Posted in Leadership Coaching, Sales Coaching, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , on March 2, 2015 by Dustin Hillis

Flat Tire

My very first summer selling I was out in the backwoods of Missouri where I got not one, not two, not three, but 10 flat tires. My 10th flat tire happened while I was driving a rental car. By that time in the summer, I had gotten pretty quick at changing out a flat and had formed a habit of jumping out of the car to change it, timing myself to see how fast I could do it to try to beat my NASCAR pit crew record breaking time.

On this particular day, I did not beat my NASCAR pit crew record-breaking time because in that rental car I’d never had a flat tire. I put it on the jack and didn’t realize in that car you’re supposed to pull the emergency break before changing the tire. The car fell off of the tire. And if you’ve ever been in the backwoods of Missouri and have a car fall off its jack, I can promise you that you’ll understand that this is not a fun experience! So I ended up having to move the car and work as hard as I could to get the jack out from underneath the car, jack the car back up, and change the tire. It took forever!

I’m loading my boxes back into the trunk and I looked down and realized that my skin looked like it was moving for some odd reason. Upon further inspection, I realized that I was completely covered in ticks. It wasn’t just a few ticks; it was not just a couple of dozen ticks…I’m talking hundreds of ticks that were in the canopy of woods above my head while I was changing the tire which had been falling on my head for over an hour while I worked on that rental car.

What did I do? What any other rational human being would do…I freaked out!  I stripped down to the nude, took my clothes and threw them in a blue Walmart bag that was sitting in the back of the car because I didn’t want to get the ticks in the car. Then I jumped in the car and drove off still freaking out! I remember thinking, “What’s going on?  Why am I out here selling in the middle of Missouri?” I wanted to quit, I wanted to go home, and I determined that that’s what I was going to do.

I pulled up into the only gas station in the entire town. It was the hangout for the city. It was the only place to go, evidenced by all of the people there. I opened the door of the car and I realized—wait a minute—I’m buck naked!  So I jumped back in the car, reached into the Walmart bag and grabbed my covered-in-ticks pants, putting them back on while I started running across the gravel, bare feet and all.

I opened the door to the gas station and find an old lady sitting in the corner. She asked, “Son, what’s wrong with you?” “Lady, I have ticks!” I told her. I think she laughed while pointing me in the direction of the bathroom. I quickly grabbed the only thing I could find in the store to help my situation: a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a razor, and ran to the bathroom. Inside, I looked myself in the eyes and, for the first time in my life, was absolutely convinced I wanted to quit.

I never wanted to quit more at anything in my life. And I’m not a natural quitter. But this day, I wanted to pack up my bags and go home. I didn’t care how much money I was making. I wanted to quit. And I’ll never forget looking at myself in the mirror, just picking off ticks and feeling miserable and sorry for myself. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

It was during this time that something in me began to stir. I remembered going through  training at Southwestern before that summer began and hearing Lee McCroskey teach about this very time in one’s life, the point in which someone feels ready to quit. He explained that everybody has an excuse why they quit and quitting happens in different forms in each different person. Some people quit and literally go home. They are through. Some people quit mentally while keeping at it physically. Some people quit on a month; some on a week; some on a day; some on a goal period…

I’ll never forget hearing him say that and writing down on a card, “I will never quit on my summer, on a month, on a week, on a day, on a goal card or a customer.”  I pulled out that card and re-read it. Looking myself in the eye, I decided, “All right, I’m going to do this.” I took out that rubbing alcohol and razor and I shaved the ticks off, one by one. That wasn’t the best day that I’ve ever had, but it was one of my most important days of my life.

It was important because I made a decision that day to push through.

I didn’t quit.

I had a few customers after that and it was brutal. But you know what? I finished.

After that, quitting was never an option.

I want you to think of a time in your life where you wanted to quit at something—whatever it is—and you didn’t quit. You pushed through. As the country song goes, “…if you’re going through hell, you keep on going. And you get through before the devil notices you’re there.”
When have you done that? When have you pushed through pain to the break through on the other side? On the other side, life becomes easier and quitting becomes less and less of an enticing choice.

At Southwestern Consulting™, we created a technique to help you do this consistently. It’s called RAFT.


Try to imagine this acronym as your life raft, as something that helps you navigate the tumultuous waters that life brings your way.

R stands for Realize. You have to realize an event is occurring. Many times, realizing that you’re in the middle of an event is the hardest part. What is an event? An event is anything that takes you off schedule, anything that takes you out of your routine, anything that takes you out of your normal rhythm.

In my story, my event was the flat tire and finding myself covered in ticks. Events come in all shapes and sizes. It could be as large as a crashing economy, death of a loved one or loss of a marriage. Or it could be as small as a rainy day, flat tire or bad hair day. All of those events, regardless of size, can end up disrupting your momentum.

A stands for Accept. You have to accept that the event is occurring. This is another very difficult part! Acceptance is a psychological action. When I was getting my Psychology Degree at the University at Tennessee in Knoxville, I was so interested to learn that what psychologists are really doing as part of their job is working to drive their clients towards acceptance.  More often than not, people don’t like accepting things.

There are three things in life that you should put your energy and focus on.

1.    Controllables (your work habits, attitude and schedule)
2.    Things that you can influence (people)
3.    Things you have to accept (the events in your life—these are things that you can’t control. Instead, you need to roll with the punches as they come at you)

What’s interesting is that most people choose to spend their time, energy and thoughts focused on things that they just should instead be accepting. But that’s not fun! Everybody loves to gossip, to have an excuse, to talk about why something can’t work. It’s a rare individual who doesn’t make an excuse, but instead finds a way.

F stands for Focus. You have to focus on the controllables. Like I said above, there are only three things you can control—one of which is your attitude. Attitude is a choice and I challenge you to choose wisely. You can also control your schedule and your activity. Are you making wise choices?

T stands for Transform. You must transform the negative event or the negative emotion into positive momentum. Emotions are good, but even bad emotions can be harnessed to slingshot you into positive and record-breaking production.

It’s not coincidence that the week I broke the company record for making the most money in a single week was the week following learning my parents were getting divorced.
At that time, I made a choice to do RAFT:  to focus on the controllables versus quitting. Football players do the same thing. They get knocked down. When I played football, after somebody blindsided me the first time, that was when I had my best game ever.

Make sure you’re doing the following:

1) Realize the event is occurring.
2) Accept that the event is occurring.
3) Focus on the controllables.
4) Take the momentum of the negative and slingshot yourself into positive momentum.

If you can do those things, you will be able to be self-controlled, break records and take it to the next level.

Do you want more information about the R.A.F.T technique and its components? Fill out the form below to get in touch and we’ll send you more information:

Modify: Entertainer (Pt. 2)

Posted in Closing, dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2014 by Dustin Hillis

Today I am wrapping up my Modify series. This week, I’ll finish with how to present and close with an Entertainer. Catch up on last week, how to present to an Entertainer, here (Modify: Entertainer Pt. 1).

Did you miss the rest of the Modify series? You can catch up here:

Modify: Fighter Part 1

Modify: Fighter Part 2

Modify: Fighter Part 3 

Modify: Detective Part 1

Modify: Detective Part 2

Modify: Detective Part 3

Modify: Counselor Part 1

Modify: Counselor Part 2

Modify: Entertainer – Presentation and Close

When it comes to modifying your natural approach, presentation and close with an Entertainer’s natural buying behavior style, it is important to remember that Entertainers are the kind of people who are energetic, enthusiastic, inspired by affirmation and their biggest fear is rejection.

Knowing all of those things, we really have to be careful with how we approach, how we present and how we close because they can be the most emotional when they are buying. They can also be really great advocates and referral partners, but only if we do it the right way.

–> Click here to continue reading.

Modify: Entertainer (Pt. 1)

Posted in dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2014 by Dustin Hillis

Today, I am excited to share with you the last section in my Modify series. This week, I’ll cover how to approach an Entertainer followed by next week when I’ll go into how to present and close with an Entertainer.

Did you miss the rest of the Modify series? You can catch up here:

Modify: Fighter Part 1

Modify: Fighter Part 2

Modify: Fighter Part 3 

Modify: Detective Part 1

Modify: Detective Part 2

Modify: Detective Part 3

Modify: Counselor Part 1

Modify: Counselor Part 2

Modify: Entertainer – The Approach

When it comes to modifying your natural approach, presentation and close with an Entertainer’s natural buying behavior style, it is important to remember is that Entertainers are the kind of people who are energetic, enthusiastic, inspired by affirmation and their biggest fear is rejection.

–> Click here to continue reading..

Modify: Counselor (Pt. 2)

Posted in dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips with tags , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
Presentation and Close with a Counselor Natural Buying Style

Presentation and Close with a Counselor Natural Buying Style

Did you miss it? Last week was Modify: Counselor Part One. Catch up here.

When it comes to modifying our natural sales approach to adapt to a Counselor’s buying behavior style, it’s important to remember that a Counselor is a team player.

They are active listeners.  They are the people who are family-oriented.  They are the slowest of all the decision makers; they are more meticulous and they buy through consensus.

If you’re working with a Counselor, you’ll need to hone in and get to the core of what they are motivated by and, if you’re selling to a Counselor, what their biggest fears are.

So what is their biggest fear?

Their biggest fear is change.

One of our clients is DIRECTV.  For DIRECTV, it can be a challenge selling to a Counselor because almost every single one of their clients is changing from one product to another—from Comcast to DIRECTV.  When a Counselor is dealing with fundamentally having to change something, it is a fear of theirs.  We need to help them get over that fear and feel confident that this is the right decision for their team and their family.  We need to help them move forward despite that fear.

When presenting to a Counselor (also true for the approach), what we really want to make sure we are doing is to slow it down. Click here to continue reading.

Modify: Counselor (Pt. 1)

Posted in Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques with tags , , , , , , on November 17, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
Modify to a Counselor's Natural Buying Style

Modify to a Counselor’s Natural Buying Style

When it comes to modifying our natural sales approach to adapt to a Counselor’s buying behavior style, it’s important to remember that a Counselor is a team player.

They are active listeners.  They are the people who are family-oriented.  They are the slowest of all the decision makers; they are more meticulous and they buy through consensus.

If you’re working with a Counselor, you’ll need to hone in and get to the core of what they are motivated by and, if you’re selling to a Counselor, what their biggest fears are.

So what is their biggest fear? Click here to continue reading.

Modify: Detective (Pt. 3)

Posted in dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
How to Modify your Approach to a Detective's Natural Buying Style

How to Modify your Approach to a Detective’s Natural Buying Style

Today I’m wrapping up my Modify: Detective series by discussing how to close with a Detective. If you missed parts one and two, you can catch up here: Modify: Detective Part 1 | Modify: Detective Part 2

A few weeks back, I shared a similar mini series called Modify: Fighter. Did you miss it? You can catch up here: Modify: Fighter Part 1 | Modify: Fighter Part 2 | Modify: Fighter Part 3 

When it comes to modifying our natural selling style to that of a Detective, what we need to remember is that Detectives are detail-oriented and analytical.  They are the CPAs, accountants and engineers in your life.  When you’re talking to an analytical type of decision maker, think about the things that motivate them and also what fears they have. –> Click here to continue reading…


Modify: Detective (Pt. 2)

Posted in Closing, dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
How to Modify your Approach to a Detective's Natural Buying Style

How to Modify your Approach to a Detective’s Natural Buying Style

Today I’m sharing part 2 of my Modify: Detective series. In this blog, I’ll discuss how to present to a Detective. If you missed part one, you can catch up here.

A few weeks back, I shared a similar mini series called Modify: Fighter. Did you miss it? You can catch up here: Modify: Fighter Part 1 | Modify: Fighter Part 2 | Modify: Fighter Part 3 

When it comes to modifying our natural selling style to that of a Detective, what we need to remember is that Detectives are detail-oriented and analytical.  They are the CPAs, accountants and engineers in your life.  When you’re talking to an analytical type of decision maker, think about the things that motivate them and also what fears they have.  –> Click here to continue reading…


Modify: Detective (Pt. 1)

Posted in Closing, dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
How to Modify your Approach to a Detective's Natural Buying Style

How to Modify your Approach to a Detective’s Natural Buying Style

Today, I am excited to share with you part one of my Modify: Detective mini series by covering how to conduct your approach with a Detective.

Last week I wrapped up my Modify: Fighter mini series. Did you miss it? You can catch up here: Modify: Fighter Part 1 | Modify: Fighter Part 2 | Modify: Fighter Part 3 

When it comes to modifying our natural selling style to that of a Detective, what we need to remember is that Detectives are detail-oriented and analytical.  They are the CPAs, accountants and engineers in your life.  When you’re talking to an analytical type of decision maker, think about the things that motivate them and also what fears they have. –> Click here to continue reading…


Modify: Fighter (Pt. 3)

Posted in Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , , , on October 6, 2014 by Dustin Hillis

A couple of  weeks back, I kicked off my Modify: Fighter series. Today wraps up that series. Missed parts one and two? Catch up now!  (Click here to read Modify: Fighter Pt 1) (Click here to read Modify: Fighter Pt. 2)

How to modify to a Fighter's natural buying style

How to modify to a Fighter’s natural buying style

Navigate: Selling the Way People Like to Buy consists of 3 sections:

  • Solidification on the behaviors of the 4 buying styles
  • Identification of the 4 buying styles
  • Modification of your natural selling style

Modification is the most important part of how to sell the way people like to buy.  The goal is to modify and adapt one’s own natural selling style to someone else’s buying style.

The Fighter

How do you modify your natural selling style in your approach, presentation and close to a Fighter’s buying behavior style?


–> Click here to continue reading. 

Modify: Fighter (Pt. 2)

Posted in Closing, dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
Modifying to a Figher's Natural Buying Style

Modifying to a Figher’s Natural Buying Style

Last week we kicked off part one of our Modify: Fighter three-part series. Missed it? Catch up here.

Navigate: Selling the Way People Like to Buy consists of 3 sections:

  • Solidification on the behaviors of the 4 buying styles
  • Identification of the 4 buying styles
  • Modification of your natural selling style

Modification is the most important part of how to sell the way people like to buy.  The goal is to modify and adapt one’s own natural selling style to someone else’s buying style.

–> Click here to continue reading. 


Modify: Fighter (Pt. 1)

Posted in Closing, dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
Modifying to a Figher's Natural Buying Style

Modifying to a Figher’s Natural Buying Style

Navigate: Selling the Way People Like to Buy consists of 3 sections:

  • Solidification on the behaviors of the 4 buying styles
  • Identification of the 4 buying styles
  • Modification of your natural selling style

Modification is the most important part of how to sell the way people like to buy.  The goal is to modify and adapt one’s own natural selling style to someone else’s buying style.

The Fighter

How do you modify your natural selling style in your approach, presentation and close to a Fighter’s buying behavior style?

–> Click here to continue reading. 


Navigate Handshakes

Posted in Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
Navigate Handshakes

Navigate Handshakes

When it comes to identifying people’s natural buying behavior styles, one of the best ways to identify someone’s style is by taking note of how they walk, move and shake hands.


Visual: Arnold Schwarzenegger has just entered the room, straight off of the movie Terminator.  He is coming straight at you!

Fighters pump their arms and move their feet quickly.  It almost looks like a fast-speed, militant-style walk headed toward you.

Once they get to you, they’ll often shake your hand in one of two ways.

–> Click here to continue reading. 


Redefining Possible

Posted in Goal Setting, Motivational with tags , , , , , on September 1, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
Redefining Possible

Redefining Possible

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was on track the track to break the all-time company sales record at Southwestern. It was a feat that only one person had accomplished out of 150,000 salespeople within the 159-year-old company.

My first three weeks of trying to break the record I didn’t even come close to hitting the numbers that I needed to in order to exceed the record.  There was another gentleman that year that was on the same track as me and also had the goal of breaking the company record.  His name was Dave Brown. The difference between Dave and me was that Dave was actually on track to break the record during those first three weeks.

I remember thinking every day, “Gosh, I can’t believe that Dave is beating me!”

–> Click here to continue reading. 

The Answering Objections Formula

Posted in dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips with tags , , , on August 25, 2014 by Dustin Hillis


How to Answer Objections

How to Answer Objections

At Southwestern ConsultingTM, we have found that there is a very proven formula to efficiently answer objections.


If you don’t follow this formula, what can happen is your prospect will continue to provide you with objections.  That can lead to frustration and spending unnecessary time and effort following up with people only to be given more objections.  These objections will seem legitimate, so you’ll spend time answering them…only to be given yet another objection.

–> Click here to continue reading. 


The Art of Not Thinking

Posted in Motivational, the art of not thinking with tags , , , , , on August 21, 2014 by Dustin Hillis


How I Discovered the Art of Not Thinking

How I Discovered the Art of Not Thinking


What is it that holds people back from reaching their true success and achieving that next level in their careers and/or personal lives?  What is that one thing—that lack of confidence—that causes us to give in, quit and stop at the moment where we could instead reach that next level of success?


That thing, that event, is called the Confidence Anchor.  There are probably events that have happened throughout your life where you have pushed through that barrier and you didn’t even realize it.  For me, the best example of this occurred during a wrestling match my junior year of high school.



–> Click here to continue reading…

7 Steps to Courageous Goal Setting

Posted in Motivational, Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2014 by Dustin Hillis


How to Set Courageous Goals

How to Set Courageous Goals

One of the scariest goals that I’ve ever set personally happened years ago.  I set a goal to break the company all-time sales record, to become number 1 out of over 150,000 of the best salespeople on earth, at the over 150 year old Southwestern Advantage.  It was a very daunting goal.


When I think of those in my life who are the best goal setters, I think of the person who held the company sales record (that I ended up breaking), my wife, Kyah.  I learned more about how to be a top producer from Kyah than anyone!


—> Click here to continue reading…

Creating Your Creed

Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2014 by Dustin Hillis


Creating Your Creed

Creating Your Creed

In order to have a team that has a common mission and vision, there must be methodology and principles to live and operate by.  At Southwestern ConsultingTM, this is what we call a creed.


Every company needs a creed. At Southwestern ConsultingTM, we have helped hundreds of companies create creeds for their businesses.  As a company, creating a creed changed the trajectory of our business.


In 2009, we found ourselves in a situation of having… –> Click here to continue reading. 


Getting Over Call Reluctance

Posted in Sales Tips, Selling Techniques, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , , , , , on July 28, 2014 by Dustin Hillis


Getting Over Call Reluctance

Getting Over Call Reluctance

I started my career knocking on doors with Southwestern, where I worked 85 hours each week cold calling door-to-door.  Years later, when we started our business Southwestern Consulting, we started with the seminar business.


The seminar business typically includes a lot of phone work.  It wasn’t unheard of to make 100 dials per day.  I remember hiring a consultant and having him tell us that…. –> Click here to continue reading.


How to be a Closing Machine

Posted in Closing, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Southwestern Consulting on July 22, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
How to be a Closing Machine

How to be a Closing Machine

When you talk about closing, there are two groups of people that come to mind.

The first are those who are self-proclaimed closing machines.  They say they have no problems closing and that they love to close!  They will close anyone, on anything, at anytime.

The second are people who claim they… –> Click here to continue reading.



Understanding Key Metric Ratios

Posted in Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
 How to Read Key Metric Ratios

How to Read Key Metric Ratios

You cannot expect unless you inspect.

Understanding your key metrics, or as we call them at Southwestern ConsultingTM, your Critical Success Factors, is essential to success.

So many people push, fight and refuse to track their activity and think through their ratios. Usually there are some basic, fundamental ratios that most salespeople need to know and be able to track, regardless of industry.

One of those ratios is the….. –> Click here to continue reading. 


The LinkedIn Referral Technique

Posted in dustin hillis, Referrals, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2014 by Dustin Hillis
The LinkedIn Referral Technique

Using LinkedIn for Referrals

Where do you rank in your level of expertise at asking for, expecting and getting referrals?

Are you an expert? Are you honestly getting five referrals every time you meet with somebody?

Are you a novice? Do you rarely get referrals? Is your idea of getting referrals that you do a good job and impress people and ask them to pass your name? (Or perhaps you’re a really bold novice and you give them a couple extra business cards and ask them to hand them out!)

If you practice those strategies, you need to realize that you’re doing what amateurs do. We want to be pros! We want to be the best! If you want to be the best, you have to ask for, expect and get referrals on the spot.

–> Click here to continue reading. 

How to Remember to Ask for Referrals

Posted in Sales Tips with tags on July 7, 2014 by Dustin Hillis

How To Get Referrals & Work Smart

Working hard or working smart…which one do you prefer?

The answer, really, should be both.

At Southwestern Consulting we coach thousands of salespeople in every different industry.  What we have found is that it doesn’t matter what industry you are in, working hard and working smart is the difference between a top producer and an average producer.

The 2 key factors that are needed to become a Top Producer: …. (CLICK HERE FOR MORE)

The All In Principle

Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching, Motivational with tags , , , on November 12, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

The All In Principle

Nothing great has ever been done half-hearted.  You cannot accomplish something extraordinary with one foot in and one foot out.  You have to be all in!

Hernan Cortes figured it out when he and his 600 men went on a mission to conquer Mexico.  The only way they could possibly find a way to win the battle and conquer Mexico was to burn the boats.  He knew that having no escape, no plan B was the only way he could possibly motivate his men to not quit and find a way to win.

I think the only reason I was able to get a scholarship to play college football was from a very valuable lesson I learned from my coach in high school, Coach Adams.  In the middle of a game, Coach Adams pulled me out of the game and asked me an interesting question.  He said “on that last play were you going 100%?”  I replied “well no.  The play was away from me and I was saving my energy for the next play.”  Coach Adams laughed and said “if you go 100% ever play, you will have more energy for the next play every time.  Energy creates more energy.  You need to go 100% every play.”  After that I ran back on the field and for the rest of my football career, I said out loud before every play “I go 100% every play.”  That lesson changed my life.

Do you go 100% every play, every phone call, every meeting, every day?  Set a simple goal over the next 21 days…go 100% every play!

3 Keys To Survival

Posted in dustin hillis, Sales Coaching with tags , , , on August 19, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

3 Keys To Survival

Float Plane

Float Plane

Back when I lived in Anchorage, Alaska, my dad wanted to take me and my little brother fishing.  My dad loves fishing the hardest possible way.  We woke up early one morning and went to a float-plane charter.  My dad insisted that we go to the most remote lake possible, that nobody had ever been to.  I did not want to go to this spot.  But he insisted.  We ended up going to a lake that the fishing guide had never been to.  The only way that we could get upstream was by walking through the river.  At one point, the guide stopped us, put his hand on his gun and said for us to be quiet. Then he said, “Did you smell that grizzly bear?”  This was not my idea of a fun fishing trip!  The only thing that was fun about the trip is we were walking through about 2 inches of water and a 50 pound king salmon was trying to swim upstream.  I threw my pole down and bear hugged the salmon.  I asked my dad to take a picture, but then the fish slapped me in the face and got away.  We ended the day after hiking 9 to 10 miles trying to get back to the float plane and fly home.  The pilot made several failed attempts at flying us out of the wilderness.  We were scared to death and we barely got out of the lake alive.

Alaska King Salmon

Alaska King Salmon

After this extreme fishing trip, I decided I was going to drive to my next territory where I was selling books door-to-door in Fairbanks, Alaska, which was almost a 5 hour drive.  As I was driving through the Denali Mountains and elevation was increasing, I physically started to shake as I was driving in my car.  Knowing that there was no human life within miles of where I was, I drove my car as fast as I could to find the nearest hotel.  I found the owner of the hotel and he called the ambulance for me.  He told me I was dehydrated.

Road to Denali Mountain

I woke up the next morning in Fairbanks with the doctor telling me that I had a clean bill of health.  I asked how I should get back to my car on the Denali Mountains.  He laughed and said I would have to take the Greyhound.  I said where do you get the Greyhound?  He said if you run as fast as you can all the way across town you can catch it, but it leaves in 10 minutes.  So there I went, still wearing my hospital bracelet, running as fast as I could out of the hospital across town and barely catching the bus in time to take the five-hour ride back to retrieve my car and drive back to Fairbanks.

I checked into a hotel in Fairbanks that night, woke up at six in the morning and was knocking on doors by 7:59 AM the next day.  I ended up having a great week…and still ended up finishing as the #1 salesperson at Southwestern Advantage that year.

Upon reflection, I found that there were three key things that I did to be successful that next week and stay alive!

1.  Focus on the Solution Not the Problem

When facing dehydration in Alaska, focusing on the problem would have made it worse.  If I had pulled over to think about what I needed to do, it could have been the end of the road for me.

2.  Never Hesitate

Not making a decision can be the worst decision I could have made when faced with a life or death situation.  The most successful people I know are decisive decision makers.  They know that even if their decisions aren’t 100% the best decision they can keep making decisions to make up for the few bad ones.

3.  When Life Throws You A Curve Ball…Hit a Home Run!

Excuses are so much easier than following through, sticking to a plan and being successful.  It would have been very easy for me to quit and go home after this near-death experience in Alaska.  No one would have thought any less of me, I would have still made good money, and life would have gone on.  However, my goal for that year was to be the #1 salesperson in the company.  I still had two more weeks of selling left, and if I had quit, I would not have hit my goal.

After the doctor told me there was absolutely nothing wrong with me and I had a clean bill of health, all I wanted to do is get back to work before I lost all of the momentum I had before this seemingly major setback.

What is your Denali Mountain that you’re facing right now?  Are you shaking at the wheel?  What area of your life do you want to quit in right now?  Do you have what it takes to not just survive, but thrive?

You Cannot Teach What You Don’t Know & Lead Where You Won’t Go

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Sales Coaching with tags , , , , on July 29, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

Those that cannot do, teach.

hypocrite or walk the talk

The world is hypersensitive to hypocrites.  The idea of someone telling me what to do that doesn’t practice what he or she preaches makes me cringe.  Kids see hypocrisy in their parents when the parent tells them to not cuss, meanwhile the parent cusses away.  Salespeople see hypocrisy in their sales manager when he demands they do something that he himself has never done.  The citizens of a country see it in their leader when he asks the country to make sacrifices that he himself is not willing to make.

No one wants to be a hypocrite.  So, why doesn’t everyone walk the talk?  Why do people reach the top and stop doing the activity that got them into that position?  Why do people who’ve never earned anything feel like they deserve something?  The answer is simple yet not easy to hear…entitlement.

Being entitled is so much easier than being a leader.  Entitlement is a gross character flaw trap that people fall into.  Our society has created a world of entitlement.  Think about it.  Parents tell their kids “make good grades, so you can get into the college you deserve”; colleges tell you “get your degree, so you can get the job you deserve”; employers tell you “come work here, so you can make the money you deserve”; marketers tell you “make a lot of money, so you can have the happiness you deserve”.  All the while no one is saying, “You don’t deserve anything!”  We are called to live up to the potential God has given us…nothing more, nothing less.

Leaders lead by example.  Leaders give and don’t expect to receive.  Leaders give advice from a “what I personally do when facing this problem” perspective.  Those who walk the talk, believe in other people and have an abundance-giving attitude inspire people to follow them.  Those who talk a big game without backing it up expect others to do all the work for them, and feel like everyone owes them something.

Do you walk the talk?  Or, do you focus on what you deserve?

For information about Leadership Coaching:


Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , on June 24, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

“There is an element of truth in every piece of constructive feedback.”



In my book Navigate, I write about the 4 different buying behavior styles and how psychologically buyers make decisions based on their fears.

– The Fighter’s biggest fear is “losing control.”
– The Detective’s biggest fear is “making a mistake.”
– The Counselor’s biggest fear is “change.”
– The Entertainer’s biggest fear is “rejection.”

The fear of feedback is interesting because it affects all 4 behavior styles the same. No one naturally likes feedback. It cuts to the core of who we are. It offends our egos. After all, how dare someone tell you what you need to work on, when they have so many obvious faults of their own?

There are 2 types of feedback.

1. Destructive Feedback – Destructive Feedback is evil. People use it to make themselves feel more important than someone else. Destructive feedback comes in several forms. One way is where someone will highlight an obvious weakness of other person to make them feel inferior. Another way is simply make things up and lie about someone’s actions and character. It is best to cut out anyone in your life who consistently is giving you destructive feedback.

2. Constructive Feedback – Constructive Feedback is what people use to help other people improve the people they care about the most.

The best leaders in the world are the best at receiving constructive feedback, internalizing constructive feedback and changing based on the constructive feedback.

Here are 3 tips about giving and receiving constructive feedback.

1. Don’t Be Defensive!
Always assume the person giving you the constructive feedback has your best interest in mind and is taking the time to give you constructive feedback because they care about you.

It is so frustrating to work with someone or have a conversation with someone who is a “know-it-all”. Life is all about learning. If you are not learning, you are dying. The “know-it-all” people of the world will not reach their potential because they shut people off from giving them feedback. Without feedback, you won’t change and without change, you won’t grow.

Trust is needed for growth. People with trust issues have growth issues. The key is to have well-defined parameters about who you allow to give you feedback, and then when those types of people give you feedback, it’s up to you to not be defensive.

2. Listen
It is so hard for people to hear someone else criticize them that they have natural defense mechanisms that kick in to defend their egos. People will interrupt, argue, justify and deny the feedback. Listening is a skill. Think of the last time someone took the time to give you constructive feedback on any area of your life. How did you react?
Here is how to react to feedback – after someone takes the time to give you constructive feedback respond with “let me make sure I’m hearing you right”, then repeat back to them the feedback they gave you, and then say “is there anything else that I’m missing?”. Then if they say “no”, you reply with “tell me more…where did this come from? Can you give me a specific example of when I did this?”

When you seek to understand before being understood, you will reach the next level of being an effective communicator and leader.

3. Give Constructive Feedback with Love
Giving constructive feedback to the people you care about is one of the best services you can provide a friend. If you know that someone is doing something that is damaging their reputation, business, friendships, relationships and life and you don’t share the feedback with them, it is selfish and wrong. The key to giving constructive feedback is to give it with love.

Ken Blanchard discusses in his book The One Minute Manager how to give constructive feedback. What Dr Blanchard suggests is that you always give feedback one-on-one and never in a group setting. When giving feedback, always apply the “sandwich technique”.

The Sandwich Technique:
Step 1. Praise them for what they are doing right and why you respect them.
Step 2. Provide the constructive feedback.
Step 3. Build them up and encourage them with possible solutions for improvement.

When you care enough about other people to take the time to provide them constructive feedback with love, they will tend to return the favor and feel comfortable with discussing constructive feedback that might be potentially relationship-damaging topics with you.

True relationships are forged from the real topics of life. Everyone has dozens of “surface” friends. Not everyone has people in their life who care about them enough to take the time to give them constructive feedback. The next time someone in your inner circle of peers gives you constructive feedback, thank them for it, listen and see how you can apply it to your life.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Posted in dustin hillis, time management with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

Efficiency and Effectiveness

My father-in-law, Jack Grady, loves telling the story about when he asked his daughter (my wife Kyah) to vacuum the stairs. He recalls that an hour after her working hard at vacuuming she reported back to him that she was finished. Upon inspection, he found that she had missed several spots and made her do it again. She was mad because she had “worked hard” and he told her “it doesn’t matter how hard you work, all that matters is that you get the job done right”.

Jack Grady

Jack Grady

After working with thousand of executives and top producers, I have found that the difference between an ultra producer and an average producer is efficiency and effectiveness.

Having a goal of constant and never-ending improvement around being more Efficient and Effective is the most productive goal anyone can have. This is a goal that has no finish line. There are always ways to be more Efficient and Effective. When you strive to maximize your time, you will be amazed at how much more enjoyable the things you do are. The worst feeling in the world is to feel like you’re working hard and not making progress.

Here are the top 3 tips to being Efficient and Effective:

1. Delegate - Focus 95% of your Income Producing Activity (IPA) time doing only things that you can do. Delegate the rest.

- If you don’t have a team, get one. Give up control. Stop being the biggest obstacle that holds your company back. Hire, train, motivate and hold accountable people who are smarter, more efficient and better looking J than you are at tasks you should not be doing. Empower others and let it go.

2. Be Proactive, Not Reactive - Spend 2-3 hours every Sunday planning out every day, hour and minute of your next 2-4 weeks.

- I went to dinner with one of the most successful people I know named Spencer Hays. At dinner, I asked Spencer “how do you manage your time?” He replied “I schedule an appointment with myself every Sunday and I plan out every phone call, every meeting, drive time, logistics, etc. for every minute the next week. That way when Monday comes I don’t have to think about what I should be doing.“

3. Do NOT Over Commit - If something is not on your calendar, don’t do it!

- In the book Crucial Conversations, the authors discuss the importance of learning how to say “no”. This resonated with me because at the time I read that book for the first time I was a habitual over committer. I over committed at work, at home, with my friends. My intentions were to make everyone happy and the result was no one was happy. I created a mini-script that made a major impact in my life. Anytime someone asked me if I could do something instead of giving my normal impulse response to just say “Yes”, I started saying I don’t know. Let me check my schedule.” Then I pull out my schedule and check and see if I can do what is being requested and then put it in my calendar. These 2 sentences have changed my life. I’m no longer an over committer, and I do not do anything that is not in my calendar!

We all want to get more done in less time. The question is… are you willing to focus on these 3 steps and actually do them?

Focus Is Power

Posted in dustin hillis, the art of not thinking with tags , , , , on June 3, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

Focus Is Power

Problem: We think when we should be acting, and we relax when we should be thinking. 

I recently was in Ohio working with one of our Southwestern Consulting™ coaches named Karla.  Karla’s husband is a farmer.  We were discussing how during the harvest season her husband is absolutely focused on harvesting their crops and nothing else.

In business and life, so many people worry about “balance”.  My business partner Rory Vaden wrote a chapter in his New York Time best-selling book Take the Stairs about the “harvest season”, and in it he talks about intentionally being unbalanced when needed during different seasons of your life.

Thinking of life as seasons helps provide focus.  Focus is power.  Focus literally is power.  You can focus the light of the sun and create fire.  You can focus the pressure of water and cut through steel.  How focused are you?

focus is power

focus is power

As I write this, there are thousands of college students in a “Harvest Season” out selling books.  There are many seasonal professions out there.  Great American is one of our Southwestern sister companies and their harvest season is from August- November.  Some industries have a harvest season at the end of every month. When is your “harvest season”?

Here are the rules of engagement to focus during a harvest season to maximize your results:

  • Act; don’t think
  • Literally move fast
  • Plan, study and prepare during “non-income producing activity time”
  • Make quick decisions – be  the world’s most decisive problem solver
  • Work harder, longer and smarter than you ever have in your life
  • Do not waste one single second
  • Have fun – take what you do serious, and yourself lightly
nate vogel


My good friend Nate Vogel named his organization “Red Line” representing when you push a car to its maximum speed the RPM gauge will cross the red line. I love this analogy of “red lining” because so few have ever experienced what it feels like to truly go all out and “red line”.  I feel the reason people don’t go all in and “red line” is fear.  Whether it’s the fear of losing, the fear of rejection, the fear of success, or the fear of (insert your fear)… fear is the greatest paralyzer of focus.

Ask Yourself These 3 Questions:

1.  When is your Harvest Season?

2.  How many times in your life have you “red lined”?

3.  Are you willing to step up to the challenge and try “red lining” during your Harvest Season?


You can do this. Go all in.  Don’t hold back.  Give 100% every day, every hour, every minute.

Focus is power.


If you need help maintaining your focus, you might need a coach.  Complete this form for more information about getting a coach that is right for you:

How To Ask For Referrals

Posted in dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, southwestern company, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , on May 1, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

How To Ask For Referrals.

For more information about how to become a referral master click here:


7 Ways People Lie

Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching, southwestern company truth with tags , , , , on April 20, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

Liar. What a harsh word. It cuts to the core. No one wants to be a liar, yet we all are.

Most people define “lying” as looking someone in the eye and delivering a bold faced lie. The reality is that we are all much more creative in the ways we lie.

I was sitting in church at Mid-town 12th South listening to my pastor Russ describe the 7 ways we lie, and realized that the reality is that almost everyone at some point in their life will not only be a “liar”, but we will all probably will be guilty of all 7 ways we lie.

Here are the 7 ways we lie:
1. Error- a lie by mistake.
2. Omission- leaving out relevant information.
3. Restructuring- distorting the context. Spinning.
4. Denial- refusing to acknowledge a truth.
5. Minimization- reducing the effect of a mistake or judgment.
6. Exaggeration- representing something as greater, better, more experienced or successful.
7. Fabrication- deliberately inventing a false story.


I feel the number one reason people lie is to “be right”. Being aware of the 7 ways we lie is one of the first steps in preventing being a liar. The truth is that we all have our version of the truth. The best we can strive for in not becoming a liar is having a heart for always doing what is right and letting go of caring about who gets credit or caring about who is right.

I loved this message because it gives us all pause to think about the way, not only the way we deceive others, but how many ways we deceive ourselves when it comes to our commitments with our careers, our health, our family, our faith, and our friends. It certainly made me think and I hope the message resonates with you too!

Selling Systems: Self-Management Systems

Posted in southwestern company, Southwestern Consulting, time management with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

Selling Systems

Today I was doing field training with one of our Southwestern Consulting Market Managers (Neal Anderson) in Raleigh, NC.  Our first meeting was with a personal coaching client of mine whom I’ve been coaching for over 3 years named Bob Watral.  Bob is a former VP at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and has been in the financial planning industry for over 20 years and is one of the most coachable people I know.  Our next meeting was at one of the top real estate offices in Raleigh, and Neal signed up the managing broker of the office for the Manager’s Edge coaching.  Then our next meeting was at a New York Life office where Neal was already coaching the manager and ended up signing up another producer for the Top Producer’s Edge coaching program.  Upon reflecting on the day’s activities, I feel that all 4 of the people we met with today who are enrolled in our program have one thing in common that they need help with. Although they work at different companies in different industries and have different levels of experience, the common denominator is they all need help creating and maintaining more effective and efficient Selling Systems.

The Southwestern Family of Companies is comprised of Southwestern Investments Group (the #1 Raymond James financial planning firm in the world), Great American (the largest school fundraising company in the world), SBR Recruiting (the #1 recruiting company in the state of Tennessee), Southwestern Advantage (one of the oldest direct sales businesses in the United States), Family Heritage (a large supplemental insurance company), Tom James (the world’s largest custom clothier), Wildtree (one of the fastest growing party planning businesses in the United States), a handful of other various businesses ranging from the music industry, time shares, international work and travel documents, and an award-winning publishing company.   People often ask me “how is Southwestern involved in so many different industries?  What’s the common thread?”  The answer to that question is why Southwestern Consulting exists.  All of the Southwestern companies have one thing in common – Selling Systems.

Selling Systems are the foundation of all the Southwestern companies…and they’re the foundation of almost every successful company, manager and top producer.

What are “Selling Systems”?   There are 3 key Selling Systems that Southwestern has perfected over the past 155 plus years that we help instill in our coaching clients.

Selling System #1:  Self-Management Systems

Out of the hundreds of people we coach every year, Time Management is the #1 area of improvement most people need help creating systems around.  A lot of people are working a lot of hours… they’re just not maximizing the time during the hours they work.

Here are the top 3 systems you can create for yourself to help manage your time better:

1. Schedule Tool – A schedule tool is a spreadsheet that has every day of your week broken down hour-by-hour.  How you use the Schedule Tool is you open it up every Sunday and take an hour to literally plan out every hour of your week, every phone call, every meeting, prospecting time, email time, lunch, paperwork time… but beyond that you have to schedule your personal life also!  What time you’re going to wake up, read books, workout, date night, and personal development training.

Here is an example of one of my coaching clients Schedule Tool:

Schedule Tool

Schedule Tool for Time Management

2. Goal Card – A Goal Card is one of the cornerstone tools that Southwestern has used to ensure success over the past century.  One of the keys to a Goal Card is that it breaks down your day into working “goal periods”.  A “goal period” is a 2 hour block of your day where you have specific activity goals to achieve.  You should break your whole day down into “goal periods” and have activity goals for each “goal period”.  Separating your day out to 2 hour increments will help you get more done in 2 focused hours than what most people do all day.

Click Here To Download Your Selling Systems Goal Card

Selling Systems

Selling Systems

3. Critical Success Factor Tracker – “You cannot expect unless you inspect.”  It’s hard to know how to improve your performance unless you track what you’re doing all day long and then measure the activity against the daily activity goal.  In the Southwestern ConsultingTM sales performance coaching program, we have designed a software program that makes this an easy process that takes 2 minutes at the end of the day to tally up your daily activity statistics off of your Goal Card and enter them onto your CSF report.

Here is an example of the Southwestern Consulting Critical Success Factors tracking tool all of our coaching clients use everyday and review with their coach:

Critical Success Factors

Critical Success Factors Activity Tracking Tool

  • Once you have several months of CSF data, you can start self-managing yourself and comparing your ratios to the previous month and make sure your daily activity numbers are always improving.

If you are reading this and think “this is the kind of stuff I need in my business”, we can help!  We have a team of experts that help implement these types of systems in companies across America every day.  For more information:

… stay tuned for the other two Selling Systems.

4 Types of Leadership

Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching with tags , , , , , on January 25, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

4 Types of Leadership

How to be a Navigate Leader

I’ll never forget when the CEO of the Southwestern Company™ (Henry Bedford) hired me to help start Southwestern Consulting™ back in 2005.  I had been a record-breaking salesperson and a decent recruiter and manager at my previous job at Southwestern Advantage, but I never really had formal leadership training on how to start and run a business from scratch.  It was literally the scenario of my first day of reporting to work where he showed me to my office in Nashville, Tennessee and said, “Here is your phone.  Good luck.”  I was so nervous to recruit our first team members that I had a couple of older guys Henry introduced me to call them and recruit them!

Since then, we have made it our mission at Southwestern Consulting™ to help companies and managers set up their company so as to keep out of the trap of not equipping their most important leaders with what they need to succeed.  At Southwestern Consulting™, we help companies with Recruiting Systems, On-boarding Systems, Internal Training Processes and Spaced Repetition Accountability Coaching Programs.

Recently, I was riding in the car with a consulting client field shadowing and listening to him coach his newly-acquired team.  He is a classic Top Producer who was promoted into sales management without any leadership training.  (I see this happen all the time!  Why do we put so much effort in recruiting the right sales person, getting them on-boarded, continuing training them and coaching them to ensure they are successful?  But when we promote someone into a leadership position, we just throw them into the fire and say, “good luck with this mess”.   What’s ironic for a top producer is that usually becoming a manager means a decrease in pay!  Yet this conundrum happens all the time.)  This rookie manager was talking with new salespeople, veterans, top producers and average producers and was managing them all the exact same way.  After listening to four calls, my coaching radar was going off that this new manager needed some leadership coaching on the 4 types of Navigate Leadership.

One of the most important things I learned on the topic of leadership early in my career was from a book I read by Ron Marks called Managing for Sales Results.  It the book Marks talks about the fact that there are four different types of leadership that different team members need based on where they are at in their career.  A common mistake is to treat every team member the same way, or treat them the way you would want to be treated.  The best leaders understand you have to be a Navigate Leader and manage each person on your team the way they would want to be managed.

4 Types of Leadership

4 Types of Leadership

There are 4 types of team members that need 4 different types of leadership that you need to understand to become a Navigator Leader.

4 types of team members:

1.  Low Motivation and Low Skills and Knowledge.

2.  Low Motivation and High Skills and Knowledge.

3.  High Motivation and Low Skills and Knowledge.

4.  High Motivation and High Skills and Knowledge.

Now that you know the 4 types of team members, take a moment and create a flow chart of your entire team and categorize every person into one of the 4 categories.  Now that you have an understanding where each team member is, it’s time to Navigate how you lead each one of them.

4 Types of Navigate Leadership:

1.    Directive Leadership:  For people with low skill and low motivation.

When someone knows hardly anything about how to do the job, the product or what to do… they need to be told what to do!  Most leaders make the mistake of thinking people don’t want to be told what to do, and that is not true for this group of people.  Rookies need directive leadership on a regular basis.

This can be difficult for leaders who are naturally macro-managers.  I remember the first personal assistant I hired.  I didn’t want to come across as “bossy” so I let her set her hours, keep track of her to-do list and come to me when she needed help.  Well, that lasted for about 6 weeks and she quit!  Then I hired another assistant and she quit!  Then I realized they were quitting because they were not feeling supported.  During someone’s first year of being on your team, they need for you to hold their hand, help them over come the inevitable challenges and figure out how to be successful at their job.

2.    Inspirational Leadership:  For people with high skill and low motivation.

Old dogs can learn new tricks… you just need the right bone to throw them. When working with a group of seasoned veterans, one of the biggest challenges a leader faces is keeping them motivated.

This seems to come from two areas:


1. Ego – Top dogs want to remember the good old days.  Usually they have been successful in the past, and they are trying to save face by always talking about their years of experience and how they’ve always done things.  When someone keeps doing things the same way they’ve always done, they will always get what they’ve always got… and most of the time that is not growing or moving forward.  We call this common trend “not being coachable”.  Sometimes the best way to cure, this is the follow the veteran in the field and ask them after the day is over what they think they are doing right and what they are not doing right.  Usually they will give you an excuse as to why they do things the way that they do.  When they do this, smile and ask them how that is working out for them?  Usually it’s not.

The next step is to show them how to do the job the right way.  Either you personally run the next meeting and close it by the book or you have them follow a top producer.  There is nothing more inspiring to a veteran who technically knows everything there is to know about the job, but is just too stubborn to follow the proven system, than seeing a live presentation where someone who has less experience than they do close a deal with ease by following the system.

2. Complacency – We see this all the time in businesses that have residual pay.  Once someone has been selling insurance or doing financial planning, they are making so much income from residual pay they stop working.  The best way to identify if someone is complacent is to look at their income over the past 3 years and if it hasn’t grown by at least $10,000 – $20,000 then they probably are complacent.  The best thing to do with someone who is complacent is to promote them as a new in-field trainer.  It’s amazing how hard working and re-invigorated someone becomes when they know they are the example other people are following.  Set up a follow schedule of having rookies follow someone who is complacent to “show them how to work hard at the job”.  Make sure you coach this team member in how important it is that the rookies see a really solid day of work and to be following the processes by the book.

Another great idea is to create an incentive plan based on activity.  Then create a leader-board that you publish every week with everyone’s activity.  Veterans usually hate being shown up… and when you send out everyone’s activity and who is leading the company in each category every week your competitive team members will rise to the challenge.

3.  Coaching Leadership – For people with high motivation but low technical skill and knowledge.

Average producers usually have one of two issues.  Usually it’s a lack of skill or it’s a lack of will… sometimes both!  If someone doesn’t have skill or will, at some point you have to be willing to just let them go be successful somewhere else.  So, let’s assume most of your average

producers have a high will and motivation to be successful, but they are just lacking the knowledge it takes to be a top producer.  These people don’t need “pump up calls”.  They need coaching, role-plays, video taping of their demos and having you review it with them.

Coaching is the greatest form of results-driven spaced repetition training a leader can provide.  Classroom training is what most leaders utilize; yet it is the least effective in getting real results in their team members. You should have a regularly-scheduled coaching session with each one of these team members weekly or bi-weekly.  On each call, you should review their activity numbers with them and be prepared to coach them on one thing technical and one thing emotional to help them be more successful that next week.

4.    Servant Leadership – For people with high motivation and high skill and knowledge.

Nate Vogel said it best, “Top Producers are like top of the line sports cars.  They go real fast, are expensive to fix and they really make you look good.”  If you have a Ferrari, you wouldn’t drive it the same way you would drive a VW bug.  Literally, your Ferrari can go faster and do things that a VW bug could never do.

When it comes to leading your Ferrari’s/ race horses/ Top Producers, doesn’t it make sense that they need different maintenance than your other producers?  A contest for a Top Producer should be different than a contest for your average producers.  The way you lead your Top Producers should be different than how you lead your average producers.  Typically, the best way to lead a Top Producer is through Servant Leadership.

Servant Leadership is simply being a servant to the people on your team.  While you should be a servant leader for everyone on your team, this should be the only type of management you provide to Top Producers.  Top Producers do not want to be told what to do.  They typically don’t need someone to pump them up everyday.  Top Producers who have a high motivation and high technical skills just need someone to help remove the barriers that might slow them down.  A great question to ask a Top Producer is, “is there anything I can help you with?”  If they say, “nope, I’m all good” then just make sure they are happy and having fun doing the job and let them go along their merry way.  The worst thing in the world you can do with a Top Producer is to find the one or two things they are doing wrong and try to fix them.  They just need to feel like everything they are doing is right and keep on doing what they are the best… Producing!

My wife Kyah tells me stories of when she was breaking the company record at Southwestern and she was feeling burned out from working 85 hours per week she’d call her manager and say, “I’m thinking about getting my nails done”.  Most average managers would have reminded her that would be “getting off schedule” and pressured her to keep on working, but not her manager Nate.  He was a Navigate Leader and every time she had an idea or thought he’d simply tell her “that’s a great idea.  I think you should do that.  Just call me when you’re done.”   Then she’d go take 30 minutes to do her thing, and then call him back and was refreshed and back at work.  At Southwestern, not every salesperson could handle this kind of interruption in their intense summer work schedule, but Kyah’s Navigate Leader knew that she could!

When it comes to being a “Navigator Leader”, it is important to remember to not treat everyone the way you would like to be managed.  Rather, you identify where each person on your team is in terms of their motivation and skill then you create a plan to make sure you are leading people the way they want to be lead.

For more information about the Southwestern Consulting™ Leadership Coaching program go here:  http://coaching.southwesternconsulting.com/Sales_Coaching_and_Leadership_Coaching.aspx

2012 Top 5 Blogs

Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching, Sales Coaching with tags , on January 1, 2013 by Dustin Hillis

What A Great 2012!

These are the posts that got the most views in 2012.

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 24,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals!

Thank you for your continued support and reading my blogs!

5 Types Of Decision Making

Posted in dustin hillis, the art of not thinking with tags , , , on November 28, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

5 Types of Decision Making

How to make a decision is simple, but actually keeping your decision-making process simple is not easy.  Decisions are made every day.  Some decisions are big decisions, some are small. Some decisions will change the trajectory of your day, while others will change the trajectory of your life. With so many decisions to make, how do we make sure we’re making the right decision?

Decision Making

Decision Making

I’ll never forget the day I truly made the decision that I was going to ask my now wife Kyah to marry me.  I was in the library of the University of Tennessee on the phone with a jewelry salesperson from San Francisco and she told me “once you put this deposit down, it is non-refundable”, so needless to say I was a little nervous.  But I made the decision, I put the deposit down on a ring, and from that point forward there was no looking back.   I was going to marry Kyah!   Now 7 years later, we have a beautiful baby girl named Haven and life is good.  But what if I had not made that decision?  Life would be much different.

The media have programmed all of us to make decisions.  If we don’t take the time to make logical or principle-based decisions, we all will fall into the decision-making process other people want us to follow.

Are you making an impulsive or emotional decision, or are you making logical principle-based decisions.

Sun Sui says in his book The Art of War that one of the most important things someone needs to master to be an effective decision maker in battle is to “know thyself”.   If you know your values, have written down goals and understand the principles in which you believe, then making quick and decisive decisions should be easy.  However, if you don’t have goals, don’t understand what your values are and don’t live a principle-based life, then you will be easily persuaded and will continue making emotional and impulsive decisions the rest of your life.


There are 5 different ways someone can make a decision:

  1. Impulsive Decision Making
  2. Emotional Decision Making
  3. Group-Think Decision Making
  4. Logical Decision Making
  5. Principle-Based Decision Making


Impulsive Decision Making:

According to researchers at UC Berkley, people make decisions based on the first option they see.  For example, if they are looking for a pack of gum, they will simply just pick the first one they see.  Hopefully when we are making big decisions, impulsiveness is not how we are making our decisions.  If I had made a spontaneous decision about who to marry based on the first girl I was attracted to, I would have married my childhood girlfriend Amy who I haven’t seen in 25 years.


Emotional Decision Making:

Humans are creatures of emotions.  We love drama, action, a love story and cheering for the underdog.  A new science was developed back in the 1950’s called Nauru-Associative Programming that changed the way all marketers in the world viewed marketing.  Through NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) or NAP (Neuro-Associative Programming) marketers and the media figured out how to control us using both impulse buying and emotional decision making together.  In using NLP and NAP, you first show the consumer something that makes them emotional and feeling good – it could be a couple on a beach, a fun-loving puppy dog, a famous athlete, or the most popular is an attractive female.  Next, you flash your product or logo after emotionally charging the consumer.  Then, you finish the commercial with the good feeling emotional distracter.  The first company to use NLP in a commercial was Pepsi in the 1990’s.  Pepsi paid Michael Jackson a large sum of money to simply do the moonwalk across the stage for its commercial.  What’s even more ironic is that Michael Jackson couldn’t even drink Pepsi or anything caffeinated for religious reasons, or even be seen holding the product!  Pepsi didn’t care.  The marketers knew that all they needed was his image of doing the moonwalk and then flash the logo of Pepsi and their sales would increase.  And increase they did.  After that commercial, Pepsi’s sales skyrocketed, helping them go from 15% to over a 30% market share in a matter of a few months!

We don’t realize it, but we are programmed to make decisions every single day with NAP.


Group-Think Decision Making:

Think of the last time you made a decision to do something or buy something simply from the fact that someone you know made a similar decision.  I’m willing to bet it was at least several times in the last month, if not in the last 24 hours!

Group Think actually has its advantages.  It takes much less effort to make a decision based off someone else versus having to actually do the research and think for ourselves!

Group Think can also be dangerous.  For example, a survey was done testing if people would help someone on a crowded street who seemed to be severely injured.  When there were more than ten other people around the individual in need of help the odds of someone stopping to help decreased significantly. When asked why they didn’t stop to help, they replied, “I thought someone else was going to stop and help.”  Yikes!  That’s scary!

The media uses Group Think all the time!  Pay attention to the Presidential elections.  The media always tries to sway America on who to vote for by showing popularity polls and forecast of who’s going to win.  They want to paralyze people into just going with their opinion instead of actually doing the research on their own and making a logical or principle-based decision.   After all, why should we vote for someone who the media says is going to lose anyway?


Logical Decision Making:

Logical Decision Making is a good thing to do.  It helps make sure you’re not making a mistake and probably most the time a logical decision is a right decision.

The problem with Logical Decision Making is it takes way too long.  People who make a majority of their decisions based on a Logical Decision Making process often miss great opportunities, due to over-analyzing the facts, gathering opinions, looking into the history of what they are making a decision about and calculating into the future the consequences versus benefits of making the decision.


Principle-Based Decision Making:

People will let you down, but you can count on true principles.  Here is an easy way to understand what your principles are.  On a sheet of paper make a list of the top 10 things you believe to be true about life.  For example, if you truly believe it’s important to live a life that is debt free and you know that you can get caught up abusing credit and credit cards, then write down this principle for yourself, “if you cannot pay cash for something, you don’t buy it.”  On the other side of that, you might be someone who manages money well, understand how to leverage money, and you’re not stressed by the thought of using your credit to make more money when you manage it well.  You might write down a principle that says, “I let my money work for me, and I make decisions that maximize each opportunity.”  Regardless of your principles, as long as you have them written down and solidified in your mind, then you can make decisions with peace of mind.


Being a quick and decisive decision maker can help you advance your career, improve your personal family life and even save your life.  It’s worth taking the time to actually think about what kind of decision maker you are.  That way, when the pressure comes, you can be fearless in the moment and not hesitate when you make your decision.  Knowing sometimes you will make the wrong decision, but at the same time knowing that because you are making principle-based decisions, most of the time you will be making the right decision for you.

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips with tags , , , on September 27, 2012 by Dustin Hillis
Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Comparison causes stress, frustration and ultimately limits people’s belief in what they think is possible.

It takes an extreme amount of self-control and mental toughness to not compare yourself to other people. Think about it.  When was the last time you had any of the following thoughts:

  • “I would be doing much better if I had Mary’s territory”
  • “I’m doing more work than Henry and he need to pick up the pace”
  • “The only reason John is successful is because he gets special treatment by the boss”
  • “It’s not fair that Sue is getting paid as much as she is. I work just as hard if not harder than her”
  • “Nancy’s husband is so much more attentive to her needs than my husband”
  • “I wish my wife was as hot as Mike’s wife”

The hardest part of not comparing yourself to other people is the fact that we as humans are hardwired to desire what we don’t have.  Last week I was observing my 14 month old daughter playing with another girl her age. She walked right up to the little girl who was playing with a mini-shopping cart and took it from her! I thought to myself “Wow! It’s crazy that kids are naturally so selfish!  She hasn’t ever seen someone take something from another person like that.”  Being content with your current situation can be a challenge.  There is a fine balance between being content and not ambitious.

Being competitive and wanting to win is a good quality.  However, being too competitive with other people can end up being destructive. It’s okay if your goal is to be number one, if that is because you think being number one is your potential… not because you cannot stand the person who’s currently number one and you just want to beat them. When people are too competitive with other people, they tend to be territorial, selfish and frustrated with what other people are doing or not doing.

I personally believe that God has designed us to live to the potential that He has given us.  Our ambitions should come from being motivated to do our dead level best everyday.  If our goal is to beat our own personal best performance everyday, then there would be no limit to what we can do!

Here is a simple 3-step process for not comparing yourself to other people, being content with what you have and breaking your own belief barriers of what you think is possible:

1. Be Eternally Thankful
Make a list of 20 things that you love about your life.  Then tape it to your mirror and read it everyday.

2. Focus On Other People’s Strengths and Catch Other People Doing Things Right
Write down the names of the top 10 people you can think of who you have ever been mad at/ envious of/ want to have things in their life/ are jealous of/ are resentful towards, etc.  Then next to their name write down 3 qualities about that person that are admirable, respectable or things that they have done that are good.  Be intentional to look for things that everyone around you are doing right, then take the time to acknowledge them and appreciate them for doing a good job.

3. Create Self Competition
Write down your personal goals for the next year.  Base your goals on beating your personal best performance so far, not based on what someone else has done or what someone else told you what your goal should be. Then write down why they are your goals and why they are important to you.  Put your goals in big bold letters somewhere that you can see everyday.

The saying “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me” has helped me personally overcome many, many obstacles that would have normally shut me down, caused me to quit or simply not perform up to the full potential of my God-given abilities.  Focusing on what I can bring to the table and contribute, and focusing on the good qualities of those around me and catching them doing things right has helped me be happy, consistently achieve my goals and enjoy being with the loved ones and co-workers in my life.

Southwestern Company / Great American Ranked In Top 5,000 Companies In America

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , , on September 11, 2012 by Dustin Hillis
Southwestern/Great American Inc. 5,000

Southwestern/Great American ranked in the top 5,000 companies in America by Inc.


Inc. Magazine recently ranked Southwestern/Great American as one of the top 5,000 companies in America.

For more than 30 years, Inc. has celebrated the fastest-growing private companies in America. To be honored this year is a particularly notable achievement. To rank among the 2012 Inc. 5000, Southwestern had to thrive through three of the toughest years this economy has seen in living memory. To be successful in such times takes a team with creativity, resilience and tenacity.

As an Inc. 5000 honoree, the Southwestern Family of Companies now shares a pedigree with Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Jamba Juice, Timberland, Clif Bar, Pandora, Patagonia, Oracle and other notable alumni. The class of 2012 added such powerhouses as Chobani, CDW, Levi Strauss and a little social media company called Facebook.

Several people have already asked us “how did you do it?”

The top 3 common characteristics in the Southwestern Family of Companies are:

1. Persistence:  “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge
Most companies think they need to hire the right talent to be successful.  Southwestern focuses on hiring people who are willing to work hard, study hard and are teachable. Then we plug them into a proven sales system and sales culture, and that is what makes them top producing salespeople.

2. Focus On Doing What’s Right:  Henry Bedford (CEO of Southwestern) often says “It doesn’t matter who is right.  All that matters is what is right.”
The removal of the ego and being okay with “not being right” is one of the hardest things a driven business leader has to do.  Bad decisions are made when a business leader is focused on “being right” and saving face or trying to look good. It’s easy to make progress when everyone in the company is focused on doing what is right.

3. Build Your People and They Will Build a Great Company:  Spencer Hays (the majority share holder of Southwestern/Great American) has always focused on putting resources, training, coaching and consulting into his sales teams, leadership teams and team of employees.  He says that the secret to success is not having the fanciest product or technology on the market.  It’s having a quality product that your company can provide that fills a need in society.  Then focus your time and effort in hiring, training and motivating quality salespeople to serve your customers well.

For more information about how to build these types of systems in your company, fill out this form:

7 Steps How To Ask For Referrals

Posted in Sales Coaching, Sales Tips with tags , , , , , , on August 10, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

The confidence in asking for and expecting referrals comes from the knowledge of what to say.

When it comes down to it, the core of why people don’t consistently ask for referrals at every single opportunity and expect to get five or 10 referrals from every person they meet with is because they’ve had a bad experience from asking. That one bad experience sticks in their mind and the fear of that rejection holds them back. With creating a script for referrals, one of the things to hold at the front of your mind is that asking for referrals is an art. One of my favorite quotes is by a guy named Scott Kramnick: “No matter how artful or talented you are, you must follow a specific methodology to be successful at expecting and getting quality referrals.”

There are seven steps in asking for referrals that apply whether you’re at an IT company or selling widgets.  These seven steps can be customized to fit any type of process when asking for referrals.


Step #1. The Referral Transition Statement

The most common step that is skipped in this whole process is step one, the transition statement. A good analogy for this is to remember the first time you ever drove a stick shift car. When you do not have a transition statement in asking for referrals, imagine that you’re missing a gear when you’re shifting gears in a car.  That jolting feeling is the same feeling somebody has when you don’t work a transition statement into your process of asking for referrals.

Referral Transition Statement

Referral Transition Statement

One of my favorite transition statements is doing two steps where you build them up.  First, you thank them and you then plant the seed for the referral. How that sounds is, “You know what, Emmy, thank you so much for who you are and making an investment into your future. I wish I had ten more customers or ten more people to talk with every day who are just like you.” That does a couple of things. Number one it makes them feel good. Number two it plants the seed that you’re not going to ask for one, or two, or three referrals, but that you’re going to ask for ten referrals in a minute.

Step #2. Clearly Ask For The Referral

The next step is to clearly ask for a referral. On this step the key is making sure you clearly ask for the referral without using the word “referral”.  There’s something weird about the way society has branded the word referral. It’s seared into their mind as a bad word and creates an objection that doesn’t need to be there. We still build them up and create a buying atmosphere and how it sounds is something like this – “You know, based on who you are and who you know, who do you think would at least be a good fit to talk with about their needs?”  Watch their body language when you say this part and if they start to cross their arms and show you that they are going to put up their defenses, then use this next line – “You know, Nancy, my job is to at least meet with everyone and I’ll show them the same professionalism that I showed with you.”  That’s the attitude in this phase of buying a building atmosphere.


Step #3. Paint The Picture
The third step is to paint the picture. In painting the picture, you want to put them in your shoes. You want to tell them specifically who you are looking for. It sounds something like this: “If you were me helping raise the bar in people’s lives, who would you go talk with first? Who would you see?”  They could already have a name stuck in their head, and they say, “You should talk to my friend Karen,” but that usually doesn’t happen. That is why you need the next step.


Step #4. Isolate The Faces
Next you need to isolate the faces. When you isolate the faces, there are two things you must do.

You start broadly, you identify their circle of influence and then you get specific. When you get specific, that is the closing question in this process of getting a referral.

#1.  Then you find the circle of influence. The best time to find that is at the very beginning, when you meet them and are building rapport. My favorite question to ask people is, “What do you like to do for fun?” It sounds like a random, broad question, but people love to answer it and this is where you get the gold. When you ask them what they like to do for fun and they tell you yachting or racing sailboats, that’s where you get tapped into their specific circles of influence.  Now you know where you can get referrals and you can do it in the rapport-building phase. It should sound something like this: “Basically, Dan, what I’m looking for is anyone who has recently had a job change, has kids, or is moving in or out of town. I know you’re really involved with your PTA group. Who is somebody that you’re closest with in the PTA?” Now that is starting broadly because there are several people in the PTA. One of two things could happen with that question. They could instantly think of someone that’s a fit for you, or what is more likely is that they are going to give you a slight objection and say that they can’t think of anyone.
#2.  This is when you get specific. The next question is the closing question, where you isolate it down to one face. You want to make them think of one specific person. The question that you ask next will definitely have an answer to it. It can be as simple as, “Who did you sit next to in your last meeting?” If you’re asking about who they know at their country club, “Who did you play golf with last?”

Usually the first name they give you is not the most qualified name for what you do, but that’s ok. What we’re trying to do is create momentum. Once that momentum is going and you get that first name, you’ll be able to get more.

A shortcut to this step is called the barbeque technique. The barbeque technique is where you say, “You know what, Dave, if you were to have a barbeque who would be the first five people you would invite?”


Step #5. Write Down The Referral

With those names, you then go to the next step where you write down the referral. This may sound strange, but a lot of people forget to write down the referral. Here are the steps to writing down the referral.

Number one – once you say that closing statement of, “Whom did you sit next to in your last meeting,” you need to break eye contact and be quiet. You don’t talk until they give you a name, no matter how awkward the silence is. You need to have a referral pad. Get a legal pad and at the top write “referrals”. Go ahead and write five referrals on there from the last person that gave you referrals. Pre-fill out your pad before you use it for the first time so that the perception is that every single person is already giving you referrals.

Step #6. Ask “Who Else?”
The second to last step is you ask “who else.” Do not get pre-approach immediately. If you do get pre-approach immediately, you will leave with only one referral. Write down as much information as possible and then thank them for giving you the referral and always ask who else. It will sound something like this: “Thank you so much. I really appreciate this. Who else do you know at the country club?” Keep talking about the different circles of influence until they are out of people in that area and then you say, “I know you’re really involved at your church. Who do you know at church?”


Step #7. Get Pre-Approach
Once you have the list of ten people to call, you get pre-approach. The main four things you want to know are:

1) What is the decision maker’s name?

2) What’s the best time to reach them?

3) How do you know them?

4) What kind of decision maker are they? Are they straight to the point, detail-oriented or outgoing? Write down what they say and apply the rules to Navigate because that will identify their buying behavior style.

Click here to learn more about how to ask for referrals, expect referrals, get referrals, and then sell to referrals!

How To Ask For Referrals

How To Ask For Referrals

How To Help Someone Make a Decision – No More Maybes!

Posted in Sales Coaching, Selling Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

No more maybes. Winning their business before you begin

How to help someone make a decision

How to help someone make a decision

Helping someone make a decision is vital to being a Top Producer! Professional salespeople can take a “yes” or take a “no”, but it’s the “maybes” that kill them! If you or someone you know has an issue with getting people to make up their minds faster and closing the deal or wish that your closing ratio was better, following the five steps of the cycle of the introduction will change your world.  Nothing will improve your closing ratio better than understanding why they are going to buy before you ever begin.  The best salespeople are the best at asking questions, uncovering needs, answering objections before the come up, and letting people buy.  Ultimately, the close should just be a formality when you do the steps of the introduction correctly.

There are five steps to the introduction and I think they are the most important part to selling.  They are not necessarily the hardest and challenging part, which I consider to be your prospecting step to get the appointment, but instead the most important.  Once you have the appointment set and have done the heavy lifting ,why waste the opportunity by jumping right into your presentation?

Here are the five steps of the Introduction to follow before your presentation.

Step #1. Eliminate distractions.

When you cross the threshold of walking into someone’s office or house or the threshold of an appointment over the phone you need to eliminate distractions whether it’s on their end or yours. Many times if you are in an office you need to see if there is a TV or radio on in the background. If you’re walking into a house, look to see if they have dogs or little kids running around.  You will want to literally turn the TV and radio off and ask if they can put the dog in the backyard to eliminate all of the distractions.  Another thing to strategically think about when eliminating distractions is that you need to face a window or anything that could potentially be distracting so that they are looking at you instead of the distraction.

Step #2. Build rapport through using names.

There are a couple of things you need to prepare before your appointment. The first tool you need to prepare is a names list. You need a list of every name and company and information on all the people who have purchased from you – who are all your customers, where they are from and what companies do they work with.  Once you have that list and it’s on a nice piece of paper where you can show people, the next thing you need to do before you have your appointment is look at that list and identify one to two people that you’re fairly sure you both know.  It could be working in similar industries, living in similar parts of town, anything.  Try to figure out a person you have in common. Then visualize what it was like when you met with the person you both know and think of some personal things about them. When you first sit down and have already eliminated the distractions, start the conversation something like this – “Well Dave, it’s so great working in Nashville.  The people here are so amazing.  The other day I was out meeting with Ron Marks and after our meeting he asked me if I wanted to fly in his airplane.  It was the coolest thing.  I actually have never flown in an airplane and he let me fly it for a couple of minutes, which was a little scary.  Did you know he has a plane? Has he ever let you fly it?” Talking about the person you have in common allows you to make a connection and a bond. The person you are trying to sell to will like you and trust you faster because you know somebody that they know. People are influenced by what other people buy, so when you start out in the beginning talking about other people that bought from you, telling stores and engaging, it does so many things to set the course in the right trajectory.

Step #3. Uncover the need.

People will buy because they like you and trust you; however, they will not buy from you if they like you and trust you, but they don’t need what you have.  Sometimes people don’t realize that they have a need.  If you product is innovative or revolutionary, people might not realize that they have a need for your product.  You have to be a master of asking questions to make them realize that they have a need.

Step #4. Create a buying atmosphere.

People love to buy, but they hate to be sold.  Forcing someone to buy something is what gives salespeople a bad name.  If we want to sell the right way and sell the way people like to buy, one of the biggest things we have to do is create a buying atmosphere.  A good visualization that will lock this in your memory is the difference between walking into a retail store versus walking into Wal-Mart.  When you walk into a retail store, a salesperson will approach you and ask you how they can help you. You instantly reply “no thanks. I’m just looking.”, knowing the person is trying to sell you something.  When you know there is a high-pressure situation and someone is trying to sell you something, you usually tend to buy less in that store. When you walk into Wal-Mart, you aren’t pressured to buy by the person at the front of the store. Instead, you’re met by a nice smiling older person who puts a smiley face sticker on your shirt as you walk by.  Wal-Mart has mastered the art of creating a buying atmosphere, and I don’t know about you, but when I go to Wal-Mart, I end up buying more than what I went there for.

A little mini script for you to use when selling to create a Buying Atmosphere is – “What I’m going to do is show you how this works and if you like this product, then that is great. However, if this is something you don’t like and is not a fit for you, it will not hurt my feelings.  You do not have to buy from me.” Once you say that and open up the buyer’s mind, a lot of times (if they have their arms crossed) they will uncross them when you deliver a very powerful buying atmosphere.

Step #5. Answering objections before they come up.

The rule usually is that the first person to say the objections wins. That’s why you have to build in the common objections to your introduction and answer them before they come up!  Everyone is a little bit different, but I encourage you to always include two objections – 1) always answer the decision maker objection and 2) always answer the procrastination objection.  Right after you create the Buying Atmosphere, you will want to insert the answer to those two objections. This is how you should phrase it – “You know, Dave, the only favor I ask is whenever I’m done showing this to you and going through all the details, is that you just give me a yes or a no at the end. Does that sound fair?”  And Dave will say “yes”. Then say one more thing.  “Whenever we get to the end, I wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes so we will show you all the services that you like and that you said you wanted to change. Would there be anyone else needed to be included in the decision making? Or would this be something you could move forward with yourself?” Dave then says “no, I’m the decision maker.”  Then you will say “great” and move forward with your presentation.


When you walk into a presentation doing these five steps the close will just be a formality because you will already have a customer before you begin.

The Price Build Up

Posted in Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

“How much does it cost?”

The price build up is one of the best techniques anyone can use in any industry when they have to deliver the price of a product or service. One of the most common frustrations that I hear a lot of from my coaching clients and people that approach us at events is how, after a client calls to get a price of a quote on a product, they will hang up and find other prices and typically whoever they feel provides the most value for the least dollar amount will win the battle.

Don’t just quote your price and let your customer go off to find comparisons. Know how to do The Price Build Up, and you’ll make the sale!


The Price Build Up

There are three steps to the process.  It’s efficient and effective for getting people to wrap their minds around the value of your service and making them feel the price is the best out there on the market.


Step 1. Build Up The Price

The first step is to build up the price. Do some research and find out how much your product costs in other markets and how much your competition is selling your product for. If you’re selling a high-end pen and you know that your pen is not the most expensive pen out there, make sure you find the most expensive one and know that price.  This will be a good price comparison to have. In any industry you know there are services out there that cost more. You build up your price by saying: “A lot of times people assume this product or service is going to cost a lot. People guess that it can be anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per month.  Compared to company XYZ, that is what it would cost. I think the main reason we have so many people buy our product is….” And then you do the next step of the process.


Step 2. Dropping The Bottom Out

The second step is dropping the bottom out of the price. To do this you say: “The main reason people really like doing business with us is that, instead of costing $3,000 a month, our service is only $497 a month. That’s not bad, is it?” The process of thinking that your client follows is that since the top price is $3,000 the next logical amount in the sequence will be $2,500, $2,000 and so forth. So, by saying $497, you’re dropping the bottom out on the amount they thought the price would be.

The emotional close could be a story about how another client recently used their home insurance policy, and was so thankful for the coverage and the money it saved them.


Step 3. Emotional Close

The last step in the price build up process is to add emotion to the price. Have some kind of story that a customer has given to you in the past about how thankful they are to use your service. Use this story right after you have given the price. It should sound something like this: “The best thing about this is it’s only $497 a month.  That’s not bad considering I was talking to Mr. Jones and he was debating about whether to get the service or not. After thinking about it, he said when it comes to his family’s future and being secure he knew there was nothing more important. He went ahead and signed for the same thing you’re looking at today. Three weeks later he had to take advantage of his new insurance policy.  I know that was very unfortunate, but he said thank God he made the decision to buy, and he was able to pay his medical bills and keep on working.” Any kind of story you have from a customer that will attach emotion to the price needs to be added right after you give the price of the product.


When you do those steps effectively you will constantly have people agreeing with you that the price of your product or service is or great value and priced right and they will happily be buying your product or services.

The Buying Line

Posted in dustin hillis, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques with tags , , , , on July 1, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

The Buying Line

“People love to buy, and hate to be sold.”

When was the last time a salesperson talked you out of buying something you wanted or needed?

The other day my friend Amanda was telling me about an experience she had with a salesman that I referred her to.  She is a perfect candidate for this high quality product the salesman was selling.  Not only was she a perfect candidate, she really needed it.  It would have increased the quality of her life.  I was shocked when I found out she didn’t buy from the gentleman I referred to her.  When I asked her why she didn’t buy, she responded with, “I don’t think I really need it” and “it cost to much.”

If you consistently have people telling you that they don’t think they need what you sell or that what you sell cost to much, it might be because your talking too much and overselling people past the buying line.

This doesn’t just happen in selling, it happens in relationships also!  I have a good friend who wants to meet a girl and get married so badly that it’s killing him.  His biggest problem is that he tries so hard that he oversells his potential prospect over the buying line, and he’s typically looking for a new girl shortly thereafter.

What is a buying line?  Simply put, a buying line is the point in time when someone is ready to make a decision.

The Buying Line

The Buying Line

How do you take someone to the buying line?

Asking well-crafted pain questions is the best way to take someone to the buying line.

How do you know when someone is at the buying line?

If they lean forward, smile and laugh, nod their head up and down, light up a cigarette, pull out their wallet, say “I want this,” “this is awesome,” “I could use something like this,” “wow,” “how much does this cost,” “do you take credit cards,” or if someone leans forward to light up a cigarette while smiling and laughing and nodding their head up and down and saying “Wow!  I want this. This is awesome.  I could use something like this! How much does this cost? Do you take credit cards?” while pulling out their wallet… they are ready to buy!

The Do’s and Don’ts after someone has crossed the Buying Line

–  Look for verbal and non-verbal cues that they’re ready to buy
–  Ask trial-closing questions to gauge their interest throughout your presentation
–  Stop what you’re saying and go straight into your Price Build Up (click here for more info on the Price Build Up:  The Price Build Up) and assumptive paperwork close
–  Pull out the order form and start assumptive filling it out
–  Answer objections before they come up
–  Create a Buying Atmosphere (click here for more information on the Buying Atmosphere:  Buying Atmosphere)

–  Keep talking
–  Ask “So do you want this?” or “What do you think?”
–  Make up answers to questions for which you don’t know the answer
–  Talk fast
–  Not listen to what they say
–  Assume they cannot afford it
–  Talk about yourself
–  Sell something to someone that they really won’t use

If you’re asking excellent questions and listening well your prospect will cue you in on what they want and need. Then all you have to do is stop talking and let them buy!  Sell the way people like to buy.

Closing Different Buying Personalities

Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching, Sales Coaching, Sales Tips with tags , , , , on June 12, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

Navigate: Closing Different Buying Personalities

Closing the sale is one of the most important parts of the cycle of selling.  The best closers understand that closing is not an event, but rather closing the sale is a process of incremental “yes” questionsI define closing as “providing a service/product to someone that they need by helping them go from point A to point B, faster”.  The best closers in the world realize that people naturally procrastinate on making decisions, even if the decision is what they want and need.  That’s why being an expert closer is one of the best services you can provide society.

In my book Navigate: Selling The Way People Like To Buy (click here), I explain that there are 4 different buying behavior styles and how to identify them in 7 seconds or less and then modify your natural selling style to their buying style.  When trying to close a deal, each buying personality has their own specific way of closing that will help you and your buyer to feel good about the decisions made.

How to be a Navigate Closer




A Fighter’s main fear is losing control.  Knowing this, whenever you’re speaking with someone who has a dominate personality and tries to control the conversation, the best way to close the deal with them is called the choice of two positives. It’s a simple but effective technique with the Fighter where you offer two positive solutions and let them choose what they prefer. For example, if you’re setting up a meeting with a Fighter, instead of saying, “I’ll meet you at 3 o’clock at Starbucks,” say, “So what would be better for you? Tuesday or Thursday?  2 o’clock or 4 o’clock. Starbucks or Joe’s Coffee?” Giving them options makes them feel like they are in control, but in reality you are in control by offering the two options. You can do this until the close by saying which option do you prefer – option A or option B. You can go as far as asking if they want to do credit card or check.  As long as you keep giving them control, they will like you and trust you.




The most effective way to bring an Entertainer to a point of decision is if you’ll dream with them and help them see the big picture, something that’s exciting, something they can emotionally attach to.  A good technique is the Crystal Ball close. The Crystal Ball Close is where you forecast the Entertainer’s mind into the future and have them imagine what it’s going to feel like using your product/service.

Here is an example of how you use the Crystal Ball Close as if you were selling a car.  “Just imagine one year from now into the future, what do you see yourself enjoying about this car (or product or service you are selling) the most? Do you see yourself with your hair blowing in the wind? Or do you see you and your friends jamming out to some music? Which feature do you see enjoying the most?” If you talk about how the product/ service will make them feel in the right way in the close, Entertainer will literally put himself or herself into that picture you painted for them and they’ll emotionally attach to it.  They will decide to buy it because you emotionally charged them.



The person you don’t want to use the Crystal Ball Technique on is the Detective.  Detectives are the most logical decision makers.  With a Detective, use a technique called the Product, Price, Performance Close. The Product, Price, Performance Close is very logical and unemotional.  Sit down, peer to peer with the Detective, and ask them 3 easy questions.

1. Product

“Cindy, based on what I hear you saying, it seems you like the product, right?  Would you agree that the product is something you’d use?” Have the Detective talk about the product. “What was the main part of the product you liked the most?”

2. Price

“Comparatively speaking and based on the value you’re receiving, wouldn’t you agree that the price is reasonable?”

3. Performance

“Based on everything else I’ve said on how the product will operate and all the benefits of the product, do you trust me that the service that I’m rendering is of value to you?” Let them talk about how much they like you and trust you.

The Detective Direct Close: Once you’ve walked a Detective through the PPP Close you can the use a direct close like this:

“You know, Cindy, this logically makes sense. You said you’ll use the product, you think the price is fair, and the performance is great.  It’s really a no brainer. This just makes sense.  It’s logical that we should move forward with this.”  When you close with a Detective that way, taking them logically through the process, the product and the price, then you’ll be able to close the deal logically with them.




With a Counselor, remember that their fear is change, and they like to make decisions through consensus.  A Counselor wants to make sure what you’re telling them won’t dramatically change their family/team’s world. The best close to use with a Counselor is the 4 steps of the Walk Out Close. The Walk Out Close is taking their most common objection “let us discuss this and get back with you next week” away from them and using it to your advantage. This only works in a group setting.

Step 1:Plant Positive Seeds

If you have a Counselor with a few other people in the room and you just got through with your presentation, look at the decision maker (the Counselor) and set it up this way: Say, “John, if I’m reading you right, it seems like you think this is a pretty good idea. Betty, what is your favorite part about this product/service?  Is it (A or B)?   Mike, what’s your favorite part?”

Step 2: Ask for the Exit

“I think we would all agree that this all makes sense, but as a professional courtesy to you and the group, I want to make sure that you guys have the opportunity to discuss moving forward yourselves without me in the room. So I’m just going to step out for 5 minutes to let you guys discuss if this is the right move for you and your company (or your family) then I’ll come back and move forward from there.”

Step 3: Ask for the Answer

“The only favor that I ask is that when I return, you give me a thumbs up or thumbs down to let me know if this is something you are going to move forward with or not. We’ve already discussed all the details needed to make the decision I just want to make sure you guys are on the right page. Sound fair?”

Step 4: Pray

Even with you executing the previous 3 steps perfectly, they might still say “no”.  However, when you come back into the room, you will at least have an answer!  In sales, we can take a “yes”, and we can take a “no”… but it’s the “maybes” that kills us!

When becoming a Navigate Closer remember to sell the way people like to buy.

For more information about Navigate: Selling The Way People Like To Buy click here.

Closing Different Buying Styles

Navigate “Selling The Way People Like To Buy” by Dustin Hillis

Mind Over Matter

Posted in dustin hillis, Leadership Coaching, Sales Coaching, the art of not thinking with tags , , , , on May 10, 2012 by Dustin Hillis
Mind Over Matter

Mind Over Matter

Soldiers in war can go days with no food and little water.  In Seal Team Six, Howard E. Wasdin describes Navy Seals in combat who have been shot multiple times, missing limbs and still keep moving and fighting.  The human mind and body are two of the most extraordinarily resilient things on earth. Yet the body will only endure what the mind can conceive is possible.

Seal Team Six

Mind Over Matter

How do you condition your mind to conceive that anything is possible?

Step 1: Create an Unlimited Belief Environment

It is mind-boggling how naturally humans limit themselves!  At what point do we start thinking “that’s not possible”?  Social scientists say that between the ages of 12-15 children form their sense of “belonging”.  I personally think that society conditions kids to stop believing that their wildest dreams are possible so that they can be “normal”.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… normal is boring.  As I write this, my baby daughter Haven is 9 months old. One of my prayers for her is that she is abnormal. I want her to be special, think outside of the box, have humongous dreams and be passionately persistent in pursuing them.  I want her to make a difference in the world.  I want other people to look at her and say “something’s different about that one. She just thinks anything is possible.”  One of the only rules I’m going to have for Haven is that she cannot spend time with other kids who make fun of her, tell her that her dreams are silly, or in any way are negative.

Negativity breeds negativity.  Sadly, most people don’t want other people to succeed beyond what they have succeeded.  People are innately programmed to be socially competitive.  People want you to believe that being “normal” and mediocre is better than being “abnormal” and successful.   If you want to break loose of this crazy conundrum of society… make a decision to stop spending time with people who are negative, make fun of you, hold you back and don’t want to see you succeed.  You will be as successful as your five best friends. You must surround yourself with people who have unlimited belief, people who only lift you up and encourage you, and people who have your best interest in mind and want to see you succeed.  You have to create an “Unlimited Belief Environment” in order for you to begin to shift the way that you think.

Step 2: Have Faith in a Confidence Anchor

Once you’ve created the proper environment for conditioning yourself to believe anything is possible, next you must find something bigger than yourself in which to anchor your confidenceFaith is the number one confidence anchor in the world.  I’m personally a Christian and believe that through belief in Jesus Christ anything is possible.  Steve Jobs was a Buddhist who believed he was on a mission to change the world, the Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi believed he had to be the change he wanted to see in the world, and George Washington had faith in the ideal that America had to be a free Nation.  Some people build their faith in a mission, an ideal, a leader, Buddha, the universe, a tree, etc.  Whatever your beliefs are you need to have faith in something bigger than yourself, in order to accomplish things that are greater than you.

I personally believe that God has given us all certain gifts and talents that are special.  And that our true calling in life is to use the gifts that God has given us to the fullest extent every day to make a difference in the world around us. 

Step 3: Stop Thinking About Yourself

It’s hard to be nervous when your mind is on service.  The reason people are so limited in what they think is possible is simply that they don’t want to look bad.  People are so self consumed it’s crazy.  We are all so concerned about how we look, what other people think about us, being perceived as smart/not looking dumb that we are willing to forgo any kind of success that we might have experienced due to our self consumed need to look cool.

Cool Card

Joe Cool

I’ll never forget my first day in “sales school” at The Southwestern Company where everyone in my group gathered around in a circle and did an exercise where we “tore up our cool cards”.  This might have been one of the most valuable life lessons that Southwestern taught me.  College students are a magnified version of what the rest of society is truly thinking. The exercise was so powerful because it exposed how their need to look cool drives most of their decisions.  Selling books door-to-door for the summer is by most college students’ definition “not cool”.  However, the experience of pretending to literally tear up a “cool card” which symbolizes your freedom to be a dork, be excited about life, have big dreams, or in other words be yourself is one of the most liberating experiences ever!

Now it’s your turn. Take out your “cool card” and say out aloud “I will no longer make decisions based on what other people think.  I do not care how I look, how I sound, or if people think I’m cool.  All I care about doing is setting high goals that make a difference in the world, always doing the right thing and having fun while doing it.”  And then tear up your cool card!
Once you have mastered these 3 steps:  Creating the Unlimited Belief Environment, Have Faith in a Confidence Anchor, and Stop Thinking About Yourself, you will start seeing your paradigms shift.  Your old limiting thoughts will start to melt away.  Your new empowering beliefs will start to fill your head.

Then one day without realizing it someone will ask you, “how do you stay so positive and motivated all year long?” and you will have transcended the world of limiting belief to the brave new arena of operating with your mind over matter.

Understanding the Why Behind What You Say

Posted in Sales Tips, Selling Techniques with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

Words construct our reality and create what others think about us. Everyday conversations can easily go into the crucial mode where just one word can change the dynamic of that conversation.

Our mind has a process through which it takes information called the DCR censor. Every piece of information that enters our mind goes through this three-step process.

1. Drive. The drive portion of our brain asks itself, “What’s in it for me?” When you’re selling to somebody or making an appointment with someone, the first thing they will ask themselves is this question.

2. Creative. The question that the creative portion of the brain asks itself is, “How can I hope to achieve this?” As you’re asking yourself that question, you are also thinking of the possible solutions. Usually this is based on previous experience. If you have experienced something in the past that is similar to this new piece of information, then the creative portion of your brain can be at ease and go, “Ok, I know how to achieve this because I’ve done it before.”

3. React. The reaction portion of our brain asks itself, “Am I comfortable with this?” This is where our fight or flight tendency kicks in. If you’re not comfortable with something and your natural tendency is to fight, then you’ll most likely call someone a name like “you’re being stupid” or “you’re being ignorant”. If you go on the offensive, then your natural tendency in the DCR censor is to fight. If you have more of a tendency to “flight” when you’re not comfortable, then you are more likely to shut down and avoid the conversation. The reaction portion of our brain is what holds us back from being comfortable.

Your mind is not your friend. Your mind is designed to protect you and to make you feel comfortable. Why we say what we say is to protect ourselves. We want to keep our self-interests in mind. You need to remember that your mind is not designed to make you successful and that you need to counteract what your mind naturally does.

There are four ways of reacting that all revolve around the DCR questions our mind asks us. They are:

1. Be defensive
2. Be aggressive
3. Be passive
4. Avoid

There are ways to solve this, though, and in turn become a master communicator.

1. Listen with your heart in the right place. When you’re in the middle of a conversation, regardless of how you feel, remove your ego. Remove the emotions and listen to the content of the conversation that is being said with your heart in the right place. A self-talk tip you can tell yourself when you’re going into an important conversation is, “I care about what is right more than who is right.” When your heart is in the right place and the intent of the conversation is to remove how you feel and then care more about doing what is right, there will always be a righteous outcome. The right thing will happen.

2. Be willing to be wrong and always listen to what is right. Sometimes you’ll go into a conversation and you might not know what the right thing is, but you will have an opinion. Hold your opinion loosely and look for the right thing. Be focused on looking for the truth and the truth will always prevail. If you go into the conversation thinking of that, then that will change the dynamics of the conversation you will have with somebody.

3. Do something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So if your form of communication has not been working in your business and you can’t understand why people keep treating you this way, you have to shift your gears or else you will keep getting the same results.

Keep this in mind the next time you go into a phone call or meeting, and see how differently the outcome can be from conversations you’ve had in the past. These communication skills will take focus and training but will surely get you the best results!

Identifying Someone’s Buying Behavior Style

Posted in dustin hillis, Sales Tips, Selling Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

The 7 Second Rule:

When selling to someone, you need to be able to sell the way they like to buy. In order to do this, you need to first build a connection with that person. You only have seven seconds to identify someone’s buying behavior style. After those seven seconds, they have formed their opinion on whether or not they like you and if they will do business with you. Here are some tips for each buying behavior on how to quickly and accurately identify them.

  • The Fighter: When the fighter dresses, they will wear bolder colors. When you meet a male fighter, he could have on a red solid tie or pinstripes on his suit, for example. They dress to show they are in control and will typically spend more money on their clothing than other buying behavior styles. They also usually will wear items like a championship ring as jewelry. Awards and recognition motivate the fighter. When they shake your hand, a fighter will either give you the “tomahawk chop”, which is a quick tomahawk chop motion or the “javelin jab” where they assert their arm firmly toward you. Look for their hand to have stiffness to it and they will oftentimes stare at their hand when they reach for you to shake it. When they are shaking your hand, they’ll apply more pressure and then less pressure. The true sign of a fighter buying behavior style is that they turn their hand on top of yours when giving you a handshake. This implies that they are in control.
  • The Detective: Detectives are perfectionists when it comes to dressing. Their clothes will rarely ever be wrinkled. Look for perfectly creased pants, tucked in shirts and a very neat appearance. When they shake your hand, it’s almost a perfect handshake – the pressure is perfect and their wrist is directly in front, not on top or on bottom. Detectives will step back after they shake your hand showing that they have a certain comfort zone.
  • The Counselor: Counselors love to dress comfortably. When traveling, they will wear something that is the most comfortable to them and even in business they will dress more for comfort than for business. Counselors are the most minimalist. When they shake your hand, they are the most reserved. They will usually have their hand in their pockets and be more hesitant to give you a handshake. Counselors have a very soft handshake because their fear is change and they do not want to embrace you positively or negatively until they have decided whether or not they trust you.
  • The Entertainer: The entertainer wears bright colors and more jewelry. Entertainer women will wear big hoop earrings, big necklaces and costume jewelry. Entertainer men will wear brighter button up shirts. Entertainers will spend the most money on clothing than the other buying behaviors and dress to impress. Entertainers are also the most extroverted of all the buying behaviors. They will walk into a room and give you a high five or a big hug. They will often over-extend their arm and put their hand underneath yours when giving a handshake. Entertainers are motivated by affirmations, so if you see an entertainer who has a new outfit, haircut or shoes make sure to compliment them and you’ll have a friend for life!

To perfect identifying someone’s buying behavior style in seven seconds give yourself a thirty-day challenge. Always carry a notepad and when you meet with people start trying to identify that person’s buying behavior. Write down their name and their buying behavior and start charting out every buying behavior of your organization.This will make it easier to change your approach to match their buying behavior style.

*If you’d like to learn more about Navigate, click here: http://secure.ssnseminars.com/store/Navigate-Selling-the-Way-People-Like-to-Buy-book-by-Dustin-Hillis-P621C10.aspx

7 Steps To Courageous Goal Setting

Posted in Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

Over the past 30 years, there has been one habit that I thank God for everyday…. the habit of Goal Setting.  I started contemplating this on a trip recently when I was surrounded by my friends at a condo on the beach in Florida.  Goal Setting is a habit that all we all share and we were discussing our experiences with setting and reaching goals.


One of my favorite experiences with goal setting was as a 20-year-old kid.  I set a goal to break the over 150 year old sales record at the Southwestern Company.  This meant I had to sell more then what over 150,000 top notch salespeople had ever sold in a single summer… and I did.

My wife Kyah Hillis is one of the best goal setters I’ve ever met.  Whether her goal is to break the Southwestern Company all-time sales record (yes, she held the record I broke :)) or starting a mobile fashion accessories business (www.thetrunknashville.com), she has formed the habit of hitting her goal.

One of my best fiends and business partner Rory Vaden set a goal to become a New York Times Best Selling author… and he did…even after he was told this was impossible for a first-time author

Take The Stairs- Rory Vaden

Take The Stairs- Rory Vaden


Dave Brown is also one of my best friends and business partners, and while in college Dave played not 1, not 2, but 3 college sports and broke sales records with Southwestern Advantage during the summers.  Dave sets goals on a quarterly basis that other people think are impossible… and he always hits them.

I’ve known Amanda Johns Vaden since I was 15 years old, and she has been a life-long goal setter.  Recently she set a goal to start from scratch a worldwide keynote speakers bureau… and she did.

Southwestern Consulting Speakers Bureau

Southwestern Consulting Speakers Bureau


The habit of goal setting and believing anything you can think of and commit to can be done is a habit that everyone can learn and do.  As a kid, I wanted to be a starter on the 9 & 10 year old basketball team.  I never achieved that goal because I was afraid of what people would expect from me if I achieved that goal.  My fear was the fear of success.  Fear is the only reason people don’t set goals.  Fear is the reason people don’t unconditionally commit to achieving their goals.  Fear is the devil.

Courage is defined as boldly moving forward and taking action in the face of fear.  It takes courage to set a goal, unconditionally commit to it and see it through to the end.

Here is a 7 step formula for Courageous Goal Setting:

1. Dream.

Unplug from reality and stop listening to the business of the world and let your mind wonder to the corners of your imagination.  What kind of person do you want to be/be more like? What are the things you want to do?  What are your dreams?

2. Write out your goals.

3. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

S- Specific
M- Measurable
A- Attainable
R- Reviewed
T- Time Frame

4. Share your goals with people who can help you achieve them.

Do not share your goals with people who cannot help you achieve them… some people don’t like to see other people succeed.

5. Visualize what it’s going to look like after you achieve your goals. 

How are you going to feel?  Who is going to be with you?  What are you going to do after you hit your goals?

6. Make your goals visual. 

Create a vision board with pictures of your goals.  Place your vision board on the wall that is directly in front of where you work and look at it all day long.

Here is a picture of my personal Vision Board in my office:

Dustin Hillis Vision Board

Dustin Hillis Vision Board

7. Unconditionally commit.

Quitting is not an option.  It might take 5-10 years or it might take a year, a week or an hour… but no matter what, never ever lose sight of your dream.

Calvin Coolidge said it best:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

What is your goal?

The 3 Types of W.O.R.K.

Posted in Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

Here is another sample of my upcoming book: Navigate: The Art of Not Thinking.

The 3 Types of W.O.R.K.

Showing up for work, being focused at work and doing your dead level best while working should not be something anyone has to think about.

Work Hard

Work Hard

If you spend even just 5% of your brainpower and energy on considering if you should go to work or focused on “wasting time until work ends” or “getting ready to get ready to work”, then you are doing a disservice to society. In the Hebrew language, work is defined as “fulfilling a need in society”. That is also why in the Hebrew language you will not find the word “retirement” because the Hebrew people believe that if someone “retires” then they are removing something that is needed from society.

Personally, I have no retirement plan. I’m going to follow in the footsteps of my mentor Spencer Hays and work until I die. When you love what you do working is just a hobby.

So why do so many of us think that WORK is a 4 letter cuss word?

I think it’s conditioned in us by the society we live in today. My business partner Rory Vaden, author of the New York Times best-selling book Take the Stairs, does an excellent job at bringing us to the core of this issue. Rory says that we live in a “PROCRASTInation”that is obsessed with the attitude of “get rich quick”, “buy now and pay later”, “lose weight without working out”, etc. He boils it down to our society living in an “escalator mentality”…meaning nobody wants to work, but everyone wants to be given something for nothing. In his book Take the Stairs, he says the key to success is doing the things we don’t like doing.

Spencer Hays says there are 2 types of people in this world. Those who make an excuse, and those who work out a way. Which one are you? Do you make excuses to not work hard and do your dead level best?

There are 3 types of work:

1. Just Showing Up
A lot of times just showing up is enough to get by. It’s amazing that a lot of people struggle with even this phase of work.

2. Producing
My father-in-law loves telling the story of when he had my wife Kyah vacuum the stairs. She had a bad attitude toward the work and did a half-hearted job. After vacuuming all the stairs, she told her dad she “worked hard and vacuumed the stairs”. Upon inspection Jack (her dad) said “no, you’re not done. There are still dirt spots on some of the stairs.” Kyah replied “but I worked so hard” and Jack responded “just because you ruffed up the carpet doesn’t mean it’s clean. I don’t care how long or hard you worked it doesn’t matter if you didn’t get the job done right.”

My coaching clients often tell me “how hard they are working” and what they mean is that they are putting in a lot of hours. I always respond to someone telling me “how hard they are working” with “we all work hard. How much are you producing during the time you’re working?”. Usually people are being busy being busy, putting out fires, responding to emails, and not proactively and intentionally being a top producer.

3. Kicking Booty
After personally coaching hundreds of sales professionals, leaders, sales managers and business owners, I have found it is a rare individual who gets more done than 5 people combined in the same amount of time. This individual wakes up in the morning and jumps out of bed ready to take on the day. There is no question in this person’s mind whether or not they’re going to go to work and be productive everyday. They eat problems for breakfast, check emails at night, and during the income-producing time of the day all they do is win. There is a name for this rare individual… and that name is “Booty Kicker”.
It’s up to us everyday to decide, “am I going to kick booty today?” or “am I going to get my booty kicked today?” It’s one or the other and you have to decide daily which one you’re going to choose.

Being an booty kicker is simple, but it’s not easy. Here is an acronym to use to help make sure you are an booty kicker everyday.


W – Wake up with a passion for the day everyday. Make sure the first thought you have is “I’m going to kick booty today.” Be as productive when you’re not at the office as you are when you are at the office. Momentum is a powerful thing. It can cause you to have a kick-booty day or a lousy day. In marriage, momentum can cause a marriage to be happy or end in divorce. In sports, momentum is the difference between winning and losing. In battle, momentum is the difference between living and dying. You decide everyday… do you want momentum?

O – Organize. Live by the philosophy “Your schedule dictates your day. Your day does not dictate your schedule”. Be proactive, not reactive. If it’s not in your schedule… DON’T DO IT! Plan out every hour of every day.

R – Recruit the help of others. Anything great has been built on the backs of giants. It takes a village to raise a leader to success. Hire help! You focus on what you’re gifted at doing and let other people focus on what they are gifted at doing. If you’re a producer, then 99% of your time should be spent producing! Time is your most valuable asset that can never be replaced. Know what your time is worth. If you are spending time on something that you could pay someone less money then your time is worth, you are not only wasting time… you’re wasting money!

K – Keep perspective. Understand you only live life once. Make a decision of the kind of person you want to be, and be that person every day, every hour, every second. Treat everyday like it’s your last… because it really might be. Choose to make a difference in the world and in other people’s lives.

Batman said it best “It doesn’t matter who I am on the inside; all that matters is what I do.”



What is there to think about? Either you work or you don’t. Either you produce or you don’t. Either you kick booty or you don’t. You choose everyday.

Take the Stairs: The path to true success

Posted in Motivational, southwestern company, Southwestern Consulting with tags , , , on February 22, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

My business partner and good friend Rory Vaden is achieving some great success with his new book, Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success, already #1 on USA Today and the Wall Street Journal Bestseller lists and #2 on The New York Times list.

I asked Rory to share a little with us about his path to success.

How did you get to where you are? How is your personal experience one that lends itself to the study of self-discipline?  When I was 5 years old, my mother put me into martial arts, and by age 10, I became the youngest black belt in Colorado…to ever get beaten up by a girl! I used to argue with my mom “I don’t like this! It isn’t fun for me! And this isn’t something I enjoy!” and she’d always say back “That’s ok, Rory, enjoying it isn’t a requirement of doing it.” So, being raised by a single mom she taught me to put a lot of faith in self-discipline. 

Then when I went to college I worked with The Southwestern Company. I spent 5 summers away from home, waking up at 5:59 am, taking ice cold showers, and knocking on doors 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, on straight commission, paying all of my own expenses, selling educational children’s books door to door. It was the most rigorous and challenging thing I’ve ever done, but I made over $250k in 5 summers and Southwestern taught me the skills and character I needed to be successful in life.

The book is a very quick read and has so many take-aways.  Also, Rory is giving away 4 big bonuses for the first 2000 people who buy the book at www.buytakethestairs.com.  Check this one out!

The Art of Recognition

Posted in Sales Coaching with tags , , , on February 15, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

Dan Moore, the President of Southwestern Advantage, enjoyed reading the last 3 blogs (that were inspired by his leadership principles) so much that he honored us with one of his legendary articles on Recognition.  Enjoy!

                     The Art of Recognition

Every human strives for different things in his or her life, but one of the common desires—perhaps THE greatest desire—is the desire to be recognized and appreciated. In an increasingly complex world, it is progressively easier for an individual to feel that what they do simply doesn’t matter. This can lead to feelings of insignificance; and people who feel insignificant DO NOT become world leaders in providing the ultimate in sales and service.

As a leader, you have an opportunity to help each of the people you lead feel more significant, more confident, and more capable. As their leader, you can increase their results temporarily by ‘motivating’ them to a higher level of activity, but you can increase their results permanently by increasing their sense of self-worth and competence. Best of all, you can do it with something that doesn’t cost a penny: effective praise and recognition.

If this is so effective, and so low-cost, why don’t leaders do it more? There are many reasons, but some of the most common include these misperceptions:

‘They shouldn’t need praise from me. They know their job is to sell, and when they have sold a lot they are doing their job. That should be enough.’  (But it’s not enough, is it, or they would be selling more)

‘Too much praise will make them complacent. They need to have a sharp edge if they’re going to succeed.’  (Sales professionals who feel good about themselves are much better able to make the consumer feel good about what they buy.)
‘Nobody praises me, and I’m doing all right.’ (To be given the opportunity to lead and manage is significant praise by itself.)

‘I’m too busy managing sales.’ (Usually, this means ‘too busy reading reports’ and spending very little time in one-on-one interaction with salespeople.)

In reality, one of the most common reasons praise and recognition aren’t given more freely is that the leader doesn’t know how to do so sincerely and motivationally. Praise and recognition are not the same as empty flattery or lightweight compliments. There is much more to it…

If you are enjoying what you’ve been reading, and think you’d like to hear about what we look for in people that we team up with and coach, fill out the following:

Leadership Tips from Dan Moore (Part 3: Leadership by Example)

Posted in Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

Leadership By Example.

“You cannot teach what you don’t know; you cannot lead where you won’t go.”

At Southwestern ConsultingTM, we have a saying “if you want respect around here… go sell something.”  The reason I’m personally committed to working as a partner at the Southwestern Family of Companies is because the leadership lives by this philosophy, “You cannot teach what you don’t know; you cannot lead where you won’t go.”

Dan Moore

Dan Moore, the President of the Southwestern Advantage

Henry Bedford

Henry Bedford the CEO/ Chairman of the Board of the Southwestern Family of Companies

Spencer Hays

Spencer Hays the majority shareholder of all of the Southwestern Family of Companies, Founder of Tom James, and many more successful businesses

Dan, Henry, and Spencer have all personally been in the trenches and sold books door-to-door to earn their stripes at Southwestern.

When Dan Moore takes the stage, his keynote is called “Mr. Mediocrity” and he goes on to tell a story about how he personally learned how “his mind is not his friend”, and how he first learned how to use Positive Mental Attitude techniques to help rewire his negative way of thinking.  Anyone who knows Dan would agree that he is one of the most positive people on earth.  Dan personally sold books, recruited teams to sell books and managed people on the field.  When Dan recruited people, he would tell them “I’m not going to ask you to do anything that I’m not willing to do”.  Living by this philosophy is probably one of the main reasons that Dan has gone from being an intern selling books door-to-door as a college student at Harvard University to now being the President of the Southwestern Advantage.

At Southwestern ConsultingTM, we take the leadership example from Dan Moore and apply to everything we teach and do.  In order for someone to be a Southwestern ConsultingTM Certified Sales Performance Coach, they have to have 10 years of experience and certifiable awards of being a top producer.  Additionally, all of our coaches have to sell coaching in order to be a coach.  In order to be relevant and provide true value to our clients, we believe a coach’s successes in the past, books they’ve written, and amazing accomplishments they’ve achieved is what gets them in the position of being a coach.  But actually selling coaching and personally being a top producer is what makes them a great coach, and how they keep their job, and ultimately become a partner in our consulting firm!

“You cannot teach what you don’t know; you cannot lead where you won’t go.”

For more information about Southwestern ConsultingTM Sales and Leadership Coaching:

Leadership Tips from Dan Moore (part 2: Servant Leadership)

Posted in Sales Coaching with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2012 by Dustin Hillis

Leadership Tip #2: Servant Leadership

“It’s hard to be nervous when your mind is on service.”

Servant Leadership at its finest transforms lives.

Servant Leadership Dan Moore

Dan Moore is one of the best Servant Leaders I’ve ever met!  At our first Southwestern ConsultingTM Success Starts Now! TM sales training seminars, Dan not only was one of our speakers at the event…but he also was the cameraman, set-up crew and clean-up crew.  There have been countless times that we’ve been in a business meeting and Dan is the first person to stand up and get everyone a cup of coffee.  Dan is the first person to offer the best seat to someone else.  Dan is the last person to get his food.  If someone needs anything, Dan gets it or does it without hesitating.  Dan Moore is a Servant Leader.

Here are the 5 Characteristics of a true Servant Leader:

  1. They care more about other people’s success than they do their own.
  2. They listen more than they talk.
  3. They consider how all of their decisions affect their team, customers, company and other people.
  4. They never try to position themselves to take credit for success.  They give other people the credit for success instead.
  5. They live by 2 rules:
    1. Treat others the way they want to be treated.
    2. The first will be last.

Being aware of your actions and decision and being considerate of the effects on others is at the core of a Servant Leader. Being considerate does not come natural for a lot of people (myself included).  Being considerate of my teammates, my loved ones and other people in general is a discipline that as a leader I have to practice everyday.

I thank God everyday for putting Servant Leaders like Dan Moore, Henry Bedford, Steve Hillis and Spencer Hays into my life.  As a leader striving to be a true Servant Leader everyday, my goal is simple.  As Dale Carnegie suggests in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People – stop focusing on what I want and help other people get what they want in life.


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