Time magazine earlier this year published a cover story titled “The Mindful Revolution. The Science of Finding Focus in a Stressed Out, Multi-Tasking Culture.” Arianna Huffington, founder of the mega-digital publication, The Huffington Post, recently released her new book, "Thrive," in which she discusses her new found appreciation for getting unplugged from 24/7 technology. And now, Harvard Business Review just released its summer edition titled “Emotional Intelligence. The Essential Ingredient to Success.”
Is there a message that hard-driving, successful salespeople can gain from adopting these practices of mindfulness, unplugging and emotional intelligence? The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s look at each one and its impact on sales.
One of the definitions of mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.Google’s head of mindfulness, Chade-Meng Tan, shares that mindfulness is similar to fitness of the body except it is fitness of the mind.
The great basketball coach Phil Jackson was nicknamed the “Zen Master.” He used mindfulness training with both the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers to increase awareness and focus on the court. When Jackson started working with the Lakers, he noticed that his basketball team seemed eager to learn. However, the players’ attention spans were short. When he would begin talking, they would fidget, look at the ceiling or shuffle their feet. (Does this sound like a few sales meetings you’ve attended?)
To remedy the problem, Jackson engaged psychologist George Mumford. Together, they designed a daily meditation practice for his players. Jackson’s goal was to increase their awareness and focus on the court so they could consistently execute the playbook. And it worked. The Lakers went on to win five NBA titles from 2000 to 2010 while he was their coach.
Sales managers reap big rewards when they improve their sales team’s awareness, focus and execution of the sales playbook. Create technology-free zones at your organization. Companies waste thousands of dollars due to inefficient meetings or trainings where people are half in attendance. Half the people are tuned into the meeting and the other half are tuned into reading and returning messages. Teach your team to be present and focused.
The ability to focus makes a difference on how you show up to a sales meeting. A consultative sales call takes one to two hours to conduct. If a salesperson has never paid attention to anything for longer than five minutes, it will be hard for them to recall the habit of being totally present and focused with prospects and clients during a sales meeting. If they aren’t used to being present, they are sure to miss the many non-verbal clues that occur in every meeting. Those clues might be a shift in tonality, a change in body language or a glance across the room.
Sales managers preach the importance of being a trusted advisor. However, it’s difficult to come across as a trusted adviser when you have the attention span of a gnat!
Unplug, get some downtime and improve your emotional intelligence
How many of you wake up, check your smart phone and your mind is off and racing with challenges of the day? You are starting your daily workout on the sales gerbil wheel.
Follow the practices of IHS Chairman Jerre Stead, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Ford Chairman Bill Ford. Each one of these leaders begin their day with meditation to help them be engaged, productive and healthy.
Choose to start your day with downtime. It will help your sales results. Here’s the connection. Today’s prospects are educated and expect more from a salesperson, Scott McKain, author of several business books, says it best. “People don’t need more information, they need more insight.” Your prospects are buried with information. What they need and value is a salesperson that can look at information and distill it into meaningful dialogue that helps create thoughtful conversation, questions and recommendations during a sales meeting.
Insight is not gained if you are in constant overload mode. (How many of you have come up with a great idea or an answer to a challenge in the middle of answering 100 emails, taking phone calls or running from one meeting to another?)
Downtime is a good way to improve the emotional intelligence skill of self-awareness. This "EI" skill improves a person’s ability to understand emotions and their effect on ourselves and others.
If you are not winning business, is it really due to your company’s poor marketing collateral or is because you aren’t a good negotiator. You get nervous when meeting with tough prospects and emotions start running the meeting, not effective selling skills. If you aren’t hitting quota, is it really because your company’s price is too high or you aren’t showing up to meetings with effective insights and questions for your prospects and customers?(You spend too much time at the sales gerbil gym.)
Get mindful, get unplugged and improve your emotional intelligence. Hard selling skills combined with soft skills wins more business every day.
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, emotional intelligence and hiring/selection. She is the author of ‘Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success’ and ‘Growing Great Sales Teams.’ Reach Colleen at 303-708-1128 or visit www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com.Permission is granted to reprint this article in print or electronically as long as the paragraph above is included and contact information is provided to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.