548 Tasha Smith:

What is it about sales that stumps so many female founders? Selling your own product or service… can spark many fears, many of them subconscious, whether somewhere deep inside we question our own value or fear rejection.


I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who has made it her business to conquer sales – and help other entrepreneurs do the same.

Tasha Smith is the founder of Emerge Sales Training and the author of Customer First. She and her team have helped over 8,000 entrepreneurs in network marketing improve their sales skills – and along the way, Tasha has learned that what holds many people back from closing the deal … is an underlying belief that sales is somehow icky, scammy, or somehow makes you a bad person because you’re pulling something over on someone.

She’s here to tell you why all that is simply a false belief … and why you must remember always that sales is simply assisting someone to a solution that will improve their lives.


From scratch, Tasha Smith created a 7-figure coaching business within 2 years, after working in sales for Cutco and Vector..

Tasha Smith  is here to talk about sales…

Let’s put on our wings with the inspiring Tasha Smith.

Melinda Wittstock:        Tasha, welcome to Wings.

Tasha Smith:                      Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.

Melinda Wittstock:        Me too. Well, I love talking about sales. It’s one of those things though, that so many women entrepreneurs seem to struggle with. What’s up with that? Where do we tend to go wrong with sales?

Tasha Smith:                      Well, I’ve never been asked that question exactly that way. What’s up with that? I think a lot of women feel like a sale being made somehow is a win-lose scenario. Where the person who buys the thing loses, but it’s adversarial. I think so many sales role models are male and the idea of the used car salesman, the idea of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, right? I think that’s what women see as what they’re supposed to do. We work with so, so many women and I’ll ask, “How many of you have said, ‘I’m not a salesperson’?” They feel like that identity is somehow icky, somehow gross, somehow selfish and they’re taking.

But then conversely, the only reason they’re doing their business is because they want to help people. And that cognitive dissonance, I think there could be a few reasons when I think the male role model, I think that imposter syndrome can come into play. I think that there’s not really great training that’s accessible for female entrepreneurs either. That’s why I wanted to go into this space. Most people don’t even know what to say to make an offer. What are the actual words? Because they don’t really want to upset people.

And I think a lot of sales culture is, so what if you upset people? But that’s a very male way of thinking, right? They’ll fight and then be best friends after. I don’t see a lot of women go at each other and then be best friends five minutes later and just have gotten it out of the system. I think women are really drawn and driven by community and strong relationships. And so I think it’s a different mindset, but so much of the training is also given by men who are … It’s just a numbers game. And so what? Who cares? Move on to the next. And I just don’t think many women identify or resonate with any of that.

Melinda Wittstock:        This is the best answer I’ve had so far. And one of the things you said early on in your answer really got me thinking about whether we actually value ourselves enough or value the product. Because if your fear is you’re somehow pulling something over somebody, if you get the sale, underneath that is, oh, you must not value your own thing or yourself. And often that’s a deeply unconscious or subconscious driver. And I’ve found to be really good at sales, you have to let go and recover a lot of those old limiting beliefs. When you’re working with women in this area, does it get into mindset in a big way?

Tasha Smith:                      Both. So I started in my company, and we grew really, really fast just by focusing on skillset. And I just call it vegetables in your spaghetti sauce mindset. Mostly not bringing honor to them, but bringing honor to the profession. So what I wrote down when you share that perspective, I think that happens more in leadership than it does in the actual sales piece. What I see happening in the actual sales piece is, it’s not that they don’t value themselves and they don’t value the product or service-

Melinda Wittstock:        Yeah. I don’t mean consciously. I mean deep, deep, deep, deep down.

Tasha Smith:                      Yeah, maybe, but I don’t think that’s the first hurdle. I think that uncovers as people grow, right? We grow until those things we don’t even know are hitting us. But I think what happens is, they don’t want the other person to perceive it that way. That’s where people get stuck on the first one, right? So if I show up confident and I show up assertive and I believe in the thing, will then the other person interpret me as pushy or salesy? They’re very concerned with not that they’re being authentic, but will they be perceived as authentic? That is a huge thing. And so what we do to address that is actually up the authenticity in the wording so that what they believe are the things that they are actually saying and communicating to bridge that gap and increase confidence. So that there’s really no way that the person on the receiving end could perceive them as inauthentic. And that tends to shift that a little bit.

Melinda Wittstock:        Yeah. I think that’s right. So when you go through the skill training, what are some of the things specifically on that skillset that folks get wrong? I’ve mentored so many women who get through the whole thing about how amazing their service or product is or whatever they actually forget to ask for the sale. So why don’t we start there? How do you advise people actually just ask for the sale?

Tasha Smith:                      So I started my career when I was 20 and I was selling knives. And I’ll tell you what they taught us because we didn’t have a clue about anything, and we sold a lot of knives. And it was, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask you this question. Would you like to place an order for this and get this free thing? That’s typically the bridge that I wouldn’t be doing my job. One of the biggest things that we help people with in sales is this concept of acknowledge the awkward. Sales is awkward. It always is awkward. I have a thing, you’re trying to figure out if you want my thing. You have money, and I definitely want that, right? So it’s just awkward. And so there’s always some elephant in the room, right? You get to the end and it’s like dun, dun, dun, right?

So there’s two pieces I think that makes it easy. The first one is in the agenda. So what we would teach is to say, okay, here’s what we’re going to go over today. We’re going to go over your goals, go a little bit over the company. We’ll go over our most popular options. My part will take about 30 minutes. You don’t have to get anything, but if you see something you like, I’ll help you order today. How does that sound? Or if I was in my coaching practice, you don’t have to start with us with anything, but if it sounds like it’s a good fit, I’ll help you enroll today. How does that sound? And then the other person nods their head. And now you’ve just made a really good agreement that at the end, we’re going to talk about moving forward.

And what that does is puts the person on the hook for right now, they’re out of integrity for not asking. [crosstalk 00:07:54] on that works really, really well to just hook the female, to force her from a responsibility perspective to ask. And then at the end, it’s like, well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask that. And whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, that is still your job. It is your responsibility to make an invitation.

And then on the mindset piece, I liken most things to a party, which is, I think, an idea that most women will resonate with is, how will I know if I’m welcome at your party if you don’t invite me? And you can’t see this on the audio, but I’m Indian. So in Indian culture, everybody’s invited. But in American culture, that’s not the case. So if your friend says, “I’m having a party”, you don’t go unless you get an invitation. And so what I encourage them to do is, as they’re going through this process, to think about it like I’m inviting them to a solution versus I’m trying to make a sale.

Melinda Wittstock:        Right. That makes a lot of sense. Thinking about the customer and if you’re coming at it from the customer’s perspective of, where’s the value? And you’re creating value for them, it’s just an exchange of value. And sometimes that simple shift and literally figuring out what the customer’s problem is and finding out really early whether there’s an alignment, whether you can solve that customer’s problem or not. And if you can’t, recommend someone else to them. Don’t take it personally if it’s not a good fit.

Tasha Smith:                      Right.

Melinda Wittstock:        So tell me a little bit about how you started up your own company in this because you were doing the sales, you started out in knives and he did the whole thing.

Tasha Smith:                      Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:        You’re a really good salesperson. And then what made you become an entrepreneur with your sales and create this company to help other people sell?

Tasha Smith:                      Yeah, so I actually wasn’t a very good salesperson. So I started when I was 20 selling knives, I was a manager so I ended up having an office where I spent my early 20s teaching 18 year old kids had to sell 1,000 dollar sets of knives. And then I went into corporate America. And so I was in sales very quickly because of my background, I got promoted to be a trainer of the sales team and then into leadership. And I mean, I think it’s the journey of many, right? I was 35 years old. My kids were three and five. I was driving an hour and 15 minutes and I was at my salary cap and my corporate management goal. And I just looked around. I was like, I know I was called to make a bigger impact than, the 10 people I had on my team were great, but they were stalled out and salary capped too.

And I was like, I know that I was born to make a bigger impact than this. And I don’t know how to do anything except teach non-sales people how to sell things. So I put up a little podcast and started tinkering on my lunch breaks and in the evenings and on Saturdays, I think that’s how most people make that move. I started coaching one of my neighbors and then her friend, and then it just, push came to shove where I had another potential client and I didn’t even have time to meet with her. I didn’t have an hour that I could dedicate when I wasn’t in another responsibility. And so I talked to my husband and he’s like, go for it. And so I went in and I resigned two days later and that’s how I made that jump.

And it was just this, I don’t know what to do, but I know I need to encourage people. I know I need to teach them wording. Where my heart was, is there’s so many women, right? Especially now, it’s not like many husbands are sole earners, right? That’s not really something that you can rely upon. And so my personal mission is if you need to be able to sell to feed your family, then we’re going to be able to help you. And that’s how we got started. And my word of mouth spread really quickly. I specialize in the network marketing profession. On accident, actually. I was a customer and my friend had invited me to buy. And then I always said, this is way too hard, I fixed her sales process. She did really, really well. And then we grew crazy, crazy quickly. So in the past four and a half years, we’ve actually sold $3.7 million worth of sales, training. Or coaching, which is awesome. So that’s how that started.

Melinda Wittstock:        That’s amazing. So what is the top tip that you have for people to just keep motivated? Since sometimes it takes a while to really get that sales muscle going or an entrepreneur muscle going and really start to get nice repeatable traction. So what’s the mindset or the tip, the way to stay in it?

Tasha Smith:                      Yeah. Actually it goes back to something that you said Melinda, about solving problems. My coach taught me, I don’t know, third call, to keep an impact journal. And this is always what I go back to when it comes to motivation. I’m a bit of a psychology nerd. And so there’s a great book called Drive by Daniel Pink. I don’t know if you’ve-

Melinda Wittstock:        Yep, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tasha Smith:                      So purpose, autonomy and mastery, right? Those are the four drivers. Are we contribute something bigger than ourselves? Are we improving in our mastery? And when my coach taught me the impact journal, it just put all of those things together. And so, this practice of writing down the three humans that you positively impacted with your work that day, moves us out of our own stuff, right?

When business is up and down, or it feels like … Burnout is because we’re working very hard, but we’re not feeling impactful. So in order to stave that off, if we just keep a journal that actual people that we impact on a daily basis, then we’re remembering the right things. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying, we tend to forget what we should remember and remember what we should forget. And so we remember all the failures or mistakes or frustrations, and we don’t remember the humans that we have touched even through our encouragement or a small sale or a testimonial, or just any of those things. I mean, we’ve been through some shellackings in the past four and a half years. Being the product adds to that, right? As a coach and that has been one of the things that has 100% kept me motivated on a daily basis.

Melinda Wittstock:        And so where do you see your business going? What’s your big vision for where you want to be in it?

Tasha Smith:                      The big vision? Or the one I can see? I think those are-

Melinda Wittstock:        Well, you can start with one you can see and then go for the big one or talk about the big one first and then drill down to, I mean, however you like.

Tasha Smith:                      Yeah. I think long term, there is a really important space for training and coaching for women in sales, regardless of industry. And the book I wrote is called Customer First and it’s an idea that if the customer comes first, and we can make it easy for them to buy an easy for them to solve their problems, right? Everything good happens from that. And I mean, I think big picture, you can tell because it’s hard to say is I would love for my company to have hubs, right? For all of the major entrepreneurial industries to be able to have this good human sales approach that also is strengths-based and to be able to unlock, right? Get people unlocked in into the next level with whatever it is that they’re doing in their journey. And I do see it as not a hugely scaled thing.

I realized recently that anytime I try to scale a low price product and high numbers, I like it for a minute. And then I want to know everyone’s name. I want to send them certificates for doing a good job. I want to talk to them individually. And so I really see that as some sort of hybrid of group and one-on-one so that people actually are seen and heard and get that individualized attention. In the short term for 2021, let’s just make sure that my anxiety due to the pandemic doesn’t overtake the whole thing.

And so, what we’re really looking to do is figure out how to provide a hybrid one-on-one model. That is something that I can deliver with great results and just really continue to show up in the space. So that my people, the people that resonate with, I want to be a good human and I believe in my product and I want to make an impact and I want to earn a profit, that they’re able to gather. I think community is so, so, so important. I’m a ex-basketball player and I think we’re all better in teams. So I’m really, really excited about building some of the communities that we have over the next year to just be these thriving communities, where our women stop comparing and despairing, they’re able to celebrate others. They’re able to believe in themselves, know who they are. And so they can focus on their skills and their strategies and be able to do the stuff.

Melinda Wittstock:        I think sometimes what happens to women is that we get so trapped in perfectionism and control and trying to prove our competence, that we can sometimes self-isolate and not reach out and create those relationships. And the relationships are vital, especially with other women, because when we’re really helping each other from that place of abundance, we’re all stronger. And I’ve seen over the years, women, and you can see why. We’re pigeonholed into this scarcity because it seemed like there were only a few positions, there were only a few who could succeed. So women end up scrapping or mistrusting each other. When in fact the opposite is true. When we really lift as we climb, which is the hashtag for this podcast, miracles happen.

So being able to mentor other women and open doors for other women and buy from other women and invest in other women, I think is really critical to exercise that. I have a question for you though, about companies like mine that need to build a sales force, a sales team and a cohesive team. You were talking about that, where what I envisioned for my company is a team where, in the old days, it was all the salespeople competing against each other for their quotas. Are they going to hit their numbers? Are they going to do all that kind of stuff? But together, how to create those systems to incentivize teamwork in sales, as you build a team. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Tasha Smith:                      Oh, wow. That is the most noble vision in sales leadership. And I have found in all my studies, so I’ve been in for 20 years, that is really actually pretty hard to incentivize.

Melinda Wittstock:        Right. That’s why I asked the question. It’s top of mind for me right now. So I’ve got to figure that out.

Tasha Smith:                      What you end up doing is you end up cutting off top performers.

Melinda Wittstock:        Yeah. That’s the thing. And you don’t want to do that. So I found in all my companies, right? There’s always a couple people who are wildly good and they do get paid much more than say engineers or other people, or sometimes even the CEO, right? Because you have to think they’re bringing so much money into the company and so much value to the company that it’s got to reflect that but at the same time, deals can be lost if people don’t tag team together, right?

Tasha Smith:                      Yeah. So I think you have to have a comp model that still is individual compensation as the primary, but have a team goal component. I think the biggest recommendation I would have is that values have to be a terminable offense. So most sales, and this has to do actually not with the way you construct the systems, right? We have our values, we start there, we have our target market. We have, how do we explain what we do? And then we have how we treat people and how we onboard them in the first 90 days so that they’re successful. So there’s that system. Then we have a compensation plan, which I mean, base plus commission is probably the one that makes the most sense. The systems are not that difficult to build, but it’s the sales leader that typically doesn’t get the freedom.

So whenever I was a sales manager, number one question was, are you hitting your numbers? And number two question is, are the people living the value? Maybe that was the number seven question, right? And so I think as the person above, if you’re looking at longevity of your team and culture, I think that it needs to be that the values are really, that your sales manager is empowered to actually terminate people based on values, regardless of what their performance is. Because every single time that person leaves, the tension on the team or releases and even the stress of the stress of the managers, the problem, right? So you have this maverick that’s doing things, isn’t considerate, doesn’t meet the values. Everyone knows it, but you can’t prove it. That’s what’s super hard about it. They’re still doing everything by the book, but you can’t prove teamwork.

And then they come back with a question like, do you want me to settle? Or do you want me to help this new person? And so you get really, really stuck. So I really think it’s working with a leader so that they’re empowered to say, it is okay if that person, we know when they’re not with values and we can let them go. And the whole rest of the team will rise because the leader will feel less heavy, things will be more fun. Everyone knows it’s not okay and it’s super tense. And so that is the recommendation I would do, but that is incredibly difficult.

Melinda Wittstock:        Well, it’s an interesting challenge for sure. And then when you’re hiring a salesperson, so if you’re training people to become great salespeople, ostensibly most of your work is with their own company. Do you train them also to be really good salespeople for other people’s companies?

Tasha Smith:                      Well, so we work with the network marketing industry. So the moms that are selling the essential oils and the shakes. So, that’s not exactly the structure that we use. So I answered your question just from my corporate experience. So what we have to do is teach people how to make sales and lead because they have a dual role in the network marketing industry of being able to do both.

Melinda Wittstock:        That’s wonderful. How can people find you and work with you Tasha? To get their sales working well?

Tasha Smith:                      Well, probably the best way to start would be to grab a free copy of the book I wrote, which is called Customer First. And you can just go to customerfirstbook.com. There’s a PDF there, there’s a paperback that we can send out if you’d like that instead. And then of course, we’ll contact you and we’ll be able to be in touch that way. It [crosstalk 00:25:11] get exposure to the work and the concepts regardless of your industry. And I think it will be an encouragement to you.

Melinda Wittstock:        Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.

Tasha Smith:                      Thank you, Melinda.

Tasha Smith
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