PRESENT: Creates delightful Customer experiences by being fully alive in the here and now
The Sales Coach who came into our stories to talk to Sales Enthusiasts, shares his insights on what helped him carve out an outstanding career for himself in sales. Wrapping up his current series of conversations, he gets his group to reflect on higher order behaviours that create sales resilience. He shows them how, when everyday positive sales behaviours are practised repeatedly, they contribute to creating higher order behaviours. The Sales Coach demystifies these overarching behaviors to make it easy for the Sales Enthusiasts to incorporate them in their work lives.
What’s the group talking about today? Let’s listen in:
The Sales Coach sat facing the laptop, looked right into the camera and beamed an extra large smile that lit up the screen with its infectious charm.
A Sales Enthusiast (SE) said: “Sir, We were talking about what makes some sales people super achievers, while some others struggle all through their lives. How do you explain that? Why is it that sales rewards only some?”
The Sales Coach (SC) said : “Isn’t that a fact of life in any profession? Where’s the question in that?”
SE: “No Sir, when you look at the achievers and the also-rans from afar, we aren’t able to make out what the real difference is. In a sales call, both use very similar scripts, they both seem to follow the same set of sales processes.
Yet over a quarter or a half year, a few ace their targets and walk away with 2x bonuses, while many don’t even qualify. So, aside of the usual clichés of hard work, and smart work, of diligence and dedication, of skill and attitude, is there an x-factor we are missing?”
SC: “Alright, are there any class toppers here?”
The chat window blinks twice - Peter: Me. Suresh: Me.
SC: “Tell me, can you both swear that have you always slogged your eyes out studying and that’s why you could answers all the questions in your exams?”
Chat window comes alive with two quick ‘No’s
SC: “How come? You pulled those answers out of thin air? Or you had secret access to Google?”
Suresh unmutes to laugh: “I wish I had Sir! There was no Google then. Some marks I would credit to my prep. But many questions I got correct simply from what I heard in class. I had this habit of being mindful and giving my undivided attention”
Peter unmutes to say: “And I was an incorrigible note taker. I used to listen raptly and make a note of all the key ideas”
SC: “So Suresh and Peter, would it be right to say that you both were always ‘present’ in your classes?”,
SE: “Please sir, ‘Present’, ‘Presence’, you make it sound like some philosophical mumbo jumbo. Where is all that in a make or break sales call?”
SC: “Okay. Imagine me bringing in a decadent, fudgy, moist, sinfully delightful black forest cake wafting the aroma of fresh chocolate. Would you miss it?”
SE: “No way, not even with our eyes closed. Our mouths are watering at the very thought”
SC: “Were you all ‘present’ to your lectures and classes, the way you experience the ‘presence’ of a black forest cake?”
SE: “I think we are getting it Sir! Is presence about being mindful, being focused, fully alive? Like the way we experience a cake with all our senses alert? May be that’s why Peter and Suresh topped their classes. But tell us Sir, does ‘presence’ really play out at work? In sales? How can we become better present?”
SC: “Great questions. To a newbie in sales, winning seems all about hard work, smart work, practice, skills, frameworks, tools and the entire works. But to grow beyond that, the edge goes to those who practice being ‘present’.
At the high end, selling is like that rapid fire round in a live quiz contest. Your presence is as important as your preparation, if not more.
Remember this, as you grow, you are not paid for what you do, not for what you look like, not for what you know, not for what you have already done. You are valued for how you make people feel and that is a real time, in the moment, thing. And presence is not taught. It is learnt by practice.
To cultivate presence, just do what you do when you are here in this conversation. I hardly hear a mobile ring. Your responses are prompt. Your grasp absolute. You hang on to my every word. It’s as if your own world did not matter to you, other than what we are doing here That’s how presence plays out. Here are
6 Illustrative Ways to Practise Presence
1. Consciously decide to act on what’s before you – When prospecting, for example if you are truly present, you can smell that unarticulated need, ask that right question, choose to say nothing at the right time, sense the underlying fears that you need to address, This applies to all stages of the sales cycle. What counts is what’s before you. Nothing else does.
2. Exercise highest level of listening – Mindfully let the Customer lead the conversation. A mentor of mine presented me with this one liner, before I met him for our first conversation: “If you want to be ‘present’ in this conversation, remember to leave ‘yourself’ out of this door, before you walk in”. Listen like the Customer is the only person who matters in the world
3. Be in the here and now – To borrow a Dale Carnegian expression, work in ‘moment-tight’ compartments. When you are working on one deal or talking to one Customer, be there and don’t think of any other deal or Customer. Real life selling does not allow you multiple takes, like movie shoot. You've got to deliver, and deliver at the right time, and do it well.
4. Listen to what’s left unspoken – Sales veterans can pick up powerful signals in a pregnant pause, in a forward lean or a clenched fist. They can hear the unspoken word, and spot the authenticity or deceit in a smile. These are the exclusive privileges of 'presence'.
5. Stay alert to psychological moments – In closing, for example, practising presence can help you catch that blink, and seize that nod, as a signal to strike at the opportune moment
6. Keep your radar alive always - Are you alive to that feeling in the gut? To that racing heart beat? To that sweat on your forehead? If your radar is alive all the time, you will recognise these to be vital signals to change course in a negotiation”
SE: “Sir, what are the barriers to presence we should watch out for?”
SC: “That’s simple. What stopped you from paying attention in class?”
SE: “Mobiles. Chats. Party plans. Dating ideas. Missed assignments. Course arrears. And much more!”
SC: “Forget the content. What was the context? Seen in context, here are the
3 Main Barriers to Presence
(1) Regrets about the past. (2) Anxieties about the future. (3) Uncontrolled excitement in the present.
These are the major holes through which your mind drains its energy. Taking itself away from the present”
SE: “Any parting tips on presence Sir?”
SC: “I will leave you with this. Life happens in the present. You only have to present yourself to the immense possibilities of this moment. When you are so mindful, life can’t but shower you with ‘presents’! Good luck to you all”
Pause to reflect: To a newbie in sales, winning seems only about hard work, smart work, practice, skills, frameworks, tools and the entire works. But to grow beyond that, the edge goes to those who practice being ‘present'
Action Question: What are three areas of selling where you can practise presence to become even more effective?
Related Readings: Mercuri Mail Dec 2015 Focus feature on Stoke the Fire Within on Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s timeless lessons for winning in a complex world
Takeaway Quote: “Your presence is the most precious gift you can give to another human being.” — Marshall B. Rosenberg
About the series: This is the 99th in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your Sales Resilience... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.