Archives for May 2013

Selling Monkey Mind Goes Bananas–But We Don’t Have To

bananasWhere does Selling Monkey Mind—the negative mental chatter that pops up around selling—get all those bananas!? How come it can swoop in to paralyze us, and take away our selling fun?

Selling Monkey Mind only gets the better of us when we think that what it’s saying is true and real! In fact, Selling Monkey Mind comes from a number of specific external sources, none of them very reliable. Over the years, we’ve taken this unreliable information and made it our own, so that we think “that’s just the way things are.” When we actually examine where Selling Monkey Mind comes from, it loses its power very quickly. Here are some sources…

1. Ghosts from the past
A huge chunk of Selling Monkey Mind comes from bad, embarrassing, or limiting experiences we may have had in the past, either as sellers or as buyers. How was your experience of selling Girl Scout cookies? Or tickets to the school play? Or newspaper or magazine subscriptions? Did you ever find yourself the day before the raffle with a fistful of tickets you’d promised to sell? Did you ever pressure anyone to buy anything?

My friend Mary was having trouble selling ad space in her nonprofit’s magazine, and finally remembered a chilling incident from parochial grammar school. Every year, the school conducted a fundraising drive for overseas missions. Most kids hit up their parents. Mary’s mother was very critical of this practice, and each year the fundraising drive became a catalyst that kicked up all sorts of nightmarish screaming and criticism that was humiliating for Mary.

That shame had carried over into selling ad space for the nonprofit. Each time she set out to sell, her normally sunny and warm presence turned a little brittle, and she didn’t seem entirely genuine. People responded accordingly, and she only got minimal results. When Mary realized that ghosts from the past had her in their grip, she could take a deep breath and let them go.

Selling Monkey Mind can also come from negative experiences as buyers. Have you ever been bothered by telemarketers? Were you ever pressured into buying something? One woman told me, “I have such contempt for those people on the phone. The thought of people feeling about me the way I feel about them is agonizing! I’d rather not even have my own business than face that.”

Release those ghosts, and you’ll have more fun selling.

2. Society’s attitudes: Stuff people hand us
Another chunk of Selling Monkey Mind comes from family, friends and society at large. What did your parents say about salespeople? What did you think of people who sold for a living? When and where did you first hear about “used car salesmen?” How does it feel when mall vendors chase you down?

The conventional wisdom is that whenever someone is selling, they’re out to take you for a ride. Many of us approach buying with skepticism, and sometimes even with animosity. It’s no wonder that when we go out to sell, we’re afraid other people will approach us with skepticism or animosity. When we are concerned that people are going to see us that way, we often show up as defensive or apologetic. Even if we manage to hide the defensiveness fairly well, people usually sense “a tremor in the force.” When they sense that something is wrong, or that we are not 100% behind ourselves, they are less likely to buy—and that confirms our worst fears.

3. Our own projections
Projections occur when we have an attitude, feeling, or thought—but we don’t really want to have it, or don’t want to admit we have it, and so we decide (consciously or unconsciously) that it’s actually going on with someone else. It’s not us! It’s them! If I’m angry, for instance, I might look at the woman in the next lane of traffic while we’re stopped at the light, and think, “That woman looks angry!” That’s projection.

Based on little or no information, we decide that what is going on with us is really going on with someone else. We might think, for instance, “That person is depressed. He won’t buy today.” In fact, we may be depressed. This is what happened to my friend Ralph, who sold computers and had a very thin string of stinginess. One day when he was in a foul mood anyway, a woman strolled into the computer store with a pinched frown on her face. Ralph decided she was stingy, and turned her over to the new guy. The woman bought a computer for herself, and another to surprise her son. She had simply had a headache that day, which accounted for her “pinched frown.” Who knew? Not Ralph, who was out two commissions.

When we project our thoughts and feelings on to other people, we do both them and ourselves a disservice. We don’t stay open to new interpretations, or to objective observations of what is truly going on.

4. Stuff we make up
Sometimes Selling Monkey Mind is just stuff we make up. It comes from nowhere except our own creative minds, perhaps seasoned with a pinch of projection and a whisper of fear about selling. It sounds crazy, but we simply make things up in our heads, based on nothing, then go out into the world and act as if they were absolutely true.

There was a time when I sold seminars on the phone for six to eight hours each day. Sometimes I would just decide, based on nothing more than the sound of someone’s voice, that he didn’t want to enroll. One time I made this decision and was rattling through my pitch, knowing I was doing a bad job but just wanting to get it over as quickly as possible so I could get on to the next person, when the man stopped me. “You don’t really have to do this,” he said.

I froze, embarrassed to be caught in such bad behavior. “I’ve already decided I want it. Can I give you my credit card?” My negative thinking had resulted in an interaction that was less than honoring. It was just dumb luck that I got a good result, and that he had been so generous of spirit.  It was like watching a tennis ball slap into the top of the net on my side, then dribble over into my opponent’s court. All I could do was promise myself to behave better in the future, and be particularly good to that poor guy.

5. Plain old fear
Selling Monkey Mind originates in fear, and generates fear. Fear that we’ll be too pushy, or too docile, or that we’re just not powerful enough to get results. Or that we are powerful, but can’t be trusted to treat people well. We’re afraid of our own inadequacies, or our own brilliance, or of what people will think of us. We’re afraid we’ll be rejected. Or do better than somebody we love. Or that we won’t speak in an articulate or persuasive way about our product or service. Or that there is some huge, mysterious secret to selling that everybody else knows, but we don’t. Or a million other things.

Fear is normal, in selling and in life. But when we don’t unearth and name those fears, they become congealed and solid. They start insisting that we carry them around all day. They demand attention and soothing—and they see that if they whine or yell at us, they get even more attention. Before long, we are focusing more on them than we are on our results, or the joy of offering people something that we value.

Figuring out where Selling Monkey Mind comes from helped me to take it less seriously, and that helped me do it with a lot more joy, and a lot more success.

What do you do about Selling Monkey Mind?

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Sellers’ Discomfort Dilemma

dilemmasThe “Discomfort Dilemma” shows up in almost every aspect of life. We just see it more often, and in more vibrant color, when we sell because selling is life on steroids.

People who enjoy selling have almost always mastered the Discomfort Dilemma. People who do not enjoy selling have rarely mastered it. You can succeed in sales without a command of the Discomfort Dilemma—but it’s not a pretty sight.

WHAT IS THE SELLING DISCOMFORT DILEMMA?
The Discomfort Dilemma is that perilous moment when you stand poised between moving forward and doing whatever is the next step in the selling process—or doing something to avoid it. That next step might be:

  • Picking up the phone again to make the next call
  • Calling back the person you agreed to call next week (now this week) and who you’re afraid will say “No”
  • Making a cold call
  • Making a promise for results
  • Calling someone you consider intimidating, but who might be a good source of leads
  • Anything that involves discomfort, the possibility of failure, or any potential for rejection—or that you just plain don’t wanna do!

When you’re on the horns of the Discomfort Dilemma, the next step always seems agonizing or impossible. You want to dive under the bed and mainline chocolate. You’ll do almost anything to avoid the imagined discomfort of that next step—even when you know from bitter experience that trying to avoid it only makes you more uncomfortable.

That next step is still before you when you finish mainlining the chocolate, only now it seems even bigger. It’s later in the game. You feel even more behind the Eight Ball, and you’re not sure you can trust yourself now. You feel as if, in order to make up for having gotten off track, you have to produce more results, better results, and you have to produce them more quickly.

SELLING DISCOMFORT
“There’s a split second that defines each day for me,” Jack said. “It’s that instant when I’m deciding whether to pick up the phone and sell—or to play a computer game.”

“Why do you want to play the computer game?” I asked him.

“Because the idea of making the calls is uncomfortable. When I’m actually making calls, I get into it. But the idea of them, before I start, just seems overwhelming. I want to do anything else. I feel like I need a break, even if it’s nine o’clock in the morning.”

“Why not just take the morning off?”

“Because I’m working!” Then he added sheepishly, “Except, I’m not.”

“Do you enjoy playing computer games?”

“Yes and no. It’s fun. I numb out for a few minutes, but after a minute or two, I start feeling stressed and guilty. I know the calls aren’t going to go away. I’ll still have to do them, but I’ll be behind. It doesn’t make any sense. In the end, it’s worse to play the game, but sometimes I can’t help myself.”

Jack is describing the Discomfort Dilemma. Your Discomfort Dilemmas may be light or intense—but you’ll be ahead of the game if you understand what they are, where they come from, how they work, and how to pass through them with ease and grace.

GIMME A BREAK!
In the midst of the Discomfort Dilemma, almost anywhere seems better than where you are. And there are so many more comfortable things to do! You could call a friend. You need to keep up these relationships, after all. You could play with the cat. The poor thing needs exercise. You could email your aunt, or even pay the bills. Righteous activities!

Hey, you could shampoo the rug! Sure, it’s “call time,” but just last week you read an article on how crucial it is to shampoo your rugs on a regular basis to keep them mold-free and extend their life! Come to think of it, you read that article during a “call time,” too. Which only shows how important it is to be flexible about what you do in “call time!”

Bills need to be paid. Rugs need to be shampooed. But not during the time when you said you’d make calls. During that time, cleaning the bird cage or fish tank are going to seem like fun—to say nothing of kicking back with a cup of coffee to chat with a friend. Knowing that the Discomfort Dilemma will never go away, and understanding how it works, gives you a leg up.

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
The Discomfort Dilemma pops up whenever we start moving forward, or doing something new. These things represent change—however small, and however good. Even if we’re just making the same kind of calls we made yesterday, we are talking to new people and moving closer to our promise. That’s change.

When change of any kind is in the air, mental chatter gets startled and wakes up—on the wrong side of the bed. It scowls and stamps. It pouts, and begins its siren songs:

  • I’m only thinking of you. You need a rest. Take a load off. Relax! You’ll do better in the long run.
  • C’mon, don’t be such a stick-in-the-mud! You’re human. Life’s too short to work that hard. Give yourself a break. Here, try this tiny piece of chocolate…

And before you know it, you’re mainlining. When mental chatter starts cajoling and nattering, remember that it does not always have your best interests at heart. You can postpone or delay whatever is next, but ultimately you have to do it. The longer you put it off, the longer you prolong the agony and the more uncomfortable it becomes.

WHAT YOU NEED TO SUCCEED
I struggled with the Discomfort Dilemma for years, and became a champion computer game player in the process. I also became quite anxious. The stress of backing away from uncomfortable “next steps,” and then running back to fix everything at the last minute, double speed, started to take its toll. Cortisol and other stress hormones surged into my system until, finally, I reached my pain threshold.

I needed a plan to master the Discomfort Dilemma, and put together two sets of tools: one to prepare me to deal effectively with the Discomfort Dilemma, and the other to use when the Dilemma was already upon me.

BEFORE THE DILEMMA STRIKES…
In the world of selling, Surprises ‘R’ Us. We’ll always have to think and speak on our feet, so it behooves us to prepare for anything we know is coming our way. The Discomfort Dilemma is one of those things. These tools will help you get ready to handle the Dilemma with ease and grace.

1. Identify your “most likely” Discomfort Dilemmas. When you know where your personal Dilemmas are most likely to occur, they lose the element of surprise and you are in better shape to handle them. Do you hate that first call, but then pick up steam as you go forward? Do you want to stop after the first “No?” What about the first time you meet a contact in person?

2. Anticipate your “most likely mental chatter.” Each time a Dilemma occurs, it carries with it surround-sound mental chatter. And not just any mental chatter. The chatter you hear will be put together especially for you. It will consist of the specific complaints, arguments and whining to which you are most susceptible. Mental chatter is no fool. It’s not going to tempt you with grousing and whimpering that would appeal to somebody else. It will choose exactly the words that are most likely to make you bite! If subtle logic works, that’s what mental chatter will use. If smart and sassy works, you’ll hear that. If kicking and screaming draws you in, expect that. Take the time to anticipate not only when the Dilemma will strike, but what it will sound like. Then you’ll hear a piece of mental chatter float through your mind, and think, “Hey, that’s exactly what was on my list of ‘most likely mental chatter!” The minute you recognize that, you are observing the chatter, rather than letting it drag you forward automatically. It’s not you; it’s outside you and you are looking at it–so it loses its power over you.

3. Find your “fixes.” For each of your “most likely” Discomfort Dilemmas, devise a “fix” that gets you moving past that paralyzing moment of indecision and takes you into action. Will you get a fresh cup of coffee and pick up the phone? Get a mental picture of just how you want that call to go? What “fix” would work for you?

4. Plan rewards. When the Discomfort Dilemma is upon you, your mind won’t want to consider ways to reward yourself when you finish the task. Create a “rewards bank”—a massage, walk in the par, movie with a friend—and be sure to follow through with the reward!

The better prepared you are to meet the Discomfort Dilemma, the easier it will be to move forward.

INCOMING!! TOOLS FOR MANAGING THE MOMENT
How to manage the moment when you’re standing in the midst of the Dilemma? The negative chatter is getting louder and more persuasive. You’re starting to lose ground, and need traction quickly. What do you do? Here are some tools you can grab quickly, in the midst of the Dilemma, to get back on track:

1. Define the task. When the Discomfort Dilemma takes hold, it’s easy to confuse one call with twenty calls, and with the follow-ups to all those calls, and with all the other things you need to do that day like grocery shopping, a staff meeting, a report and your kid’s birthday party. Instead of one phone call, you’re looking at a huge miasma of “to do’s.” It’s staggering, and overwhelming. One task has become, in your mind, a shapeless and growing blob. There is no good place to begin, and so you have to retreat. The first antidote is to define clearly the one task that is actually before you. Is it one call? Polishing one part of your presentation? Write it down, and be very specific. Only let yourself write down that one task.

2. Write down the chatter, and then turn it around. When you feel yourself succumbing to mental chatter’s siren call, take five minutes to write down everything it is saying. Again, putting these negative or fearful thoughts on paper, or in a computer file, places you in the observational position. You can observe them, rather than being them.

3. Connect with your purpose. It’s easier to get where you’re going if you know why you are going there. Why is this particular task important? The purpose itself isn’t as important as the fact that you have one, and that you know what it is.

4. Be gentle with yourself. In the midst of the Discomfort Dilemma, we have a tendency to be harsh and punitive with ourselves. We want to be “disciplined.” We tell ourselves sternly, “Don’t you dare start mainlining that chocolate! Don’t you dare open that computer game!” This strategy almost always fails, and often produces exactly the opposite of the intended result. I have seen it turn fifty-year-old master sellers into recalcitrant teenagers who spit back, “Oh, YEAH!? Watch me!” Do what is there to be done, then let yourself relax into a feeling of accomplishment.

Mastering the Discomfort Dilemma makes you senior to any situation. You own the paradox of becoming more comfortable by doing the uncomfortable thing. That is a key to the Soul of Selling—and to a happy and successful life.

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We’re a Soulful Selling Species

soulful sellerMost of us sell every day of our lives—whether or not we know it, and whether or not we call it “sales.” We can’t help ourselves. When we find something that is fun or valuable, we want to share it with the world, or at least a few friends. We want to scoop people up and get them on board, whether it’s asking them to “buy” into a:

  • Product or service
  • Friday night dinner party
  • Class or seminar
  • Local park cleanup
  • Program to end hunger or support the environment

WE’RE A SELLING SPECIES
When we know how to make these invitations with grace and mastery, life is easier and more pleasant. When we also know how to get the results we want, life is more rewarding. The whole point of the Soul of Selling strategy is to be comfortable with offering people something you’ve found valuable—and confident that you can talk about it in a way that they see its value as well.

Minimally, we all way to sell in a way that makes us feel good. That’s the first step. We need to get that in place before we do anything else. What makes selling feel good to most people is doing it in a way that is soulful.

SOULFUL SELLING
“Soul” is the part of us that craves higher purpose, authentic relationships and meaningful contribution. Webster’s calls it “the seat of real life or vitality; the source of action; the moving spirit, the heart.”

“Selling” is simply offering your product or vision in such a clear and inviting way that people see value in it for themselves and come on board. The Soul of Selling is based on three principles:

1. We all want to have a positive impact on our world. When we know how to “sell” the causes, programs, or services we love, we have the power to change the world.

2. We all want to nourish our souls. We want to feel good about who we are and what we do, to act with integrity and contribute to others.

3. We don’t have to choose between these two desires. We can combine doing well and feeling good. Being a “go to” person who gets results does not mean we can’t also be good people who support others. And being good people does not mean we can’t have a powerful impact on the world. In fact, people of compassion, purpose and vision can do far more good if they also have the power to make things happen.

Our cultural and corporate values are shifting toward “soul.” This shift gives the bottom line a moral compass. It shows us a new landscape where results and values not only can meet, but must meet. It gives us permission to be amalgams of strength and contribution, capacity and compassion, steady will and generosity of spirit.

THE ONLY QUESTION…  
Life will always hand us opportunities to “sell.” The only question is: Will we have fun, or get cranky? Will we complain or back away—or will we step up and make the contribution we want to make?  

What is one thing you can do today to demonstrate being the soulful seller that you are?

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Being Good and Doing Well

gold-star“Being good and doing well” is the magic bullet for those of us who sell. We all want to get great numbers, and also to thrive because we are feeding our souls with personal values, higher purpose, and contribution to others. We want to get people on board with our product, service, project or vision, and at the same time grow into the people we have always wanted to be.

HOW TO DO THAT?
This was the question I asked myself when I first started selling. When I looked for selling mentors, the only people I found were Wicked or Wimpy. The Wickeds got their numbers, all right, but they were willing to break people’s arms and legs to do so. The Wimpys loved you and “om”-ed you, but they never knew if they’d make their goals and you wouldn’t want to co-sign a loan with any of them.

I knew what I wanted in a selling strategy. It had to:

  1. Guarantee exact results. I’d sold enough to know what it felt like not to have guaranteed results—to wonder and worry about my numbers, beat myself up if I didn’t get them, and be afraid to pick up the phone again.
  2. Serve people. If I knew that each time I went out to sell, I was making people’s days better instead of worse, then I would want to go out and sell. I wanted to respect, honor, and appreciate everyone with whom I spoke—whether or not they bought! I had to know that I was acting with integrity.
  3. Feed my soul. It had to be fun. I wanted to have rich, intimate interactions with people, and to feel that I was growing as I sold.

YIKES!
None of the sales books or sales mentors promised these things. In fact, they looked at me like I was nuts. They implied that you could have fun and connection, or you could have numbers—but not both. I realized that I would have to make up a selling strategy, and spent the next few years developing, testing, and honing the model that ultimately became The Soul of Selling.

I had no idea what I was doing, and that turned out to be a blessing. I didn’t know what I couldn’t do, and so I made sure I had all three “must haves” in my sales strategy.

THE 6 STEPS
That strategy actually turned out to be very simple, but it involved a big switch in perspective. I began to see “selling” not as pushing, manipulating, conning, or pressuring—but as a way of contributing to life and feeding my soul. I thought of it as taking a stand for something that I found valuable, and serving others by offering it to them in a respectful, honoring way. When I started to see selling as service, I felt free to go all out. I could bring 100% of myself to the task, and that made everything easier and more fun.

But how to make sure I kept this perspective? I put together the six steps of the Soul of Selling to use as handrails through this process. I designed them so anybody could use them to sell with mastery, grace and exact results. Inspiration comes from within, from our own core values, and so we can renew it, reignite it, or realign it at will. We can finally be ourselves, get great results, and feel good about how we get them. Those 6 steps are:

  1. Put down your baggage (and fix what you can).
  2. Pinpoint your passions.
  3. Create your Speaking Bank.
  4. Promise your result.
  5. Conduct the 10-Touchstone Honoring Sales Conversation.
  6. Keep going until you get the result.

MY WISH FOR YOU
You do not have to be a natural seller, or an experienced seller, to succeed with this method. Selling is an acquired skill. I am not a natural seller. I developed the Soul of Selling out of my own desire to make the things that I loved and sold available to more people, and at the same time to succeed in the world, act with integrity, and feed my soul.

All you have to do to succeed with this method is follow the six steps. Whatever your dreams, your visions, or your goals, I hope that the Soul of Selling strategy will help you step up to the plate and make them a reality.

 

 

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