The Tao of Sales
An Easier Way to Sell in Tough Times
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The Tao of Sales: Finding Without Looking - 3

How do you "Find without Looking?" Let what you need come to you rather than scrambling around after it. How do you do that? By emptying your mind and actually listening to customers. The notion of "empty mind" or "beginner's mind" is at the foundation of martial arts. It starts with freeing ourselves from all the "chatter' inside our heads about what happened in the past (or what we imagine happened), and even more important, all the emotion and "meaning" we attach to what we "remember" (most of which we're actually making up about ourselves or our customers). For an example of the interpretation process that goes on in our minds all the time, read "Help. I Need to Sneeze" in Stories

If you find yourself running self-blaming, self-defeating scripts in your head ("I don't ask questions because I'm afraid I won't know the answer" "I'm not an expert; why should the customer listen to me?") STOP DOING IT. Do the same with projections about what you think is "going" to happen. ("The customer is just interested in price. They'll never talk to me about what they really need.")

Instead, ask yourself questions like: "What don't I know about this prospect that I want to find out?" "What's new in the relationship with this customer?" and use questions and effective listening to help you learn. For insights into improving your listening, read "Becoming a Superstar Sales Listener" in Articles.

If you want simple steps to move forward in "Finding without Looking," read Chris Lytle's The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Sales Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve. It's loaded with common sense action steps.

Mastery Click here for all the Mastery exercises in this section

Open Your Ears:

The way most of us were taught to sell was to listen for what we want to hear - customer needs, buying signals, or the customer's internal "pain." That's not listening. That's just recording verbal cues in order to pounce on what we imagine might be the opportunity to get our agenda accomplished.

It turns selling into a game of "blind men's bluff," groping around blindfolded in a lightless room, searching for a black pig - that doesn't exist. Why doesn't it work? Two reasons: Unless we use questions to explore what the customer means by what he or she says, we won't really understand the actual opportunity; and usually, without that combination of patient questioning and listening, neither will the customer.

Because selling is so stressful, we also listen often for what we fear - rejection, disapproval, lack of trust, hidden agendas (that exclude us), loss of control. In order to step away from those self-imposed limitations, we have to hear them first, and recognize them for what they are, the sound of our own fear in our mind.

Tom Behr, author of The Tao of Sales, provides a compelling, tough-minded and deeply caring perspective on today's turbulent, fast-moving business world - like a fresh breeze in a congested room.
Interview Report

"The more we talk, the less people listen.

The more we get, the more we seem to need.

The more we demand, the less people give willingly.

The more we try to control the future, or dwell on the past, the less meaning we experience in each day."

Tao of Sales 2

Chi Do It Now

Ask yourself how you feel during a typical work day. Balanced? Focused? Relaxed? Happy? Purposeful? Or the opposite?

Name your greatest fear or stress inducer and share it with a colleague or friend. "I'm often afraid that..."

Ask your colleague or friend to help you find a way to view that situation more positively. Pay attention to how you feel and what you fear.