How Mindfulness Will Elevate Your Sales Game
Mindfulness and sales don’t always feel like they go hand-in-hand, but we had the chance to sit down with Cindy Goldsberry, a former Boundless executive, author and strategic sales visionary, to learn how harnessing authentic mindfulness in your sales process can be impactful.
Why is mindfulness so important when it comes to sales?
Cindy Goldsberry: I think mindfulness is most important when we think about the motivations of the buyer. We’re in sales—and when we understand the motivations of the person we’re in conversation with, it can help us (and them!) a great deal.
There is a large spectrum from which people operate. On one end of that spectrum is fear—fear of not solving the problem, fear of spending too much money, fear of not succeeding at their job. On the other end is greed—what’s in it for them? Is this deal going to make me look good? When you’re aware of where on the spectrum your client or prospect is, you’re tuned in to understanding what it is that they want to accomplish.
Another reason mindfulness is important is when it comes to your sales pitch. It’s easy to default to a standard pitch, without tailoring it to the demographic of the person you’re pitching to or simply highlighting features and cost. But when you pitch from that default, you’re not highlighting what motivates the buyers and what they could accomplish by purchasing the product.
You often speak about how successful sales is in living a life of mindful authenticity—what are some ways salespeople can harness mindful authenticity on the day-to-day?
CG: People can tell if you’re present or not—most of us just ignore it. We’re just so used to going about the motions that we allow ourselves to be in this state of illusion where other things are more important than what’s happening in front of us at any given moment. All life is a series of "todays," and all the moments of those todays matter.
The first thing I would encourage in being mindfully authentic is to ask- what does it look like when you truly are other-focused, when you’re present for the person you’re with. It can be really difficult to do because we have a lot of other things going on in our head and as humans; we can too easily default to conversational ‘scripts’. Examples are thinking what we ‘should’ say, or thinking that if we focus on actively listening, we’ll forget what we have to say.
One of the ways I found to be authentic in practicing mindfulness is the ‘parking lot’ method. It can be hard to separate what goes on in our daily lives from who we’re trying to be in our work world, so a good practice is to put your thoughts on your daily life in the parking lot while you’re at work or engaged with others. Let’s say I had an argument with my teenager this morning before work—I take a moment to wrap my head around the issue and acknowledge these feelings, and I’m not going to deny that they’re there, but I’m going to put them in the ‘parking lot’ and honor them as they need to sit there so I can be focused and mindful at work. The most important thing is to go back and revisit that parking lot and then figure out how I want to move forward in addressing those feelings when I’m outside of work.
Another way to practice authentic mindfulness is recognizing and acknowledging your strengths. My generation—we were taught not to talk about what we’re good at. The truth is that it’s really important to focus on your strengths and know what you’re best at and what you love doing… where you shine and how that shine helps other people to come alive.
It is easier to be other-focused by putting things in the parking lot, focusing on what we’re good at, and supplementing that by asking for help where we need it.
What differences can salespeople expect to see as a result of practicing mindful authenticity in their business relationships?
CG: I think the first things you’ll notice will be a deep peace and satisfaction in your work. You don’t lay your head on the pillow at night and go, “My gosh, I sold 2,000 pens today!” That’s not what we do at the end of the day or at the end of our life—that’s not what this is about. Being mindful is about who you are being in the world, not what you’re doing. Doing is part of it, but what you are is of service.
Think about our industry now on the other side of COVID—is there proof that our industry is needed? Absolutely. Did this industry morph? Yes, because it was the mindfulness of people that asked, “What does everybody need right now?” And we went after the masks and PPE and that was the pivot and responsiveness that came from mindfulness. There’s satisfaction in knowing that you’re doing something that’s of value.
Mindfulness helps us with our responses to the stimulus in our world, because you aren’t what happens to you, you’re defined by how you respond. It’s taking a beat before you react and asking yourself, “What lens am I going to see this stimulus with?” We aren’t defined by whether or not we get a big sale or a big promotion, we’re defined by the motivation we have to achieve those goals. When you’re mindful, you’re personally differentiated from the outcome, and more attached to the "why" behind it.
Oftentimes, when we’re asked a question we simply dive immediately into the answer. One of the most powerful ways to respond to a question is by asking, “Why do you ask?” For instance, if someone is asking about costs, instead of diving into the pricing, learn the motivation behind asking the question. Are they trying to maximize the budget? Have they been burned by previous vendors when it comes to pricing? When you understand the motivation behind the questions your clients are asking, you’re better equipped to be more successful in the long run.
Lastly, being mindful helps make our relationships richer, and as a result, we’re more satisfied and at peace.
Something you emphasize is the importance of staying relevant. How does practicing mindful authenticity benefit one’s relevance in their industry and relationships?
CG: You can use mindfulness to determine your relevancy by asking two questions. No. 1: What matters to the person I’m speaking with and how can I become relationally relevant? And No. 2: What matters to the organization they’re representing and how can I become strategically relevant?
When looking for an ideal buyer, you’re hoping they have these three things: responsibility, authority, and influence. Some buyers have responsibility and influence, but not authority. So when you focus on becoming relevant to both the buyer and the organization, you can get all three.
I believe that really good sales professionals do this intuitively, they just don’t necessarily name it, but when you name it, it makes it stronger.
If there was one mindfulness practice you’d recommend to mindfulness ‘beginners’, what would that be and why?
I have two, but No. 1 is self-care. One of my favorite ways to explain this is through the airplane safety procedure as it relates to the oxygen masks: “Put your own mask on before assisting others.” Being mindful is knowing when you need to put your own metaphorical oxygen mask on."
Self-care is critical and mindfulness towards it is critical—sometimes we may feel like we’re being selfish or that we shouldn’t take the time for ourselves, but it’s really the most important thing you can do.
The second thing is to ask yourself, “How can I be of greatest service to the whole?” This question is a beautiful gift to give yourself because it gets us out of the inner narrative that’s so focused on "How am I supposed to perform? What am I supposed to do? How can I make more money?" When you ask yourself this question, it opens up so many avenues and helps us to understand that who we are has nothing to do with the money we make or our notoriety, but about how we can help others as humans. We are, after all, human beings—not human "doings."
Pat is currently executive vice president of sales at Boundless. Prior to joining Boundless, Pat was vice president of sales for Toppers, a Top 20 industry supplier. Prior to Toppers, he served as vice president of national accounts for Norwood Promotional Products, one of the largest promotional products suppliers in the industry. In his free time, Pat enjoys drinking a cool beverage while attempting to play golf.