DocuSign’s Director of Sales Productivity, Mike Fiascone, teaches his formula for creating superhuman sales reps

Collin Stewart, CEO

24 May 2018

If you’re looking for help, mentorship, or specialized training to boost your sales career, it won’t take you long to find what you’re looking for.

We work in a very engaged industry with robust online communities, well-attended seminars, specialized trainings, informal meetups… I could go on forever.

If you need sales help, it’s out there, ready to be absorbed.

As an active sales leader myself, I’ve long been in awe of the support the sales industry offers. And I’ve been on both ends of the stick – receiving help when I’ve needed it, and guiding others when they’ve reached out.

Reflecting on all those avenues of help, however, got me thinking about what is lacking in the sales support system. As I mentioned, we do the tactical, nitty gritty sales stuff really well. But what about the emotional side of sales? What do we do about all the stress we encounter on the job?

Let’s be honest: our gig is a grind. Month after month, and quarter after quarter, we’re under the gun. And that pressure can (and does!) take its toll. Personally, I’ve felt the full weight of this job more times than I count. And, once upon a time, so did Mike Fiascone, Director of Sales Productivity at DocuSign. Stress was an accepted part of his day-to-day.

That is, until he decided to change it.

“Being in sales for so long, I’ve been involved in so many trainings – from negotiation, discovery, closing plans to mapping out accounts. But, there was a point in my career, about 10 years ago, were I went through some personal challenges that forced me to reevaluate who I was and how I approached stress,” says Fiascone, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“It was then I realized that if I applied certain methodologies that I used in my personal life to my professional life – dealing with stress, developing more personal relationships, not taking stuff so personally – things would explode. And they did.”

The brain

Before we get to that much-desired professional explosion, it’s instructive to first understand, in basic terms, how the brain works.

The brain is divided into three parts:

The neocortex (the frontal lobe; the conscious mind): this is where we process human language, our thoughts, and our imagination. The neocortex accounts for only 2 – 10% of our brain.

The limbic brain: this is the emotional centre. The limbic brain governs our behaviours, our emotions, and our judgments. Unlike the neocortex, this portion of the brain is subconscious.

The reptilian brain (the oldest brain): this is the part of our brain that governs our bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. Like the limbic brain, this part of the brain is also subconscious.

The subconscious portions of the mind, ultimately, serve as protection. For example, when we encounter moments of stress and we don’t have the tools to deal with the situation in question, our body automatically goes into reflex and stores that experience in our subconscious mind. As a result, that situation, and our reaction to it, doesn’t go away. We hold on to it, and it becomes part of our psyche.

According to Fiascone, we’re storing countless numbers of those reflexive stressful reactions for protection.

“We know there is a buried treasure in our subconscious mind when we are experiencing things that are automatic and we wouldn’t chose it,” says Fiascone.

“For example, maybe we’re fearful. Would you chose fear if you had a choice? Probably not. So it must be coming from the subconscious. And that could be coming from when we were 7 years old, and we felt unsafe in a particular situation. But, there’s good news. There is a way to harmonize these feelings, understand the root cause, and direct it to what you do want.”

Redirecting negativity

Shifting your feelings in a more productive and positive direction, says Fiascone, also comes down to three distinct steps:

– Seeing your emotions
– Feeling your emotions
– Hearing your emotions

For example, you’ve sent a contract to a potential client, and their procurement department has sent it back, challenging your quote. Your competition, they claim, is charging much less. They want you to do better, and get back to them within 24 hours.

As a result, you’re feeling a rush of anxiety, and a flurry of thoughts start running through your head: how can I go cheaper? Do I want to go cheaper? And, how can I get this together in one day?

For Fiascone, this is when he closes his eyes and simply asks himself: “would I choose this anxiety?”

The answer, of course, is no. The anxiety is reflexive, stemming from our vault of autonomic reactions. But, instead of ignoring those difficult feelings, Fiascone closes his eyes and visualizes every image he can relating to this anxiety – losing the deal, getting fired etc.

From there, he starts to focus on how that anxiety is affecting his body (what is he feeling? And, where is he feeling it?)

“At this point, I start describing those feelings – in my neck, my back, wherever,” says Fiascone.

“And while I’m doing this, I make sure to consciously breathe in and breathe out.”

Finally, Fiascone listens closely to the parade of negative thoughts running through his head. Sure, those words can be difficult, even angry at times. But, those thoughts need space, he says.

They need to be heard.

“Listen to the volume of that inner monologue. Listen to that negative running narrative. Whatever that anxious voice needs to say, give it the space to say it,” says Fiascone.

“But there is a gift here. Once you finish this, and decide to send that processed feeling towards something you do want, that’s very powerful. I get excited now, when I go through something like this. Because I know it’s leading me here, to a place of better understanding, and you get to move towards this question: if I could choose the feeling, what feeling would I chose?”

Choosing positivity… and becoming superhuman

Once you’ve run through those steps, there’s one more thing to do…. do it again. This time, however, you repeat the steps, but swap confidence for anxiety. For example, visualize what that confidence looks like, feel that confidence in your body, and listen to all of the confident things you can conceive of.

Now, you’re ready to respond to that email from that client. In fact, you’re ready to respond to any email, pitch in any meeting, or handle any call. Your clients, regardless of who they are or at what stage in the cycle they are at, will feel it. And they’ll respond to it.

You just have to choose to do it. But once you do, you’ll be superhuman in no time.

“When you’re not in a reactive place, you are powerful. Really, really powerful. People can’t touch you. We live in a world of highly reactive people. I’m just choosing not to be one of them,” says Fiascone.

“Shifting your perspective is such a powerful gift. But, with it comes responsibility. Because once you know, you can’t blame others for anything anymore. It’s not for everybody, but for those that want to be superhuman, especially in sales, getting the mind, the heart, and the will, in alignment will help us come from a place of gratitude and love And that is the way we want to live our lives.”

For more on Fiascone’s thoughts on mindfulness – as well a discussion on his his years in sales, mentoring reps, and common traits of successful sales professionals – check out his recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.