At Intense Coaching and Consulting Worldwide (ICCW), we embrace 30 coaching keys to unlocking happier, more fulfilling lives for the long-term. These coaching keys are essentially behaviors and thought processes to increase happiness and avoid precursors to unhappiness. A few of these keys are particularly relevant to those in the sales profession. In the next few posts I will discuss three of these coaching keys.
Empathizing with Others
When we empathize with others …
We put ourselves in their shoes. We try to see things from their point of view. We try to feel the way they feel. By so empathizing with other people, we are better able to develop friendships with them, communicate with them, and understand them. In other words, we are able to build and sustain better relationships with others. Better relationships with others make us happier.
Empathy is critical for sales professionals because …
If a sales professional cannot put himself in the shoes of a prospect (i.e., understanding the prospect’s needs, concerns, goals), then the likelihood of effecting a sale is vastly reduced. An emotional and/or other disconnect between buyer and seller is likely to arise, defeating the goal of either party.
To increase empathy, a sales professional should …
● Practice listening skills so as to insure that he is clearly understanding the prospects needs, concerns, and goals both personally and professionally
● Envision himself in the shoes of the prospect to better understand the prospect’s needs, concerns, and goals from the prospect’s perspective
● Identify common ground with a prospect on a personal level to establish, and then increase, the personal bond between himself and the prospect
● Utilize NLP techniques (e.g., mirroring and matching) to create more efficient and accurate communication between himself and the prospect
● Take time to verbally express his understanding of the prospect’s needs, concerns, and goals so as to reassure the prospect that he clearly understands them
Here are two more simple interventions that can increase your happiness level, putting you in the best position possible to maximize the results of your business development endeavors:
Happiness Intervention #2: Acts of Kindness
Perform random acts of kindness each day. Any act of kindness to another person will suffice (e.g., offering to assist someone in need, providing directions to a stranger, or helping a co-worker, putting change in parking meters, helping their friends with homework, visiting someone in the nursing home, shoveling snow for an older neighbor). Sales professionals might send along a gift to a prospect, invite a prospect to a fun event, or refer business to a prospect.
Happiness Intervention #3: Processing Positive Experiences
Write, talk, or think privately about positive life experiences for fifteen minutes on three consecutive days. One could write down or recount those times when he or she was successful in doing something at work, at home, with kids, in sports, winning an award, helping someone, achieving a goal, or when someone thanked you for something. Sales professionals could write down or recount those times when he or she was successful in making sales, or when customers thanked him or her for excellent service.
As with Happiness Intervention #1, the above interventions are simple to implement, and can yield massive benefits for one’s personal level of happiness, thus increasing the likelihood of sales success!
In this Happiness Sales Edge series I have postulated that there is, in fact, a scientific relationship between our personal level of happiness as business development professionals and the likelihood of our sales success. We first discussed a brief definitional framework within which to better understand what we mean by “authentic happiness,” which should be our goal in life generally. Then we took a look at some of the results of key, and fairly recent, happiness research championed by Positive Psychology, which demonstrates the various benefits of higher levels of happiness, particular as they relate to sales success. Thus, if being happier massively increases the likelihood of our sales success, then we need to have some tools at our disposal that can help us increase our happiness.
An “intervention” is simply an activity that can help us move forward to a desired outcome. Happiness interventions have been proven to increase individuals’ happiness levels. They have been scientifically tested for effectiveness, as reported by prominent researchers and other scholars.
In this and the next few posts I will summarize some of the more effective happiness interventions. They will provide you with a number of ways to boost your happiness level! You will find that these interventions are deceptively simple—so much so that one might be tempted to trivialize the activities recommended because of their simplicity and, frankly, in many cases, their reflection of common sense. But don’t be fooled: These interventions work and are worth giving a try.
Happiness Intervention #1: Count Your Blessings
Express gratitude. Write in a “gratitude journal” five things you are grateful for once a week (e.g., every Sunday night). Or, write and send a gratitude letter to someone in your life. Studies have found that people who did that became happier. This will re-wire our brains. A sales professional might consider writing down all of his or her existing customers or writing a letter to an existing customer thanking that person for his or her business.
Who would like to make more money? (I guess that’s a rhetorical question.)
This post will wrap-up a few of the examples of the practical benefits of happiness, as supported by the excellent, and fairly recent, research on the topic of happiness.
The final happiness by-product I would like to share with you is this: Happier people make more money! There is a strong causal connection between happiness and determining one’s income. Positive individuals with healthy self-esteem tend to earn significantly more than less positive people. Thus, it is highly recommended that sales professionals take more action to become and stay more positive.
My goal in these past few posts regarding happiness research was to try and convince you that happiness is relevant to the sales process. I hope I have accomplished my goal, because with a lot of research in recent years, we can now adopt a new perspective on happiness, and use happiness and its by-products to maximize our sales efforts.
A sales professional’s happiness level must not be ignored, as it is indicative of sales success. Instead, organizations should educate their sales force about the benefits of positive emotion and the massive edge on their competition they can get by harnessing their happiness level. Sales professionals should begin to give renewed, focused attention to their own happiness, thereby increasing their level of optimism, conveying heightened positive emotion to prospects, and otherwise taking full advantage of the numerous benefits of an enhanced happiness level.
In the new few post I’d like to provide several practical happiness interventions to help you increase your personal level of happiness, as a sales professional or other business-getter within your organization. The interventions I will discuss are backed by research and have been proven to increase the happiness levels of individuals!
Here are two more important, practical happiness by-products that we can enjoy by making a conscious effort to increase our personal level of happiness, which, in each case, give us an additional edge over our competition in a business development context.
Have you ever started to pursue a goal, and over time find yourself veering off course? Happy people are more goal-oriented. The ability to stay focused on sales goals is imperative to success. Rejection and the time horizon of certain sales cycles can cause the enthusiasm and focus of a sales professional to drift and wane unnecessarily. High positive emotion can keep one focused properly and for as long as necessary to achieve stated sales goals.
When you deal with prospects, how important is it to size up their emotions? Happier people are more emotionally intelligent. Thus, they are better able to navigate emotional aspects of a customer’s decision-making process. Every prospect is different with his or her own emotional tone level, perspective, and desired means of communication. Having a higher emotional intelligence level gives the sales professional an enhanced means of understanding “where the prospect is coming from,” empathizing with the prospect in connection with a customer needs analysis, and otherwise adjusting communication methods to best match the emotional tone of the prospect, making communication more effective.
As we can see, increasing our happiness level generally in our lives can, and will, yield massive advantages like increased goal-orientation and emotional intelligence–both benefits that will allow us to maximize our business development success.
In the next few posts I’d like to share some additional research that helps us to further appreciate the critical relationship between happiness and sales. This deeper understanding, can—hopefully—help energize us to achieve authentic happiness in our lives and maximize the benefits of happiness in our business development endeavors.
What do you think is the rejection rate for sales in most businesses? In many businesses, sale professionals experience rejection 90% of the time. Such massive rejection rate demands that a sales professional rebound quickly from the failure or other inability to close. Research shows that happier people are more resilient. The ability to bounce back faster from rejection gives sales professionals an advantage by being able to get back “up to bat” quickly and convey positive emotion to subsequent prospects.
Who would like to be more productive in their sales efforts—or generally? Happier people are more productive, thus more likely to be efficient, persistent, and accomplished generally in connection with their sales efforts. Inefficiency is a time-waster and deal killer, especially as an unproductive sales approach can cause prospective deals to die by sheer passage of time.
It thus behooves us to pay more attention to our personal level of happiness and use all the tools at our disposal to increase our happiness as much as possible. In addition to this serving as a general life benefit, an increased happiness level can help us remain resilient and more productive in our sales efforts.
As we continue our thoughts on some of the research behind the relationship between happiness and sales, we are advised to consider the interesting world of “mirror neurons,” and how they radically affect a prospect’s reaction to our pitch. Research involving mirror neurons provides a glimpse into the powerful effect of a sales professional’s positive emotion on a potential customer.
Live Science describes research on primate brains which revealed a cluster of cells in the area of the brain which controls the planning of movements. The cluster of cells reacted not only when the primate performed an action itself, but also when it observed the same action performed by another. Researchers coined the term “mirror neurons” because the cells “mirrored” the actions that the primates observed in others. Subsequently, researchers have reported that humans also have these mirror neurons, and discovered that such mirror neurons not only mirrored actions, they mirrored sensations and emotions. Ever wonder why your smile evokes a nearly instantaneous smile from someone else?
Thus, while a prospect listening to a sales pitch may be listening to the words, her brain’s mirror neurons are firing at the same time in reaction to the salesperson’s emotions, demeanor, etc. A positive, uplifting attitude and demeanor will have the effect of increasing the positivity of the prospect, which will increase the likelihood of establishing trust, building rapport, and ultimately obtaining a commitment by the prospect to do business.
The opposite is also true: a lower level of positivity yields a lower likelihood of accomplishing these critical sales goals. If a disconnect exists between the words that are cognitively processed and the emotions that are mirrored, the pitch will likely be less potent. In other words, if a sales pitch is otherwise brilliant, a sales professional’s negative or mediocre emotion will prompt the prospect to mirror such emotion internally, thus reducing the likelihood of trusting the sales professional, getting into rapport with her, and making the mental decision to move forward with a purchase.
The take away here is to remain positive, with an uplifting attitude and demeanor every step of the way with a prospective client or customer.