Now, let me explain that mastery of unconscious selling does not involve knocking yourself out cold as you are standing in the boardroom of your client before that first meeting!
It’s is about being able to walk into any sales meeting with total confidence and knowing that you don’t have to fear the process or the outcome because you in a state of total mental and physical preparation.
Of all of the sales training ideas out there, unconscious selling to me is the one that is almost totally overlooked.
The unconscious mind can be interpreted in many ways, but for me, I see it as part of the mind that will help you perform actions and overcome problems instinctively and without deliberate thinking.
Think of those “slip of the tongue” moments that can land you in hot water, or simply cause an outcry of laughter and the reaction on people’s faces when they suddenly emerge.
I see the unconscious mind as an extremely powerful tool and one that needs to be harnessed and developed daily, which will move you from having to operate from your conscious or “deliberate” mind to ultimately operating without thought, but yet delivering powerful results in whatever you do.
I always like to talk from personal and real-world experience and I have refined my own method of selling (although I am reluctant to call it a method) throughout my thirty-five-year entrepreneurial and business career, the inspiration that came from selling at the front line, my study of psychology at college and my lifelong passion and study of martial arts!
Related: “How to Become a Good Salesman.”
Sales training topics
First, let’s remind ourselves of the typical topics that are covered in most sales training courses and the broad categories are:
- Objection handling
Pretty standard stuff as you know, but if you look at most of the training out there, you will see a variety of programs that cover all of the above and in their own unique fashion — by putting a spin on the standard terms to make them sound better, more scientific, more up-to-date and offering more success than their competitors.
Sales training has been around for decades and yet the world still has a huge shortage of solid, consistent, and high-performing salespeople.
And my answer to that is that it is due to rolling our cookie-cutter salespeople, who are trained parrot fashion and to do things that are unnatural and conflict with our own personal instincts.
I was never happy with any of the sales training I received and my “teachers” during my early career were hugely short of sales training ideas that would help me to work with me!
You are unique, just as I am…and certainly your client is.
We all have our own unique thoughts, actions, beliefs, and ways of living our lives, so we need to tap into them.
You don’t train a person to sell, you fit the world of selling into that person.
My unhappiness with my sales training created an inner conflict that I am sure clients to see and feel.
It is glaringly obvious when someone is uncomfortable — they emit a certain “aura.”
Conversely, when you see someone who is happy within themselves, they are confident, cheerful and have the ability to almost mesmerize you…in selling, they compel you to buy from them.
My Journey to unconscious selling
I have studied martial arts for nearly forty years and I credit the arts and my first teacher for giving me the confidence to take control of my life and to start my first business.
However, in terms of teaching, martial arts can be the same as selling — cookie-cutter responses to pre-arranged techniques that are drilled over and over again, conforming to a certain style, that will allow you to progress in terms of ranking and through a series of colored belts that determine your grade and ability.
Today, sports halls and other training areas are filled with students, dressed in uniforms, and following orders eagerly to progress through the ranks and earn the coveted black belt.
What I found disturbing was that many of these black belts were unable to use their art when it came down to necessity and I am not picking on any single style of martial arts here, because they all suffer from the same problem.
Can you see the similarity with selling?
When I first had to use my new-found skills where it mattered — to defend myself on the street, I was quickly overpowered and had to resort to the more traditional fighting styles of simply punching and wrestling like a lunatic just to survive, which thankfully on that occasion, I did.
But I knew something was very wrong, just as I did in with the way I was taught selling.
So, I went on a journey, and that ultimately took me to Russia to learn their version of martial arts.
The martial arts of Russia only started to gain popularity over the last twenty or so years and that was because they were opened up to the west, through offering open seminars where anyone could attend to learn.
I attended a seminar and my mind was blown — there was no hierarchy, no belts, no gradings and you could learn at your own pace — if you wanted to take a break, then you did, if you wanted to take a phone call, then it was up to you and when people dined in the evening or met in the bar, then you could approach any of the instructors freely and ask any question you wished.
This would be unthinkable in most traditional martial arts schools.
Also. you were taught how to defend against sticks, knives, and guns…but what I found most intriguing, was the focus on the psychological aspects of combat, such as handling and controlling fear and working instinctively.
On my two trips to Moscow, I got the chance to really dig deeper into the arts, which ultimately changed my perspective on life…and of course, selling.
The principle of the arts was for self-protection and not a sport…many of the instructors were ex or serving members of special forces, so the arts had to be extremely effective while allowing the operatives to continue with the primary focus of their mission, whatever that was.
There were no specific techniques to learn, no stances or movement patterns, and some of the core principles were centered on:
- Breathing and relaxation
- Body structure (form) and movement
- Absorbing physical punishment and handling stress
- Reacting instinctively to any attack including weapons
- Developing your psyche
We would train for around eight hours each day and then spend the evenings taking saunas, eating, drinking…and talking.
I learned just as much through talking to people as I did in the training hall.
The ultimate goal was to have control over your emotions, to be able to react calmly to any stressful situation and overcome it…or simply to survive and get out of the situation.
Another unique thing about the learning process was the emphasis on working at very slow speeds to ingrain the techniques in your sub-conscious, so you can use them without thinking!
When you learn in this manner, you don’t try to remember anything, you just “do” and until it is ingrained.
Then you work the speed up to reality.
Now I was hooked and if you search the term on YouTube, you will see many videos of what I have described to you, but a word of warning…there is some negativity around the arts implying that the students are “compliant” and the arts are fake and ineffective.
There is both good and bad in everything and there are some exponents of these arts that do give them a bad name, but let me assure you from personal experience that they work…and are extremely effective!
If you have any doubts, do your research and pick a seminar to attend.
Now I was transfixed on not only the arts but how I could apply them more into my own life and thinking and of course, selling.
Mastering unconscious selling
Sales and selling have their own core principles and I am going to break them down into ones that directly relate to the ones I described above for Russian martial arts — I can’t get into specifics in this article, so I am going to give you the general idea and you can conduct your own further research to help you :
Breathing and relaxation
It is imperative that you learn to breathe correctly and relax, your health depends on it.
Breathing deeply helps relieve tension and I once coached a high-powered salesperson how to overcome anxiety before big meetings by simply breathing quietly and deeply for around 5 minutes before the meeting.
The idea is to feel your body relax by allowing your shoulders to “drop” and take the pressure away from your neck.
This is an oversimplification, but having a tense body will not allow you to operate instinctively and your thoughts and ideas will not be able to flow freely.
You can also practice relaxing your entire body while lying down before sleeping and when you wake up.
Just lay on your back and feel yourself sinking into the mattress and then put your thoughts into each body part starting from your feet and working your way through the whole body.
Think of the part relaxing, getting heavy and all of the tension leaving it — this will help you to feel the difference between tension and relaxation and you want to be relaxed.
Body structure (form) and movement
You want a relaxed body, but not too relaxed that you get into a state where you lose the structure or what was taught to me as the “form.”
As I explain to my ten-year-old son during football training:
“Don’t flop around like a wet noodle!”
Your body needs to be soft, relaxed, but structured.
When you are standing straight, make sure that your joints are aligned and your back is straight — you feel relaxed, but your body is able to move as one unit.
In martial arts, you look to disrupt your attacker’s form, by joint manipulation, striking of moving them to create an imbalance.
If you are attacked, then you need to maintain your form, but not with strength, but softness and flexibility.
It’s a fine balance.
In selling, you want to be able to have control and confidence and it starts with the body…breathe and relax, but maintain the form.
You will be relying far more on your speech than your body movement, but you want to make sure that you can speak freely, naturally and remained relaxed, so that if you are disrupted, you will be able to handle that disruption effortlessly and continue with the plan.
Absorbing physical punishment and handling stress
In combat, getting hit is a way of life and it comes with the territory.
You have to prepare for it and in the Russian style, you learn how to gradually absorb direct strikes and this serves to increase your confidence and train your emotional response — you cannot scream in pain or you will be distracted, which can have serious consequences.
This is where your body structure and form will allow you to do so and still keep going.
I sincerely hope that you won’t get hit or attacked when doing your job, but there are other factors.
In sales, you will get bombarded by stress from all angles — CEOs, directors, managers, colleagues, and of course, customers.
You must be able to handle stress and this is where the previous points come into their own.
With customers, you will be tested in many ways and of course, there will be tough meetings, objections, deadlines, and a host of other variables that will test the most strong-willed of salespeople.
If you have learned to relax and use your body as one unit, then you will feel and move better, but unlike the direct feedback you will get from being hit, you cannot replicate this in sales.
So it is a matter of learning to deal with situations as and when they arise and when you feel tension, to release it.
Control your emotions — when you want to scream out of sheer frustrations, breathe deeply and don’t react, and if you feel that your world is crumbling, then do the same…there is no point getting stressed over things you cannot control.
I will keep saying breathe, relax, and maintain your form because these are physical things you can do that are simple and can be practiced daily.
Now we get to the meat of it — you must train yourself to be prepared for anything and in the world of martial arts, it means constantly drilling your instinct and not focussing on techniques.
In combat, you don’t know what is going to happen, from what angle and from whom — in selling you will have a much better idea, so it will be easier to prepare for any eventuality as well as to overcome it.
There are a few things that you must constantly keep in tune with:
- Global economic events — these events power all businesses and industries so get a handle on them. Read and learn daily and when you are relaxed you will find you will absorb the information easily. Don’t try to remember, just keep reading, watching, and learning.
- Your industry, clients, and competitors — do the same and make sure that you start to form opinions. In martial arts, your “opinion” is expressed by the way you react and if you are constantly learning how to defend through instinct, you will ingrain those opinions. It is the same is sales…make sure you learn enough to understand what is going on and form opinions. You will need them to converse with your clients.
- Raise your commercial awareness — you must understand how companies create strategies, products, services, and ultimately profits. Take courses and any further education you can, talk to your clients and not just your target prospects, but other departments and divisions. Learn how they interconnect. Study finance and not just the process of producing accounts, but raising money and commercial finance as a whole.
- Learn the features, advantages, and benefits of all of your products and services…inside out! Become an expert that could explain them to a group of children, your family, the press, and of course, your clients.
- Put all of your knowledge gained so far into action, by putting together detailed profiles of your clients and determining their pain points, challenges, and in line with their vision and objectives. Learn also to predict those challenges for the future.
- Now create a compelling value proposition from your research and make sure it is a real “no-brainer.” When you come from a perspective of research and you are constantly drilling your knowledge, you are re-enforcing the value you bring to your customers — your proposition should focus on the outcome of what you achieve and the benefit to the organization, which will often be the benefit to their customers.
Notice I haven’t mentioned one sales technique here and that is because they are not required…in the traditional form that is.
If you are relaxed you will be able to speak and if you speak naturally, then what you say will be understood by the recipient.
When you have dedicated time to gain knowledge, you will be able to hold your own with anyone and have a few opinions to add in the bargain.
When you have thoroughly researched your industry and clients, you will have understood their mission, vision, and objectives way more than your competitors, plus you will have identified their pain points and will be able to predict those likely to arise in the future.
Your product knowledge and understanding will not be an issue because you know it backward and you can handle any question relating to it.
You will have raised your commercial awareness so that you understand the components and mechanics of business as a whole and how the component parts are interconnected.
You will have finally created a value proposition that will compel your customer to buy from you.
Now all you have to do is allow the process to conclude itself.
The beauty of this process is that just like in martial arts, the more you learn, practice, and apply, the better you get…that is your secret and steps to mastery.
Unconscious selling should be the goal of every salesperson — clients are sick of canned speeches and super-slick salespeople who don’t really understand the problems and challenges of their company.
Like having to defend yourself from an unexpected attack, sales and selling are extremely unpredictable and it requires tenacious people to withstand the pressure, deliver the results, and on a consistent basis.
In a self-defense situation, you have no time to think and this is where your training kicks in…but remember that you can only react in the way you have been trained, so how you practice is of critical importance.
It’s exactly the same with selling and the best salespeople work instinctively, without conscious thought, and handle stressful situations without becoming too emotional.
The good news is that you can train each component part, just like the martial artist, but without what could be the devastating consequences of failure.
I have spent my entire life in sales, entrepreneurship, and business and I have fused the world of martial arts and other passions, with selling, which is the lifeblood of all businesses into a simple, easy to apply process which will help anyone in sales from absolute raw beginners to the most advanced salespeople.
I have also trained hundreds of salespeople around the globe, from scratch to be high-performing and consistent revenue billers, many who have gone on to start their own successful companies.
Get in touch with me if you want to explore my sales training ideas or discuss selling, business, entrepreneurship, and even martial arts!
Last modified: September 28, 2020