Intent Blog

Mind-States for Selling Success

I have written recently on the subject of maintaining client relationships and getting repeat business. In this article I want to speak about the initial sales process and how to achieve Selling Success. I have had the opportunity to interview the top sales people in two South African insurance companies. Here are some of the important discoveries.

While selling, the people whom I interviewed, indicated that they were aware of different facets in the process of selling. There was typically a different beginning for different clients. Equally important: they knew how to change the tone of the conversation during the contact. There were times when it was best to listen, times to explain, times to sell and a time for closing. Each of these times asked for a different skill- and emotional-state to deal with the client. For example: to listen well, asks a different kind of attention than the kind of attention required for explaining. But importantly, in both cases the attention was directed at the client (“that was where the action is”) but selecting what to pay attention to was different.

What makes “states” so important? A state is the condition of one’s mind-body at any one time. How you think and feel shapes how you perceive and relate to other people. Some states allow you to be more resourceful, i.e. being in a confident state allows better observation and influencing styles. Other states that you experience as restrictive or “stuck,” are for example, being uncertain, embarrassed to close, etc. One effect of restrictive states is what you would want to do and do for real, don’t match. This mismatch between state and event and outcome has a variety of names, ranging from “dumb” to “out of it” to “stupid.” Being in the right state, to do the right things is called “success.”

I have learned this from top sales people: for you to be a genius at selling, and to handle the variety of things that can happen in this sophisticated interaction, the right states are essential for flexibility. To be all fired up and ready to say the line which will make the client whip out their pen and shove you aside in their haste to sign, is not a helpful state to be in if you need to listen carefully to the person. Energy and action does not make for good listening. Or, laid back and receptive is not a good state for convincingly demonstrating the excitement of doing business with you.

Attitude for Success

“Hitch your wagon to a star” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“I have always wanted to be somebody, but now I see I should have been more specific.”  – Jane Wagner

“There is always room at the top” – Daniel Webster.

“Well is it known that ambition can creep as well as soar” – Edmund Burke.

I could have easily called this section “the intention for success” since it comes to the same thing. From the above quotes on ambition the lesson that I draw is that unless I drive my wagon, I risk being anybody. If I firmly belief that there is room for me at the top, then I will tolerate whether I creep or soar as the circumstances require. My dancing with the circumstances, seeing it for what it is and to decide what is the right thing to do, I do better to get success.

Getting into a State for Success.

Watching successful sales people, how they manage their states, I soon detected a pattern. They did three things: control posture, breathing and voice tone. I was amazed that I knew this, but did not do it consistently.

Posture: loosely called “body language,” is more than that. Have you noticed other people, or yourself, how a body shapes itself when feeling confident? More upright; comfortable breathing somewhere in the middle of your chest; tone of voice deeper and controlled? Please, take a moment and get your own “code” by putting yourself in a confident state and take good notice of how your body shapes itself. Just for a moment, do “uncertain” and notice what your body now does. Our posture is shaped by the physiology that goes into a state. Good research by Amy Cuddy has convinced me that shaping posture is the key to different states.

Breathing: posture is very useful to control breathing. The more upright and comfortable, the bigger area in your chest for breathing. The kind of breathing you do, and where in your chest you breathe fits with your state. High energy, like passion or anxiety, lets you breathe fast and typically in your upper chest. Calm, relaxed or inquisitive are low energy in leads to breathing lower in your chest.

Voice tone: it is no surprise that the tone of your voice (high or low), and its tempo, is the outcome of your posture and breathing. If you wish, try this for a moment: get excited, and notice where your breathing comes from, and how your voice tone rises and becomes faster. Relax into a low energy state, like relaxation, and notice how the change in breathing effects your voice tone and tempo.

Emotional states help in a big way to trigger the appropriate mental skill-sets. Have you noticed how the successful professionals maintain peak performance even though they have flue? They do it through state management: posture, breathing, voice.

Armand Kruger

Armand Kruger qualified as a clinical psychologist at the University of Pretoria in 1972. Since 1973 he has been working with one burning question: How do successful people do it differently? What alternatives are they doing in their minds not done by the average or the underachiever? To answer that question he went outside of mainstream psychology to find cognitive process models that will capture the essence of success.