Don’t oppose, don’t discard and don’t force are all concepts in Kung Fu. You may be asking yourself, “How are Kung Fu and the Sales Profession related?”. That’s a great question and one that many people would ask. Those same people would say Kung Fu is a martial art, there is nothing martial about Sales. Kung Fu is about self dense and Sales is about making money. And they would not be wrong. So, here’s where I see Kung Fu and Sales intersecting and being able to relate the concepts.
Meaning of Kung Fu
First let’s look at the original meaning of Kung Fu. Today, we only think of it in relation to the martial art style. When in fact Kung Fu can be loosely translated to ‘Hard Work‘. Everyone that has success in Sales will tell you, it was hard work that got them there. They worked outside ‘normal hours’, practiced on their own (usually starting early in life), and take the time needed to stay current with the market, product and impact on clients. Hard to argue success in Sales requires anything less than hard work.
What about concepts? Like Don’t oppose, don’t discard, don’t force, how does this relate to Sales. We need to remember these are concepts. You may or may not apply a concept to a specific situation and everyone strives to find what works best for them given their experience and personality.
Let’s talk about, Don’t Oppose. In Kung Fu, you don’t want to oppose when sparring or in self dense situations. The reason is, if you oppose or resist, you will pull in the opposite direction of someone trying to pull you. Put another words you are fighting them. We can all agree fighting or opposing is a good action to do with a client. This is a good place to reinforce, this is not a universal rule in either Sales or Kung Fu and you should use with caution. So, for starting out “Don’t Oppose” is a good guideline for those of you that are early in your Sales career.
Don’t discard. Like in Sales, you want to stay connected to the other party* in Kung Fu and not discard them. It’s beneficial to stay connected with the other party because you know where they are at, you know what they are about to do and you can prepare to accept or redirect (more on those two later) their action. Many of those that run Sales teams would absolutely agree that staying connected to prospects throughout the buying process and after, is the most important part of any sales process. It allows you to know where the prospect is in the buying process. Staying connected and providing value throughout the sales process, you know if the requirements change or decision maker changed or about to sign. In addition, if you do not win the contract, you’ll know whether to accept the decision or to redirect to another solution. You don’t discard in Kung Fu for all the same reasons, think of how valuable it is know where the other party is at. Or what way they are about to move. Or whether to accept their actions or redirect them.
Don’t force. Forcing someone to do something consumes huge amounts of energy, it’s difficult and is in direct opposition. For any number of reasons, most sales people try to force sales. Either to meet quota, get a bonus, personal reasons, there are too many reasons why, but rest assured they have done it. The commonality for each reason is the sales person worked much harder than they should have. In addition, the other party felt the pressure and may start to oppose.
Again, it’s important to point out that both Sales and Kung Fu have little universal rules. This is especially true the better you get. The only way to get better at either Sales or Kung Fu is to practice. You can also work with someone that will show you best practice demonstrations and give you feedback, so you can practice. The skill that you need to develop and can apply to every aspect of your life is self-coaching. By self-coaching and practicing you will be able to get the most out of every interaction with a trainer, coach or shifu.
* I use ‘other party’ because using attacker or opponent doesn’t work for Sales and using prospect or customer doesn’t work for Kung Fu. Gimme a break. 🙂