You know you want it. The opportunity is right in front of you. There’s no longer any doubt that the object of your desire is going to let you have your way. Your mind is racing. Your body is quivering with desire. Is “doing it” now worth giving up any chance at a long-term relationship? Intellect says no, but the overwhelming need for instant gratification is screaming the word “yes” loudly inside your head. What are you going to do?
Timing is everything. There are moments when choosing the “one night stand” is the correct choice and there are times when opting to cultivate a long term relationship is the better decision. How will you know which of these is the optimal path for you to proceed down? The answer to that question is simple – Use your intellect and not your emotions to make the call. Spontaneous action that happens in the heat of the moment rarely leads to good results. How many times have you justified mistakes because it “felt right” at the time?
The Chemical Correlation between Sex and Sales
According to a recent article in Medical Daily, “during an orgasm, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which is the brain region behind the left eye, shuts down.” This region is the part of the brain that controls behavior. In other words, when you reach climax, you are, at least for the moment, completely devoid of any kind of rational thought process or ability to reason. It’s very similar to the euphoric effects caused by narcotics, perhaps the reason why so many recovering addicts turn to sex as their first substitution.
In sales, when you engage in early probing conversations with a prospect, if you do it right, both you and the target of your inquiries achieve a state of comfort during which feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are released. Not surprisingly, these are the same chemicals present during sexual arousal. You must be cognizant of when this happens. The timing of your climax is determined in this moment.
The point of peak arousal in a sexual situation is when you either move in or back off. In sales, it’s your opportunity to emancipate yourself from a difficult prospect or escalate the conversation and build a long term relationship. Extraction can be done by using their euphoria to close a quick sale and then leaving any re-orders to your service department. Cultivation happens when you enhance the discussion by showing them your “bigger” picture.
Forgoing Instant Gratification to Play the “Long Game”
I dated extensively during the last few years before I met my wife, but I could never seem to achieve what I would call a “successful” relationship. I chose to engage in mainly one night stands and didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted in a partner. That didn’t come until I did an “inventory” of my “ideal prospect”. The inventory gave me the insight I needed to meet the woman who would eventually become my wife. She was, and is still today, exactly who I want to be with. I look for that same conviction when I prospect for new clients.
Making a sale is similar in process to building a new romantic relationship. My wife and I got to know each other before we married. In sales, from the moment we make that first contact, we are asking questions, getting “under the hood”, and understanding the problems we need to solve. It’s a journey, and before we embark, there’s a need to know where we are going and what we want when we get there. That’s where the inventory process comes in.
Everyone has Expectations, even When They Don’t
The statement “I’m okay with casual sex, no strings attached” is a fallacy. Whenever two people lay down with each other, at least one of them wakes up with feelings, even if neither had that intent when the clothes first came off. Prospects may say in the beginning that they’re looking for something simple, no frills, but there’s always that little bit extra lingering in the back of their minds. Your job as a salesperson is to uncover that hidden desire.
One of the key responsibilities in my role as a sales consultant is to root out the hidden expectations of sales people. Everyone has them. The most common one I see is the mistake of pre-determining the reaction of a certain type of prospect on the initial cold call. In some cases I see entire segments of a prospect list ignored because a sales person feels those leads are “not worth” the call. Sadly, this faulty line of thinking is often systemic. It’s part of the sales process they’ve been taught by “old-school” sales reps or closed-minded management.
Removing expectations begins with the steps listed earlier in this article: thoroughly understand the ideal prospect and know the product or service you have to offer them. Allowing a salesperson to let loose on a targeted prospect list, instead of a cold list where he or she can segment, eliminates pre-determination and provides the best shot for an open-minded conversation. Calls that start out with these elements in place are the calls where long term customers are usually first discovered.
I Don’t Think of you That Way – Let’s Just be Friends
There’s nothing more painful than being dropped into the “friend zone” by someone you have romantic intentions towards. Sex has been denied, resentments creep in, and worst of all, you’ll now have to feel the pangs of jealousy when your “true love” hooks up with someone else. Your relationship is at a crossroad. Do you accept the offer of friendship and embrace this person as an important part of your life or do you walk away?
In a personal relationship, it’s a tough choice. I’ve done both and the friendships I’ve chosen to keep are 50/50. One is deeply fulfilling; the other is mired in resentments and tension. If you’d like to avoid getting into the “friend zone”, read this article by Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, the Attraction Doctor over at Psychology Today. He offers advice on how to state your desires from the beginning and how to get out of the friend zone if you’re currently stuck there.
For salespeople, the friend zone is not a bad place at all. My philosophy, one that I both practice and preach, is that the intent of every call should be to establish a friendship. I’m not necessarily looking for a relationship or even a quick one night stand. The objective is to introduce myself and my service, have a conversation, and leave the prospect with a good taste in their mouth when I’m done. The folks I “meet” this way frequently turn into great referral sources. Some of them have even become clients after being “good friends” with me for a while.
Have Sex and Make Sales with the Same Enthusiasm
The best salespeople I have met in my career “get off” on closing deals. It’s not physical ejaculation (most of the time), but it is a euphoric reaction that closely compares to the feeling the average person has at the moment of sexual climax. The top sales managers understand this and feed that emotion. Ringing a bell, playing a song, giving cash spiffs, or posting recognition on a board are all ways to heighten enthusiasm. Substantial commission checks tend to help also. Any legitimate sales position should include those.
If you’re in sales and the connection between sex and your profession is not clear after reading this, you are in the wrong business. Successful salespeople need to be passionate about what they do, obsessive about closing deals, and driven by a lust for success. These emotions should fuel you. Add them to that mix of instinct and intellect that enticed you to originally choose this field and you have a recipe for success. If you’re not able to “put your all into it”, try marketing or analytics. You won’t need passion for those. 🙂
Kevin D. Flynn is the founder and CEO of AdvisorScale Financial Writing. When he’s not writing or on the golf course, he spends his “free” time designing WordPress websites or creating business sales processes for start-ups. In addition to AdvisorScale, Mr. Flynn is also the Executive Director of H.E.L.P. for Young Readers and Managing Editor at October Golf Magazine. He lives in Leominster, Massachusetts, with his wife Evelyn. They have four adult children, two cats, and eight wonderful grandchildren.