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Know Thyself & Sales

Know Thyself & Sales

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There’s this concept of “Know Thyself”…

Drake popularized it in his songs and fashion wear…

But it’s really been around for a long time.

In fact, the idea of “know thyself” appeared inscribed in the temple of Apollo at Delphi in Ancient Greece…

This is were the ancient “oracles” sat….

Temple of Apollo at Delphi in Ancient Greece

This maxim has been around for quite some time, and can be quite deep philosophically.

I will attempt to explain my understanding of what this means, and how it applies to sales.

First off, I will try to explain what I think “Know Thyself” means…

What does Know Thyself mean?

It means to understand oneself.

It means to truly understand one’s strengths, weaknesses, deepest desires, fears, intentions, ways of being, idiosyncrasies, and any other traits that make up our personality or being…

On an even deeper level, I believe the phrase “Know Thyself” is meant to remind of us who we truly are…

Spiritual beings…

Or even a unique expression of God in ourselves…

I won’t get too spiritual here, and I actually don’t personally subscribe to any religion per se –

But I believe on the deepest level, the phrase “Know Thyself” is meant to remind of that we are expressions of the Divine, God, Universe, Infinite Intelligence, what ever you want to call it…

How does this apply to sales?

Well, just practically speaking…

Being better positioned to understand our own strengths, weaknesses, desires, etc…

Will ultimately help us be better positioned in understanding other people.

Researchers found that adults who participated in a psychology-training program to enhance their “perspective-taking” — a term psychologists use to describe the ability to understand another person’s “inner world,” meaning his or her thoughts, beliefs, emotions and personality — became better at understanding themselves as well as understanding others, according to the findings published online (May 16) in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement.”

Research has shown that the more self aware a person is… and the better that person is able to identify the “negative” aspects of his/her inner personality…

The greater improvement shown in the understanding of other people…

In other words,

The people who have done the most “work” on themselves (personal development and the willingness to look at one’s own shortcomings honestly)

Are the same people who have more empathy and compassion for understanding other people…

Makes sense doesn’t it?

In the same way, when being honest with oneself about one’s motivations or desires for doing something,

You’d be much more able to see other people’s motivations as well…

Because at the end of the day, human beings are really more similar than different.

And if you can be honest with yourself about your true motivations and desires, you’ll be able to see that more clearly as well in other people.

I recently attended a training session by sales trainer Todd Caponi, author of “The Transparency Sale,”

In his training and book, he talks about the story of one day finding out his 45-year old neighbor decided to trade in his Honda for a Corvette…

And going to his neighbor (who was evidently going through a midlife crisis) and asking him, “What made you get this Corvette?”

And his neighbor replying,

“Oh you know, I needed something with enough boost to get me on the freeway onramp quickly and the financing worked out perfectly too”

And Todd then thinking to himself, “Yeah right, more like the looks you get from young ladies driving by…”

It’s often said that when we ask people why they did something,

There’s the reason they’ll give you, and the real reason…

In sales it’s important to note the reason they give you, but it’s more important to observe the real reason.

Sometimes being a sales professional is like being a detective for the right motive…

Once you identify the right motive in your prospects…

You can then begin to plant seeds to allow that motive to grow and germinate…

Until it grows so strong that it has a mind of its own…

And then the sale has built up momentum and starts to have “legs.”

I’ll give you another example…

I was listening to the podcast, The MFCEO Project, by Andy Frisella.

Andy Frisella of the MFCEO Project Podcast

He was chatting with his brother, Sal Frisella, about sales…

Sal used to be a top sales rep for Johnson & Johnson Ethicon…

In fact he was the #1 rep in the entire country for several years in a row!

They were talking about how he once heard someone say that “50% of retail purchases can be directly linked for the desire for sex”

Can you believe it!

Think about it for a moment….

Why do we buy the things we buy?

Why do men buy Rolex watches? Is it because they are “durable?” Or “last long?”

Rolex Day Date

Or is it because of some other reason?

Why do people buy designer clothing? Is it because they simply “look nice?”

Or is there some underlying reason?

Listen….

If you ask “why” enough times to whatever we do… eventually you’ll only find a handful of answers.

Here are some examples:

  • Sex
  • Status
  • Power
  • Love
  • Protection of loved ones
  • Safety/Security
  • Food/Shelter

Look,

At the end of the day, whether you’re in sales, or just looking to understand people better…

It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion.

Picture someone who just bought a brand new BMW 7-Series…

“So, why did you get the new car?”

“Well, it was about time I needed an update”

“Why the BMW and not a Toyota?”

“Well, you know… these are fast and look nice. Plus they had a special offer running on it…”

“Why are those things important to you?”

“Well… you know, I want to look good driving down the street!”

“Why does that matter?”

“Cause I’m turning 40 this year and I want to feel young!”

“Why is that important?”

“So I can feel self confident, okay! I’m single again and I want to impress all the pretty young girls…”

“So why does it matter if you get to impress all the young girls?”

“Then I can get laid and feel good about myself!!!”

You see what I mean…

This is a pretty straight forward and to-the-point example…

But it’s interesting trying this with yourself sometimes… and just peel back the onion

Ask yourself why you do certain things.

What’s your motivation? What’s your underlying reason? Why?

You see…

When I used to work at ProcurementIQ, selling market intelligence to procurement professionals…

Whenever I would hop off a call with my VP of Sales…

He would always role play with me certain scenarios…

And review sales calls with me…

And ask me what question I should have asked in a particular situation.

And guess what?

The question he almost always wanted me to ask was “why?”

Such a simple question, yet the results are profound.

Tony Robbins often refers to himself not as “the motivation guy,” but “The Why Guy.”

An incredibly effective sales tactic to use, is after a prospect shares with you a pain point or something he or she really wants…

Simply ask “why?”

Or some iteration of that…

Like “Hmm.. interesting, why is that?”

Or

“I’m curious, why do you say that?”

And then shut-the-fuck-up.

Put yourself on mute if you have to.

A BIG part of selling is knowing when to stop talking and just let the prospect TELL YOU everything he or she really cares about and what their deepest fears and desires are.

THAT’S the good stuff. THAT’S where the gold is.

And you know what? Sometimes … or even MOST TIMES…. You probably won’t get the good stuff directly from your prospect’s mouth…

Especially in a B2B environment where it’s real professional…

Often times you won’t be able to get the prospect to tell you directly what their deepest fears or greatest desires are…

You see…

Often times in B2B selling… there will be the challenges/desires that the prospects share with you…

And sure, they might very well be legitimate. Business objectives, company goals, quotas… That house they want to buy…

And don’t get me wrong, those things can be ABSOLUTELY TRUE….

But if you can learn to pick up on the stuff that’s not being said…

The stuff underneath all that…

The personal motivations, drives, fears, and desires…

The stuff that they would never normally be willing to share openly…

I’m talking about the primal things, the human things….

Well then my friend… you would be well on your way to becoming a Master Salesman.

Remember,

The better you know yourself…

Your own motivations, desires, and reasons for doing things…

The better you will ultimately understand others.

At the end of the day, it requires a willingness to be honest with oneself.

And that’s something unfortunately that most people are not willing or able to do with themselves.

I’ll leave this post with a quote from Shakespeare…

“This above all- to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day…

Thou canst not then be false to any man”

-Shakespeare

William Shakespeare