That was my experience with sales. I’ve worked with at least half a dozen business coaches over the years and I’ve learned different valuable information from every single one. Each helped me move my book writing and publishing business forward in inspiring and successful ways.
But I just could not get that sales process. My first exposure to the “sales process” began at a very large company known for its sales training. You see, while in business school, I had a sense I wanted to be in marketing. It seemed one of the more creative and people oriented aspects of business.
At the time, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, where I attended and received both my bachelors and masters) had an agreement with Harvard, allowing me to take a Marketing course there that changed the course of my job hunt. “To work in marketing, you must first work in sales” was the mantra of my instructor.
I dutifully took a job in sales, received all the top notch training the Fortune 50 company provided and immediately felt completely at sea. It probably didn’t help that one week into my job, sitting at someone else’s desk after hours, I overheard my boss—the one who’d sold me on the job by promising what a great mentor she would be—telling the two people on the team I would rely on for support that I was in a special management program (i.e. being paid a higher base salary than they). I knew at that moment her only job in my instance was to see me fail and get me fired.
Even without that rude awakening, I wasn’t quite made for corporate sales. Some part of my psyche rebelled so that, by the end of my brief career there, I could not even add numbers properly.
Fast forward to starting my own company as a book writing coach. Every time a business coach led me through the sales process, it sounded okay, but I couldn’t do it. Their process when something like this:
- Help the prospective client articulate what they want (the dream).
- Help them get in touch with their pain.
- Help them deeply feel their pain.
- Clarify objections.
- Overcome objections.
- Get their buy in.
There were several sophisticated versions of that, of course. But it just wasn’t feeling right to me. My coach would use all kinds of strategic language, but it didn’t come naturally to me and I never remembered it.
One day, I realized I could apply my creative tools to the “sales process.” Without trying to convince the person my program was the one for them, I could help them get in touch with what they were looking for, explore what I provided and how that might fit and then help them tune into their inner knowing for answers.
I have a process I call, “Meet Your Muse” that helps writers tune into that creative, wise part of them that has the answers. It seemed a natural to ask their muse whether my Bring Your Book to Life Program was the optimal method for them to write their book.
The results astounded me, mostly because I enjoyed it so much. I was no longer selling my program. I helped people tune in to decide whether it was optimal for them. I let go of expectation or agenda and just enjoyed facilitating this powerful process.
Often the muse said, “Yes” even when the person wasn’t sure how they’d afford it. So we’d ask their muse about that, too. They often received creative answers, or realized they had the money. One person just had to file some paperwork they’d been putting off and voila—they had more than enough. This was fun.
Even the no’s were more rewarding than before. Someone’s muse might suggest the time wasn’t right yet. Others “heard” that the program wasn’t ideal for them, but the connection with their muse provided a powerful sense of confidence they’d lacked before. In other words, every person I connected with got just what they needed—and I didn’t need to remember any fancy sales process. All I had to do was remain present and offer this enjoyable creative process. I contributed to the well being of every single person whether they registered for my program or not. And nothing was a failed sale, every call a success.
As I write this article, I am heading down to NYC for the American Business Awards, where I am a finalist for four awards, including Marketer of the Year – Media. When I first heard the news, I felt excited but a little embarrassed. The term “marketer” conjures up many associations for people and not all of them good.
As I wrote this article, I began to fully own a sense of pride at being marketer of my Bring Your Book to Life Program (also up for an award). Because I truly—finally—had listened to my inner voice and learned to trust my inner wisdom, I felt like “Marketer of the Year” in the best sense of the word—I was serving my market and—putting service first, trusting my wisdom first—succeeding and being recognized for it nationally.
Whether you’re writing a book, growing a business or parenting young children, trusting your inner wisdom will serve you—and those around you—more than any training ever could.