There are three questions that I consistently get asked when I do workshops:

  1. “Why do we behave the way we do in sales when we know there is a better way?”
  2. “How do I become a better coach to my team?”’
  3. “What sales books do you read?”

This article will encompass items one and three. I’ll provide a few personal insights on question number two in an upcoming article.

I tend to get strange looks when I admit that I don’t read a ton of sales books. Don’t get me wrong, I get my fill of sales content. However, I tend to read more on the periphery of sales. Some of my favorite authors include Dan Pink, Simon Sinek, Yuval Noah Harari and behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman. My opinion is that if we read too much solely focused on just sales, we end up in an echo chamber and we risk be less well-rounded.

I have learned so much by listening to others who have approached topics like how/why individuals make decisions, critical thinking, the science of timing, and focusing on our key motivations. It’s similar to athletes who use a second sport to help them hone their primary sport. For young athletes it’s been proven that focusing on a specific sport for 12 months of the year is not a good thing. And that’s kind of how I feel about books. In fact, reading ‘on the periphery’ of sales has helped me find a better way to answer the questions I am asked most often.

So, let’s pivot to question number one about why we behave the way we do when we know there’s a better way.

It could come down to a myriad of reasons, but one fascinating idea that I picked up while listening to a podcast called Hidden Brain (again, on the periphery), was around the idea of scarcity.  The concept is that when we have something that is missing in our lives, we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy to fill in that gap. Sometimes to the detriment of ourselves. “It leads you to take certain behaviors that in the short term help you to manage scarcity, but in the long term only make matters worse,” says Sendhil Mullainathan, an economics professor at Harvard University.

For example, if a sales rep is lacking closed business, they may unnaturally focus more on pitching way before they should because they feel there is only one shot to close the deal and they have to close it now (the term ‘money breath’ comes to mind)… even if we know deep down we shouldn’t be pitching so early. It may also mean that we don’t spend adequate time doing discovery and end up focusing more on our problem and not our prospect’s problems.

“Scarcity takes a huge toll. It robs people of insight. And it helps to explain why, when we’re in a hole, we sometimes dig ourselves even deeper.”

The Tunnel of Scarcity can serve us well if we have the maturity to understand why we behave the way we do. In addition, if we surround ourselves with coaches and mentors who can help us see the light at the end of the tunnel it allows us to do the right things for the right reasons (I’m stealing it from another of my favorite authors Stephen Covey). The next time you start to change behavior based on the feeling of scarcity, try to take some time to look at the problem from a more logical perspective.

Read more on the topic here.

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Certified in 2012, David is a ValueSelling Facilitator, Coach, and Practitioner with 15 years of ValueSelling experience. He leverages his leadership experience in helping sales professionals become more effective, efficient, and relevant. By exposing the principles and concepts of ValueSelling in a practical and pragmatic manner, he has become a trusted advisor to sales associates and sales leaders alike.