The 10 ways of Zen selling

I think my sales approach has become more of a philosophy after all the years I have practiced and preached it. I am very fortunate to have had many influences over the years, some of which I’ve highlighted in this blog. And after 20 years of selling marketing and media solutions face to face all over our great nation I have a sort of manifesto that I try to share with those I train and speak to about selling.

I am a huge believer in getting out of my own way, and just letting myself do the things I am good at. At least I try to! I think trying to do things for the right reasons is more important sometimes than doing the right things, and I think what goes around comes around in this life, so treating people, clients, co workers, friends and family as well as complete strangers, with the same respect that you would like them to show you is paramount. Thats why I like to get all ‘Zen’ on what I do, and all Zen on those I try to teach.

So here are my beliefs about Zen Selling:

1. Autonomy – Zen sellers need freedom to choose what to sell, how they sell, when they sell, and who they sell with. Zen sellers, working within that framework provide the organisation they represent or work for RESULTS. Targets, revenues or whatever. So once they have proved this is the case they should be left to do it. Their own way.

2. Mastery – Zen sellers are masters of what they do. They may have book learning or street smarts. Either way they LOVE it. They find themselves in the flow when working with their clients. Like children playing (The best example of flow you’ll ever see) they go with it, feel it, take people with them on flights of imagination and creativity. Zen Sellers in the flow cast spells on their audience and transport them to places ordinary sales people cannot fathom.

3. Purpose – Zen Sellers aren’t doing it for the money. Their great success has resulted in great rewards, but that’s incidental. They do it to help. Or they do it to solve problems. Or they do it to do ‘good’ in some other way. They believe in what they do with an unshakable faith. They do it for an organisation they are passionate about. Or a leader they would follow to the ends of the Earth. As leaders they sell the teams around them on a great vision of where they are headed, and more importantly, why they are headed there.

4. Unshakable self belief – not in themselves in an arrogant or big-headed or unrealistic way. They just know they will win, because that’s what they do. They have no doubt in that fact. Doubts are for bigger questions than those of ‘just selling’! Faced with a problem they can’t solve, they know they will find a way.

5. Kindness – Zen Sellers are kind to themselves and kind to others. Knowing that making mistakes is a learning process, and as long as they don’t make the same mistakes over and over again, they are able to forgive themselves when they do. Consequently, they are able to forgive others their mistakes.

6. Selling Clients for their own good – The client gets the best advice possible from the Zen Seller. Not what the client wants to hear, or what the seller knows the client will respond too. Only what the Zen Seller needs them to do, to solve the problems they have uncovered in the clients operations.

7. Selling Solutions, not smiles – Zen sellers know they build great relationships only by first solving clients problems. So they solve the problem first, then worry about the relationship – never the other way around.

8. Preparation  – They practice, they hone their results. They will visualise entire sales calls to identify where blockages may occur and will have therefore already overcome those blockages in their mind’s eye before finding themselves in front of their clients.

9. Focussed on outcomes – They know that sometimes intentions are very powerful. Focusing on something is part of the process for a Zen Seller and they know that things they focus on happen.

10. Reflective  – Zen Sellers allow themselves to study and internalise outcomes to ensure they are getting better at what they do, but they free themselves from the past and the future, staying in the moment, and controlling only that which they are able to control. That which is right in front of them right now.

So that’s about it, I’m sure there are other parts of the philosophy, and I’m sure anyone that identifies with any of this has things they’d like to add?

As ever, I’d love to hear what those things might be, so drop me a line on [email protected] or tweet me @radiojaja, or as always, leave a comment below!

  1. davidhain
    davidhain says:

    Great blog Tony, and a few further traits for me to master. I do think flow is contagious though, as is miserableness!

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Ha Ha! I think you’re quite right David. And in all seriousness, something to be very wary of in sales teams. Thanks for the comment, appreciate it

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      actually, its the sort of thing I was talking about when we ‘spoke’ about the difference between low level and high level sales! Glad you enjoyed

  2. Jen
    Jen says:

    I particularly liked number 7 – solving clients problems is rewarding in itself, for both parties involved. Great post!

  3. Jen
    Jen says:

    I particularly liked number 7 – solving client’s problems is reawrding in itself, for both parties involved. Great post!

  4. Simon Michaels
    Simon Michaels says:

    Hi, I love much of this, which is particularly true for me as a social enterprise advisor and an occasional mindfulness teacher . However, there may be a contradiction in the title – the word ‘selling’ suggests that this is really your aim, whereas in the true Zen approach your aim would be to find the best result for the client, the community, and lastly, yourself. This may be to sell, it may not.

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Thanks Simon, a great point and I would bow to your teachings in this area for sure. I am trying to say we are combining the requirement of the organisations we work with and this more mindful apporach though? Without the organisation itself there would be no coversation in this sense, and no requirement to sell.
      Ideally we wont be working with clients that we arent able to offer a solution to, so in that sense we arent selling?
      I understand that what one is trying to achieve in Buddhism is a kind of service to others and theres is a general analogy there but perhaps its misleading to describe it as Zen, but hopefully you’ll extend me a little bit of poetic license?

      • Simon Michaels
        Simon Michaels says:

        Hi, yes indeed – many thanks for responding. The mindfulness approach is so useful in business that I’m amazed how little it’s used. Do you know the book The Diamond Cutter? – a monk is sent to New York to become a diamond trader, but privately sworn to the principle of generosity; of course, he’s then amazingly successful.

  5. Tony Dowling
    Tony Dowling says:

    Thanks for the tip, I’ll look into that. I must say I have studied mindfulness and more general Buddhistic principles over the years, its a fascinating area. And I agree, business has much to learn here too