Originally published at www.opendeltas.com
I am a fourth-generation salesperson.
I remember early in my career lamenting to my dad about the fact we were selling products that ‘just in time manufacturing’ couldn’t quite keep up with and about the typical fiscal new year trend of getting a higher goal and smaller territory.
My father always replied, “I’m pretty sure there was an olive oil salesman in Mesopotamia complaining about the same thing.”
Traditionally, sales is known as a cut-throat, take advantage of the customer, sleazy profession.
But, that is not the case for consistently successful salesperson. And, it will not be the case for the future millennial business leaders or sales professionals.
Times are changing, and they are changing very fast. ‘Low hanging fruit’ and ‘blue birds’ are being eaten by AI, algorithms, and big data.
However, while it’s becoming easier and easier to buy, it’s becoming more and more complex for our customers to solve real business challenges.
This is where the ‘Mindful Seller’ becomes the most valuable asset a client can leverage. A mindful salesperson genuinely believes that the “Goal of Sales” is to help solve our customers problems… and make a living doing it.
A mindful seller brings the value of experiencing similar problems in diverse environments. They can make the huge companies they represent feel small and agile while customizing solutions to exceed customer’s needs. They pull the right resources at the right time to ensure success. They can anticipate needs and prevent potential problems. They make co-creating solutions fun. They are people you WANT to pick up the phone for or converse with via email.
Mindfulness is a formal and informal practice around cultivating focused awareness. It doesn’t mean relaxation, even though it helps reduce stress; it means being alert and in the present moment so you can: listen to what your customers challenges are; understand hidden dynamics between departments and proactively create proposals that help them make the case for what they need; remove distractions or stress to allow you to be creative with solutions or package a deal that works within their budget or impossible timeframes.
Four Strategies for a Mindful Seller
1. Monotasking: Time is money? Not anymore! Attention is money. It’s backed by research that we don’t multitask. In fact, we “switch task” as we go between emails, texting, and listening to a conference call. Each time we switch task, it takes up to 63 seconds to get back to optimized levels of focus and concentration. And, when we are focused, 41% of the time, it’s on low priority tasks. In my “Mindful Sales” course, I teach you how the brain works, so you can optimize your time by monotasking.
2. Empathy & Compassion: If your goal is to help solve another’s problem, how can you truly do this without understanding what it is like to walk in their shoes? Your customer is not merely a means to the end but rather the end. It’s a fact that the energy that goes into acquiring customers is much greater than retaining them. Genuinely serving others leads to loyalty. Beyond retaining clients, you are helping improve the world around you. Studies have also support that those who receive compassion and empathy tend to pass it on to others. In fact, mirror neurons show how we mimic those around us.
3. Self-Awareness: It sounds simple enough, self-awareness means you recognize and understand your thoughts and emotions. But, a lot of us are moving at such a fast pace that we fail to see the difference between what we think we do and what we actually do. For instance, many sales people are so stressed out about hitting their numbers that when they are in front of customers, they are overly aggressive. Or, we think we are good listeners, but in reality, we spend 80% of the meetings talking at their customer instead of understanding their challenges and needs. Often, we ignore the signals our intuition gives us about a customer’s reaction or a project going sideways. Self- awareness is a power tool, and many people who have gone through my course experience the biggest “ah-ha” moment during this section.
4. Beginners Mind: Customers aren’t looking for solutions anymore. They can find any answer they need on the internet. What they are looking for are creative opportunities. They can’t do what they’ve done before because, frankly, things are changing too fast. When you are solely focused on what you’ve done before like keeping up on email, hitting your quota, or fighting fire drills, you never give your conscious or subconscious mind the time to actually be strategic, think creativity, and see hidden dynamics that could lead to providing unapparelled value. You default to the same predictable path of least resistance. “Beginners mind” is a mindfulness strategy in which you give yourself the permission and space to look at a situation without any preconceived notions by staying in the present moment; this means setting aside time to look at your customers problems as you’ve never seen them before and addressing them.
Times are changing. I’m enlisting you to help change the description of sales.