Instincts are an inner guidance system – a sixth sense, or in popular terms your “spider sense”. Instincts anticipate what may be around the corner, be it opportunity or danger. The survival instinct guides the herd of gazelle to the most fertile source of food – or away from the danger of a predator. The survival instinct functions much the same way in humans, but there are other instincts that we can put to use as well. Surfing anyone? I captured this moment of pure instinct while in Maui back in 2011.
Instincts put all our senses on alert. They marshal all our faculties and skills to a one-pointed sense of purpose. In sales, instincts provide us with signals concerning the quality and value of a lead or prospect inquiry. They guide us through the sales relationship with hints about where and which direction to turn. Everything we can learn or sense about our prospective or existing client, their company, its culture – indeed the whole context that has been presented to us will provide us with signals to guide the response and actions. This is no different than in life itself, but in the field of commerce the context is to explore and move toward a successful exchange of goods, information, and/or services.
When we pay attention to our instincts they speak to us more clearly – they grow and become more available over time. If we ignore them, we may get a slap in the face or a disappointment to wake us up! The more we know and discover about a sales situation, the more active and accurate our instincts will be. Learn your target market segments and their business motivations. Know the key industry players so you will instinctively recognize where to direct your focus. Learn what motivates business stakeholders (hint: it’s not always just money). Ask questions that provide insights into what you would do in their shoes. Then your instincts will tell you how best to proceed — especially if you see yourself in the customer’s shoes and seek to treat them as you would be treated.
Your instincts are a valuable life tool. Listen to them, develop them, use them wisely. You may be amazed at the results!
Two conversations with sales colleagues in the past inspired the theme of this blog. One was a conversation with Alan, who had just rejoined a former employer to take over an under-performing territory. Alan and I were noting that in our experience new sales opportunities often emerge unexpectedly and totally separately from our proactive outreach or cold calling campaigns. It’s as if by “stirring the pot” through our own efforts, something from out in left field shows up. We agreed that the key success factors when such opportunities show up are:
- Being fully present to the prospect and their story
- Paying close attention in order to get clarity on the key buying motivations
- Taking quick and creative action to align our solutions with their need.
Alan had already generated two new consulting engagements through this approach, creating such a high degree of trust and moving so quickly that the client felt no need to speak with the competition.
The second conversation was with Desiree, whom I met locally after coming across a notification of her talk on “The Power of Deep and Soulful Listening” submitted for IgniteAsheville.
I reached out to Desiree on Twitter, and we met over tea. Desiree told me the story of an eleventh-hour inspiration on the eve of her 46th birthday. She decided at 11:30pm that evening to offer a one-hour coaching session for the incredibly low price of $46 to anyone who scheduled the session the day of her birthday. She logged into her blog site, wrote the offer and sent out the notification to her blog and Twitter followers by midnight. By the next morning on her birthday, 20 people had signed up for sessions, many of whom have continued since with fully paid sessions.
In both Alan’s and Desiree’s case, they were fully present to see opportunities (or creative ideas in Desiree’s case) that presented themselves, they paid attention to how the opportunity could be leveraged, and they took swift action to bring it to fruition.
The photo on this post was made late in the day in a steady rain, and with fading light when we were short on time; but the special moment of light and cloud formations were too good to pass up! Are you taking advantage of the three simple qualities, Be Present, Pay Attention and Stay Nimble in your personal or professional life? Perhaps an even simpler title for this idea would be “Seize the Moment”!
Anyone who has been asked, or asked themselves that question knows how difficult it can be to put into words what may have become second nature after many years in a sales career. The question came to me in 2006 from one of my 8 sales colleagues at an annual sales meeting for our $13M consulting services company. I had posted another record year of sales, consistently ranking at the top over my 12 year history with the firm.
I think my answer was something like, “Well, Ed, I really love my customers. I listen to what they are trying to achieve, and if I feel the services of our company can help them, I am passionate about communicating that in a way that relates to their challenges and desires.”
But I knew there is more to it than that. The question got me thinking — with a strong desire to understand and share how my personal interest in consciousness and spiritual development has paralleled and contributed to my growth and experience as a sales person.
In many ways, my sales success has been somewhat magical — supported by unseen forces that have often paved the way to a sale in spite of my innate resistance to formulaic selling techniques recommended in sales training and books. I have never felt comfortable using manipulative or coercive techniques to win the sale. I prefer the honest approach that builds trust, and delivers on promise.
This approach to selling was beautifully expressed by Harvard Business Review editor, Edward C. Bursk in a 1947 article titled, “Low-Pressure Selling”. Finding this article in one of HBR’s “Ideas With Impact” publications at the Las Vegas airport literally blew me away! Among other things, Edward proposed a selling model that was “not driving the prospect into a buying decision, but letting him reach the decision by himself; not selling him, but letting him buy.” In the 69 years that have passed since this article was written, how many times have we heard, or even said ourselves, how much we dislike being pressured into buying something that we really did not want? How many times has ‘buyer’s remorse’ stricken a pressured buyer who then canceled the sale? If you haven’t seen David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross, since made into a movie with Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Alec Baldwin, you must! It portrays this phenomenon beautifully!
Glengarry Glen Ross
Every business has a soul. It’s the spark of energy and light that birthed the business and sustains its growth. It’s the passion that inspires its owner and employees and attracts its customers. It’s the core values that connect the business with its customers and suppliers and give it purpose and life. It’s the essence of its products and services that shape its place in the market and guide the creation of new products and services; keeping pace with changing customer desires and goals.
When a company loses touch with its soul, it begins to wander without understanding its core strengths; failing to hit the mark with new products or services. The spark of life that connected the business offerings with the soul of its customers begins to fade; leading to loss of loyalty and market share. Employees become uncertain of the company’s direction and find it challenging to remain inspired about products and services that are no longer in touch with the changing desires of its customers.
The soul of your business is it’s life blood, it’s heart, and it’s intellect all cohesively connected in a balanced whole. The soul of your business exists quietly in the background supporting the company, but its real power comes forward when the company leaders and employees connect consciously with the holistic soul of the company and are guided by its vision and purpose. All the company’s creations will then embody that spirit, empowering the employees, products and services with an attractive force that prospects and customers see and feel. The company’s stride is confident and nimble. If it stumbles, it regains its step with grace and humility. Such a company is responsive to its employees contributions and inspires their greater achievement. It is responsive to customer’s input and follows through with action to stay current. It practices what it preaches.
The soulful business anticipates the desires of its market and customers, creating sustained value throughout its relationships. The spark of life that gave birth to the company is present in every breath of its employees and in the pulse of their actions. That spark sustains the company’s growth and fuels its daily activities. It informs the core values and ensures their connection to its customers as well as the greater purpose of human life and the life of the Universe.
Tony Hsieh, has done this very successfully in creating a culture of delivering happiness at Zappos.com. Check out this YouTube video for more inspiration: https://youtu.be/50sAhCOOvss
Do you know why you’re selling?
and why you’re selling
what you’re selling?
Could it be just an excuse to connect?
to connect with the bigger
Presence of who you are
in the guise of your customer?
What if the selling game
and its myriad of trappings
its libraries of pontifications
Its endless arrays of techniques
and, God forbid, the scripts
that guarantee unlimited success…
What if the entire galaxy of
sales and selling practices
were simply another of Life’s ways
to express its wonder of Being
Its utter amazement at discovering its own expression
in the emotions, the dreams, the losses and wins
of you the salesman, and you the customer?