FLOATS: Raises the bar beyond binary approaches, taking the road less travelled

The Sales Coach in our stories, shares with you insights on what has worked for him in his life long sales career. His focus is on overarching positive behaviours that will build resilience into your sales practices and habits. His conversations with Sales Enthusiasts are varied. Often they are about practical tips and hacks on how to practise specific positive sales behaviours. At other times, like today, it is about higher order behaviours. So, what’s up on this conversation? Let’s listen in:

The Sales Coach was meeting the Sales Enthusiasts on a video call … He said:

“I had a brief glimpse of you all, as always, before we started this call. I can tell from your faces that month end is here. But tell me, why are your smiles strained and your looks, worried?”

A Sales Enthusiast (SE) said:

“Target blues Sir. I normally enjoy coming to these mentoring sessions. But today I feel fidgety. It’s such an effort to resist the temptation to check my mobile to see if that prospect I met the day before has got back to me on the offer I made. Then there are anxieties of reminder mails from our Territory Head. Was sales stressful like this in your days too Sir?”

The Sales Coach (SC) said:

“Sales has always been the same. The quotas, stretch targets, end of period pressures, demanding procurement teams and Customers who seem to take an eternity to make up their minds on buying. The reality of sales hasn’t changed. But here’s the thing. This might sound corny. Stress comes from how we process and respond to this reality. Let me ask you this… What matters most to you today?”

SE: "Winning or losing. Hitting targets or missing them"

SC: "What about selling? Does that matter? Truth is, often we get so fixated on win-lose that selling itself doesn’t seem to count as much as winning or losing. Yes? ...

It is 20 seconds and there's nothing in the chat window. No one unmuted. I take it that you're all mulling over what I just said.

So, that's the thing. Your stress has its roots in that binary approach. Between the moments of winning and losing, are the valuable experiences of selling.

In my days, I was so busy selling, I had no time to feel stressful. I used to get tired by the end of the day, so I simply ate and slept.

Of course, I had my share of wins and losses. But they felt like fleeting moments because I decided to get totally absorbed in the process of selling. What stayed with me during, in between and after those moments, was the experiences, the efforts and the behaviors, that made those moments happen.

Selling is so beautiful. It’s like this.. Chandigarh is beautiful. Shimla is pretty. The terrain in between is even more charming. If you can't enjoy the beauty before you, on the way, the journey can be stressful! Agree?

Thanks for those Yes messages. So, you agree. Okay, what would you give if I can introduce you to a behaviour that can help you transcend this binary approach? Help you feel like a winner 100% of the time?”

SE: “Sir, that will be the miracle drug, almost like the Covid vaccine,the world is looking for now”

SC: “You shouldn’t accuse me of sounding simplistic or philosophical. Let’s not forget, that’s the way most life lessons sound.

My suggestion is this. You should learn to Float. It may sound odd to describe a sales behaviour as ‘Float’. For a moment imagine you're swimming in a pool. You have done some brisk laps for a while. You're tired. But you don’t leave the pool. You are in the water. Neither under the water, nor not out of it.

You are fully aware and alert, silent and still. You are floating. Relaxed and ready to move any time. Like that eagle high up in the air, that seems to have frozen its wings, floating in the sky. Yet it is alert, alive to the movement on the ground below. Patient. Ready to dive down and takeoff with its prey.

That’s the behaviour you should invoke - Float. If you are a drop of water, you would be on a lotus leaf. You’re there yet not there because you’re untouched by the leaf”

SE: “Sounds profound, almost poetic. But how does this help me get better at selling?”

SC: “In my experience there are 2 critical ways in which this helps. First when you float, you are relaxed, unattached to the win-loss binary outcomes, prepared to act whenever necessary.

It roots your attention on the action, not on the binary consequences action entails. To root yourself in the binary is very ordinary. The extraordinary float in the space in between. To them, in every win there are lessons to learn. And, in every loss, there are things done well.

Obviously, they win more than they lose. In every win there is some loss.. may be you could have improved your margin, negotiated a tighter credit period or asked for the delivery costs.

Flip that and in every loss, there is some win.. surely, you have learnt what didn’t work, where to improve and how you can pull it off the next time round.

Second when you are not strung up on the outcome you create immense value for your Customer. Suddenly it’s the Customer who wants the deal more than even you do”

SE: “Any suggestions Sir, on how we can internalize floating? ”

SC: “Yes. Here they are, with one small caveat. Each one of us internalizes higher order behaviors like ‘Float’ very differently. That's how it should be, because the internalization is a function of what are our preferred foundational behaviors are and which ones we excel in. So, see these suggestions as pointers. Trust your inner voice to tell you what it feels about them. Then listen and float with it!

6 Ways to Internalize Floating as a Sales Behaviour:

(1) Be a part and stay apart – Apply the Goldilocks principle in relationships - neither too hot, nor too cold, keeps things warm. Stay tuned to the Customer, while staying away from coming across as desperate.

(2) Practise Active Patience – Like that eagle up in the sky, cultivate the habit of doing everything that’s required to genuinely help the Customer while patiently waiting in readiness for the closing moment to emerge at its own organic pace.

(3) Stay balanced and unhurried – Send your proposals only after you get a laser sharp idea of the Customer's need and the perfection of your value and solution fit.

(4) Become equipoised – Do what it takes to demonstrate value to the Customer, without losing yourself in the anxiety to win or the fear of losing the deal.

(5) Conquer price worries – Get beyond the binary of holding the price or discounting, that bogs down the average salesperson. Always show the Customer how your offer, when quantified for value delivered, is better than what the Customer wants from you.

(6) Take the road less travelled – Get your efforts to play in that space between the dichotomies. In that space, free from the burden of outcomes, pressure feels like pleasure, sweat is sweet, and boring becomes beautiful. Remember this, there is never a traffic jam on the extra mile!

SE: “Sir, thank you for teaching us today the new law of gravity. We now know the secret of floating our way to success”

Pause to reflect:  To root yourself in the binary is very ordinary. The extraordinary float in the space in between. To them, in every win there are lessons to learn. And, in every loss, there are things done well.

Action Question: How can you practise floating behaviour to refine and perfect your sales technique?

Related Readings:  Mercuri Mail Mar 2019 Ravi’s Corner The Craftsman

Takeaway Quote: “The only way to truly be happy is to be free from any outcomes”- Abraham Maslow

About the series:   This is the 96th 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.


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