There’s been a lot of attention focused on the benefits of mindfulness in business recently. Everyone, from HBR to Ariana Huffington, has grasped how being more mindful can help us perform better in the workplace.
Yet, for some reason, we almost never talk about mindfulness in sales.
I’ve been a long-time believer in the benefits of applying mindfulness and meditation techniques to gain focus, build better relationships and find creative ways to solve problems – and maximise opportunities.
And I’ve seen the results for myself, time and time again. Improved focus. More deal flow. Better solutions. Higher win rates.
Why Mindfulness Matters.
Over time, I’ve come to believe that there is perhaps no area of business where mindfulness is more important…
Why ? Simple.
“Sales is about people. The more we are able to be in the moment, pay full attention to what’s happening “in the room” and focus on others, the better we’ll perform.
If sales is about our ability to connect with others, develop a clear understanding of their needs and objectives, co-develop truly outstanding solutions and building relationships – then mindfulness lies at the core of all that.
Any action is pre-determined by intent. Before taking the right action, you need to have the right intent.
That’s the promise that mindfulness in sales holds for sales professionals, and the firms they represent.
All the sales training in the world isn’t going to help if you’re sailing through your sales meetings absent-mindedly and controlled by what buddhists call “the monkey mind”.
Speaking before you’ve thought about what you’re going to say. Missing important clues about what’s happening at the other side of the table.
Mindfulness is one of the most simple concepts to understand, but one of the hardest to master. Yet the benefits it holds for sellers (and buyers) are plentiful.
The Mindful Approach To Sales.
Much of what makes or breaks a sale on a day-to-day basis is focused on what happens in the (increasingly, virtual) room. Active listening. Asking great questions. Rephrasing and paraphrasing. Demonstrating understanding. Building rapport.
Yet, a lot of what is being taught in classrooms is focused on techniques – how to “mirror” someone’s gestures, which body language conveys your desire to truly understand someone, etcetera.
Even though important, those are mostly what I call “surface factors”. How well you succeed in sales may well depend not on what you do, but what you don’t do.
What Is Mindfulness, Anyway ?
Applying mindfulness in sales is simply the act of staying in the moment, and momentarily pausing or suspending the constant flow of thoughts, emotions, feelings and opinions.
There’s nothing hokey pokey about it, and you don’t have to sit cross-legged for hours on end to learn how to do it (even though meditation obviously helps).
Imagine for a moment really, truly listening to what someone is saying, without judging or thinking about how you’ll respond. Imagine hanging on to their every word. Imagine being fully focused on every gesture, every word and every little expression, no matter how tiny.
Now imagine running every sales meeting like that.
Do you think you’d improve ? Spot things you otherwise wouldn’t ? Do you think you’d pick up on small but important changes in your buyer’s tonality, speech and non-verbal behaviour ?
And do you think those things matter ?
Even though they are an important part of application, mindfulness in sales is not just about how you behave in sales meetings.
I’ve found it helps me write better. Be more clear in my proposals. Develop better (and more creative) solutions.
But perhaps the most important benefit of all is this: being mindful keeps me from “jumping to conclusions” and acting in a “shoot first, ask questions later” kinda way.
Staying mindful helps me postpone judgment – and instead (almost automatically) start asking questions to dig deeper and uncover the real story unfolding.
In Practice: How To Be More Mindful.
Mindfulness isn’t just for buddhists anymore. Everyone, from Fortune-500 CEOs to Olympic athletes have discovered its many benefits, and the potential it holds for dramatically improving individual and group performance in virtually every area of business and life.
If you haven’t already, give it a try. Next time you’re in a sales call or meeting, try to do the following:
- Focus your gaze on just one point at a time (avoid flittering from point to point, or “scanning the room”)
- Really listen to what is being said – don’t interpret, judge or try to formulate a response
- Don’t do anything but listen, (occasionally) speak and take notes
- Do one thing at a time (for example, stop speaking when you’re writing and vice versa)
- Before responding or speaking, take 1-3 long breaths. This will not only give you time to formulate a response, but also help you be more clear in your communication
- Speak a little slower than you’d normally do. This will help you be better understood, but also make you seem more determined and poised
- Perhaps most importantly, really focus your attention on the other person (instead of yourself). What is being said ? What is NOT being said ?
With all the benefits mindfulness brings to business practice, I’m surprised not more has been written about it.
In “Titan: The Life Of John D. Rockefeller Sr”, author Ron Cherlow discussed how at least part of Rockefeller’s success was his ability to focus on solving just one problem at a time, and dedicating all of his (considerable) mental resources to solving it.
What if we did the same ?
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