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 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.

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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yeah but“Yeah, buts,” otherwise known as objections, are all the reasons that people give for not being willing or able to buy now. As you know if you’ve been selling more than a few hours, the list is endless:

* “Yeah, but I don’t have the money.”
* “Yeah, coaching sounds great, but I’m too busy right now.”
* “Yeah, but we’re reorganizing. I’ll get back to you.”
* “Yeah, but I’m getting my nails done that day.”

“Yeah, buts” can be garden variety or exotic, true or false, about time, money, or somebody else having to make the decision—but most of them call on us to start breathing again and find a way to let them roll off our backs.

Our first task is to develop some compassion for the people voicing the objections. None of the solutions work when we have steam coming out of our ears.


  • Remember that surfacing people’s objections is a good thing! Otherwise, all those “Yeah, buts” go underground and fester. They keep people stuck and prevent them from buying.
  • Don’t subject objections to the truth test. They rarely pass it, and conducting the test only makes everyone unhappy. People may or may not have “no money” right now, but it won’t help to start shouting, “Liar, liar! Pants on fire!”
  • Take a breath. Frustration and irritation are natural responses, especially when we know the objections aren’t true.
  • Don’t take the “Yeah, buts” personally. It’s almost never about us.
  • Keep in mind the many very human reasons that people say, “Yeah, but,” some of which are: They have genuine concerns and really may not have the time or money. They need to say it’s too expensive or time-consuming so that they don’t seem (to others or to themselves) like a frivolous person or a spend-thrift. They really don’t want what we’re offering and are just trying to be polite.

Clearing an objections means that people get beyond it and buy. They go from having no money at all to, “Well, I suppose I could ask Uncle Albert for the money,” or “I do have that ‘rainy day’ account,” or “I guess I could switch some things around.”

Here are 4 good ways to support people in going beyond their objections:

1. Don’t try to argue them out of their “Yeah, but.” This only gives them something to resist and makes the objection “stick.” Imagine if somebody said to you, “Oh, come on. I know you really have the money.” I’d want to dig in my heels, and that’s what most people do.

2. Make them feel heard. The way to do this is by really hearing them. Sometimes all people need is for someone to hear that they have a concern about buying. The minute that happens, they are over it and no longer cling to the objection. If they keep repeating themselves, it is a clue that they don’t feel heard.

3. Don’t get hooked. Understand that their objection is of concern to them, but don’t jump to the conclusion that it is true, or that it will prevent them from buying. Just be a listening post, without making any decisions. Respect their concerns—but don’t go down the garden path with them without making further inquiries.

4. Give them a choice. You might say something like, “I understand that money is at a premium right now, and you have to choose carefully where you invest it. So let’s look again at whether or not this is worth it to you. You told me that you want from what I’m offering is (whatever they told you they wanted). On the other hand, it costs (whatever financial or time-based cost they mentioned). Let’s put these two things on an imaginary scale and see what you really want to do.” The person feels heard. You respect that there is a decision to be made here, and you’ve clarified what the choice is.

By taking these 4 steps, and by putting the value and the cost on the imaginary scale, we can hear and validate the “Yeah, but” without swallowing it whole. We make it a little more objective for both of us. They have the objection, and they’ll either move beyond it or not. It’s up to them, not to us, and we don’t have to take it personally if they don’t buy. We’ve given them the best chance we can to say “Yes,” and that’s all we can do.

Letting the “Yeah, buts” roll off our backs helps us continue to appreciate people—and helps them see the objection as an objection, not necessarily as a reason not to buy.

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dilemmasAs summer winds down and we all gear up for the fall, I offer a summer rerun of the most popular and commented-upon post to this Soul of Selling blog: The Seller’s Discomfort Dilemma...

The “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.

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.

“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.

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!” Otherwise, you wouldn’t know about the importance of regular rug care—and you might be tempted to make sales calls, rather than doing what you really need to do, which is obviously to shampoo the rug.

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 good ideas—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.

The Discomfort Dilemma pops up when you start moving forward, or doing anything new. These things represent change—however small, and however good. Even if you’re just making the same kind of calls you made yesterday, you are talking to new people and moving closer to your 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.
  • It’ll sharpen your wits to play computer games. You need that.
  • 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.

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.

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 three tools will help you get ready to handle the Dilemma with ease and grace.

1. Identify your “most likely” Discomfort Dilemmas. We all have different triggers. 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. Where are your Discomfort Dilemmas? 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! It knows where you are vulnerable, and zeros in on that precise spot. How does it know? It’s been living with you for as many years as you have been alive. 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. It might sound like this:

  • Hey, you guaranteed you would do this with integrity. Shouldn’t you balance your checkbook rather than make calls?
  • Nobody’s the boss of me. I know what I’m doing, and I say I need a break.
  • It’s just not fair. Other people don’t have to be this uncomfortable.

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!’ It’s floating through my mind, right now, as we speak!” The minute you recognize that, you are observing the chatter, rather than letting it drag you forward automatically. When you are observing something, you are slightly removed from it. It’s not you; it’s outside you and you are looking at it. 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. Laurie hated to make the first call of the day. She realized that she was uncomfortable switching from the personal activities of her morning—getting the kids off to school, meditating, stretching, and having a cup of coffee with the paper—to the activities of her sales job. Her “fix” was to spend a moment before she picked up the phone remembering a recent call that had been particularly pleasant, or even mocking up in her mind how she wanted the first few calls to go. That got her energized, and on her way.

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. It will want to keep pestering you about not doing the next step. 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 walk forward without “postponing” or “delaying.”

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:

TOOL #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.

TOOL #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.

TOOL #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? Your reason might be altruistic—to share your widget or vision with the world. It might be practical—to make money to pay the rent, or buy a car, or take the family on a great vacation. It might be all of these things. The purpose itself isn’t as important as the fact that you have one, and that you know what it is. That gives you the energy to get there.

TOOL #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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dinner partyWhat to do when we get that queasy, uneasy feeling that maybe we should have gone to plumbing school instead of selling? (We’re not the only ones. Every seller has had that feeling at some point.)

Here’s what I do. I pretend I’m giving a dinner party, and calling people to invite them. That’s fun. It’ll be a great evening, people will be delighted that I called, and I’ll be enthusiastic about giving them the party info and finding out whether or not they can come! What’s not to like? Instead of feeling fearful or burdened, I suddenly feel eager and confident.

In fact, about the only difference between selling and inviting people to a dinner party is that there’s no cooking or cleaning involved. I can even use the 6 Soul of Selling steps to guide the way…

1. PUT DOWN YOUR BAGGAGE AND FIX WHAT YOU CAN. Before I call to invite people, is there anything weighing on my mind that might make it less fun? Oh, yeah. I kind of do remember that Thanksgiving when I experimented with nuking the turkey in a plastic bag…  But that was then, this is now, and I’m not going to do it again. Besides, I’m serving salmon and not going near the microwave.  And I’ve already scheduled cleaning those nearly opaque windows, so I’m set to go.

2. PINPOINT YOUR PASSIONS. This salmon is melt in your mouth. I’m also doing Vegetable Mornay and a faboo crisp salad, and bunches of other succulent things—plus a Chocolate Decadence Cake for dessert. And I love these people, some of whom haven’t even met one another, so it’ll be a treat for them as well.

3. CREATE YOUR SPEAKING BANK. What info do people need—date, time, dress, and what else? I’ll tell them I have a new, out-of-the-box salmon recipe, and give some intriguing details about the other guests whom they don’t know.

4. PROMISE YOUR RESULT.  How many people do I want? I’ve planned four, but do I want to expand to eight? Can I manage that? Can I commit to it?

5. CONDUCT THE 10-POINT HONORING SALES CONVERSATION. This is the easy part, calling to share the excitement and get people on board. Those ten points will keep me on track, with my attention on the other person getting clear, committed, and looking forward to the event.

6. KEEP GOING UNTIL YOU GET THE RESULT. If I’m planning for eight people and one can’t come, who is my backup invitee? Can some people say “no” without my going into a tailspin and thinking they hate me? If eight is really the number I envision for this dinner party, and I do hear “no” from a few people, can I have fun juggling and filling out the guest list?

We sell either because we’ve chosen it as a profession, or because we have something we want to offer people—and that means we have to get out and sell it. In either case, we’re better off if we’re having fun, and so are the people to whom we make our offer. Bon appetit!

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SELLING as LIFE: The Person I Always Wanted to Be

selling as lifeI always tell people that I created the Soul of Selling system to shape myself into the person I’d always wanted to be. That person was far more generous, compassionate, loving, and powerful than I was—so I designed a system in which you could only access power by demonstrating those qualities.

In other words, selling words, you guaranteed your numbers (power)—and in order to keep going until you got those numbers, you had to be generous, compassionate, and loving.  I’m not saying I totally embody those qualities today, but I’m way ahead of where I would have been without the Soul of Selling!

The more I see of selling and of life, the more I realize that selling is a metaphor for life—and that who we are as sellers both reflects and affects who we are in “regular” life.

Selling is life on steroids, so how we shape ourselves as sellers influences who we become as people. Here are some things people have said about why they have trouble selling:

  • I don’t think I’m worthy of success.
  • I’m afraid of failing, so I don’t give my all.
  • I don’t want to be the adult, the one in charge of behaving themselves.
  • I procrastinate, and put everything off until the last minute.
  • I drive myself too fast, and then don’t have as much fun.
  • I start out well, but then lose steam and don’t know how to re-energize myself.

Obviously, these conditions affect their lives as well as their sales results. Simply knowing that we have these limiting habits or beliefs can help us start to let go of them. The first step is putting those thoughts outside ourselves, so that we can observe them and be on the lookout for them.

Once we see the thoughts and conditions that are holding us back, making us less the people we want to be, we can do something about it. One “fix” is simply knowing what they are. Next, we can write about the people we want to become and the qualities we want to encourage in ourselves.

Here are some “additions” people have challenged themselves to embody:

  • I want to be a powerful person who says what they will do, and does it without a lot of drama or effort.
  • I want to be a person who genuinely likes and want to serve people, and to whom people look for support and guidance.
  • I want to be someone who sees the best in everyone, and around whom people just feel good.

It’s not magic, and it doesn’t always happen overnight, but putting some attention on who we want to be, and some energy into becoming that person, puts us ahead of the game—and makes the game, selling, and life more fun.

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“Selling Baggage” in the Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonYears ago I hiked down and up the Grand Canyon with five other women carrying a 40-pound backpack. Some people don’t think a one-night stay at the bottom of the Canyon warrants a forty pounds of gear, and others don’t think a hair dryer is an essential component of that gear—but at the time, I did.

Along the trail, we encountered several park employees who worked at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon for two- or three-day stretches, and who hiked to work carrying only small fanny packs. As I watched them fly past us, waving in a particularly carefree way, I thought, “I wonder what it would be like to do this hike without forty pounds on my back.”

That is the essential issue of Soul of Selling Step #1: Put down your baggage and fix what you can.

Selling is a hero’s journey. You are serving others, managing your own mental chatter, and balancing a selling conversation that includes many elements: telling people about what you offer, eliciting what value they want to get from it, hearing their concerns without buying those considerations, closing the sale, and staying connected with people—whether or not they buy.

That’s quite enough to have on your plate, without adding mental or emotional baggage about selling, thoughts like:

  • I just don’t have the hard core to takes to sell.
  • People are too cheap to buy my high-end service.
  • With the economy like this, nobody can afford this.
  • Selling is hard, and I’m tired.
  • Selling is a crap shoot; I should have studied auto mechanics.
  • I’ll never make any money unless I manipulate and bully people.

I think it’s smarter to carry a 40-pound pack down and up the Grand Canyon than it is to go out selling with this kind of negative chatter going on—and there’s really no reason to do either!

Exercises in The Soul of Selling take you systematically through the process of putting down that 40-pound pack, and letting you fly down the Selling Grand Canyon with ease and grace. Among the questions we pose in Step #1 are:

  1. Write down all your negative mental chatter about selling in general, yourself as a seller, the product or service you offer, and the people with whom you will make contact.
  2. Is there any truth to any of this mental chatter?
  3. If there is something you can do to correct a situation that is bothering you, make a list of those “to dos” and do them.

“No pain, no gain” does not apply to selling. In fact, the more you can put yourself out of “40-pound backpack misery,” the more you will enjoy selling and the better your results will be.

What do you do to lighten your backpack?



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Your Sales Oil Change

oil canYou’ve finally put to rest all the negative mental chatter about sales. You rest on a Nirvanic cloud of peace, wisdom, unconditional acceptance, deep internal silence, and universal love about selling. Until all of a sudden—and out of nowhere!—those niggling little voices start up again. A whisper at first, but quickly swelling into a chorus of:

  • Hey, who do you think you are? You can’t just think good thoughts and enjoy selling!
  • Yeah right! Like you’re never gonna  get stuck in the selling quagmire again and not want to pick up the phone.

Uh oh. Time for the Sunnybee Solution…

My first car was a yellow VW convertible, which I named “Sunnybee.” It ran fine for quite a while, but then it developed some odd noises and a clunky feel when I drove it. I called my brother, who knows everything about cars, and described the symptoms.  After a terrible moment of silence, he asked, “When was the last time you changed the oil?” I paused, puzzled.

“I think it came with oil,” I said slowly. It came with a steering wheel. It came with oil. Nobody ever said I had to change either of them. My friends and I never talked about cars. It was never discussed in our family. Our father had trouble changing light bulbs and we weren’t really sure he knew how to fill the gas tank. Whenever something went wrong with our cars, they were simply sent “to the garage” and the less said, the better.

My brother gave me a chilling description of what happens to car engines when you don’t change their oil regularly, and promised to remind me to do so in the future.  I thought to myself, “This is just like handling selling baggage. You’ve got to keep current with it.”

I didn’t like changing the oil in my car. It was expensive and time-consuming. I don’t like doing the dishes every day. I did them yesterday, for God’s sake! Same with taking out the garbage. What keeps me going with these tasks are the consequences of not doing them.  For me, the solution is a weekly “selling oil inventory,” doing the Soul of Selling exercises for Step #1, Put down you’re your baggage and fix what you can.” These include answering questions like:

  • What are the voices in my head saying about selling?
  • Is any of this true?
  • If it’s true, can I fix it?
  • If it’s not true, can I let go of it?

When you keep your oil changed, you can fly down the selling freeway with the top down and a smile on your face.

What do you do to remember your selling oil change?

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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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Mental Chatter UMWe all have mental chatter, those naughty, nattering voices in the back of our heads that judge, compare, and criticize. Negative mental chatter is never good for us—or for anyone around us—but it’s particularly harmful when we set out to sell.  It says things like:

“I’m no good at this, and I don’t want to do it anyway.”
“I’d rather walk over hot coals than pick up that phone.”
“Nobody wants what I’m offering.”
“I failed before, and I’ll probably fail again.”

Nobody should have to live with this, least of all you—a person courageous and generous to sell!

Everyone alive has negative mental chatter—if not about selling, about their mother-in-law, the government, their teenage kids, or their weight. We all need a better understanding of how it works and how to keep it in its place. We will never get rid of negative mental chatter—our survival-oriented minds are hooked up to anticipate and protect us from anything that might go wrong—but it doesn’t have to make us unhappy, disempower us, or get in the way of producing great results.

Here are some things to remember about negative mental chatter:

1. It’s here to stay. The mind’s job is to generate thoughts, and a certain number of them are going to be negative. The good news is that…
2. We have choices. We don’t have to run blindly after every fear or objection our minds toss up. We can stand back, observe these negative thoughts, and instead give our attention to thoughts that serve us and others.
3. Mental chatter is usually about avoiding pain. Most of it is fear-based. It’s about protecting you from imagined physical, mental, or psychological pain—most of which never happens.
4. Mental chatter hates change, even good change. Whenever you set out to do something new, or do it in a new way, mental chatter freaks out. You’ve survived up to now, so any change is a risk! Why rock the boat? Mental chatter always argues for the status quo, and is loudest in the face of change.
5. Mental chatter hates getting specific. Another risk! Promising three sales by the end of the week prompts mental chatter to say, “Danger! You might not make it. Then what?” Failure is pain, and mental chatter will do anything to avoid pain.
6. Ignoring mental chatter, or trying to beat it into submission, doesn’t work. It goes underground and festers if you ignore it, and rises up against you, fed by your attention, if you try to conquer it.
7. The key to mastering mental chatter is to develop a new relationship with it.

Here are some strategies for a new relationship with negative mental chatter, one that accepts its presence but keeps it from causing trouble:

1. Identify the mental 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.
2. Check to see if it’s true. Sometimes mental chatter offers important warnings. “Stop! That deal sounds too good to be true. Better have somebody check it out.” If mental chatter says, “You can’t sell because your financial records are a mess,” know that it’s not necessarily true, but clean up your financial records.
3. Recognize it for what it is—mental chatter, not reality. This is the most important strategy of all, and the key to a good relationship with mental chatter. Even when it sound 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. Let it run around and around on its hamster wheel, but don’t let it dictate what you do or don’t do.
5. Switch channels to something more interesting—your results, the fun you will have getting them, even positive thoughts that have nothing to do with sales.

What are your favorite strategies for dealing with mental chatter?

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I made up The Soul of Selling method because I desperately wanted to sell a program I loved—and had no idea how to do it!

The only selling models I could find were either:

  • Wicked—Get the stats, even if you have to break people’s arms and legs, or
  • Wimpy—Love and “om” people, but don’t count on paying the rent

I wanted to guarantee exact sales numbers, and I also wanted to guarantee that everyone with whom I spoke was served and that selling fed my soul.

A tall order, but the 6 steps of The Soul of Selling did the trick! The next 6 posts will each cover one step.

Soul of Selling STEP #1: Put down your baggage, and fix what you can.

“I’ll never be able to sell!” my client Sally wailed. “I have all these fears and bad thoughts about it! I just have too much baggage.” [Read more…]

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