Arishma Singh is an award-winning top performer, a “pocket rocket,” and a woman to watch, with over 20 years of corporate experience working with such major brands as Nielsen Media, American Express, Google Australia, Pivot Software, and Experian Australia. After numerous health setbacks, Singh’s journey into mind-body solutions led her to EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).
A globally certified and accredited EFT practitioner, she leveraged EFT to develop her own methodology, THRIVE, to enable high performers to achieve sustainable success without compromising their well-being. A keynote speaker, author, and edupreneur, Singh leads Thrive With EFT to empower clients to overcome inner blocks and achieve life-changing transformation. Her new book is The Respected Salesperson. Here, she shares with us what it means to be a Respected Salesperson and what it takes to get there.
Grit Daily: Your new book is The Respected Salesperson. Let’s start at the beginning: What do you mean by the concept of the Respected Salesperson?
Arishma Singh: If a salesperson wants to differentiate themselves, it’s time for them to become the Respected Salesperson. In researching for the book, I interviewed a wide variety of people — not just from sales but from various areas of corporate life — to understand the external perception of our industry. I realised the ‘human element’ was the missing piece.
The book The Respected Salesperson gives readers the tools to be more authentic and mindful. It shifts the narrative of sales from being seen as ‘dirty’ or ‘sleazy’ into a respected and dignified career path. The book moves away from traditionally masculine and outcomes-focused sales techniques and instead nourishes a mindset based on self-introspection and development.
In short, the concept of The Respected Salesperson is a paradigm shift that I was seeking. If you want to use a framework, let’s use Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs – if all sales professionals reached their potential, they would become The Respected Salesperson.
Grit Daily: People tend to be wary of salespeople precisely because we know that their main purpose is to influence and possibly change our thinking. What do salespeople need to focus on to change this perception?
Arishma Singh: The book’s tagline spells out what sales professionals need to focus on: the need ‘to change your mind before you change minds[NG1].’
The sales industry may have a negative reputation, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. The techniques and exercises in The Respected Salesperson will help readers find authenticity as their genius zone through a process of self-awareness, exploration, and change, which then can be applied to their sales role.
People are wary of salespeople because they have boxed us as all the same. Every salesperson is different. Harnessing that uniqueness will engender not only authenticity but also self-belief, which provides a platform for balanced power relationships. As part of the book, I have developed a fun sales persona quiz using famous movie and television characters to help appreciate this difference. This is the first step towards awareness.
The sales industry teaches us sales processes and platforms, but they lack in providing tools for self-development when it comes to managing constant rejections, pressure, anxiety, and performance blocks. I have included chapters on a self-administered, easy-to-use tool called emotional freedom techniques, along with many exercises that empower the reader to excavate their issues and work through them.
Grit Daily: Why do you say that self-respect is key to thriving in sales?
Arishma Singh: The reality is that sales is a highly emotional calling. Most of us do well in sales striving hard or just surviving. It is a demanding, high-stress, high-pressure, and anxiety-triggering job. After all, sales professionals must persist through rejections and are required to pick themselves up with a smile on their face – day after day.
I have to confess that I did not have respect for my entry into a career as a sales professional, when I first ‘fell’ into it during the Global Financial Crisis. I did not recognize the value of this profession because I did not associate it with the expensive degree I was holding, nor was it what my parents had hoped for me to become, which was a lawyer.
So, how is self-respect connected to thriving in sales? Let’s first understand the word respect. The word ‘respect’ comes from the Latin word ‘respectus.’ This means to look back at, consider, and regard something. I believe that before one can influence, persuade, or change someone else’s mind, they must first reflect on themselves. It is about finding value in yourself as a talented individual who has something to offer to the world. That requires trusting our innate intelligence, that little voice inside to guide us. Knowing oneself comes from developing clarity and conviction.
Too often, we silence the little voice inside because we’re too focused on day-to-day mental chatter. It is when we take time for reflection that we finally hear this voice and begin to respect ourselves.
Sales is not a one-way engagement. We sometimes forget that the service we provide to our clients is of value. Respect is the missing ingredient in a sales relationship that goes wrong. We cannot expect our clients to respect what we do in sales unless we respect ourselves.
This is a process that I know all too well. I was fixated on striving hard through my early 20s because I inherited that belief system from my parents that I must become a top performer. I was unconsciously taught to rely on my skills, talents, diligence, practice, preparation, concentration, and long hours of hard work. This is all I knew.
I was so caught up in working hard that I could not think of an alternative way of sustaining success. To me, everything was about the euphoria of chasing deals and crippling bouts of self-doubt, despite being on top of the leaderboard. I put extreme pressure on myself, constantly stressing myself out and losing sleep as a result. I had a problem. I needed to prove myself all the time. It was relentless. This simply was not sustainable. I had to find a better way. Self respect was the better way.
Grit Daily: What are Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), also known as Tapping, and the THRIVE methodology that you developed and rely on personally to create sustainable success?
Arishma Singh: The combination of the THRIVE methodology along with Tapping people to create their own version of sustainable success.
Below is a snapshot of what ‘THRIVE’ methodology entails. I created this method based on my experience in sales, research, interviews, and EFT techniques:
T for thoughts and timeline
H for habits (unconscious and subconscious habits)
R for reasons
I for instincts, impulses, imprints
V for values
E for emotions and energy.
This teachable framework allows one to examine their own biases, opinions, and beliefs. The framework and the exercises help to understand our blind spots, gaps, and persona types. To work through the challenges, Emotional Freedom Techniques (Tapping) can be simply administered to remove the blocks of performance.
Grit Daily: What are some of the damaging myths that compromise salespeople and the traits they can work on to overcome these myths?
Arishma Singh: There are many sales myths that plague the industry. Common ones are:
- All salespeople are the same. We are gregarious extroverts who will say anything to get the sale
- Salespeople are liars, deceptive, and cheap.
- Salespeople are not particularly intelligent. You don’t need a degree to get into sales. If you can’t do anything, then get into sales.
- All salespeople do is talk, look good, and entertain clients.
- Salespeople are there only for a quick buck.
- Salespeople are selfish and only look out for themselves.
To overcome the myths, there is a need for serious reflections, the need to work on self-worth issues, self-doubt, self-judgement, self-absorption, and self-sufficiency vs teamwork.
In the book, I talk through ten different traits that sales professionals can engender to change the way they are perceived:
Grit Daily: As a successful woman in the field of professional sales, what unique obstacles do you see women having to confront?
Arishma Singh: Without generalising, women in particular tend to doubt themselves and their abilities as salespeople, and this book is written to be their cheerleader and mentor. As a woman of color, I had to work through my own subjective biases. The internal dialogues in a female tend to also be a complex network of memories, incidents, emotions, energy, and its correlations, which sometimes lead to incorrect projections.
I had to go through a serious excavation of what it means to be proactive vs. subservient, when is the appropriate time to follow rather than lead a conversation, how not to confuse and wrongly interpret societal expectations of being a female to not standing up for myself. What does it mean to be a dignified lady working in a sales profession? How do I carry myself in networking opportunities, socialising with “the boys,” and being one of them?
Grit Daily: Why is resilience so important in sales, and how can someone become more resilient?
Arishma Singh: What differentiates a good salesperson from a great one? A combination of emotional intelligence, intuition, and resilience. These three attributes are not part of the conscious processes we undertake when selling. All three are subconscious and unconscious mechanisms that enable us to read situations and people.
We are resilient when we are able to accept and understand not just ourselves, but also have a deeper understanding of how complex emotions of grief, pain, trauma, and other seemingly negative emotions are part of being human. By being resilient, we are able to work through all forms of adversities, which means when we are relating to our clients, we are connecting from a place of compassion, empathy and deeper understanding.
To become resilient, the book offers a few exercises to work through for people to understand their own abilities on how to:
- Reframe thoughts
- Focus on control
- Building social connections
Grit Daily: You say it is important to create boundaries in sales engagement. How can this be achieved?
Arishma Singh: Respect is not something that can be forced. I believe respectful engagements can be created by teaching our stakeholders about our own boundaries around time, process, accountability of actions, and consequences of not meeting agreements.
The steps for achieving this are:
- Set the boundaries upfront by creating the right impression through not just careful choice of words but also body language and articulating expectations with clarity and certainty.
- Embracing no’s with grace and being open to learning more for a deeper understanding
- Learning to say no. Rather than agreeing to every client request, establishing integrity by working out the finer details on why some objections may be unreasonable. Challenging a client on their understanding will enable a better service in the long run.
- Leaving the door open for future engagements if the timing is not appropriate. Being congruent to their personal brand and establishing themselves as the confidant advisor.
- Being authentic in the sales approach to build mutual respect
Grit Daily: You write and speak about thriving, rather than just surviving or constantly striving. What makes you uniquely qualified to do that?
Arishma Singh: My unique qualification is that majority of my life, I believed that only way to succeed in life was striving.
My strive story: I have always been what others have called a ‘high performer.’ It was simply in my DNA. Both of my parents were teachers, which led to them instilling a deep-rooted sense of discipline, hard work, strong work ethic, and motivation into my psychology from an early age.
Growing up in Fiji, my mother always told me that I needed to be as well-rounded as possible in school. It’s why I started school at age three, an early age compared to my peers. My weekends involved going to Sanskrit classes to understand the mind and the yoga philosophy. And at Grade 1, I already had a timetable that I adhered to whenever I studied at home.
During school breaks, I would buy the books I needed for the next grade and spend my break preparing for the first term. I was a dedicated student; socialization and childhood play was not something I was privileged with.
My Indian upbringing was very strict. Progress was important to me, and I was anxious to prove myself. It was a driving factor in the way I looked at school and success. I studied hard for every subject and regularly came out at the top of my class, emerging as the Dux of both Primary and High School. And this high performance paid off when I was selected to attend a prestigious university in Sydney, Australia. My appetite for high performance continued there.
I became one of the nominated few in my division to enter the University of New South Wales Honours Program in Human Resources Management. My career just continued this relentless desire to perform at the highest level. I’ve worked with some incredible multinational and start-up companies and brands, including American Express, Nielsen Media, Google Australia, CareerOne, Pivot Software, and Experian Australia.
Collecting accolades, being a top performer, and continuously striving for accomplishments all came from a Strive mentality – I was always ‘on,’ tired, even as a child, and never satisfied with my accomplishments. While externally, I showcased confidence, grit, resilience, I had a problem of seeking external validation, approval, and recognition.
In 2008, I found myself in the Intensive Care Unit for the first time, as I had a life-threatening condition that neither I nor the medical system understood at the time. That was the beginning of my journey in finding both medical and alternative paths to health. Since that year, I have been rushed to the hospital 12 times due to episodes of long and drawn-out health crises.
For over a decade, I found myself missing work for months at a time. Being bedridden, unable to walk or do basic tasks was a challenge. Rehabilitation took so long. I already had a jaded view of my health, but work was where I knew I shined. So, when I would go back to work, I would do what I did best – work hard, long hours, and keep the top performer flag flying high. My spirit, mental strength, hard work, and dedication always helped me get back to the high performer status. ‘Strive harder’ was my mantra, and I was often applauded for it.
My journey to thrive: In 2019, I developed auto-immune issues in addition to the number of health sets I had faced. This time, it also impacted my memory, and I faced the situation in a live client meeting environment, completely having a mind blank and not recalling why I was there or the names of the stakeholders, and having to pretend. This was not only an embarrassing moment but a wake-up call to look deeper into myself and the way I worked.
Since 2019, I have created EFT routines focused on specific sales activities, such as prospecting, cold calling, presenting, negotiating, time management, and the overall sales process. From there, I looked into my own timeline, mapping out my belief systems, thoughts, where I was making excuses in my life, and what my positive and negative habits were, as well as establishing and refining my core values and how I could use those to align my goals and change my emotional disposition and energy I exuded.
This was an awakening for me because, for the first time, I appreciated the true demands of a sales role. It became quite exciting when I started working through my generational imprints and honing in on my instincts during the sales process. I was able to evaluate my own impulses and became mindful of when they were not serving me.
This helped me to further develop my intuition. I was able to witness my own mind in action, and I appreciated how much effort it takes to be continuously radiant, confident, charismatic, and courageous as a salesperson. This is how the THRIVE methodology was born and refined over time. The change was consistent, organic, and dramatic.
I documented my breakthroughs and learned to piece together the patterns that I share in my book. But more importantly, I reached a high level of performance by working in a way that was consistent with what I wanted my life to be. I realized that I had spent the majority of my life in the strive mentality.
No matter where I worked or how impressive my achievements were, I was always striving. I approached life from a position of lack, needing to assert myself as a high performer, which meant I could not truly thrive. By adopting the thrive mindset, I no longer disrespect my energy, health, boundaries, values, and instincts. I am now committed to improving my habits and the way I carry and conduct myself.
Grit Daily: Is there anything else you want to convey to our audience?
Arishma Singh: There are many mind body techniques and tools accessible to work with that can help with personal and professional transformation. EFT is one of them. I am asking your audience to have an open mind and not think of Tapping as a “woo woo” solution. It is a highly researched solution, and there is a whole chapter in The Respected Salesperson going through evidence-based research case studies. In addition, I have created a free program that people can enjoy by going to my website and clicking on the tab for free learning.