Today's post is by Jeffrey Lipsius, president of Selling To The Point® Sales Training and Consulting. Email him at JeffL@SellingToThePoint.com.
Could a salesperson sell more by applying a mindful approach to selling? Meditation and mindfulness expert John Kabat-Zinn has done much to bring mindfulness practice into the mainstream. He defines mindfulness as "paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment."
Can mindfulness practice be used to improve sales performance? What does it mean for a salesperson to purposely pay attention in the present moment?
The “present moment” for salespeople is when they’re selling. It's when they’re interacting with customers. The past is their preparation. The future is the outcome.
“Purposely paying attention” means the salesperson chooses to put aside how he or she had prepared for things to go. It also means the salesperson chooses to put aside expectations for a particular outcome. In exchange for setting aside the past and the future, the salesperson pays attention to his or her experience in the present, the customer interaction, as it's unfolding moment to moment. The attention will be nonjudgmental, meaning the salesperson won't deem the interaction to be going well or not going well.
Practicing mindfulness while selling flies in the face of some traditional sales-training assumptions. Traditional sales training puts an emphasis on presentation preparation. It also encourages salespeople to maintain control of customer interactions so that salespeople can create the desired outcome. Could salespeople be more productive putting their preparation and outcome aspirations aside while in the midst of a customer interaction? My answer is a resounding yes.
Mindfulness improves sales performance because the salesperson's attention is on his or her customer interaction as it unfolds moment by moment. This results in interactions with more depth and breadth. Customer interactions are where the rubber meets the road in terms of sales performance. Clinging to presentation preparation and expected outcomes can be as limiting for salespeople as they are helpful.
Mindfulness deepens customer interaction by inspiring buying decisions that the customer helped create. It sounds paradoxical, but it's better for buying decisions to be different from how the salesperson planned. It means the customer's buying fulfilled his or her own reason, rather than a salesperson's predetermined reason. Salespeople can't always be around to remind customers to use, recommend, and reorder their product. Salespeople must rely upon some degree of customer initiative. If a customer feels part of the buying decision, then it’s more likely that customers will follow through after the salesperson leaves.
Practicing mindfulness gives customer interactions more breadth by helping salespeople be more versatile. In the real world, few customer interactions go as planned. A salesperson who is nonjudgmentally paying attention in the moment is best able to respond appropriately. A mindful salesperson's response is unencumbered by dependence on predetermined plans or a narrow limit of acceptable outcomes.
Practicing mindfulness allows salespeople to succeed beyond limits and expectations!