How many times have you heard these phrases?
- Sales is a numbers game. See more people, make more sales.
- You need to have the ‘gift of gab’.
- Follow the ABC of selling, Always Be Closing.
Frankly, some of the old-style sales thinking just doesn’t work in modern sales settings. For anyone who sells products that are complex or technical or that is selling a service, especially in the business-to-business world, thinking that ‘sales is a numbers game’ usually sets you on the path to frustration.
Sales is a people business
Sure numbers matter, but people come first. Even with the proliferation of technology in the fields of marketing and sales, people still prefer to buy from people they know, like and trust.
In the rush to adopt new technology to become more efficient, effective and be everywhere, it’s important not to overlook the power of your personal intuition.
Using intuition wisely can accelerate the effectiveness of any sales strategy.
Intuition has been explained as:
a process that gives us the ability to know something directly without analytic reasoning, bridging the gap between the conscious and nonconscious parts of our mind
And in a post on LinkedIn Dr Travis Bradberry writes about What Deeply Intuitive People Do Differently.
The seven characteristics he identifies are:
- They slow down enough to hear their inner voice
- They follow their inner voice
- They practice empathic accuracy
- They practice mindfulness
- They nurture their creativity
- They trust their gut
- They analyse their dreams
You might be thinking,
“How does all this psycho-babble help me be better at sales?”
Let’s have a look at each one of those seven characteristics and why they can be so powerful for anyone in a revenue generation role (even if you don’t have the word ‘sales’ in your job title).
1) They slow down enough to hear their inner voice
Turn off the phone. Step away from the tablet, laptop or PC screen. You need to give yourself space to reflect on what you really think and feel. The more you give yourself space, the more easily you start to hear your inner thoughts – and recognise your intuition.
Everyone is busy. It’s so easy to be busy and wear that as a badge of honour. Like the busier you are the more important you are. But you’re not. You’re just busy. Maybe you’d feel better if you structured in some ‘quiet time’ amongst your usual busy schedule.
Find solitude. Even if it’s for a few minutes going for a walk outside your office. Or if you’re out in the field on customer visits, find a shady spot under a tree to take a few minutes out. This quiet time isn’t being lazy, its giving your brain the space it needs to reflect and be aware of what it’s doing, thinking and feeling.
2) They follow their inner voice
Decisions are rarely black and white. There are usually ‘shades of grey’ meaning you need to make a subjective decision. That subjectivity relies partly on you listening to your intuition. If you have the practice of slowing down and hearing your inner voice, you should actually listen to what that voice is telling you. Use that subconscious feeling to balance out your analytical, critical thinking skills.
3) They practice empathic accuracy
Wouldn’t you love to be able to read your customers mind? Well maybe you already do, to at least some degree. ‘Empathic accuracy’ is the scientific term for an intuitive awareness of what the other person is thinking or feeling.
In a sales setting your intuition could be informing you about the overall chances of the customer making a commitment based on a variety of unspoken (and subconsciously recognised) signals that you are picking up such as their body language, eyes, or tone of voice.
Or it could be warning you that you need to take more time before making a promise about meeting certain deadlines or special requirements for that customer. Your gut feeling may be based upon sound reasons, so don’t always use your analytical mind to talk yourself out of it.
4) They practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is all the rage. Many management consultants have latched upon it as the ‘new thing’ to enhance productivity and performance. However the practice is actually centuries old and is really as simple as ‘being in the moment’ and recognising what you are doing and what is happening around you at any point in time.
The opposite to mindfulness is the mindlessness of busy-ness. Being so busy that you never stop to actually think about what you’re doing, why, and the impact it is having on those around you.
Mindfulness also requires some solitude. And there are specific mindfulness techniques you can use no matter where you are.
5) They nurture their creativity
Being effective in any sales-oriented role requires a strong dose of creativity. There are various types of creativity such as performance, artistic, numerical, spatial etc. Because sales is a people business there is always a need to be responsive to the other person and changing situations. This requires flexibility in thinking and the need to come up with ‘creative’ solutions.
Being intentionally creative strengthens your intuition; the skills are complementary. To enhance your ability to be creative in sales situations you should allow your creativity the opportunity to express itself in other environments. Don’t expect to suddenly become creative on-the-spot if you don’t practice at other times.
6) They trust their gut
Anyone with any experience in a sales role knows that ‘sinking gut’ feeling. It can occur after you have made a decision you can’t reverse, committed to do a deal with a customer or your boss, or have been manoeuvred into an agreement that you know, deep down in your intuition, that isn’t a good thing to do.
Often your analytical mind might try to override your intuition by telling you that “It’s a good deal” or that “You’ll sort out the details later” or that “You need this deal to make your numbers”. The incongruence between that analytical/rational message and your natural gut feel/intuition is what causes that sinking gut feeling.
7) They analyse their dreams
Analysing dreams has always been considered a fringe activity practiced by new-age guru’s. Is there any science behind it? Well… maybe check that one for yourself. But it is well known that your brain uses dreams to try and sort out experiences, feelings and fears while you sleep.
Some dreams may be simply a jumble of thoughts and ideas. But maybe others hold a message for you. Maybe there is a pattern of ideas or concerns that reappear in your night time thoughts. If you have dreams why not take a few minutes to reflect on what they may be trying to tell you. Maybe your intuition is intertwined with the thoughts that cause your dreams.
How do your dreams connect with your sales activities? I can’t really tell you that. After all they’re your dreams. However I do suggest there is a connection between a sound sleep, understanding why you are dreaming, and enhancing your performance at work.
What does this all mean?
Sales is a people business. To be a more effective communicator, and therefore be more effective in sales conversations, you should pay attention to recognising and acknowledging your intuition. Everyone has intuition, although some people don’t listen to it very closely. Why not make the most of it!