Do you remember what it was like when you first learned to drive a car? How about riding a bike? Using a computer for the first time?

If you remember your early experiences with these things, then you may remember what was going on inside of your head at that time, and how different that is from what goes on inside of your head now as you do these same (presumably now familiar) things.

When we first learn something that requires a lot of concentration and/or that has a lot of “moving parts”, we tend to talk to ourselves a lot. We feed ourselves reminders about what we need to remember as we go through the mechanics of executing the task at hand.

“OK, check the mirrors, put the gear shift into ‘drive’ – no wait, first push the break….”

“OK, single click the ‘start’ button; highlight ‘applications’; select ‘Word’; click the ‘file’ menu and click on ‘new’….”

After a short time, these things become routine. Part of the “background operating program” in your mind. Now you pull the car our while talking on the phone, sipping your coffee, or checking your makeup. You open a new word document as you multitask through 10 other things both on and off of your computer screen.

I am not a fan of multitasking, but I’ll save that rant for another post. My point now is that when you have achieved a certain level of comfort with the set of steps involved in accomplishing a task, then you are able to execute that task with a greater level of attention.

Wait a minute, what? Shouldn’t that be a smaller amount of attention? I just said that instead of concentrating on the steps, we can now concentrate on other things as the mechanical actions are run in the background?

That is not the right perspective – here is why. If your attention is focused on the minutia of your execution, then you are not fully present for the larger experience of getting your task done. For example, if you are backing out your car, and you are focussed on the minutia of the mechanics, it is easier to miss the fact that someone just walked behind your car.

So how does this all tie back to sales and selling? As you undoubtedly know by now, I attribute a lot of the elements of sales success back to the development of and the proper execution of a well-developed sales process.

With respect to this concept then, the salesperson who operates with confidence within the framework of a well-developed process is able to concentrate on “other things” as the mechanical elements of selling operate quietly and predictably in the background. If properly applied, these “other things” should include actively listening to the prospect; taking copious notes about the conditions and concerns of the prospect; floating trial solutions and noting the degree to which they resonate with the prospect – and why or why not – according to the prospect, etc.

In contrast, a salesperson who does not have a clear path, who does not have a visceral feel for the next steps and interconnected nature of the full sales process at a near unconscious level will spend his or her mental energy worrying about the right way to respond to the remarks of the client, as opposed to “effortlessly” arriving at their next strategic move by better understanding the needs of their conversational counterpart.

Samurai warriors aspired towards a mental state of what is called Mu Shin – or no mind. This served them well when they fought another Samurai. These fights usually played out as both Samurai standing in a fighting position, with swords drawn and ready, and within striking distance of each other for perhaps hours. The first Samurai that moved (due to less mental strength and stamina) often revealed an opening which the other exploited, usually with deadly consequences.

These Samurai would not have been well served to stand in their fighting position thinking about all of the possibilities that might confront them. They were successful if they “owned” that information, and were able to tune out that internal noise in exchange for a keen awareness of the present moment.

You as a salesperson need to own your sales process, and the steps and elements that comprise it. In this way, you will be able to stick to your path, and remain engaged with your opponent (prospect) in a way that leads you to the best result. An informed position, free from internal noise, that allows you to direct the course of action forward as is most applicable based on your observations and your internal knowledge.

The alternative, all too common, is a course of client engagement clouded by internal noise, which is a function of a lack of discipline about how to properly do the job of professional sales, and how to manage the sales process that you move through with each and every client.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David