Last week I received an email from a friend of The Sales Blog. He is a consistent reader and sent me his comments about something I had written here. One line in his email has been on my mind ever since. At one point in his email he writes: “How can I make my prospects more willing to buy from me?”
Words have meanings and the language choices we make reveal a lot about how and what we think. My friend starts with the idea that he has to “make” his prospects more willing to buy from him and his group. His statement reveals that he is searching for something to do that would change his prospects. He is trying to control their response to him.
We have no control over anything but ourselves. And, most of that time, this is debatable.
To change your prospects, you have to change yourself.
What Aikido Has Taught Me About Sales
I practice the Japanese martial art aikido. It is a beautiful art built on the idea of compassion and harmony. And it is perhaps the most difficult and unnatural thing I have ever tried to do.
What makes aikido so frustrating is the fact that you don’t meet force with force. In a normal contest, the bigger and stronger person almost always wins. When someone attacks you, the normal reaction is to try to greet the incoming force with force; it is normal and natural to try to control the other person. But it is wrong to try to control other people, as it almost always ends up in a conflict in which one or both people get hurt.
Aikido helps you to unlearn the desire to greet force with force, and to instead blend with the incoming force by changing yourself. It has taken me well over a year to learn to resist the urge to greet force with force and to instead connect with my attacker and simply move out of the way of their attack. By changing myself, I have changed the other person. Changing the other person by changing yourself usually results in the other person ending up face down on the mat and pinned. As far as the martial arts are concerned, this is compassion.
You don’t realize how natural and normal the urge to control the other person is until someone new steps onto the mat. Try as you might to tell them or show them how not to resist and to how to move, nothing works except the person spending time on the mat unlearning all they have learned.
What does this have to do with sales? Everything.
An Open Letter To My Friend
There are no tips, no tactics, and no gimmicks that will have a more profound effect on your sales than changing yourself. Instead of looking for something that will make your prospects buy from you, decide what it is you have to change about yourself that will cause the response from your prospects to change.
Changing your own beliefs and behaviors is the real work of becoming effective in sales, and it is the foundation of personal and professional development.
By changing yourself, you change how you are perceived. If your prospects aren’t buying from you, don’t think about how to “make” them more willing to buy from you. This indicates that you are focused on “them.” Your time, your effort, and your energy is better spent on trying to change the only thing you may be able to exercise any reasonable amount of control over: yourself.
If your sales are not what you want them to be (or what you need them to be), know that the outcomes that you are now getting are the result of who you are and the actions that you are taking. If you want your results to change, then you have to change.
1. How much energy do you spend trying and failing to get a response from a prospect or client?
2. What could you change about you that might allow you to better achieve the result you want and need from the prospect or client?
3. What do you do naturally that you need to unlearn to achieve the outcome that you want from your prospects or clients?
5. What do you need to unlearn?
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