Saturday, January 5, 2013

Example of the power of the unconscious

I recently was reminded of the power of the unconscious thinking process to make us blind to facts.

I was told about a sales rep who is consistently near or at the top of sales results every year for his company. His style of selling is consistent with The Unfair Advantage in that he sells himself and then becomes an "adviser" to his prospect*. He tells the prospect that he wants to help him/her find a way to make an order that will "satisfy the guys at corporate" or something to that effect. He advises on pricing and order mix to "help" the prospect become a customer. With prospects, he figuratively sits on their side of the table and seemingly puts together an order from their perspective. Only by effectively selling himself and controlling the selling process does this work. And a quick look at his results suggest he is quite a master at it.

Unfortunately, his corporate sales leaders say they do not like his style and, therefore, fail to promote his approach as a "best practice" for future training purposes. Instead they label his approach as being "us vs. them" and inconsistent with the culture of the organization. By labeling his selling approach in such a negative manner, it makes logical sense to them to avoid encouraging other sales reps to adapt such an disloyal or anti-company style of selling.

Perhaps, if they could change the label---use different words to describe what he does---they might see things in a different light. Labels are powerful influencers of the unconscious mind and vice-versa.

The unconscious mind influences about 95% of all decisions. As a seller, this can be a huge advantage if you know how to sell to that unconscious. As a manager, care must be taken to avoid letting our own unconscious mind create attitudes that get in the way of our success or the success of others. Looking at facts and trying to avoid letting our unconscious attitudes color those facts is a difficult but worthwhile undertaking from time to time. Sometimes we need to hear things with a different voice. Sometimes we need to step outside of our own skin or sit in a different chair to see more clearly what is happening around us.

*This is a style very similar to a colleague of mine who is a hugely successful commercial real estate seller. In his case, he becomes the adviser to help his client find a property that will fit the client's need and also helps the customer put together a proposal that will be accepted by the seller. Again, the "sale" is the art of selling himself and becoming the adviser.