Have you ever done something in real life and immediately wished you could hit the virtual world's "BACK" button? That's exactly what I wanted to do April 18th when I stepped backwards off my second porch step, landed on the edge of the cement walkway and twisted my left ankle as I went down to the ground hard. I spent the evening at a Sister's of Mercy Urgent Care Center (these people are wonderful, by the way) awaiting X-rays and diagnosis of a fractured fibula. I had been sentenced to a cast and crutches for 6-8 weeks. (I'm aiming at four weeks!)
How could this happen at the height of Spring garden planting, photographic excursions and hiking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mtn trails around Asheville -- not to mention the upcoming trip to visit clients in NYC and Boston, and a week at the Outer Banks with family in late May. Could I just pretend it didn't happen and make it go away? Afraid not, Chris. Yea, it was a stupid move, but it is what it is. The only thing to do now, is move forward. There is no "BACK" button in real life!
So, a couple weeks into my unexpected adventure I thought it would be worthwhile to list some of what I've learned -- even if just for myself -- and perhaps you will find it useful as well. In a nutshell, the limited mobility has forced me to slow down and be more careful and thoughtful about everything I do. I'm getting an opportunity to be more in concert with my philosophy of "living fully in the present moment", and I must say, it's suprisingly profound in its impact. I encourage you to step back, slow down, take a few deep breaths and get in the present moment flow WITHOUT having to go through an incident like I did!
OK, here's the list:
- You cannot change what has already happened -- you can only move forward
- Use the down time to reflect, re-focus, repair, strengthen, learn new things, and develop new skills, habits & attributes
- Find creative ways to adapt to unexpected situations and discover new pathways that bring you joy and fulfillment
- Don't be dissuaded from an inspired path, if upon reflection it still holds up in spite of changing circumstances
- In truth, multi-tasking is a myth. The human mind can only focus on one thing in each micro-second, so pay attention to what's most important in the moment
- Be happy, enjoy life, don't pout or complain
Two conversations with sales colleagues in the past week inspired the theme of this blog. One was a conversation with Alan, who had just rejoined a former employer to take over an under-performing territory. Alan and I were noting that in our experience new sales opportunities often emerge unexpectedly and totally separately from our proactive outreach or cold calling campaigns. It's as if by "stirring the pot" through our own efforts, something from out in left field shows up. We agreed that the key success factors when such opportunities show up are 1) being fully present to the prospect and their story; 2) paying close attention in order to get clarity on the key buying motivations; and 3) taking quick and creative action to align our solutions with their need. Alan had already generated two new consulting engagements through this approach, creating such a high degree of trust and moving so quickly that the client felt no need to speak with the competition.
The second conversation was with Desiree, whom I met locally after coming across a notification of her talk on "The Power of Deep and Soulful Listening" submitted for IgniteAsheville.
I reached out to Desiree on Twitter, and we met over tea. Desiree told me the story of an eleventh-hour inspiration on the eve of her 46th birthday. She decided at 11:30pm that evening to offer a one-hour coaching session for the incredibly low price of $46 to anyone who scheduled the session the day of her birthday. She logged into her blog site, wrote the offer and sent out the notification to her blog and Twitter followers by midnight. By the next morning on her birthday, 20 people had signed up for sessions, many of whom have continued since with fully paid sessions.
In both Alan’s and Desiree’s case, they were fully present to see opportunities (or creative ideas in Desiree’s case) that presented themselves, they paid attention to how the opportunity could be leveraged, and they took swift action to bring it to fruition.
The photo you see here was taken at the end of a day of shooting when we were short on time; but the special moment of light, wildflowers and cloud formations were too good to pass up! Are you taking advantage of the three simple qualities, Be Present, Pay Attention and Be Nimble in your personal or professional life? Perhaps an even simpler title for this idea would be “seize the moment”!
In photography, the frame of view makes a world of difference what the image conveys and the impact to the viewer. Similarly, in life, our frame of reference - or context - makes all the difference in what we perceive and how we interact with the world around us. I have found this to be especially true in my sales career, and I expect this relates to any career or avocation you may have.
So, what is the context within which you engage in your chosen profession or hobbies?
This may seem "self-centered" at first glance, but I have found the more I know about my deeper reality as a human being, the more I have opened up to love and appreciate the world around me, including my human family and all life on the planet.
For me, "life in the sales lane" has been greatly enriched by seeking and finding answers (at least provisional ones!) to the core questions of life and human existence. For starters, what kind of answers do you get when you ask yourself these questions: Who and What am I? What does it mean to be a human being? Is there a purpose to life and if so, how does it express itself in my life?
Perhaps you have found answers to these questions through your religious practice, or philosophical exploration. If so, do they really work for you? Have they become answers that you own, and naturally live? Have they become rigid, constricting, or lead to divisiveness in life relations. Or do your questions and the answers that come to you help you live in love with life and open to new possibilities? Do they lead to greater success and balance in personal and professional life?
Whether or not you have formulated or been gifted with your own personal answers to similar questions, there is transformational power in asking them with an open, inquisitive mind and heart. Even glimpses into personal answers will expand the context within which you engage in life relationships, play and profession.
Sometimes the most impactful answers to our self-inquiries come in unexpected moments. Its not always in moments of meditation, silence, or “down time”. For me inspirations and insights often come in the midst of my “life in the sales lane”. Are you listening to your inner voice? It may be speaking to you ever so quietly. Don’t miss the cues!
My friend Jim is a retired B2B insurance salesman, with tons of sales experience. In one of our conversations about discovering the soul of the sale, he commented, "You describe an ideal situation where both you and the buyer are clear, confident and self-assured; and the prospect is personally empowered by their employer to make a decision. I found selling much easier in this setting. The challenge is to find those conditions in a prospect company."
Jim described his experience in dealing with prospects who are so wrapped up in their own personal situation that it is all but impossible to 'get through to them'. For him, active listening and related techniques didn't always work. Jim asked, how does the soul of the sale approach help with situations where you don’t have ideal conditions?
Well that got my juices flowing! It is especially the challenging situations with dis-empowered or preoccupied prospects where a connection with the soul level transforms the sales process. Jim and I came to the same conclusion that the most important thing a sales person can orchestrate in a new or existing sales relationship can be expressed in one word: CLARITY.
Both sales person and customer must have a clear picture and understanding of what needs to be achieved and what will be offered and delivered. Not every relationship is the right match, and not every sales opportunity will come to fruition. Getting to that level of clarity is crucial in navigating the sales journey, and being focused on the most important relationships.
As I reflected on the idea of CLARITY, it occurred to me that the letters make a great acronym for a set of core principles or attributes that empower what I call “soulful selling”, or better yet, “awakened selling”.
Creativity: transformational sales are created, not made; create the environment you desire
Leadership: lead the change you expect to see in others; live your vision
Attachment: prospects feel the tentacles of your attachment; set them free
Renewal: people sense how you perceive them; suspend judgment, be in the moment
Intent: pure intent opens the door to productive exchange; be of service
Trust: doubts undermine agreement; know your product, build trust through transparency
Yoga: divergent points of view are part of life; don’t argue, find the unity in diversity
These ideas will surely come up in future posts and discussions. I invite you to comment and share your own experience with how you may have discovered some of the same principles in your own sales (or life) journey…