Mareo McCracken defines himself as someone who likes to help people. He says, “That's what I hope to eventually be known for. That's my goal, what I work toward every day. But if you get down to the nitty-gritty, I am a husband, a father, and the Chief Revenue Officer at Move Medical, kind of in that order.”
McCracken is also the author of the book, "Really Care for Them: How Everyone Can Use the Power of Caring to Earn Trust, Grow Sales & Increase Income No Matter What You Sell or Who You Sell It To”
During our interview, McCracken discusses how salespeople can be more successful by caring for their customers and argues that salespeople often focus too much on themselves and their own goals and how that self-serving mindset can be detrimental to the sales process. Instead, McCracken suggests that salespeople should focus on providing value and care to their customers. This approach, he argues, will lead to more satisfied customers and, ultimately, more sales. McCracken's book provides readers with practical tips and advice on implementing this care-focused approach to sales through 99 easy-to-digest principles or lessons. This book is perfect for anyone who struggles to read a book from cover to cover or simply likes to obtain nuggets of information without having to read an entire chapter’s worth of information.
McCracken took the time to discuss his methodology behind sales and how emotional intelligence is the foundation of connecting with your customers and creating meaning and purpose behind why and what you sell.
Brittney-Nichole: At the beginning of your book, before you provide these ninety-nine principles, you said that professionally, every mistake you've ever made could be boiled down to two main things: You didn't know enough, or you didn't care enough. How do you see that playing into how people approach sales?
Mareo McCracken: Sales is super tricky because I think, in many cases, the wrong behavior is rewarded, and that's where the idea of a sleazy salesperson gets made. People often do things they're not “supposed” to do to get paid, and it turns into people doing things that are normally against their nature, against normal human relationships, and against being emotionally intelligent.
In any leadership position — any time you're working with people — if you care enough about the other person, you'll find a way to connect with them in a way that resonates with them. But if you don't care, then you'll most likely be thinking about yourself, and you'll make a mistake somewhere along the line.
Care. This single word holds so much power that Gary Vaynerchuk used it to summarize an entire chapter in his book, Crush It!
Unfortunately, many people use what’s known about the psychology of sales and play on others’ emotions to manipulate and build superficial trust to sell products and services.
This leads other salespeople to mimic the “appropriate” behavior without actually caring about the customer, which sabotages relationships and makes building relationships and making sales difficult for people who genuinely care because the prospect doesn't know the difference initially.
Brittney-Nichole: How can people selling from a genuine place connect with potential customers who may be skeptical?
Mareo: I think you flipped the script. In the old sales model, you build relationships of trust and then give value. Now, it's the opposite. The best way to build trust is to provide business value first; then, you get to know them personally over time.
If you're helping them do their job better or help them to solve a problem, they’ll want to spend time with you. Then naturally, those conversations will come, like how many kids they have or their favorite sports team. You don't have to force build the relationship conversation.
Brittney-Nichole: You talk about fear in your book. Lesson #4 is: Fear is real. Deal with it.
Right now, we are in the midst of a recession or the onset of a recession. Fear can be felt on both ends of that sale spectrum. Because we buy things based on emotion because we are emotional beings first before logic, how do you see people being able to sell through a recession? What are some tips or advice you can give us?
Mareo: There’s something called agency. If we understand that we are a reflection of our choices but never a reflection of someone else's, then we can never force someone to make a good decision. No matter how good we are, they still have the choice to do whatever they want. This agency is hard for salespeople to understand: "If I do this right, they should buy." But this is not true at all—you can do everything right, and they still might not buy.
Fear is a major factor in how we behave. We're anxious about making the right decision, so we cling to the possibilities of what could happen. But we need to understand that this is also true for our buyers. They're worried about making the wrong choice and spending money in a recession, so they need to be assured that they're making a smart decision. By understanding this, we can help our buyers feel more comfortable about working with us.
Fear is also a powerful motivator and can be a strong obstacle to overcome when selling. If you can understand your customer's fears, you can help them embrace those fears and make a decision based on that understanding. It's important to emphasize that the fear is real but also that there are options and a better future available. You may need to push on the pain of the fear to help them see the consequences of their choices—that can be challenging for some salespeople.
You can’t control, and you shouldn’t try to manipulate people, but you can say, “These are your choices, and these are the options, and these are the outcomes of those choices.” And then you can still help them make a good decision.
Brittney-Nichole: It seems like lines of questioning are key to making sales. What are the elements of emotional intelligence that you find to be the most critical in sales?
Mareo: Questioning has gotten so popular in sales that I think buyers feel interrogated. It's almost to the point where salespeople are asking too many questions. I think that's where emotional intelligence comes in. We have to understand ourselves so we can take the right action, and we have to understand others and help them take the right action. If you try to understand what they're going through, then once you try to understand what they're going through the questions we ask should somehow give them value, not just help us to understand them better, because you should care enough to do the research to know what their top five problems likely are. Don't ask, "what's keeping you up at night?" That's an amateur question and one you should never have to ask a prospect or a potential partner. Questions are very important, but they should be more conversational and less interrogational.
Brittney-Nichole: Lesson #10 is Develop an outward mindset. Can you explain what exactly that means? What is an outward mindset?
Mareo: I stole that from a book called Leadership and Self Deception. There's actually a book called The Outward Mind Set, which is the follow-up book, but basically, it means you think of others as people, as equal and as important as yourself rather than as objects.
Most of the time, in our human interactions, we treat other people as objects. Whenever we perceive our needs as more important than someone else's, they're an object. It doesn’t matter if we recognize their humanity on some level, if their needs are not equal to ours, or if we place their needs above ours, we become the object. And that's wrong too, and it's one of the reasons many relationships fail. To truly respect someone else, we must recognize that their needs are equal to ours. Only then can all our other decisions become much easier.
Brittney-Nichole: What would you recommend to help people shift out of an outward mindset?
Mareo: In the book, Leadership and Self Deception, mentions recognizing when we're in "the box" and the importance of getting out of the box, which has a lot to do with emotional intelligence. We have to understand ourselves and where we're coming from. For example, if we notice ourselves lying, then we have to stop. Any time we lie, we're lying to ourselves. Procrastination is a form of lying because we know we should do it, but we've decided not to do it—we're lying by denying our feelings, intuition, and gut instinct. Denying something is the same as not telling the whole truth.
I think that a lot of it comes down to understanding our emotions and our ability to ask ourselves, "why do I feel like I shouldn't do this?" Oftentimes, we might be lazy or afraid to do something, and if we deny those feelings and bottle them up, it becomes a habit. There isn't an easy answer, but it all starts with awareness, being honest with ourselves, and making a choice based on that information.
Brittney-Nichole: I'm curious how you got to this space [level of understanding and awareness] because you clearly have high emotional intelligence. Was this something instilled in you by your parents?
Mareo: It's something I work at every day. I don't know if it's something I’ve ever mastered. Throughout life, I've had to learn to navigate sticky situations. I've always been interested in personal development, and almost everything with personal development has to do with emotional intelligence. They just call it by four hundred different names, right? I think it's just lots of study and lots of caring enough to try to do it better.
Brittney-Nichole: I think there's got to be that ability to detach the outcomes and our behaviors and thoughts from our personal identity, too. That stops many of us from doing the introspection and self-exploration work needed because we've been conditioned by society to believe that if we do _____, if we say _____, if we make this mistake, then that is a direct reflection of our value, and our worth when it's not.
But once you accept that that's not who you are, but what you did, and that was just a consequence of a thought or an action, then you can say, “I don't want that to happen again.” But you have to be able to get curious instead of resistant or dismissive. That's the most challenging part for people.
Mareo: That’s one hundred percent true. Once you care about what other people think of your actions, you'll try to live up to a certain image or persona you've created, which is super hard to break.
Brittney-Nichole: You and I may have similar views on how EI/EQ is used or discussed in the workplace. I noticed that lesson #59 is: Is Eq the worst ever buzzword of the corporate world?
While I eat, sleep, breathe, and bleed everything emotional intelligence, my stomach turns whenever I hear people talk about it in the corporate space—more often than not. Most people just don’t understand it. They're using EI as a means to an end instead of embodying and applying it in a way that's really going to create lasting change.
Few people are disciplined enough to be still and listen to their inner voice. Not the inner critic but the inner voice that is really part of the true essence of our being. The part of us that doesn't fear anything that is just ready to face life and pursue our passions. You reference in your book the importance of talking to ourselves; what do you mean by “talk to yourself”?
Mareo: Every day, all day, we're telling ourselves stories about who we are. Every thought we have is something we’re telling ourselves. Whether it's what we believe about ourselves or someone else. The best way to change who we are on the outside is to first change the stories we tell ourselves on the inside.
… You don't have to tell yourself you’re going to like it, but you can give yourself a purpose behind it which allows you to think a bit differently and think of yourself differently.
When we talk to ourselves the right way, we perform better. When we talk to ourselves the wrong way, that eventually comes out in our actions — we treat ourselves wrong and others wrong.
So often, we get wrapped up in our own objectives and push our products or services on others without genuinely considering their needs. If we can step back and focus on caring about people and providing them with value, we will be much more successful in achieving our goals. Understanding ourselves and being aware of the inner dialogue that drives our actions is critical because, at the end of the day, we are all salespeople trying to negotiate, persuade, inform, and understand the needs and motives of others and ourselves.
The interview with Mareo continued for another half hour past this transcript, which has been modified for readability. You can listen to the full audio here to gain even more insight.
However, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of his book, Really Care for Them, if you found the information discussed valuable, as we could only cover a small fraction of the invaluable lessons of his book—roughly 8/99.
If you wish to learn more about Mareo McCracken, visit: