By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Welcome to another addition of Sales Pipeline Radio, our weekly Thursday broadcast replay and transcription blog post. This episode is called “How Consistency and Focus Took Weldon Long from Jail to the Fortune 500”. Catch the show live at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We’ve featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests coming up as well. Sales Pipeline Radio has been honored recently to have been named on a few lists:
- 10 Sales Podcasts You Need To Start Listening To
- Top 15 Sales Podcasts You Must Subscribe and Listen to in 2018
- 14 Sales Podcasts Every Rep Should Be Listening To Right Now
He’s the author of three amazing books. Quite honestly, I would recommend them all. The first book The Upside of Fear, a little more depth of his story. The Power of Consistency is the second book, and his new book, Consistency Selling.
His is really an incredible story. Listen in and/or read it below.
“…a big part of my transformation was a total dedication to living my life with honor and integrity. I learned from Dr. Steven Covey that if you want to be trusted, you got to be trustworthy.”
If you’d like to check out some of the videos Weldon mentions, text ‘videos’ to 96000 or you can certainly go to WeldonLong.com and learn more about his books and get his vlog and get those free videos as well.
Matt: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Thanks so much for joining us for another episode. We are here live every week, Thursday, at 11:30 Pacific/2:30 Eastern. For those of you joining us on the live show, thank you very much for joining us each week. For those of you joining us on the podcast, thank you for finding us, thank you for subscribing. We are available. You can subscribe to make sure you catch every episode on the Google Play, on the iTunes Store, on Spotify, and everywhere you find podcasts around. Every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio can be found, past, present, and future, on salespipelineradio.com.
We, every week, are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing. Today is absolutely no different. Very, very excited to have with us today, Weldon Long. He is the CEO of Weldon Long, and he is the author of the new book, Consistency Selling: Powerful Sales Results. Every Lead. Every Time.
Weldon, thanks so much for joining us today.
Weldon: Well, Matt, thank you so much for having me. Very excited to chat with you today.
Matt: Tell me a little more about your background. I mean, I’ve been following you for a long time. I’m sure a lot of other people have as well, and so talk a little bit about sort of your journey and sort of how you’ve become, really, one of the nation’s most sought-after influential speakers and motivators in the sales industry.
Weldon: Great question and I think kind of my background is relevant because it’s so much about how sales changed my life. I was a ninth grade high school dropout at 15 years old, kind of running the streets. At 23 years old, I was high on drugs and up in Denver, Colorado and was involved in a robbery with a guy I picked up hitch hiking. So at 23 years old, I found myself doing a 10 year stretch in the penitentiary system. I did about four and a half years on parole, got out, didn’t have an education. I was still a high school drop out. Now I was a convicted felon to boot. So I ended up going back to prison. In fact, I went back two more times, and between 1987 and 2003, roughly 15 year period, I spent 13 years locked in prison yards. But it was in that last trip in 1996 that my father passed away, and I had kind of my epiphany, my moment of clarity, and made a decision to change the course of my life, which is exactly what happened. I had seven years left to serve, but I devoted my life to study business and sales and take responsibility for my life.
In January of 2003, I walked out of prison to a homeless shelter, and within five years had built a 5000 company. I wrote my first book called The Upside of Fear, and since then, been writing and speaking and teaching people the lessons that I learned not just of my personal life but the sales principles that help me grow that sales organization, which really completely transformed my life.
Matt: So for people that don’t know you and don’t know your story, are listening to this for the first time, let’s unpack that. I mean, it’s one of the most amazing stories that I’ve heard in the industry. I mean, not only just sort of a turn around but the speed of that turn around. What is some of the things that you were in prison you discovered that really sort of was the cause of that turn around? I mean, it’s pretty amazing to hear that kind of focus and dedication having someone come out really shot out of a canon and doing some pretty amazing things. How does that happen?
Weldon: Well, when my father died, it was on June 10th or 1996. I was 32 years old. I was in that third prison sentence. When my father died and I realized that he went to his grave knowing me as a thief and a crook and a liar and a punk, it completely devastated me. I also, by that time, had fathered a son on an earlier trip out on parole. So I had a three year old son that I didn’t know. I had a father who was gone and deceased, and I made a decision I was going to change the course of my life, become a man my father could’ve been proud of, and a father that my son deserves. So I began to study and read. The first book I picked up was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and that began this journey of hundreds and hundreds of books that I read on business, leadership, personal development, etc. The real lesson that I learned, Matt, is that my life was a reflection of my habitual thoughts for better or for worse. The subconscious mind is a powerful force and a relentless problem solver. The problem is it’s a lousy judge of character. It will solve problems based on information that’s very negative the same that it will if it’s very positive.
So I realized my life, my pathetic life was a reflection of my thoughts and my habitual thinking. So I wrote out a list of what a perfect life for me would look like. I wrote on a sheet of paper I’m awesome father to my son. I’m a successful entrepreneur, I have a beautiful home. The beaches of Maui, a beautiful home in Colorado. All these amazing things, and I took that sheet of paper and stuck it to the wall of my cell with toothpaste. I spent the next seven years meditating on that list and visualizing it. I didn’t realize at that time neuroscience was going on in my brain, but it fundamentally changed my thought process. The things that would dominate my thoughts, and therefore my actions and of course, ultimately, my results. Seven years later, I walked out and my mind was completely re shifted, and I did have that force of natural called focus, right? It’s a powerful, powerful force that thing we call focus. I just batten down the hatches, grab myself by the boot straps and went to work and haven’t slowed down in 15 years.
Matt: That’s amazing. We’re talking today to Weldon Long. He’s the author of the new book Consistency Selling. We’re going to get to that in a little bit, but I do want to talk a little bit about sort of how and why you chose sales. I mean, there’s a lot of places you could have gone in terms of focusing your life coming out, being the father and the man and the profession you wanted to be. What was it about sales that really sort of got your attention and drove your focus?
Weldon: Yeah, I often say, Matt, really sales chose me. I didn’t have many options. I’m living in a homeless shelter in January of 2003. I’m out walking the streets of Colorado Springs, Colorado where I live, and I’m knocking on doors. For six months, I knocked on hundreds of doors. Given the fact that I had no experience, I was 40 years old by that point, no work history, had a criminal record, I had all these things working against me, and after six months of knocking on doors, I happen to knock on the doors of a little heating and air conditioning company, which I knew nothing about. I still don’t know anything about heating and air conditioning per say. But the guy needed someone to run residential sales calls. He said, “Can you go talk to people and run these sales appointments?” I’m like, “Well, I’ll die trying.” I went out in July of 2003, after six months of looking for a job. I’m still wearing an ankle bracelet, an ankle monitor from the parole department. I start running sales leads. I found out I was really good at getting people to like me, trust me, and let me solve their problems.
By that point in the story, by the way too, a big part of my transformation was a total dedication to living my life with honor and integrity. I learned from Dr. Steven Covey that if you want to be trusted, you got to be trustworthy. So my value system had changed as well. So people I think felt that authenticity. Unfortunately, they didn’t feel my desperation at the time. But I went on my first month, I sold $149,000 of air conditioners and what I call kitchen table sales. In home, residential sales. Made myself about $14,000 in commissions and just never looked back.
So really the sales profession chose me because I was desperate for anything. It turned out that I was pretty good at it. As I began to study and implement a lot of the things I had learned in prison, I studied Bryan Tracy and Tom Hopkins and all these great thinkers and writers. Many of whom became great friends over the last 15 years, which was very ironic. Tom Hopkins, in fact, Tom wrote the forward to my second book, which was called The Power of Consistency. Dr. Covey, before he passed away, endorsed my first two books, and ironically, on the third book Consistency Selling, M.R. Covey who wrote The Feat of Trust, Dr. Covey’s son, had written the forward for the new book. So I feel like I’m just along for the ride. I tell people I’m enjoying the ride. I’m riding the wave, but I did not create the ocean.
Matt: A big focus for you is habits and consistency. Talk a little bit about why that’s been so important to you. I think we certainly see it a lot in sales and marketing, even as early as late last week working with a group of salespeople, marketing folks last week at a workshop, spent a lot of time talking about the power of habits, the power of consistency, and the fact that sometimes you just come in and you put your hard hat on and you just do the right work and you do the work on a regular basis. Talk about why consistency has been so important for you personally as well as for what you’ve seen in success from those you’re teaching and training.
Weldon: Yeah, another great question, and it really is twofold, the consistency principle’s twofold. The first one is pretty obvious, consistent sales results come from consistent sales activities. Random sales results come from random sales activities. It’s not really rocket science, right?
Matt: Right. Right.
Weldon: One of the definitions of advantages I love is finding something that works and then stop using it. I think in sales we’re all guilty of having a sales process that we follow that generates results, and before you know it, we’re cutting corners because look how good I am. You don’t realize that we’re kind of eliminating some of the fundamentals that made it successful in the first place. Sales process is really simple. To me, it breaks down the four things. I use the acronym of RISC, R-I-S-C instead of K on the end, but R-I-S-C, build a relationship, investigate the problem, solve the problem, and bring the deals to a conclusion. That doesn’t always mean to bring it to a close, by the way, because we won’t close 100% of our deals. But we can bring every sales call to a reasonable, logical conclusion. So those fundamentals that we all practice that make us successful in sales, sometimes we can start eliminating.
So the basic principles consistency is do the same thing every single time and you will generate consistent results. Whatever your process is, when you find one that works. But the second part of consistency I think is even more important. When I kind of integrated the second concept of consistency into my sales process, both in my personal sales in my companies and when I teach, is the principle of consistency as kind of defined by Dr. Cialdini, who wrote the influence books and persuasion books. The consistency principle rests on a simple proclamation that public declarations dictate future actions. In other words, we tend to do the things we say we’re going to do.
So I single out in sales real quick, I read an article by Cialdini in American Scientific Mind. This was 10 or 15 years ago. He talked about some studies about having people make certain declarations, certain proclamations, and they tend to active amount of consistent with that. So it occurred to me, what if I could get my customers to acknowledge to me the price is not the most important factor, that they don’t need to talk to my competitors, and they can decide today whether or not I’m a good fit for themselves and their family or their business. If I can get them to make those public declarations, they would be more likely to take actions consistent with that at the end of my sales process, which, of course, is the buy for me. I can ask them if we have time, I can give you a few examples of that because it’s very simple and it’s extremely powerful.
Matt: I love it. We’re going to have to take a quick break here. Pay some bills. We’ll be right back. More with Weldon Long. He’s the author of three amazing books. Quite honestly, I would recommend them all. The first book The Upside of Fear, a little more depth in his story. The Power of Consistency is the second book, and his new book, Consistency Selling. We’ll be right back on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Matt: Welcome back to Sales Pipeline Radio. Thanks very much for joining us today. We are very, very honored to be joined by Weldon Long. He’s the author of three amazing books. I highly recommend them all. The first one, The Upside of Fear, the second one, The Power of Consistency, and want to spend a little time learning about Consistency Selling. I feel like the last few minutes you’ve kind of been doing a little preview of the book itself and talk about what you wish for and what you need to do from a habit standpoint. Talk a little bit more about what that means and give some examples to kind of bring that home for folks just in terms of why consistency and habits and focus is so important.
Weldon: Yeah. That’s what it all comes down to, right, is making it more effective, more productive in our sales jobs, our sales professions. By the way, your listeners should know if they text the word ‘videos’ to 96000, they’ll get a three video series that’s going to explain in detail what we’re fixing to discuss, or they can go to WeldonLong.com, and there’s a big button they can click there to get those series of three videos.
But when it comes down to consistency selling, again, based on Cialdini’s work, that people that make certain statements tend to take actions consistent with those statements. In other words, Matt, if you said, “Hey, Weldon. Can you pick me up at the mall at three o’clock.” I say, “Sure, Matt. I’ll be there at three o’clock.” I look down at my watch and realize it’s 3:15, when I realize that I forgot, I get that anxious feeling that psychologists refer to as cognitive dissonance. It’s anxiety because my actions are not consistent with my words for picking you up. When I feel that anxiety, what do I do? Do I ignore it? No, I turn the car around. I call you. I’d do something to get myself back to a state or resonance so that my actions are consistent with my words. Very powerful research and you can read Cialdini’s work. He’s written several books.
But it occurred to me one day that in my sales profession I tend to hear the same three or four objections every single day. I want a cheaper price. I want to think about it. I got to talk to your competitors. I want a different brand. Right? I used to get them every single day. What’d make me crazy, I got to thinking, listen, I know it’s coming before my prospect knows what’s coming. So what I did is I got the idea. I went out and that time I was selling heating and air conditioning systems. I went out and I found two reports. One was from Consumer Report. The other was from the Department of Energy. Basically what they said is that when you’re buying a new heating and air conditioning system, that price was not the most important factor. Proper sizing, a trustworthy contractor, warranties, guarantees, these were all more important than the price.
So I incorporated both of those articles into my sales process, and early on in the sales process, I would share that information with my prospects, with my homeowners across the kitchen table. Then once I had them read the reports and we discuss it, I would ask a very simple question. Mr. Prospect, would you agree or disagree with Consumer Reports and U.S. Department of Energy that there are several factors to consider here that are as important, perhaps even more important, than a cheap price? They just read the articles with me. It came from third party experts, Consumer Reports, Department of Energy. They had no choice but to say, “Well, sure. We just read it,” right?
So now an hour later, I get to the end of my sales process. They made the statement that price is not the most important factor. Well, that influences their behavior. When they started thinking about price as the end, and they’re thinking about asking me for a discount, they know that we’ve already had that conversation either subconsciously, maybe even consciously they remember it. But here’s the most powerful thing, Matt, if they change their mind, if they do a 180 on me, and all of a sudden they say, “Well, now. You’re $1000 higher than the other guy.” I can use what I call the three most powerful words in sales, “Earlier you said …” I respectfully and polite fully always remind them of what they told me an hour earlier. I understand, Mr. Prospect, we’re $1,000 higher. But, of course, quality is going to cost a little bit more, and earlier you said that you agreed with Consumer Reports and Department of Energy that price was not the most important factor. Has that changed in our time together?” When you remind them of their previous declarations, they’re going to feel that distance because now their behavior is not consistent with their words. Just like I got nervous when I forgot you at the mall, they start getting anxiety when they realize, “Wow. I did say that earlier, and I did agree with that.”
In that moment, they become more likely, not 100% of the time, but they become more likely to take actions consistent with their previous declarations, which were price is not the most important. You can see the implications of that on the sales process. So that’s how we use the principle of consistency as defined by Dr. Cialdini, to influence the actions of other people. There’s a great controversy about is this manipulation or is this influence, and Dr. Cialdini describes it in his books that if the outcome is mutually beneficial, it’s influence. If the outcome is only beneficial to one party, that’s not exactly a proper motive. But if you know you’ve got a great company, you know you’ll do a good job for this prospect, then it’s a mutually beneficial outcome because they don’t know your competition like you do. They don’t know that they can trust your competition and maybe get ripped off.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio again with Weldon Long, the author of the new book Consistency Selling. If you’d like to check out some of the videos Weldon mentioned, text ‘videos’, plural to 96000 or you can certainly go to WeldonLong.com and learn more about his books and get his vlog and get those free videos as well. You mentioned earlier in our discussion sort of the subconscious mind. I want to talk a little bit about that. I think early in my career, I tend to think subconscious mind and some of that stuffs a little bit woo-woo. But the more science I’ve read on this, there are certain things you can absolutely put to work to get your brain to really work harder for. Can you talk a little bit about what you’ve learned and what’s in the books that help people empower that subconscious mind of their on benefit?
Weldon: Yeah. Because you’re right, Matt, that is the key to the kingdom as far as I’m concerned. When you get a mindset that is programmed to prosper in the face of adversity and pursue it’s goals, you have the keys to the kingdom. When my father died and I was in prison, I realized that my life was a reflection of my habitual thoughts. Then I realized I needed to change my habitual thoughts. So I wrote that list down, as I mentioned. I put it on my wall. I began to review it every single day. Just like you, when I first started reading about this and probably the first recollection I can remember thinking about it was Napoleon Hill in Thick and Grow Rich where he talks about imagine yourself already in possession of these things. At first it seemed a little mystical to me as well. A little woo-woo, as you put it. I needed something more practical. So I started studying some of the neuroscience behind it, and it’s a very simple factor. Remember our old friend, cognitive dissonance. Well it works for us individually too. Just like public declaration dictate future actions. Guess what, private declarations also dictate our future actions.
So if I read what I call a prosperity plan to write out everything you want, everything you need to do on a sheet of paper. Review it for 15 minutes a day. If I’m reading that sheet of paper, it says on there I earn $300,000 per year in my sales career, I run every call with passion and purpose. I diagnosis problems and recommend solutions like a boss, and I ask the order every single time. I visualize myself running sales calls like that. I visualize the income, the outcome of the income for myself and my family. Then a few hours later, I go out and run my first sales call. Let’s say I go in, I very quickly dorp off a cheap price, and walk out hoping my prospect will call me next week. Well, all of a sudden I’m going to feel dissonance. Why? Well because I told myself this morning that’s not how I run sales calls. So what happens on the next sales call, we’re going to remember that feeling, and guess what, we’re going to start driving the behaviors because the dissonance, the anxiety feels so bad. Right?
So the only way to get rid of the anxiety, well, there’s two ways. But the most productive way to get rid of the anxiety is to do the thing you said you would do. The other way, which is not essentially healthy is to tear the plan up and never review it again, right? Therefore, there’s no accountability. So it’s not woo-woo. It’s not mystical. It’s basic application of neuroscience that if we tell ourselves we’re going to do something, we become more likely to do it than if we had not said that to ourselves. So if I get up in the morning and I never consider how I’m going to run a sales call, then I go drop off a cheap price, guess what, there’s no anxiety because I never made statements to myself that were the opposite of that. So it’s the ultimate personal accountability.
By the way, your listeners and The Power of Consistency, that book is completely about that whole process about the neuroscience. It’s a very simple book. I tell people my books are very simple to read because they were written by a ninth grader. They’re not complicated books. But I have had neuroscientists contact me after that book came out and said it was the simplest explanation of the neuroscience behind success they had ever read, right? There’s a lot of research that I’ve learned since then, but to me it’s just simple common sense.
Matt: Love it. We’re wrapping up here with Weldon Long. Definitely make sure you get a copy of his new book Consistency Selling. If nothing else, check out his videos on the secrets of implementing the prosperity mindset in consistency selling. You can find those at WeldonLong.com or you can text ‘videos’ videos plural to 96000.
Weldon, at the end of almost every interview we do here on Sales Pipeline Radio, we ask people who are some of the folks that they have really learned and been inspired from. I feel like this entire conversation has really been encompasses really the answer to those questions. So I might change it up a little bit and say in addition to your book for the modern seller, for the modern business professional, who are some of the current authors and other current books that you recommend people check out to continue to make themselves better.
Weldon: Well, the first one, and I don’t know if it comes under the category of current. It’s relatively current, which would be The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I tell people Dr. Covey saved my life. He didn’t change my life. He saved my life. That book was the roadmap of how to live a life and how to build a business. Currently, Robert Cialdini. I’m a huge fan of his books on influence. It talks so much about what drives our own behavior and what drives the behaviors of our customers. I think that his work is super, super important, and then I would look back probably I wouldn’t say recent, but I’d look at some of the classics. Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. I’m sitting here right now looking at Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman In The World. The tried and true and tested philosophies that withstand the test of time. That, to me, is the most reliable stuff. There’s a lot of different sales philosophies out there. Just depends on the individual.
Listen, any of them will work if we apply them on a consistent basis.
Matt: Right. Right. Want to thank our guest again, Weldon Long, for joining us today. Really appreciate all of your insights, your story’s amazing. I highly encourage everyone to check out the book Consistency Selling. If you want to learn more about Weldon and his story, definitely check out his memoir, The Upside of Fear. We will be here next week for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Make sure you join us each week at 11:30 Pacific/2:30 Eastern, and every episode, including this episode, will be available at SalesPipelineRadio.com.
For my great producer, Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.