When people think of “mindfulness” their minds are often filled with images of monks calmly meditating in a lotus position next to a flowing stream. They rarely connect mindfulness with salespeople prospecting on the phone or delivering a sales presentation.
But I’m going to suggest that salespeople can get a lot out of mindfulness tools. It can help them improve both their personal satisfaction and professional success. It can help them focus. And yes, it can help them sell more.
Let’s look at why mindfulness can be a powerful path for salespeople and how they can start walking it.
The Mindfulness Trend in Business
Mindfulness can be defined as a mental framework that involves awareness of your present emotions and thoughts.
And over the past decade, mindfulness has become a hot topic in the business world.
There are meditation rooms at offices, tons of phone apps and books, and mindfulness seminars at company retreats.
In fact, the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Initiative which teaches meditation in a corporate setting stems from an internal Google program. It’s now a nationwide program that offers resources, training, and even certification on how to bring mindfulness into the workplace.
Mindfulness isn’t about sitting in the lotus position in a darkened and quiet room repeating a mantra. No, it’s about being able to find space in the moment of stress to respond in a skillful manner that is consistent with one’s goals and values on how you want to live your life.
Why has it become so popular?
A big reason is that mindfulness tools provide a way to manage the increasing stresses and noise in a technology-soaked world. We have more demands than ever on our thoughts and feelings. And so we crave a way to manage those demands.
Practiced regularly, sales mindfulness exercises often lead to a calmer emotional state of being. By doing so, they can also lead to better results because you aren’t being reactive and off-the-cuff with your responses to people and situations.
Why Salespeople Need Mindfulness
Sales culture has always prided itself in its inherent challenge. Dealing with constant rejection has always been tough. You have to reach deep to find the motivation to make one more call.
That’s created a very macho environment. Or maybe just masochistic. The emotional pain has been normalized in the cult of sales and it’s seen as okay because “only the best survive” and “you’ve got to hustle and grind”.
Salespeople often wear that pain and rejection like a badge of honor. It can be helpful because then they are able to keeping moving forwards instead of being paralyzed.
And they need that selling motivation. Heck, why do you think salespeople get paid well?
It’s no secret selling for a living is incredibly stressful. What many don’t realize is stress left unmanaged kills you. Hypertension effects 75 million Americans and heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Not only will a mindfulness practice help you be more present with customers, a glaringly obvious plus, but it’s quite likely it will help you stay alive longer
Unfortunately, that’s also why others often view salespeople as emotionally toxic, physically unhealthy, and overly reliant on food, alcohol, and drugs to make themselves feel better. Or they just waste time on social media all day.
But what if you could see me the same results and work through the same challenges but not get raked over the coals every day?
That would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it?
How Mindfulness Drives Sales Success
That same macho environment has also kept a lot of salespeople from trying mindfulness tools. Too many salespeople view mindfulness as “woo-woo” and esoteric. That’s unfortunate because salespeople engage with a lot of relationships every day. Those drive a lot of demands from them.
And they have to engage with their own emotions on a daily, hourly and sometimes minute-by-minute basis. They have to manage themselves as much as they do the people around them.
So they’re often the most in need of the very real benefits that can accrue from mindfulness exercises. The practical application of mindfulness in sales roles leads to valuable effects:
1. Reduced emotional stress:
There are a lot of stressors in a salesperson’s day. Dealing with rejection, managing interactions with a lot of other people, and being constantly reminded of how you stack up next to your sales goals can be overwhelming. Mindfulness provides an opportunity to decompress.
2. Better professional relationships:
Salespeople who are stressed tend to be reactive, irritable, and short-sighted. That isn’t the recipe for success with prospects, clients, and colleagues.
Instead, it’s possible to bring a much better attitude to relationships. By practicing different mindfulness exercises, they can bring more patience, creativity, and collaboration to their interactions with others during their day.
3. More confidence:
Mindfulness also allows salespeople to process rejection in a healthy way. They don’t have to let it affect their inner self-concept. That means that they won’t get “dinged” when they face rejection. And even if they do get thrown for a loop, getting back in the game is a much faster process.
4. Increased attractiveness to prospects:
Relaxed and energetic people tend to be more attractive to others. It’s why so many people love the Dalai Lama. The more open and positive a salespeople can be, the easier it is to attract and start conversations with potential customers.
5. Improved Productivity
Slowing down helps you to speed up. A regular mindfulness practice helps to boost concentration and focused attention. Instead of being scattered among many different activities, you can prioritize. This leads to greater productivity. More done in less time – how cool is that!”
5. Less turnover:
This might be more valuable to sales management, but ultimately turnover does hurt everyone. Instead of getting to a boiling point situation where the only option is to leave, salespeople can mitigate their stress and work on improving their career right where they are.
6. Connecting to larger goals:
Though not a direct goal of many mindfulness exercises, many practitioners are able to see how they fit into larger processes and structures. Salespeople are able to see how they are inter-connected with their prospects and customers which leads to better connections. They know their “why”.
7. Higher job and life satisfaction:
All of this adds up to a more enjoyable and fulfilling career path and life. Mindfulness tools allow salespeople to pursue excellence without being subject to the emotional “beat down”.
3 Mindfulness Exercises That Salespeople Can Use Today
There are many different ways to extend your awareness of the current moment. A simple search online can provide a number of tools and exercises to building your mindfulness. You can also explore your personal spiritual or religious background. Here are a few easy ways to get started:
Meditation can be a little intimidating if you’ve never sat quietly with your thoughts. But you don’t have to go on a week-long silent retreat to see the benefits. It’s easy and accessible to everyone, all of the time.
Starting or ending your day with a meditation session can be powerful. Or maybe do it over lunch or when you know you get stressed during the day.
It only takes a few minutes. You can invest five or ten minutes to go through a quick guided meditation. Even two or three minutes of concentrating on your breathing is valuable. There are many wonderful apps that can help you get started such as Insight Timer or Headspace.
2. Mindful Listening
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. What happens when you take the common idea of active listening a step further?
So when you ask about a prospect’s challenges and they share the suffering that their business is experiencing, just in the listening you move to alleviate that suffering. From that you begin to share the burden of their challenge. In that moment trust is born.
So listen. Deeply listen. In that listening search for opportunities to provide value.”
Another tool that can be powerful is a simple journal. It’s easy to gloss over the things that happened during the day. Writing in a journal is a great way to identify and clarify your thoughts and feelings so that you can respond appropriately.
You can journal in a notebook, a phone app like Evernote, or even just a Word document on your computer. The goal is to bring awareness to what has happened, how you responded to it, and how you want to act in the future.
Simply write a short journal entry before you go home for the day. Write three things that went well that day. And write one that went poorly (we don’t want to pretend everything is hunky-dory all the time). Rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10 as far as your mental focus. And then write one or two sentences about what you would like to focus on the next day. That’s it.
4. Emotional debrief
This is a great tool to use after your sales presentations with prospects and customers. It’s common to do a business debrief about why customers bought or why they didn’t. This process simply does the same on an internal level.
For an emotional debrief simply ask yourself a few simple questions: How do I feel about what just happened? Why did I act like I did in the situation? Do I want to take that with me into my next sales activity?
It’s not about continuing to beat yourself up for a mistake or bask in a win. More importantly, it’s about identifying how your mind and your emotions behaved. And then deciding how that will affect you (or not) moving forward.
Walk a Mindful Sales Path
When you bring mindfulness to your sales activities, you’ll notice both quantitative and qualitative benefits. Those changes might not happen overnight, but keep with it.
As Ellen Rogin shared, “I know personally that my meditation practice had led to deeper more connected client relationships. I consistently have clients tell me that “I feel so much better” after we’ve talked. I’m certain this is directly related to my mindfulness practices.”
It’s a powerful tool, but one that requires you to put the effort in first.
Lisa Paterson Raterman pointed out a saying from Western mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Reading about mindfulness and not completing the exercises is like going to a restaurant and reading the menu without eating.”
So start with one of the exercises and put it into your selling routine. Just like building a pipeline of prospects, you have to build up the habits that will allow you to reap the benefits of a mindful approach to sales. And then you’ll be selling like a true master.