Monday, May 13 2013

“Don’t just sit there, do something!”

That exhortation rings in my ears whenever I sit quietly, stare out the window, and let my mind flow where it will in order to solve a problem or capture an opportunity. I’m not sure who planted that message. Perhaps it was my father when he caught me staring off into space instead of cleaning the stables. Regardless, it is ingrained and still arrives uninvited when I sit and visualize the various paths my future could take.

I suspect many hard-working salespeople are nagged by well-meaning authority figures from their past who didn’t appreciate the value of visioning. Some of my most valuable ideas surface when I look out the window and ponder the best way to deal with a troublesome situation. Even now, as I write this article, I glance out the window for inspiration or to formulate a sentence correctly.

Once we get past the idea that visioning is not valuable, how do we use it to improve our sales performance?

Great salespeople visualize.

They look into the future and set goals for themselves. Visualizing a clear path to where they want to be and what they want to accomplish is a powerful motivator.

They imagine themselves in their customer’s shoes. By understanding the other person’s perspectives, needs and wants, a salesperson can pick better ways to explain their services and preempt objections before they arise.

They come up with unique solutions to old problems, connecting the normally unrelated to create new ways to sell their products. Software companies like Google reinvented how they did business by adopting Gillett’s strategy of giving away the razor and selling the blades. Once hooked, those consumers become long-term customers.

Olympic skiers learn to visualize themselves going down the mountain, feeling the bumps, negotiating the slippery spots, leaning into the curves, crossing the finish line. Every bit of the run has been experienced in their mind’s eye, hundreds of times before the actual race.

Top salespeople do the same thing prior to a sales call. They envision the meeting place, the opening greeting, the questions they’ll ask, the responses they expect to get, the way the conversation flows, the successful conclusion to the meeting and the smile on their boss’s face when they bring in the contract. They have rehearsed the meeting several times in their imagination. They expect to walk out with the sale and that confidence is conveyed to the customer and helps to guide their behavior.

In today’s ever-changing marketplace, the new message should be, “Don’t just do something, sit there!”