Not long ago E. Thomas Behr, author of "The Tao of Sales: The Easy Way to Sell in Tough Times" and president of Horizons Unlimited Inc., a sales-management consulting firm, fell into a gut-busting five-week slump. He thought he'd reached the breaking point when he got word that Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, a $100,000-a-year client, merged with Ciba-Geigy. As a result, his services for Sandoz would be put on hold for at least a year.
In the old days, a salesman would meet that kind of disastrous run with unyielding determination to recover lost ground. And that's exactly how Behr reacted. During a telephone meeting with executives of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Behr aggressively — almost frantically — pushed for new business. "But the more I pressured," he recalls, "the more they pulled back."
Since the heavy-handed approach proved counterproductive, Behr got counterintuitive: he slowed down and prescribed for himself a mind-cleansing exercise that helps him to relax and reboot before a big call. Total time: 10 minutes.
Sit quietly in a comfortable position. Breathe slowly and deeply to relax your muscles. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a favorite place.
Focus on value.
As your tension decreases, ask yourself, What's the greatest value that I can bring to this customer? Think, for example, about how your product will help the company streamline its manufacturing process.
Find the best opportunity.
Concentrate on the one thing you can do that will generate the greatest return for you and the customer — something that will help build an ongoing relationship.
Commit to the goal.
Think about how you can best make that one thing happen. Then pledge to see it through. At this point, says Behr, "you'll be thinking about what you can do for the customer instead of worrying about the sale."
Coordinates: $21.95. "The Tao of Sales" (Element Books, 1997); firstname.lastname@example.org
A version of this article appeared in the December 1997/January 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.