Everyone’s in sales, and it begins before you say a single word. It is a fundamental truth. It is an inescapable fact. The foundations of success in life – professional and personal success – are the relationships we build with people — relationships made of like and trust. Relationships honed with honesty, integrity, and responsibility.
When we have these relationships with our bosses and colleagues, with the people who work for us, with our clients and customers, with our family and friends and neighbors, we succeed because the people in our lives help us get the things we need, want, and deserve.
Another basic truth, another inescapable fact is these relationships begin the first moment people see us.
Before we say hello or shake hands, people make decisions about us based on our energy, our smile, our enthusiasm, our confidence, our body language, our interest and attention. They make decisions about us based on our Presence. And these first decisions, these first impressions have a huge impact on what happens next. On whether people are willing to listen to and engage with us. Or not.
We can’t “opt out” of first impressions
We are making them all the time just like we are making decisions about other people based on the impressions they make on us all the time. The only choice we have is whether we choose to embrace the Power of Presence or we choose to ignore how our presence influences the people around us and the success we want to enjoy.
When those are our choices, we can all agree the choice is clear. Embrace Presence! To do that we need to understand what Presence is and how we can become more Present. Let’s talk about both.
What Is “Presence”? It’s Sales.
To understand Presence, let’s start by talking about “mindfulness” because mindful people are good at being Present. Today’s understanding of mindfulness comes from Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who in the 1970s defined mindfulness as the act of “paying attention on purpose” to the present moment without making judgments about the moment, other people, or ourselves.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. There is good scientific proof mindfulness works and there are also studies that find mindfulness reduces stress and helps us pay attention better, keeps our emotions in check, and brings greater empathy and compassion to our interactions with other people.
Next let’s look at mindfulness as “not making judgments about the moment, other people, or ourselves.” Here the work of Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, becomes useful. Goleman says that emotional intelligence has four elements: self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management. Or if you like, we recognize our emotions and positively manage them and we recognize other people’s emotions and positively manage our relationships with them. We get ourselves out of the way, our feelings our desires our doubts our concerns our fears, and we let ourselves focus on the other person, what she’s feeling and what she wants.
So when we are Present we are relaxed and open, we feel comfortable and confident, we bring our energy and attention on the people around us, and we are ready to hear and understand what they have to say. We are paying attention to the right here and the right now. And we our paying attention to other people instead of ourselves.
Are you approachable?
When we are Present, people see it. They feel it. And most important of all, they like it! That’s because people like it when we treat them with respect and attention, when we see them and listen to them, when we put what they want ahead of what we want. When we show we are interested in engaging with people, they become interested in engaging with us. That’s how we make a good first impression. That’s how our success begins before we say a word.
Todd’s dynamic and motivational keynotes and workshops are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. You can also see Todd’s articles on Sales Culture in many magazines, trade journals and the Huffington Post.
Follow Todd on Twitter @SalesLeaderTodd.