I wrote an article two years ago on the topic of mindfulness in enterprise selling. In it, I shared a definition of the term from mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn. He shared that “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally”. Simply powerful but powerfully simple. I wrote that article in the pre-COVID-19 era, when many businesspeople had heard about mindfulness but few had spent any time really learning about it. Even though the topic has received an increasing amount of media coverage since then, I find that most people in business remain relatively clueless about it. In the past, that was true of me as well and while I still have much to learn on the topic, I’ve paid much closer attention to it over the last two years. In so doing, I’ve gotten a lot smarter and hopefully, more mindful. And the more I learn about mindfulness, the more I realize how it plays a huge role in our lives in general. Specifically, though, from a business standpoint, how it impacts our selling, success and satisfaction.
And then, everything changed. COVID-19. Of course, it’s impossible to overstate the far-reaching impact it’s had on our lives and the lives of everyone with whom we interact. But, from a mindfulness standpoint, the very turbulence that the pandemic brought has magnified for me the true meaning of “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment”.
COVID 19’s constant barrage of noise in the media and in our personal and business conversations threatens us all with anxiety, worry, and fear. The uncertainty of the future can breed panic and dread about what might happen. Of course, thinking about the future can also prompt pragmatic actions like mask-wearing and social distancing. Those are good, practical tactics to undertake – rational observation that drives sensible actions, like American Airlines and Jet Blue increasing their focus on obtaining more cargo business with passenger revenues diminished. Observations driving sensible actions versus impulsive knee jerks driving frantic reactions. In a word, mindfulness.
Think about a major opportunity you’re now pursuing. The temptations to dwell on the potential future negatives are everywhere….what might happen. What if the funding dries up as a COVID casualty? What if my primary contact loses their job? What if I lose mine?
At the end of the day, pandemic or not, we only have what we have now. Pondering future negatives makes you less than your best. It also limits your ability to help your prospect through addressing their pains with your product or service. And being anything less than your best greatly decreases your chances of winning the deal. On the other hand, paying purposeful attention in the present moment increases your chances of winning. Winning and serving a client who will long remember that you came through at a time when they really needed you.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m not a mindfulness expert, so what can I do to be more mindful in the midst of all the noise? Great question, BTW. And let me reiterate that I’m no mindfulness expert either. I’m a longtime sales animal and I have a strong appetite for incorporating practices into my portfolio that increase my chances of success. And I share here my layman’s thoughts as to how mindfulness can help us sell more effectively right now.
First, when you feel yourself reacting and your knee is itching to jerk, stop. Mentally and physically. Take a breath and step back, literally if you must. Observe what’s going on and reach out to a reasoned colleague for commiseration and coaching. The time-tested query always helps. “What would you do if you were me?”. Remember – you are only alone if you choose to be.
Next, listen. Now, more intently than ever before. Listen to understand by asking lots of questions. Clarify, investigate, and explore. The amazing serendipity about building understanding through questioning is that learning all you can about how to help a prospect ends up helping help you even more.
Then, focus on your prospect’s traits and tendencies. Learn all you can about DISC and put behavioral profiling to work. In our virtual world, it’s never been more important. Truth is that your prospects’ behavioral styles are now under siege, often stressed to the breaking point. Emotions are trumping reason. To communicate effectively, identify behaviors, and adjust appropriately. To help, first, understand. To win, take actions as a result.
And last, live and breathe the four most important words in selling – “It’s not about you”. Shift your focus to serving – truly helping your prospects by addressing their pains instead of trying to sell them something. Of course, this mantra is valuable at any time but especially now. For when the pandemic’s threatening stranglehold of fear and uncertainty looms, mindfully magnifying your attention on the needs of your prospects keeps you centered on what’s truly important, blocking those negative thoughts. But most importantly for both you and your prospects, it greatly increases your chance of winning.