Win Without Pitching®: Thinking

I used to think that business development effectiveness came down to knowing the right thing to do in the moment and that almost anybody could be trained to match the proper response to the appropriate stimulus. Silly me.

Of course, it’s not true, and that’s why most sales training is only marginally effective.

I see now that there are three layers to business development success and that knowing what to do in the moment – what I call applying the point of sales process – is the third and least meaningful one. The other two are far more important. So important in fact that if you get them right, the specific point of sales process is no longer vital. If you can remember to do it, great; if not, you can still get to a positive outcome.

The three layers of success, in reverse order of importance, are as follows:

3. Knowing what to do in the moment (sales process)
2. Knowing how to behave generally (behaviour)
1. Knowing what to think (mindset)

Of the three, knowing what to think – your mindset – trumps all else. It’s only when you’re thinking the right things that you will behave properly. Proper behaviour is the foundation for proper sales process, and it’s all built on the thoughts in your head.

Let me explain. For years, I would get calls from clients about specific situations. “What do you think I should do here?” I would give what I would consider the textbook WWP response. Push back here, say no there, ask for concessions, corral all the decision-makers, close on a diagnostic, etc.

Later, I would sometimes hear that the specific point of sales process didn’t work.

When you swim back upstream from those moments it’s easy to see why many of them didn’t work. That specific behaviour was incongruent with the larger pattern of earlier behaviour. For example, pushing back on an RFP in the middle of the process is almost never going to work. It only generates cognitive dissonance and frustration with the client. If you really thought the RFP game wasn’t worth playing, you would have said so the minute you first heard the letters R-F-P.

Your Mindset: What Are You Thinking?

Your larger behaviour is driven not by what you’ve been trained to do but by what you’ve trained yourself to think. The thoughts in your head drive your general behaviour and that’s where you need to start. It’s mindset that makes a salesperson great. Training on process simply makes them greater.

If you want to sell from the high ground, push back on a flawed selection process and lower your cost of sale, you need to arm yourself with a series of mindsets that you can stack one on top of the other. They’ll form sort of a modular mantra that you recite silently to yourself in certain situations.

It would be easier for that business development person to raise the objection to the RFP right away if they had believed a few things, such as:

“I am the expert, I am the prize. I have skills and expertise that are of great value to you, Mr. Client.”

“My mission is to help you. I can only do that if you let me lead.”

The Seven Masteries

I see seven such mindsets that any seller of expertise needs to master so that they can behave like the expert in the sales cycle.

The first four are the foundational ones that lead to proper general behaviour. They are:

1. Mastering Focus (“I am the expert.”)
2. Mastering Purpose (“I am on a mission.”)
3. Mastering Leadership (“We’ll get there if you follow my lead.”)
4. Mastering Detachment (“All will not follow.”)

The last three mindsets are more nuanced for specific situations. They are:

5. Mastering Silence
6. Mastering Directness
7. Mastering Money

Together these mindsets form a plug-and-play toolkit to be assembled in advance of certain situations to form the basis for proper behaviour.

We help clients achieve mastery in each of the mindsets in our Workshops and in Coaching but each of these masteries is easy enough to understand by contemplating the word, imagining how this mindset would be beneficial in a sales situation and then developing your own internal language that you’ll practice and thus wire into thought patterns that lead to the beliefs and ultimately the behaviour.

You might think of other mindsets that I’ve missed or that are more valuable to you – great, just map out what you want to believe and how you want to behave, then work out the language patterns that build such beliefs and behaviours.

When you’re behaving properly then a little bit of training around some specific points of sales process will go a long way.

The subject of how to talk to yourself isn’t taught in the world of sales training. Everyone is teaching process, as I did for years. Think of the person you know who you deem to be the most natural salesperson however and it will hit you: their success is rooted not in what they say to their customers, but in what they say to themselves first.

You are the expert, you are the prize.

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Join Blair Enns live for the Win Without Pitching Workshop and learn how to take control of your sales process (and actually enjoy it). 

Blair Enns
Blair Enns is the Win Without Pitching founder and CEO and the author of The Win Without Pitching Manifesto and Pricing Creativity: A guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour.
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