Around 15 years ago I learned a technique that really boosted my confidence and performance in sales meetings and I still use the technique to this day for every sales meeting I attend. You are, however, more likely to discover the technique in a book on sports performance than a book on sales.
Top sports psychologists will tell you that 90% of results at a professional level come from working on the mental game rather than the physical. This applies to sales too! Once you have learnt the techniques and you have all the product knowledge you need, then improving your performance even further will come from working on your mental game.
One aspect of the mental game of selling, taken from sports, is mental rehearsal. An athlete completes a race many times in their mind’s eye long before the starting gun is fired. They visualise getting off to a great start, steering successfully through those tricky areas and finishing triumphantly at the winning line and then collecting their prize.
Mental rehearsal and visualisation are part of the basic functioning of the brain and can be used to develop your confidence, motivation and skill levels. Mentally rehearse your sales meetings and you will be surprised at the difference it makes to things like rapport, confidence and your technique.
Rather than visualising the meeting from beginning to end and trying to predict all the ways the meeting can go, you visualise the end of the meeting – for example, driving out of the prospects car park with a big smile on your face. You have come to an agreement that both you and the other party have been happy with. There were a couple of moments during the meeting where things did not look so good but together you found away. Perhaps you are phoning someone (hands-free!) telling them the good news. You look down at the passenger seat and there is a signed contract.
Once you have this clear mental picture then take it back a number of frames to the time when you are shaking hands with the various people in the meeting. Its all good spirited and you have done the deal. Then take yourself back to other key moments in the meeting. Perhaps noticing how you have elegantly steered the conversation to your advantage and you notice how you have surprised yourself.
Once you have gone through this process you will have a number of frames – a storyboard – just like one of those you see on a DVD. Make sure these short mental movies are like virtual reality, as if you are really there. Include all 5 senses and make them as real as possible. Then start playing each part of the mental movies from beginning to end in sequence. Do this many times getting faster and faster so that they become linked. Make the images bright and close and in rich colour.
Do not worry about the detail as your unconscious will work that out. You will be programming yourself to be able to manage the situation and your mind will be able to fill in the blanks.
Next time you go for a sales meeting, do more than the normal preparation and gathering of information. Prepare your mind like an athlete preparing for a race. Work on your mental game.