by Anis Qizilbash, Founder of Mindful Sales Training
Selling for your new freelance gig or startup is stressful. You probably deal with rejection on a daily basis, more so than you would in a corporate job, because your product is unproven in a sea of established competitors. And there’s more at stake; the only thing between you and your rent or mortgage payment is…how many sales you can generate. No surprise then that insecure thoughts of uncertainty, lack or limitation often emerge. These fears can get in the way of successful selling and bring out the monster in you.
If you are often stressed, you will react to events from a place of stress, consistently creating negative circumstances. However, when you are calm, you can make different choices, setting off a positive chain of events.
If you don’t know how to effectively sell, you might end up talking because that’s your perception of sales. It’s probably how most salespeople have acted around you.
This spray-and-pray tactic doesn’t work because – and this should not come as a shock to any parent – humans don’t like being told what to do. Psychologists call it reactance theory, the motivational reaction we experience when we feel pressured to adopt a certain view or offer.
The tell-to-sell approach has the counter-productive effect of strengthening your prospect’s resistance or your offer, compelling them to stick with what they’ve already got. Despite your best intentions, you send prospects running for the hills.
How the sales monster shows up
If worries about closing or cash-flow occupy your thoughts during sales conversations, your limbic system, the part of your brain in charge of basic – think primal – emotions and drives, is activated. You end up going into survival mode, thinking and talking about yourself instead of actively listening, asking questions and understanding your prospect. But there is a way you can keep your ego at bay.
Silencing the sales monster
A Stanford University study shows mindfulness helps you regulate emotions, a crucial skill to have if one prospect rejects a proposal at the moment you’re about to meet with a hot new prospect. The ability to set aside thoughts of fear allows you to keep calm and avoid coming across desperate or pushy, silencing the sales monster.
And does your mind sometimes wander when someone’s talking to you? Perhaps you’re thinking of your pitch or wondering which approach to take to start talking about your business. It’s definitely happened to me during meetings with potential clients. Well, research also shows mindfulness increases your attention span, therefore making you more effective in those sometimes tense, one-to-one sales conversations.
Two simple mindfulness techniques
Here are two simple techniques you can do in minutes to help you silence the ego and avoid self-sabotaging behaviors, allowing you to be fully present for your prospects and clients.
1. RECEPTIVE IN RECEPTION
Instead of thumbing through your phone or checking your presentation, listen to all the sounds around you – footsteps, the gentle hum of people talking, traffic outside. Ask yourself how many different sounds you can hear.
2. WAKE-UP CALL
Before making or taking a phone call, take a deep inhale of breath through the nose normally, listening and feeling your breath while doing so, then exhale through the mouth. Just focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. If a thought pops up – and they will – don’t judge it, just be aware of it and bring your attention back to your breath. When you take a conscious breath before you answer a call, you stop the rush of thoughts causing fear for a moment, waking you up to the present moment, which is all it takes to become mindful.
When you can silence the ego, you become detached from outcomes, and are less likely to take things personally. Instead of being weighed down with rejection and carrying that energy into the next call or meeting, you’re left with the space of possibility. You are better prepared to serve your prospect instead of feeding the ego’s need to take.
Be curious to add value
People pay for value; in order to add value, you must first find out what is of value to them, because value is in the eye of the beholder. Instead of selling and telling, be curious. What motivates them? What are the social and economic drivers of their business? Where do they want to be in a year’s time and how can you help them get there? When you wonder about such things instead of making assumptions of what they need or guessing how to pitch them, you can’t help but ask the thoughtful questions that help you determine where your product can add value.
Pursue relationships, not prospects
When meeting people, instead of thinking whether they would make a good potential customer, focus on building relationships. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. And remember, each person you meet knows at least a hundred people, so if focus on helping people they’re more than likely to refer business to you.
Serve instead of sell
Mindfulness doesn’t stop prospects from rejecting your proposals. Nor does it magically grow your sales. It does change how you react to things. Instead of letting stress and fear get the better of you, being mindful allows you to be more focused and therefore ask intelligent questions. When you’re able to regulate your ego’s desire to talk about yourself, pitch your product or recoil in fear, you will discover more about your prospects, allowing you to find more ways to help and serve them. When you focus on serving and building relationships, instead of selling, it all starts to flow.
Anis Qizilbash is London-based motivational speaker, founder of Mindful Sales Training and author of Grow Your Sales, Do What You Love: Mindful Selling for Entrepreneurs and Freelancers.
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