Tao of Sales
The Tao of Sales
An Easier Way to Sell in Tough Times
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The Tao of Sales

This series of articles centers on personal growth, using approaches from martial arts training and sports psychology to help you discover and realize your full potential as a salesperson. These articles deal with handling the challenges and inevitable stress and pressure that comes with a sales career. For experienced salespeople, they offer insights into how you can move past wherever you may be plateaued to attain real performance breakthroughs.

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Chi – Do It Now

What “way” have you followed over the past six months? Purposeful or frantic? Confident or anxious? Focused on your customers or focused on yourself?

What would you need to change in yourself to become more purposeful, confident, and focused on your customers?

How would you feel if you made that change?

Write your answers to these questions for yourself, then share your response with a friend, and ask for feedback.

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Other Articles in this Series

Coming in the next few weeks

Recommended Books
Click on titles for more information

Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work

Exceptional Selling: How the Best Connect and Win in High Stakes Sales

Selling with Integrity

The Tao of Sales: The Easy Way To Sell In Tough Times

The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Sales Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve.

The Tao of Sales: Finding Without Looking

If you’re looking for the “right way” to achieve success, happiness, financial security, and approval from others, you won’t find it. It doesn’t exist. So why are books and tapes that promise “The Answer” to making money and successful selling so popular?

Could it be, in part at least, our lack of trust in our own ability to discover what’s important within ourselves, our customers, and the world?

If happiness is somewhere outside of us, then we’re doomed to spend our lives chasing after it - only to discover, if we actually get what we’re chasing, that we’re still unsatisfied.

What would it be like if happiness were inside all of us: deep, strong and whole? All we would need to learn to do then would be to become more quiet and attentive. If you stop looking, you’ll notice your capacity for happiness, financial security, and approval has always been there, inside yourself - plain to the eye and easy to follow.

Suppose it’s also inside your customers, waiting to be discovered?

Is it important to learn from others? Of course. Mastering skills and techniques is a career-long study. But imagine trying to hit a tennis ball coming at you at 90 m.p.h. with someone else's swing.

How do you "Find without Looking?" Look for people who can help you understand and work with what you already do know, rather than "experts" who tell you what you don't know or aren't doing (right).

Who are these people? Your customers. They are the best source of insights into what you are doing that makes you special for them, why they choose to buy from you, and why they feel comfortable working with you.

Who are your best customers? Not merely the people you get along with most easily. They may be good friends but not good customers. You can identify "best customers" by their behavior: They make time for you, respect you as a business professional, listen and share their thoughts openly, work with you to find real win/win solutions that benefit them and you, and make and keep commitments.

What do you need to find out? You need to learn what actions on your part generate these kinds of responses from customers (so you can do them more - with more customers).

What if you don't have any "best customers" yet to learn from? Start by acting in ways that "mirror" the behaviors you want from good customers. For example: Make time for your customers by planning sales calls that maximize the value they receive from the conversation (instead of a standard "pitch.") Respected them as business professionals by learning their business. Listen and shared your thoughts openly and deal with difficult issues immediately and candidly. Work for win/win solutions that benefit both of you. Make and keep commitments to your customers.

If you want simple steps to move forward in "Finding without Looking," read Chris Lytle's The Accidental Salesperson It's loaded with common sense action steps.

How do you "Find without Looking?" Let what you need come to you rather than scrambling around after it. How do you do that? By emptying your mind and actually listening to customers. The notion of "empty mind" or "beginner's mind" is at the foundation of martial arts. It starts with freeing ourselves from all the "chatter" inside our heads about what happened in the past (or what we imagine happened), and even more important, all the emotion and "meaning" we attach to what we "remember" (most of which we're actually making up about ourselves or our customers). For an example of the interpretation process that goes on in our minds all the time, read "Help. I Need to Sneeze" in Stories

If you find yourself running self-blaming, self-defeating scripts in your head ("I don't ask questions because I'm afraid I won't know the answer" "I'm not an expert; why should the customer listen to me?") STOP DOING IT. Do the same with projections about what you think is "going" to happen. ("The customer is just interested in price. They'll never talk to me about what they really need.")

Instead, ask yourself questions like: "What don't I know about this prospect that I want to find out?" "What's new in the relationship with this customer?" and use questions and effective listening to help you learn. For insights into improving your listening, read "Becoming a Superstar Sales Listener" in Articles.

To better manage the "negative messages" in your head, try this: Write a list of the things you're brain tells you you can't do. "I can't______________________ because____________________."

Then, reframe each of the "I can't" statements into a positive choice.
"However, I can choose to __________________ so that I'll be able to ________________.[state a positive goal]"

Then, start acting in ways that honor your positive choices and contribute to your positive goals. And when the negative voice pops in, put it on hold, or tell it not to call any more.