THE HOLIDAY SELLING SPIRIT

candlesFestival of lights! Most faiths and cultures have a mid-winter celebration featuring fires, lights, and candles to warm the coolest, darkest time of the year. It’s a time for everybody to put on our finery, plump up our spirits, rise up into community and festivity, and demonstrate our generosity of spirit with gifts both tangible and intangible.

Even if the holidays bring up frustration, sadness, or loneliness, they can teach us something about ourselves and about how we move into the world.

THE BEST HOLIDAY EXCHANGE
Recently I found myself caught up in thinking about the holidays in terms of “obligations” and “marching through my to dos”—and having a terrible time.

Midway through vacuuming my living room, I stopped in my tracks and realized that how I held the holidays was entirely up to me. I could slog from one event or task to the next, warding off overwhelm—or I could get into the true holiday state of mind, which is generosity of spirit.

I might do all the same tasks and events, but I would have a wonderful time and bring that happier, more generous spirit to everyone I encountered.

THE SELLING SPIRIT
Not only that, but I can make that same exchange every day of the year. I can trade in selling fear and frustration for a generosity of spirit that brings the festival of light into my own heart and spreads it wherever I go.

That’s a much more fun and rewarding way to sell—and to live. Happy holidays, everyone!

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HOW TO POP THE QUESTION: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #6

pop the questionIn Touchstones #1-5, we’ve seen people’s innate value, connected with them, shared the vision of our offer, and asked what they would want to get out of it if they bought. Now we’re ready to pop the question:

* Would you like to schedule a session?
* Shall we sign you up for the January workshop?
* Would you like to buy the book?

For some people, this is the best part of the conversation. It opens the door for people to say “Yes.” Worst case, it brings the certainty of “No” and everyone can move on. For other people, “the ask” is agony—usually because they’re afraid of sounding pushy, or because it opens the door to “No.”

FEAR OF PUSHINESS
Fear of pushiness can keep us stuck. It’s like a little piece of carry-on luggage that slipped through when we were doing Soul of Selling Step #1, Put down your baggage—the negative mental chatter we carry around with us about selling. We’re told as children not to be pushy. It’s not polite. People won’t like us if we’re pushy. Plus, we may have been pushed by others and not enjoyed it. Here are some antidotes to fear of pushiness:

  1. Remember that you have to pop the question at some point. We rarely hear “Yes” until we’ve asked people whether or not they want to buy. They expect us to ask, and often wait, mentally tapping their feet, until we work up the courage to do our part in the conversation. As long as we have to do it, we might as well figure out how we want to go about it and what kind of experience we want it to be—for ourselves and for others.
  2. Remember that if you aren’t pushing, people won’t feel pushed. If we’re tense, nervous, and dreading the ordeal, people will sense that—and they may seize up as well. Regardless of whether or not they want our offer, they are likely to mirror where we are. The more comfortable we are with “the ask,” the more at ease they will feel about giving us an honest answer—whatever that answer is.
  3. Choose how you want “the ask” to come across, and practice delivering it that way.

MOVING FROM UNDER THE ROCK INTO THE LIGHT OF DAY
The first thing I ever sold on a large scale was a workshop. I used to agonize when it came time for “the ask.” This is the kind of thing that used to run through my mind: “Oh my God, I’m asking them for money they don’t have and don’t really want to give. They’ll either say ‘No’ and make fun of me, or ‘Yes’ and hate me. Either way, they’ll think I’m a pushy shyster and my relationship with them will be reduced to me breaking their arms and legs to get them to do something they really don’t want to do and being a bad person. Then I’ll go to hell…” I’ll be merciful and stop there, but rest assured that this was only the beginning.

Then a strange thing began to happen. As I postponed “the ask” in conversations, people got impatient. Sometimes they even interrupted me and said, “Look, I’ve heard enough.  What do I have to do to sign up?” I realized that in trying to avoid or delay that moment, I was disturbing the flow of the conversation. They were ready and I wasn’t paying attention.  Instead, I was paying attention to my own discomfort. That was making everything harder for both of us.

When I thought about what had happened, I realized that “the ask” was actually much more uncomfortable for me than it was for them. People expect to be asked to buy. They anticipate it. Our foreboding is much greater than theirs. It is a normal part of sales conversations.

I also realized that avoiding “the ask” was like calling someone up and talking about the dinner party you were throwing—and then not inviting them!  You might know you wanted them to come, and they might even assume it at some level, but the conversation has an uncomfortable quality until you actually say the words, “Would you like to come on Friday night?”

Even when you don’t get a “Yes,” their answer tells you where you are in the selling process. If they need more information, or if they need to voice more objections, “the ask” will bring that forward. Inviting them to participate is the ultimate “Yeah, but”—solicitor—and you need to get those “Yeah, buts” up into the light of day.

RELEASING FEAR OF “NO”
Another reason some people dread “the ask” is that they don’t want to hear “No.” I’ve heard explanations for Fear of “No” from all sorts of people, from clinical psychologists to discount superstore salespeople. These answers can get very complex and very deep, and the results are hit-and-miss.

The one antidote I’ve seen work every time is this: Don’t take it personally. It sounds simple, and it is. Here are some ways to make it easier:

  1. Practice with a friend. Take fifteen minutes, and have your friend say “No” to whatever you ask.
  2. Remember that they aren’t saying “No” to you; they’re saying “No” to your offer.
  3. They don’t necessarily dislike your offer. The timing may be bad. They may have other priorities. They may think that both you and your offer are terrific, and still say “No” for reasons that you can’t fathom. Let them do what they have to do.
  4. Focus on the quality of your interaction, not whether their answer is “Yes” or “No.” If you’re connected, honoring, respectful, and gracious, not only do you enjoy the conversation more, but they are also more likely to be back.
  5. Remember that in sales, you will usually get more “No’s” than “Yeses.” It’s just part of the game, and nothing that has to ruin your day.

When we learn not to take “No” personally, we lose our fear of it. When we combine that with managing our fear of pushiness, we are set up to enjoy and succeed with “the ask.” We never again have to be afraid of popping the question.

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FIND THE SELLING SWEET SPOT: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #5

sweet spotThis is the most important part of any sales conversation—and one of the most neglected.

What is the sweet spot where your offer touches people’s deepest wants and needs? If they were to accept, what would they want to get out of the experience?

AN INSIDE JOB
Make no mistake. What people want is an experience, an internal feeling of being safer, better, healthier, more fulfilled, or more connected to and of service to others. The more conscious you can help them be of the specific experience they want as a result of accepting your offer, the more willing they will be to overcome their objections, buy, truly appreciate your product or service, and recommend it to others.

If you offer bookkeeping services, for example, people’s sweet spots might range from:

  • I told my partner I’d hire someone and I want to stop the nagging.
  • I’m sick of not knowing exactly where the money is and how much we have.
  • Every business needs a bookkeeper and I’m trying to do the right thing by my business.
  • I will feel so at peace if I know this part of the business is being handled by somebody who knows what they’re doing. Then I could let go of it and focus on the big picture.

The deeper the personal experience (the farther down in the above list) you can get, the stronger your sweet spot will be. The sweet spot might include all of the above, one or two items—or there might not even be a sweet spot if your service and your customer’s needs don’t share some common ground.

Your job is to help him or her identify where that sweet spot is, if anywhere—and to get him or her as far down on the list as possible, as close as possible to a heartfelt, or even primal, need or want.

HERE’S WHY
Both you and your customer need to know exactly where their sweet spit is for five main reasons:

  1. You need to know whether or not there is a match between what they want and what you have. If not, you can both be on your way—or just go for coffee.
  2. They need to hear themselves say it. More often than you can imagine, people have an instinct toward an offer—but because they can’t specifically define (to themselves or others) exactly what they want it to do for them, they either give in to whatever objections arise or say to themselves, “This is frivolous. I don’t have a good reason to buy this.” Oddly, very few people actually ask themselves, “What would I want to get out of this if I bought it?” But when you ask the question, their answer is almost always remarkably quick and clear. Without this information, any little thing can throw them off the sale. When they hear themselves say what they want, everything gets more clearly defined and they move closer to the sale. If they are ready to buy, it gives them the green light to go ahead. If they are undecided, it gives more weight to “buy” than to “don’t buy.” Even after they have bought, they are usually happier if they know precisely what need has been satisfied.
  3. If they start wavering, you need to know where to return. When people voice their objections, you will hear them. But at some point, you will turn the conversation back to the value that your offer holds for them. You need to know where that sweet spot is.
  4. They need some value to weight against what it costs them. They need a vivid picture of what they want, so that they can put it on the other side of the imaginary scale from their objections.

HOW TO ASK: The Power of the Hypothetical
Sometimes I think people lapse into a light trance when they are considering buying. They seem to enter a netherworld where it may not even occur to them to think about what they want from your product or service. You can snap them out of that trance, and keep both of you on track, by asking questions like these:

  • If you were to do this workshop, what might you want to get out of it?
  • What would you like a computer to do for you?
  • What are the advantages to you of the sedan over the coupe?
  • Your eyes light up when you talk about the five-day program. What do you see as the value there?

These are crucial questions, but you need to ask them gently. Soften your energy and use qualifiers like “might,” “would,” and “if.” That makes the question hypothetical, and hypothetical questions are safer. You are looking together at a range of possibilities, all of which are at some distance, rather than pressing them into what they might perceive as a semi-commitment.

Here is how it works. Consider these two questions:

  • If you were to do this, what might you want from it?
  • What need of yours will this satisfy?

You are asking for the same information in these two questions, but you are much more likely to get it from the first one. The first question is safer, and therefore easier for them to answer.

That’s the key with this touchstone: Be gentle and non-confrontational, but make sure they are crystal clear about what they want your offer to do for them. Be sure you’ve done this before you go on to Touchstone #5, popping the question!

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SHARE YOUR VISION: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #4

share visionThis is the fun part, the part where you eat the frosting off the cake.

You’ve see people’s value and committed to making that the basis of your sales conversation. You’ve felt the “ping” of connection with them. Now it’s time to share your vision of what you are offering. It’s time to start talking about what you love.

OPEN UP YOUR SPEAKING BANK
Most of this conversation comes from the Speaking Bank you developed in Soul of Selling Step #3. Your Speaking Bank is a collection of sound bites—of different lengths and appropriate for a variety of occasions—that you can put together with support from The Soul of Selling book or on your own. They give people all the information and inspiration they need to make a good choice about your offer.

People need to know what you are offering, and they expect that it will be presented in the best way possible. You owe it to yourself, to them, and to your product or service to do that—and your Speaking Bank will help.

Start the conversation with your opening ten-second  sound bite. Your instincts will tell you what to say next. Notice what impact your words are having on the other person. If people appear to go away mentally, ask them a question—even if it’s only, “Is this making sense?” or “Am I covering the information you need to know?” Keep them with you.

Move through your Speaking Bank intuitively until you’ve given them everything they need in order to buy. Remember to keep honoring them and holding their interest.

EASIER THAN YOU THINK
Most of the time, you’ll be engaged in two-sided conversations. There may be times, however, when you are asked to give a short presentation before answering questions.

Ruth was the newly named capital campaign chair at her church. She had no sales experience, and was faced with a series of “at home” meetings. The idea was that at each of these meetings, she would present the vision of the new church to 3-6 people, answer their questions, and then ask them for a donation.

This was a challenge for her, but she said, “I just flung myself into the pool and decided I had to swim. The Speaking Bank was my lifesaver. I had all these good things to say, so I just looked out at those folks and reached for whatever sound bite felt right. After a while, I could just tell what they needed to hear to get inspired. It was a lot easier than I’d thought it would be. Each group was different, and I said different things to each of them—but I learned pretty quickly how to pick just the right sound bites from my Speaking Bank.” Ruth became a force of nature in that capital campaign.

This touchstone is about letting it rip. Keep an eye on the other person and make course corrections if necessary—but mostly, have fun talking about what you offer. You are taking a stand for your product or service, for the best in the people with whom you speak and for the best in yourself.

That feels great.

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MAKE THE CONNECTION: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #3

connectionTouchstones #1 and #2 are internal. We see people’s value and continue to relate with them on that basis—regardless of their objections, and whether or not they buy.  Touchstone #3 takes us out of our own attitudes and thoughts. We reach out and make the connection with people. This connection happens on an energetic level. When it clicks in, we relax and smile, at least internally—and so does the other person. We can both feel it.

WHAT MAKES THE CONNECTION?
Our connection with the other person may happen with a handshake, a smile, a nod, a brief greeting, or a general comment about the day, the store, or the person who introduced us. It can be all of these things, or none of them. We can have the handshake , the nod, even the same grandmother—and still not have the connection. These gestures may reflect the connection, but they don’t necessarily cause it.

The connection comes from within us, and it usually occurs naturally as we see value in the other person. When people treat you in a respectful and honoring way, don’t you usually react well and feel connected with them? When we reach out energetically to the other person, seeing the best in them and extending ourselves in some physical way, the connection almost always happens.   We know when we have it, and when we don’t.

WAIT FOR THE “PING”
When we truly connect with someone, we usually feel a “ping.” That “ping” feels different for each of us. Sometimes the connection just “registers” for us and for the other person. We know it’s there. We can often see the other person’s face or demeanor shift slightly when the connection clicks in. It’s almost as if we are figuratively standing beside them with our arm around their shoulder, looking together at what we are offering. We’re on the same team, with a common goal to determine whether or not our offer is right for them.

I don’t want to make this more complicated than it is, but one of the most common mistakes people make is launching into a sales presentation before the connection has been made. They get so excited about their offer, or so anxious to make the sale, that they jump ahead of themselves. They’re off down the toboggan slope, but they don’t have the other person in the sled with them.

For more on making this connection, check out The Soul of Selling on Kindle or at my Soul of Selling site.

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HOLD PEOPLE’S VALUE: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #2

#2The 10-Touchstone Honoring Sales Conversation is the basis of the Soul of Selling Method. It’s a simple, easy way to make sure that we respect and appreciate people as we talk with them about our offer, find out what they would want from it if they bought, hear their objections, and close the sale.

This week we highlight Touchstone #2, Make the value you see in people the foundation of your conversation, whether or not they buy. This means that we continue to see in them the values we identified in Touchstone #1—courage, openness, good intentions, etc.—throughout the whole conversation, regardless of how they behave and even if they don’t buy.

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?
The answer is compassion. Buying can be as uncomfortable as selling is. People aren’t always at their best when they show up to consider buying. They can get defensive, sullen, or even belligerent. Remember, they probably have at least as much baggage about buying and selling as we did. However, the chances of their having done Soul of Selling Step #1—Put down your baggage—are slim to none. And Slim just left town. Most likely, negative chatter about selling (and those who do it!) is still roaming free in their minds.

Our first impulse may be to strike back, but we know that this usually produces a bad result—and almost inevitably, that result is not a sale.

Paradoxically, our best antidote to their negative chatter is to honor and appreciate them. We don’t even have to say anything. In fact, engaging them in a discussion about how unaffected we are by their mental chatter would probably be counterproductive. Instead, we simply “be” the honor and appreciation. We just watch the mental chatter scamper around and around on the hamster wheel in their minds, and continue to see the best in them.

The worst thing that can happen is that they walk away shaking their heads about what an unusual encounter they had with us.

NO GUSHING OR SQUISHING!
People are sometimes afraid that this touchstone will make them all gushy, squishy, or placating, and cause them to lose their edge. Exactly the opposite is true.

First of all, it doesn’t honor people to get all gushy, squishy, or placating. Touchstone #2 is not about flattery; it’s about standing clearly and confidently, even quietly, in the knowledge that people are valuable human beings—and that they remain so, regardless of whether or not they buy.

Far from making the presentation too soft, Touchstone #2 gives it depth.

YEAH, BUT WHAT IF… 
Most conversations will be very pleasant, but Touchstone #2 does wonders when we run into people who may argue about the value of our product or service, or who tell us we’re not doing a very good job of presenting it. People usually calm down when we simply hear what they say without reacting and continue to see the best in them. If they don’t, we can always end the conversation respectfully and leave.

In any case, making the value we see in them the foundation of the conversation ensures that we’ve done our best and acted with honor. And the most likely outcome is that we experience a wonderful connection.

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SEE PEOPLE’S VALUE: Honoring Sales Conversation Touchstone #1

see peoples valueThe 10-Touchstone Honoring Sales Conversation is the foundation of The Soul of Selling Method. It makes sure that you bring everything you have to the table, and that you treat people with respect and appreciation. It gives you a map from Point A and Point B—from “hello” to a clear decision whether or not to buy, made in a supportive, honoring environment that you create.

Today we look at Touchstone #1, See people’s value.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The Soul of Selling is based on the belief that every human being deserves to be respected, honored  and appreciated. It assumes that positive qualities such as love, courage, wisdom and good intentions  exist in all of us—however obscured they may be at any given moment by fear or stress, and by whatever questionable behavior these discomforts may trigger.

You may or may not know the specific people with whom you’ll be talking, but you do know that they will be human beings in whom these qualities exist, regardless of how they feel or how they behave when you speak with them. This touchstone asks you to see those good qualities, and to focus on them no matter what people say or do, and whether or not they buy. It asks you to look beyond the fear or stress and intentionally call forth your appreciation.

Paradoxically, the more you hold this high ground for them, the better their behavior is likely to be.

LITTLE DEVIL, LITTLE ANGEL
We’re all human.  When people don’t do what we want them to do, sometimes we want to pitch a fit. As sellers, we want people to buy. No matter how much we see the good in them, we would still rather they bought what we are offering. If they don’t buy, or even if they hesitate, the mental chatter can get loud. Fortunately, our good instincts are just as strong, and just as loud.

Sometimes I feel as if I have a little devil on one shoulder mouthing all the mental chatter, and a little angel on the other shoulder holding tight to Touchstone #1. As loud as the devil gets, the angel wants just as much to appreciate and connect with other people. These two little cartoon characters are probably sitting on my shoulder all the time, but both of their voices get louder when I sell. Somebody has to step in and referee the situation.  That somebody is me. And you, the mature person who—just for the duration of the Honoring Sales Conversation—is willing to be the adult, to take a stand for the good and to serve whoever is before you.

The little devil might say, “Jeez, I’ve see this kind of woman a million times and they never buy. She’s gonna take all my time and energy, and then walk away. It happens every time!”

The little angel perks up and says, “Hey, give her a break. What do you know from just looking at her? How about assuming she’s just a little shy or scared? How about appreciating her enough to make this situation less intimidating for her? Give her a fighting chance to buy.”

“Yeah, but that’s not true and you know it,” the little devil pipes up defensively.

“Oh, c’mon. What can you appreciate about her? You’re just helping yourself. You’ll have a better chance for the sale, you’ll feel better about yourself, and so will she if you come at this positively.”

If you don’t let the little angel win, you are in for a frustrating life in sales. I’m not saying the angel has to win all the time, in every aspect of your life. My little angel almost never wins where apple fritters are concerned. But you must let that angel win when you are conducting the Honoring Sales Conversation. That’s your covenant with the Soul of Selling.

WHAT YOU GET
When you have this touchstone in place and are seeing people’s value, everything that follows is easier and more pleasant. You know you are behaving well, and that feels good. A person who is being honored, respected, and appreciated is also more likely to behave well—so you are much more likely to enjoy the conversation.

Touchstone #1, See people’s value, sets the tone for your entire Honoring Sales Conversation.

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The 10 ESSENTIAL STEPS in an Honoring Sales Conversation

10How do you start, sustain, and close a sales conversation so that everyone feels good about it—and you know whether or not people will buy?

Many of the popular roadmaps for this conversation are based on trapping or manipulating potential buyers into saying “Yes,” which is why so many service-oriented sellers reject them.

THE 10-TOUCHSTONE SALES CONVERSATION
When I developed the Soul of Selling method, I wanted a set of touchstones to include in each sales conversation that kept me on track to:

  • Honor, respect, and appreciate each person with whom I spoke
  • Talk in an inspiring way about what I was offering
  • Hear what people needed to say before they bought
  • Close the sale in a way that made us both feel like winners

After a couple years and hundreds of conversations, I honed it down to these ten touchstones:

1. See people’s value. Don’t wait for people to prove their value to you. Instead, define the specific valuable qualities that you are willing to see in them, regardless of what they say or do. These might include intelligence, vision, openness, diligence, or wanting to help people. As you talk with them, call up these values intentionally and let them live in you.

2. Make this value the foundation of your conversation, whether or not they buy. Even as they voice their concerns, and even if they say “No,” continue to appreciate them. If you catch yourself not relating to them with respect and honor, just go back and do so.

3. Connect with the person. Before you start talking, create a connection with the other person.  There are many ways to do this: genuine warmth, humor, some small thing you say, or even an appreciative silence. You know when you’re connected with people, and when you’re just talking to them.

4. Share your vision. This is where you use your Speaking Bank (Soul of Selling Step #3), weaving together your talking points and delivering them in a way that the other person can hear. This is not so much a speech as it is a conversation about the features and benefits of what you are offering, conducted in the context of your relationship with them. It is delivered out of your passion, whether that is quiet or effusive, and all your attention is on the other person.

5.  Find out the value to them. People need to know exactly what they want from what you are offering, and so do you—because this is where you will return after you’ve heard their objections. If they can’t decide whether or not to buy, they can simply put this value on one side of the scale, and what it will cost them on the other.

6.  Invite them to participate. At some point, you have to pop the question.  You have to take the risk and say some form of, “Would you like to buy this?” Some sellers find this the most uncomfortable moment in the conversation, but most buyers do not. People expect to be asked whether or not they want to buy. In many cases, they’re waiting for it, figuratively tapping their feet so that the conversation can move forward. One reason sellers sometimes dread this moment is that they might hear “No.” That’s just part of selling. If the answer is “No,” then you know where you are and can move on. The trick is not to take it personally. You may also hear “Yes.”

7.  Hear their objections without getting hooked. Popping the question usually brings up any objections that people may have. You’ll hear all the reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t buy—even if they have every intention of buying! “Well, I’d love to buy this but I don’t have the money.” “I’d love to do that, but I just don’t have the time.” People often feel compelled to say they don’t have the time or the money, even when both of you know they’re going to buy. Sometimes it is their way of saying to you (or to themselves) that they aren’t spendthrifts or time-wasters. Your job is to hear them out, and to honor their need to say it—but not to get hooked and collude with them about their limitations. Have compassion, and help them make a good choice.

8.  Take them back to the value. After they’ve had a chance to air their objections, lead them gently back to what they would want from your product or service if they were to buy it. The Soul of Selling offers some very gracious ways to do this, and shows you how to handle circumstances under which it’s better to talk later.

9.  Close the sale. In this part of the conversation, you come to “Yes” or “No.” After the close, you both know whether or not they are going to buy. Again, The Soul of Selling offers many ways to close graciously.

10.  Validate their choice, even if it’s not to participate with you. Let them know that you honor their choice, whatever it is. Stay in relationship with them, and let them walk away feeling better about themselves than they did before the conversation—regardless of what they choose. If they buy, let them know what the next step is or what your next contact will be.

WHAT YOU GET
At the end of this conversation, you both feel great. You know whether or not they’re going to buy, and so do they. You’ve honored them, yourself, your product or service and the process of selling. Very quickly, this conversation will become second nature, and one of the joys of your life.

This conversation is the foundation of the Soul of Selling. We will go over each of the ten touchstones in upcoming posts.

 

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WHAT MY CATS TEACH ME ABOUT SELLING

Kitties mailchimpMy 8 year old orange tabby brothers, Frankie and Flynnie, show me a lot about life—and I realized recently that they also teach me a lot about selling.

PURR SELLING
Here is some of their wisdom:

1. Always purr. It makes everyone feel good—especially the person who is purring. Being good to people helps us feel good about ourselves and makes us happy. Let yourself truly enjoy people’s company, whether or not they buy. Sometimes Frankie just sits on my desk, right next to the keyboard, about 18 inches from my face, and purrs. I invite him onto my lap, but he’s quite content just to sit there, b-r-r-r-ing away.

2. Be ready with a quick leg rub or a gentle head bump. We all like a little validation and affection. Don’t wait for a good reason to give people acknowledgement or compliments. We can overdo this, just as Flynnie sometimes overdoes head bumps, but better to be a little generous than a little stingy.

3. We don’t need words to communicate, for better or for worse. People know where we are without being told, and whether or not they can articulate it. They sense how we feel about them, and also how we feel about what we’re offering and about ourselves. Frankie and Flynnie are two of the best communicators I know, and their English vocabularies are limited to “Hop!” (time to move off whatever you are on), “Breakfast,” “Lunch,” and “I love you.” (They never did learn “No”—or at least they never let on that they did.)

4. Let go of the results and just be present. Every time Frankie hops up on my lap, flops on his back, and gives me the “I’m here” look, he would like for me to spend the next hour or so gazing into his eyes, stroking his face and tummy, and telling him how wonderful he is. I do my best, but this is in the middle of work time so I rarely meet his expectations. That’s fine with him. He’s just there to give, and so he just purrs for a while, then nods off into a lap nap.

5. Be persistent, or purrsistent, in service to others. Both kitties need daily meds, and I still have to be persistent about their morning pills. This is their least favorite time of the day, but I think they know I do it for them—and that I’ll make it happen every day no matter how many times they spit the pills out. They are purrsistent as well. When I’m stressed out, I don’t always want to stop and have a love feast. They insist. Frankie will sit in the middle of the living room meowing ever more loudly until I finally come sit with him and he calms me down.

6. Make agape your home base. Agape, or universal love, is where Frankie and Flynnie live. They don’t make friends based looks, income, or even intelligence or sense of humor. They love everybody. Love is where they come from, not where they go to if the other person checks out.

I am blessed on so many levels, and two of my greatest gifts—as a person and as a seller—are these furry guys.

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5 WAYS TO CONQUER NEGATIVE MENTAL CHATTER

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES 2Everybody has heard negative mental chatter about sales:

* “It’s too hard, and I want to lie down.”
* “They don’t want to buy, and I don’t know how to make them.”
* “I don’t want to be sleazy or manipulative.”
* “My cousin doesn’t have to do this, and I shouldn’t have to do it either!”
* “There’s a secret to selling, and I don’t know it.”
* “I was made for better things! Get me out of here!”

This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg, but you get the picture.

THE MENTAL CHATTER USERS MANUAL
The first step to conquering negative mental chatter about selling is to understand it. Mental chatter works like this:

1. It is the mind’s job to generate thoughts, so mental chatter is here to stay. No matter what we do, or how much we want to get rid of it, mental chatter will never go away. The mind simply will not stop generating thoughts. Some thoughts are positive, some are neutral, and some are negative. The good news is…

2. We have choices. We don’t have to run blindly after every fear or objection that our minds toss up. We can stand back, observe these negative thoughts, and instead give our attention and energy to thoughts that serve us.

3. Mental chatter is mostly about avoiding pain. When I write down all the negative mental chatter that passes through my mind over a fifteen-minute period (and I am always amazed at how much this is), I see that most of it is fear-based. It is about defending and protecting myself from imagined physical, mental, or psychological pain.

4. Mental chatter hates change. It doesn’t want us to do anything differently from how we have done it before. After all, we’ve survived whatever has happened up to now. Any change is a risk. Mental chatter sees new ways of thinking and behaving simply as opportunities for pain, and as threats to survival. It doesn’t want us to rock the boat, and will always argue for the status quo. Mental chatter is always loudest in the face of change.

5. Mental chatter hates getting specific. Getting specific is also a risk. If we never put anything on the line by saying, for instance, “I will have two new clients by the end of the week,” then we never fail. Failure is pain, and mental chatter will do anything to avoid pain.

6. The old strategies don’t work. If we try to pretend mental chatter isn’t there, it goes underground and festers—only to reappear at the most inopportune moments. If we try to beat it into submission, we just feed it energy. It gets bigger and stronger. If we try to banish it forever, we fail and get frustrated. Even the greatest spiritual and selling masters have mental chatter. They just know how to keep it in perspective, so that it doesn’t get in their way.

7. The key to mastering mental chatter is to develop a new relationship with it. Since it isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we, we need to find some neutral ground. We need a place where we can co-exist with mental chatter and stay out of each other’s way.

THE 5 KEYS TO CONQUERING MENTAL CHATTER
These strategies are the foundation for a new relationship with mental chatter. They give you a way to contain mental chatter, so that it doesn’t cause trouble:

  1. Identify the chatter. Write it down. Name it. Get it outside of yourself so that you can observe it. Don’t let it run around loose inside your mind, where it can get its hands on the controls. When mental chatter is an object of observation, it is not you. It is no longer running the show. You can look at it, poke at it, and examine it. It can’t push you around.
  2. Check to see if what it says is true. Sometimes mental chatter has important warnings. “Stop! Don’t walk into that street without checking both ways!” “Stop! That deal sounds too good to be true. Better have somebody check it.” These warnings have an entirely different tone and energy from, “Listen, you’re just asking for trouble if you make a sales promise or pick up the phone.” When you get the mental chatter down on paper, it’s easier to tell when you need to listen and when you don’t.
  3. Recognize it for what it is—mental chatter, not reality. Most of the time, mental chatter has little or nothing to do with what is actually happening. Even when it looks and sounds like it knows what it’s talking about, mental chatter specializes in interpretations and opinions, rather than in objective analysis.
  4. Let it be, without giving it much attention. Don’t try to get rid of it or beat it into submission. Let it run around and around on its hamster wheel as long as it wants, but don’t let it dictate what you do, or don’t do. Recognize it, nod to it, and then look away.
  5. Switch channels to something more interesting. Shift your attention to something positive—your sales results, the fun you will have getting them, even positive thoughts that have nothing to do with sales.

As you work your way through the six steps of the Soul of Selling, you will see these principles and strategies in action.

Mastering mental chatter can transform not only the way we sell, but also the way we live our lives.

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