Being mindful is being here and now, doing one thing at a time - but most of you already knew that. Mindfulness is a useful concept for most walks of life including, perhaps surprisingly, sales.
What does mindfulness mean in sales context
I picked up my sales skills selling books door to door on 4 consecutive college summers. It was about long work days and pre-rehearsed sales script that I know by heart to this day. A prospect says X, I say Y in response, and so on. I used this approach to build several successful sales teams later, including one for my own training business.
On the outside this sales approach has nothing to do with mindfulness. You just semi-robotically follow your sales scenario, right? Actually, no. Whether you're following a scripted sales scenario or not, you have to understand what the customer is saying to you, and what he or she is thinking. Really understand, not just make a good guess.
My friend and a colleague from my those historical door-to-door sales days, Margie Roemer of Daly City CA, is a great example of this. She was always ranking very very high on sales rosters. We worked in the same team so I knew her "secret". She was motivated and driven, but whenever the door was opened she put her sales goals on the back seat and really focused on the person that had come to meet her. Margie didn't want to sell no matter what, she wanted to really understand the person she was talking to, and so she directed her full attention to the conversation at hand. She was really listening and a 100% present. Margie was mindful.
Two important benefits of being mindful
Mindfulness has at least two great benefits in sales. Firstly it's the only way to truly know what's being said to you, to get an understanding that is not distorted by your own expectations and wants. Without knowing what's going on in the head of your client or prospect, you need quite a bit of luck to respond appropriately. And you can't count on luck to close your deals every day.
Secondly, people note when you're mindfully present - because so few of us are. In the age of multi-tasking you'll stand out like a psychedelic poster from the 70's (in a good way) when you decide to be present, turn off your beeping smartphone and remain mindful throughout the meeting. The "side effect" of this is building trust. Even if your offer ends up being slightly more expensive in the end, people subconsciously want to buy from people they feel have understood them.
I haven't met Nelson Mandela myself but based on what I've heard others say about him, he knows how to be mindful in meetings. He's dedicated to the person he's conversing with, he truly wants to understand what's being said. He doesn't even need to "listen actively"; the techniques of nodding and humming approvingly are not necessary if you decide to be mindful and listen.
"That too shall pass"
People often talk about detachment in the context of mindfulness. You know, the "that too shall pass" approach. This is another useful concept in sales. We're used to thinking that successful meetings and calls are "good" and unsuccessful ones aren't. Which is ridiculous because no-one has a 100% closing ratio. In Margie’s example, when a conversation didn't go to the direction she had intended, she didn't panic or rush to end the meeting. She kept her focus on understanding what her prospect was saying and she just reacted in the way that made the most sense from that perspective. She knew that not everyone buys and that because she had done her best, it had been a successful meeting.
It's worth pointing out that it's not always easy to be mindful in sales. Those that know me better know very well that especially at the early ages of my career I kept being distracted and was far from being present at times. Perhaps you've even not bought from me on one of those occasions :) Over time I've realized that when I am mindful I enjoy the process so much more and the results are better.
If you have a meeting or an important phone call ahead of you today, take a deep breath before you start it. Focus your intent on what your prospect or partner is about to say to you, and be mindful. I promise you, the meeting will be a success.
Photo courtesy: sradion