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Posted by: In: Motivation 30 Aug 2010 0 comments

By Richard White.

The hair on the back of your neck stands on end and you feel strangely spooky. You have just seen and heard something that you are sure you have experienced before. Was it a dream? Was it a premonition? Was it an event just forgotten about? Science is still struggling to explain and reproduce the déjà vu phenomenon.

There is a different form of déjà vu that is simple to reproduce, although slightly less easy to explain. Top performers in most walks of life and especially in sport use it every day. It is a standard ability that we are all born with and most people use fleetingly without realising its true potential. It’s the ability to use your mind’s eye to repeatedly imagine what you want until it happens. At the highest level of sporting achievement, in activities as diverse as golf, football, running, karate, and even table tennis, sports coaches are seeing the dramatic improvements in performance that can come from using mental rehearsal. In this article we look at how you can start to harness the power of mental rehearsal to further boost your sales results.

Daydream your way to success

Mental rehearsal is as natural as daydreaming and a powerful resource to any sales person open minded enough to begin experimenting with it. Using mental rehearsal regularly, little and often, can have a profound impact on results. Mental rehearsal can be easily learned and can help improve many different areas in sales performance, such as:

  • Integrating newly learned skills and techniques so they become habitual;
  • Improving self image and boosting confidence;
  • Making personal and performance goals more compelling and increasing the likelihood of success;
  • Changing automatic emotional responses to certain events (including rejection);
  • Increasing performance levels of new skills, especially inter-personal skills; and
  • Preparing for sales meetings including potentially difficult circumstances.

Making sense of it all

The unconscious mind is the realm of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. When we experience things, they get stored in the five senses. When we recall a memory, we recall these senses. The secret that sports psychologists have discovered is that imagination works with the senses too and where performance is concerned, the unconscious does not differentiate between an experience that has really happened and one that has been imagined. Your mind is the only place where you are guaranteed to do things perfectly whilst you are still developing your skills. Real experience plus mental rehearsal can greatly accelerate your skill level. Amazingly, you can actually programme your neurological system to do an activity just by rehearsing it in your mind’s eye over and over again.

Sports coaches also encourage their performers to mentally rehearse winning competitions and events as they have found that we unconsciously begin to move towards compelling goals that we vividly imagine. The practice of mental rehearsal is supported by decades of research into personal success factors from all walks of life, including sales.

Become a director of your own movies

When mentally rehearsing, it is good to think of the process similar to creating a digital movie in your mind. This is not an ordinary movie where you are just a character. It is a virtual reality movie where you experience everything as if it was real. You have all the options available to movie makers such as freeze frame, cut and paste, fast forward. Changing some of the qualities of the mental movie can have a dramatic impact on how compelling the virtual reality experience is. Things like colour, brightness, zooming in and out, sound, texture, smell and sensations are all a matter of personal preference and something to experiment with.

In your movie you can slow down things that are normally performed for real in a split second (such as making eye contact) to a frame-by-frame basis if necessary. Alternatively, you can speed up things that take time to do in reality, such as giving a sales presentation. This way you can give the presentation in your mind perfectly hundreds of times in the time it would take you to do it once for real.

Design a happy ending first

Unless you are mentally rehearsing a fixed procedure, it is normally easier to start to design your movie by selecting the final scene first and work back to the beginning. The great thing about designing your own movies is that you can make sure you always have a happy ending! Here’s an example of a final scene from an important meeting with a hot prospect:

You imagine you are sitting in your car driving out of the customer’s car park. You glance over to the passenger seat where you can see a copy of the signed contract. You are on a high as everything has worked out just right. You congratulate yourself at how you skilfully managed to overcome the objections that arose and still managed to close the deal. You are looking forward to celebrating this significant deal with your workmates.

Now go back in time and create some more scenes from key parts of the meeting. Keep working backwards until you get to the beginning. Once you have all the scenes in place, play the movie from beginning to end. After running through the whole movie a few times you will be able to run through it much faster whilst still getting the same impact.

Getting into the mood

While you can do mental rehearsal anywhere, it seems to work best when you are relaxed and in a slightly dreamy state – Just like daydreaming. First thing in the morning is a great time – when you are just beginning to wake up and before you are fully awake. Snooze alarms are great devices for mental rehearsal! For most people mental imagery will come most easily in this state and for that reason it is prime time. There are other ways of getting into a dreamy state, however, which do not require a period of sleep first!

One method of getting into the right state for mental rehearsal takes less than five minutes for most people. Sit in a quiet area with your hands lightly on your knees, close your eyes and take some slow deep breaths from your diaphragm area. Breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Focus your attention on the sound of your breath. As your breathing begins to get slower you will notice the sound of your breathing, you become aware of the sensation of your knees beneath your hands, the feeling of your legs on your seat and your feet on the ground. As you continue to relax, and focus your attention on your breathing you will notice how breathing becomes increasingly still and effortless.

With a little practice this state can be achieved very quickly, anytime and anywhere. This means you can use time before appointments, on a train or any spare moment you have to mentally rehearse something many times over.

Getting down to it

Mental rehearsal is easy for anyone to do and can produce powerful results. The down side is that it is also easy not to do. Just like in sport, non-directive coaching from a supportive and encouraging sales manager or external coach can really help to develop and nurture this all-important habit in others. The best way for sales managers to coach in mental rehearsal is to use the process themselves. Mental rehearsal can be just as useful as a tool for sales managers as for sales people. Whatever type of performance you are engaged in, why not make déjà vu experiences work for you?

MENTAL REHEARSAL DO’s

  • Be clear about what you want to achieve before starting to mentally rehearse.
  • Get yourself in a relaxed ‘daydream’ state first
  • Begin with the end in mind. In your mental movie focus first on the happy ending, especially when rehearsing a meeting.
  • Mentally rehearse what you want rather than what you don’t want!
  • Experiment with the picture quality, sound, smells and tastes to make the picture as vivid and compelling as possible

MENTAL REHEARSAL DON’Ts

  • Forget to take action. Mental rehearsal works best when combined with lots of positive action and an expectation of success.
  • Mentally rehearse something unless you will be happy with the consequences of its achievement.
  • Leave it until tomorrow! Remember that little and often is best.

Dexter Moscow is a leading expert in sales communications. For the last 11 years Dexter has been a freelance presenter for QVC The TV Shopping Channel appearing live and selling a myriad of different products. Dexter also trains other QVC presenters in how to craft their pitch and he trains regular sales teams in how to present to win.

This recording contains excellent and concise information on how to get your sales messages across in a compelling way. Dexter explains his 7 P.E.R.F.E.C.T. model for presentations to Richard White and how to ensure you get your prospects to buy without feeling like they have been sold to.

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Posted by: In: NLP 27 Aug 2010 0 comments

By Richard White.

Words are the tools of the trade for sales people. Its not the words the count but how we use them. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) provides a wealth of strategies that show us how to use words to effectively communicate, persuade, and influence. Its fair to say that NLP has more than its fair share of jargon. A lot of NLP techniques were originally discovered by studying a number of top therapists. The aim was to teach the skills to other therapists and so there is an element of therapy related jargon.

It is perfectly possible for sales people to learn and apply many of the strategies without the jargon. It does, however, require a bit of effort from the trainer and it is fair to say that many NLP trainers that work with companies still use the jargon.

It seems that top communicators in any discipline share similar language patterns. Indeed, I have since discovered that many of the advanced language patterns can found in top sales people who have never even heard of NLP!

There are many areas of NLP that involve language skills that can have a positive impact on sales effectiveness. The following are some practical applications:.

Selling stories

This is my favourite application. I have never met a top sales person that does not use stories and metaphor. It is very effective for developing trusted relationships. It is also invaluable when selling complex products and services where the benefits are not immediately obvious. Stories also have applications such as lead generation, to make sales presentations persuasive, and to pre-empt objections. Stories are more like anecdotes rather than fairy stories!

Advanced questioning techniques

NLP provides a deeper understanding of questions and a number of very powerful questioning techniques. It also provides an understanding of how to structure questions to influence someone’s point of view. They can be useful in any area of sales but especially in qualifying, discovering needs, and overcoming objections.

Flexible Communication

Top sales people are excellent at adapting their own language to match the way in which that their clients and prospects prefer to communicate. They instinctively use the right kind of words to match how their prospects think. NLP provides the ability for sales people to develop these skills and increase the range of people they can influence.

Advanced persuasion

NLP includes a number of strategies that are very subtle and can used conversationally to put ideas across in a highly attractive way and also to get prospect to see things differently. This has applications in all areas of sales and especially in overcoming objections and negotiating.

When sales people really ‘get’ NLP its like a child in a sweet shop. Any one of the strategies can have a big impact once mastered. For some people it is a case of learning a new skill and for others it’s a case of further developing an existing skill and understanding how else they can apply it.

Rather than learning all the NLP techniques together, another approach is to master one or two at a time. It is easy to understand a technique intellectually but the real power comes when it becomes engrained so you do not have to even think about it.

There are a lot of areas where NLP can help a sales person to significantly increase sales effectiveness through improving their language skills. NLP at the basic level can be taught without the jargon but even with the jargon the potential for greatly improved results makes it worth the effort.

As Sales Manager it can be a difficult juggling act between selling, managing your team, and doing admin. How can we become more productive and create more time for vital sales activity, especially when we are busy with other work? In this recording, leading productivity expert Richard Maybury explains to Richard White how to better manage our time and maximise the results we get from each and every day.

 

Posted by: In: Communication 26 Aug 2010 0 comments

By Richard White.

Communication and influencing skills are the tools of the trade for sales and continually honing your skills and your mentality in this area is vital. The reality is that selling products and services to customers is not much different than selling ideas to staff and suppliers. People do business with people they like and trust. Using the principles outlined above like seeking win-win solutions, putting yourself in the customers shoes, seeking first to understand and effective listening will all help you to develop strong business relationships.

We communicate with one another all the time and yet improving our communication skills can help us in so many ways. A key part of business is about developing relationships and good communication is vital part of developing strong relationships. Business areas that will be enhanced with honed communication skills include the ability to find and keep more customers, negotiating better deals with suppliers and finding and recruiting better staff.

Here are 7 communication areas that all people in sales need to work on to greatly increase their effectiveness:

Mentally prepare for meetings and important communications

If the outcome of the meeting is important, such as winning a sale or negotiating a better deal, then it should be worth spending a few moments to plan and mentally prepare for your meeting. Consider what your ideal outcome for the meeting would be. Consider the other person’s point of view and ask yourself, ‘if I was that person, what would I be expecting from this meeting?’ As well as being clear how you will benefit, also consider how the other party will benefit too. Business works better when both parties get what they want.

Master the art of small talk

Networking is a key skill in sales lead generation and yet many people find it difficult to know what to say and get small talk going. The important thing to remember is to take an active interest in the other person. If you want to appear interesting then you need to be interested. If you want to talk about your business then ask about the other person’s business first. To initiate a conversation, the favourites people use are still the same, a comment about the weather, asking a question like ‘do you come to these events often?’ or just saying ‘hello’.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

Empathy is a key skill in communication and, in my view, the most important selling skill. This is the ability to see things from the other person’s point of view. To imagine what it is like for the other person, what their motivations might be and what their fears are. Considering the other person’s point of view before you communicate with them will help you to tailor your approach and think ahead as to how you may be able to come up with a win-win solution.

Let the other person speak first

Listening is a very important skill in business and essential in sales. Communication in business is normally a two way process and the golden rule is to seek first to understand the other person or audience before being understood. This is important because we are not mind readers and hearing the other persons point of view or requirements first allows us to tailor our message to meet what the other person wants as well as what we want. In selling situations a common mistake, even for experienced sales people, is to do all the talking and try and persuade your prospect that your product of service is what they need. It is much better to ask them some questions first to find out more specifically what they need. They will give you the information you need on how to influence them. If you are making a presentation to a number of people then it is useful to do some research about them before the presentation to find out their expectations.

Work on your questioning skills

One of the things that will help you most in communication and especially sales is to really understand what the other person is thinking. You also need to able to take charge of any conversation, There is so much one can learn about questioning techniques but at the most simplistic level it all boils down to open and closed questions. So many people in sales are aware of the difference between these types of questions but get confused as to when to use them.

If you want to get someone talking then be sure to use open questions rather than closed questions.

Open questions start with words like What, Why, How, When. For example, ‘What is most important to you about……?’ Use open questions when you want to get the conversation going and to find out detail, such as at the beginning of a sales meeting or when interviewing for staff.

Closed questions are ideal for closing a conversation or sale as they normally just require a one word answer. For example, ‘Would you like to pay by cash or cheque?’ If you want to get the other person to stop talking then use closed questions rather than open ones.

Listen Carefully

We have a natural ability to listen and yet most people are too busy thinking what to say or waiting to say what they want that they do not really hear the other person. Careful listening will show the other person that you are interested in them and respect them as a human being. It is also good business sense as you will be in a better position to influence the other person. Good listening involves paying attention to the body language as well as the words used and the tone. Ask yourself ‘What is this person really saying?’

Go for Win-Win Solutions

Whatever situation you are in, adopt an attitude of Win-Win. That means that as well as you getting what you want, you want the other party to benefit too. For example, if you are negotiating with a supplier and you want to develop a longer term relationship then it is important that they are able to benefit from dealing with you. Even though you may be able to negotiate the price down so that they are not making a profit from dealing with you, it is unlikely that you get the sort of service and commitment from the supplier, especially on the occasions when you need the supplier to meet a tight deadline.

Can improving the way we dress have an impact on our levels of success?

In this recording leading image consultant Pauline Crawford explains to Richard White why the way we present ourselves is so important in sales and some simple changes you can make in order to increase your impact with clients and prospects.