Phil Jackson, Steve Jobs, Google and Sales Results

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: May 15, 2014

What do Phil Jackson, Steve Jobs and Google have in common? All of them use meditation to improve performance and creativity. So what does this meditation stuff have to do with hitting your sales quota? Well, perhaps everything.

Nicknamed the “Zen Master,” Phil Jackson talks about working with the Los Angeles Lakers in his book, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success. As their new coach, Jackson 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. (Doesn’t that 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 as the LA Lakers went on to win five NBA titles from 2000 to 2010 while he was their coach. During his career, Jackson has won 11 titles and is widely considered one of the greatest NBA coaches. He also has the highest winning percentage of any NBA coach (.704).

Let’s move beyond athletics to business. The late Steve Jobs credited meditation for his ability to concentrate and ignore distractions. The mega company, Google, has an in-house mindfulness program called “Search Inside Yourself.” It incorporates meditation to help free up space for creativity and bigger thinking. This program offers a proven method for enhancing mindfulness and emotional intelligence in life and work.

Meditation and Downtime = Hitting Your Sales Quota

For many years, I have preached the importance of downtime. For me, downtime helps me reflect on how I choose to show up to work each day. On those days that I don’t show up mentally prepared, downtime helps me figure out what I need to change or do to be more productive. Meditation and downtime allow you to think clearly and creatively which are both important attributes to be successful in sales.

Go to a quiet, non-technology place and ask yourself these following questions:

  • Do you lack the ability to focus when learning new skills or behaviors? I have heard more than one salesperson say they can’t even read a book anymore! The key to mastering anything is repetition. Now, here’s the dilemma. Perfect practice takes focus and concentration. If you aren’t training that “muscle,” there is a good chance your skills and knowledge will remain at the status quo, non-quoting hitting level.
  • Do you find yourself or your sales team repeating the same mistakes? Meditation and downtime are designed to clear the brain. Free up the brain and you will discover new ideas and creative ways to solve problems.
  • Do you find yourself reacting in a non-productive way to prospects or clients? This is the tough prospect that tries to rush you through your sales process or asks about price too early and too often. If you don’t get some downtime, you are likely to repeat the same behavior or give the same response, i.e., discounting, practice proposals or meeting with non-decision makers.

I teach clients to get clear on what emotion they are feeling, why they are feeling the emotion and the way it affects how they show up. Once you figure out the what and why of emotions, you can change the how to get the desired results you want to achieve.

There is probably some hard core, always trying to close type of salesperson reading this blog. And you are wondering, “Yeah, but what about selling skills?” I agree that they are very important. Great salespeople are good at pre-call planning, creating compelling value propositions, effective questioning skills, and decision making.

But here’s the big HOWEVER. I will refer back to Phil Jackson. This champion-building coach knew that his players had the hard skills of playing basketball. However, on the court, in the heat of the battle, he knew victory is won by the power of the mind. The ability to focus, manage emotions and execute efficiently wins the game.

Get some downtime. Start practicing meditation. You will be in good company as many CEOs of large companies such as Ford, Salesforce and Huffington Post are incorporating such behavior into their daily lives.

Soft skills do produce hard sales results. Go and pursue your winner’s ring for sales success!

Good Selling!

Colleen Stanley

President & CSO