Have you ever heard the concept called Shoshin; translated as a “beginner’s mind?” Me neither. Maybe because it is actually a tenet of Zen Buddhism, of which I am not an adherent. On the other hand it is the definition of a “beginners mind” that interests me in relation to salespeople. It is “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and the lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.” That’s why I titled this article, Become an “Amateur Authority,” which is obviously a classic oxymoron.

Children are natural at this, because they’re always beginners at something. But as you get older, it’s easy to lose touch with these qualities that were once so natural. I’m thinking of qualities such as being void of preconceptions and expectations of what should occur. Additionally, curiosity fades as well. Salespeople are supposed to be experienced and knowledgeable aren’t they? That’s why I feel that salespeople try to “outgrow” naiveté as quickly as possible and develop expertise, knowledge, and understanding.

I suggest that sellers should channel their inner five-year-old and flood sales calls with simple questions. “Why?” “How does that work?” “Why do you do it that way?” “Tell me more about that?” Who is impacted when that happens? If you had a magic wand to wave in this situation, what would you wish for? Don’t assume anything.

Sales managers constantly complain that their salespeople present solutions to prospects too soon and too often. This practice continues even after training and coaching the value of discovery through questioning to determine the pain prospects are experiencing so as to determine their real needs.

So it seems to be important for salespeople to learn this “beginner’s mindset” mentioned earlier. This will be a constant battle because the more experience they have the less they are willing to listen. They start thinking and acting like experts, so that when someone begins to describe an issue they are having, salespeople interrupt and blurt out something like; “Oh, I’ve heard this problem before. I know exactly what we can do to solve this issue.” Regrettably they often present incorrect or incomplete solutions and miss sales because of alienating prospects and making them feel unimportant.


So how do you get there from here? Well here are a couple of ideas that will help:

  1. Help your people become more aware about this selling dilemma. In your next meeting present a common challenge that homeowners or business buyers bring up. Maybe you throw out, “My electric bill is a lot higher than my neighbors, and our houses are about the same size.” Ask your outside salespeople to put together a list of 10 questions to uncover whether their electric meter is malfunctioning or this problem is due to something else. This will force them to get back to elementary basics.
  2. Help your sales team understand how unimportant it is to be the smartest guy or gal in the room. I can promise you most of your folks present solutions too soon because they don’t want look like or sound like they aren’t experts. To help them see this, ask them a few coaching questions to alter this behavior. Here’s a common example that should resonate.

When you go to the doctor and share your symptoms, does the doctor immediately prescribe a solution or does he or she ask more questions, or maybe even run some tests?

When the doctor asks more questions, do you think he or she is lacking in knowledge and expertise, or are they conducting a thorough diagnostic to ensure the right solution is prescribed?

Teach your salespeople how powerful “a beginner’s mindset” is. As the National Inquirer advertises, “Inquiring minds want to know.” This mindset helps salespeople stop presenting solutions too soon and too often. Continue to emphasize “an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.” Your sales veterans no doubt need to “dumb up a bit”! Now you know what I mean by an “Amateur Authority.” Your sales folks can know it, but they don’t have to always show it. Become curious again.

————Become an Authority————

Doug can help with learning how to ask the right type and number of questions during your discovery. It’s a big part of Sell is NOT a Four Letter Word. Check it out and purchase a copy HERE on Doug’s website. He will even send it with FREE SHIPPING.



©2020 Robinson Training Solutions, LLC