Be a first-class noticer

Let’s talk about selling smarter!
Have you ever been dropped from a sales bid or found out you’re losing a big account and wondered, “Why didn’t I see that coming?”  You thought the deal was a lock. You were positive that the client would stick around forever.

Even the best of us fail to recognize the warning signs that are hiding in plain sight. It could be the result of willful blindness. Maybe it’s our lack of self-awareness. But when we aren’t picking up on clues and cues, we get second-class data, make second-class decisions, and end up with second-class sales.

The solution? Become a first-class noticer. First-class noticers do more than just pay attention. They observe and absorb what’s going on around them. They pick up on changes in other people’s behavior. They detect unusual patterns in their environment.  

For sales reps, being a first-class noticing is a competitive advantage. It allows you to spot trends before they emerge and consider the long-term consequences of short-term conditions. First-class noticing helps you become more aware of what others are thinking or feeling without them even saying a word. It spares you from making costly errors and enables you to size up sales opportunities and threats. When you’re a first-class noticer, you’ll have a sharper understanding of people be in the right position to make more informed decisions.

Some people are just natural noticers. They can recall how someone looked during a sales meeting. They can discern the non-verbal reactions of a client during a sales pitch. They remember who was taking notes during the all-hands meeting and who was checking social media. And then there’s everybody else – the ones who somehow manage to overlook the obvious. How can we become first-class noticers? By starting with small acts to build our awareness.

#1 - Set aside judgement
Too often, we pay more attention to what we’re looking for rather than what we’re looking at. These visual blinders keep us from seeing the whole picture. They may even distort it entirely. To see past your blind spots, focus on describing what you see, not what you think it means. Without that objectivity, it’s much harder to spot the patterns or connections hiding in plain sight.

#2 - Challenge initial assumptions
Sometimes, we miss information simply because we don’t want to acknowledge it exists. Psychologists call this “bounded awareness” – the tendency to notice things that fit inside the bounds of our preconceived beliefs. But you can fight back by checking your assumptions and asking yourself some pointed questions: Am I seeing the picture clearly? What am I missing? Is there something else I should be looking at?

A good way to stretch your awareness is to get other people’s perspectives. Ask another sale rep or your sales director for their point of view.  Getting different views means we’ll see things from lots of sides, raising the odds that you’ll see the whole picture.

#3 – Make a habit of noticing
Noticing is conscious choice. When you pay attention to how you’re paying attention, things get more clear. Try building your habit of noticing by setting time aside to simply watch and observe. Focus on the picture. Look at the details. Jot notes on what you see. This can be hard at first, but with time and practice, you’ll be able to sustain your awareness for longer stretches of time. And you’ll be amazed by how first-class noticing becomes second-nature.

We’re living in an age of busyness, distraction and disconnection. But when you time to engage with your surroundings, challenge our beliefs and assumptions, and reflect on what’s right in front of you, you’ll be on your way to becoming a first-class noticers. And what you see might just surprise you.