Siri Hustvedt, the author of the novel Memories of the Future. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Esteemed novelist Siri Hustvedt foreshadowed the #metoo movement with her novel about a young women who fights against male condescension.
The novelist investigates the vagaries of memory as recollection changes every narrative.

How Do We Write Our Personal History at the Same Time That It’s Written for Us?

The Literary Review (UK) has called Hustvedt “a twenty-first-century Virginia Woolf.” She’s the author of seven novels, four collections of essays, and two works of nonfiction. Hustvedt has a PhD in English literature from Columbia University and lectures in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. She is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the European Essay Prize.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • What it can mean to be a heroine instead of a hero, including in regards to which emotions might conventionally be considered “off-limits.”
  • The role that the author’s over-a-dozen drawings play in this novel.
  • Musings on what the roots of ambition might be, and how ambition and shame, as well as memory and imagination are often intertwined.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Teamwork Versus a Noose

NASCAR buddies: a joyful Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty share a laugh.
Joy - the muscle around the eye tightens, creating a twinkle in the eye
happiness - broad smiles, cheeks raised
NASCAR buddies: a joyful Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty share a laugh.

Yes, there are people who consider happiness a “trivial” emotion in the business world. “Back to your desk and get to work.” Those might be the words of a domineering, old-fashioned boss. But truth be told, happiness is essentially about embracing others, yourself and new ideas. It’s an emotion that grows the pie. I’ve been thinking about the power of happiness this week because the country’s boss-man, Donald Trump, decided it would profit his campaign or simply his id to attack NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace in a tweet. Wallace’s response: “Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS. Love wins.”

The noose found in Wallace’s stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama by his race team led to NASCAR in general and racing legend Richard Petty in particular embracing the sport’s only full-time black driver. Due to Wallace’s cap and Petty’s sunglasses, I can’t say for sure. But given their expansive, inviting smiles, I would bet big-time that both guys are actually exhibiting joyous, true smiles, whereby the muscle around the eye tightens and creates a twinkle in the eye.

Happiness is also on my mind this week because, for my podcast, I interviewed a cheerful Caroline Stokes. One of her book’s best ideas is that a new hire would benefit from a small support team meeting at the end of that person’s first week on the job, and again at the 50- and 100-day mark, to help the new hire navigate without “crashing”. Such assistance made me think of Wallace and his 43 team yet again because doesn’t a support team function in effect like a NASCAR pit crew? Change the tires, refuel the tank, and you’re quickly on your way. If only the Trump administration’s response to covid-19 could function half as well.

Getting Up to Speed in a New Job

Released today: episode 9 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast, featuring Caroline Stokes, author of Elephants Before Unicorns. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode. And if you like what you hear, please subscribe, and give a rating and review on iTunes.

Photo of guest author Caroline Stokes and her book Elephants Before Unicorns, on Episode 9 of Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast "Do You Want To Be an Ostrich?"
This episode covers on-boarding, diversity and more.

How does avoidance of conflict ultimately create more conflict in the workplace?

Stokes is the CEO of FORWARD, and the podcast host of The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter. She is an award-winning leadership coach and thinker, partnering with global leaders throughout their career and leadership cycle.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • The emotions that inadvertently inspire the behavior of both push-over and bully bosses, and the likely emotional responses of their direct reports.
  • How the risk of employee disengagement can get short-circuited before it happens.
  • What are steps that can ensure a better on-boarding experience for the new employee, including CEO’s (whose turn-over rate is 50% within the first 18 months on the job).

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

How Our Face Masks Fail Us

Ever wonder how much a mask hides in terms of your possible facial expressions? The answer is a lot: almost 75% of the variety of ways in which you might emote. For instance, the area around the eyes is great for picking up surprise and fear, but without the nose, cheeks, mouth, and chin, the possible presence of contempt and disgust won’t get revealed at all.

Starting on June 4th, I will be launching a podcast series called “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” on the New Books Network platform. The show can be found here:  https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/eqspotlight/.

I’ll be chatting with prominent authors across a wide range of topics, teasing out the emotional intelligence angle of their subject matter. Interviews run between 30 to 45 minutes an episode.

Free to Die: The Rise of Anti-Lockdown Protesters

Reopen America Protester with anger disgust

“To be, or not to be” . . . that’s the famous question asked in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Our version today in America . . .  whether to follow the stay-at-home approach advocated by medical experts, or ignore their guidance. The photo above captures the two opposing perspectives. A Denver protester is snarling in outrage: “This is the land of the free. Go to China!” A calm medical worker blocks her path. This is not an isolated incident. Across America, gun-toting, MAGA-hat wearing, anti-lockdown protestors are agitating for the economy to be opened immediately . . . or else. Most Americans agree it’s a false choice. We need both our health and our jobs, but in that order – lives ahead of livelihoods. So what is really going on here?

The answer is emotional manipulation rooted in getting supporters to deflect blame and anger. People are hurting, hence the need to turn their anger away from The White House to scapegoats like China, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Democratic governors, or reporters for asking why Donald Trump has been so slow and inept at handling this crisis. Such manipulation is a survival tactic meant to protect just one person: the President and his re-election prospects. Trump is gambling, as usual. In this case, not with creditors’ money on behalf of his casinos and hotels but with our lives, by taking any chance he can to get the economy rolling again. And why not? That’s Trump’s modus operandi. The situation brings to mind this anecdote about risk taking. As Adolf Hitler was preparing to invade Russia in 1941, his henchmen Hermann Goering begged the Fuhrer not to take such a big, foolish gamble, to which Hitler abruptly replied: “I always gamble.”

Trump has called the protesters “very responsible people.” A White House economic advisor, Stephen Moore, has compared them to civil-rights champion Rosa Parks. Never mind that some of the protestors come to these shoulder-to-shoulder, social-distancing-flouting rallies waving Confederate flags. In politics, anger and disgust have their own internal, intuitive logic. Anger means you hit out (verbally or otherwise) at opponents, the “vermin” you’re disgusted with. Will the driver of the aptly-named RAM 1500 vehicle slam into this scrub-clad medical worker, as happened to counter-protestors in Charlottesville? No, no violence occurred this time around, thank god. But if virus history repeats itself, then forget the anger and disgust that divides us as a country. Those emotions are distractions. What we need to feel is fear given what happened in 1918, when the second wave of the influenza pandemic was deadlier than the first.

Monetizing the Presidency

Tump Store cherry blossom White House

Last spring, Donald Trump launched his “Cherry Blossom Collection” available online at his Trump Store, complete with images of The White House appearing below the branding: Trump Hotels. Now for his encore performance, Trump has delayed the release of the Covid-19 economic stimulus checks so that his name can be added to the checks’ memo section. This break in protocol led me to imagine he might want a currency bill of his own. Which national leaders featured on U.S. paper bills would most compete with the highly-emotive Trump? There are two.

Jackson and Franklin on currency with facial coding

First, Trump’s favorite president, Andrew Jackson ($20) wins the sadness sweepstakes with eyebrows both raised and pinched together, creating waves of wrinkles across his forehead. Jackson’s mouth also shows sadness with left corner of his puckered mouth drooping. Second, Benjamin Franklin ($100) wins the defiantly on-guard award. His eyebrows are arched, his eyes wide, and his drawn-up chin collides with firmly pressed lips that hint at a smile while a smirk crowns the left corner of his mouth. It’s quite the feat: surprise in Franklin’s upper face, while his lower faces mixes together anger, disgust, and a hint of a smile overshadowed by contempt (i.e., the smirk).

Let’s imagine Trump really, really, really wants to win re-election. What might that take? My suggestion is that he substitute his characteristically angry, sad and disgust-ridden face for Woodrow Wilson’s tight-lipped look, and re-release the $100,000 gold certificate that was briefly in circulation amid the Great Depression. As unemployment skyrockets, I can’t think of more apt symbolism than that right now.

041620-03 100k Bill

A Portrait of the Coronavirus Supposedly under “Control”

This is a photo of Donald Trump leaving the lectern at the end of Sunday’s White House press briefing. The surge of reported coronavirus cases is surely only beginning to take its toll, but here was the President assuring us that the virus is “something that we have tremendous control over.” Talk about a guy who suffers from a slow learning curve. Trump’s first public comments about the pandemic came on January 22nd on CNBC: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s—going to be just fine.” (For other misleading statements, check out the video of the comments here.)

031620-01 First COVID-19 Presser

Does everyone on the stage behind the lectern on Sunday look “fine” to you? Hardly. The crew of The Titanic probably looked happier. Two people have their eyes totally closed, as if they can’t bear to watch the carnage about to unfold. Almost everyone’s eyes are cast downward in despair. The man over Trump’s shoulder looks downright stunned. As for the president, he looks angry as if the virus is mostly just a dastardly nuisance impeding his re-election.

When else have I seen words and looks in total contradiction during a disaster? Forlorn-looking and yet reassuring U.S. generals testifying to Congress that the Iraq War was going well. Japanese officials showing fear as they urged “calm” in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daicchi nuclear disaster, initially telling local residents that staying indoors would suffice. I would feel better, actually, if Trump did show a little sadness (empathy) or fear (realism). A man so given to anger is instead showing deep-seated resistance to the news that something terrible is happening under his watch. Why, truth be told Trump isn’t even in “control” of his own brooding anger, let alone anything else.  What a hoax this situation has become. A businessman adept at financial chicanery is now a president cheating us all of even a half-hearted degree of responsible leadership.