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Good Commerce = Good Karma

The Sanskrit word “Karma” is broadly defined by Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism as the force generated by a person’s actions and the ethical consequences of those actions, which determine the nature of the person's next existence. Not only do these faiths and philosophies hold that your present and past actions impact your immediate future, but they also hold that those actions impact the future of your next life. Many Westerners grapple with the notion of reincarnation.

Wherever your personal philosophies fall on the matter, certainly you can identify with the notion of “cause and effect,” “we reap what we sow,” or “you get what you give.” If we look to the dynamics of the physical world, Newton’s third law corroborates Karma: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This law can be represented by what happens when one boat moves at a rate of three knots on a lake. If that moving boat then bumps into a boat sitting completely still, then the boat that was sitting still will be put into motion. Karma in sales works precisely the same way. We offer a product or service, and something will result from the action of our offer. What that something is and when it manifests are hard to define, but something will happen from the action taken. If we had to simplify the Sanskrit definition of Karma, then it would be action.

Karma is action. In the context of sales, the right action is everything. Our job as salespeople is not to get people to do things or buy stuff they do not need or want. Our job as salespeople is not to persuade, cajole, or convince others to fall in line with our beliefs or desires. Our job as sales people is to make action happen faster, whether that action is getting a “no” or a “yes” from a prospective client. This is the goal of a sale. The hardest word for one person to say to another is “no.” Buyers shy away from giving sellers a candid negative answer, even if they sincerely don’t need that product or service. If you have a child and you take her to a store, then there’s a good chance that the child will find candy, a toy, or something else that she wants. Most of the time, if the child’s parent doesn’t intend to buy what she desires, then the parent will tell the child “next time,” or “I’ll think about it.” Most parents will not give a candid “no,” and the reason is they want to sustain a measure of peace with the child and avoid the fallout of potential conflict.

Most parents understand that if they can allow the child to foster a small degree of hope, then the child will not throw a fit in the store and will soon forget about the momentary desire. Buyers in Western cultures perform a similar dance with those who are selling. Think about the last time you were at a clothing store. A store employee probably came up to you and asked, “Can I help you with anything?” Our gut reaction is to say, “I’m just looking.” Under no circumstances would we ever simply say the sweet, single-syllable word “no.” Why not? What is wrong with “no”? The answer is this: Nothing is wrong with hearing “no” from a prospective buyer.

Western cultures have been conditioned that telling someone “no” is in some way harming that person, so rather than being truthful, buyers will employ a “maybe”. strategy that they hope, on a subconscious level, will not make sellers feel rejection, or at a more primal level, respond with conflict. But, in reality, by not serving up a candid “no,” buyers harm sellers; they cost sellers time by not allowing them to execute the primary purpose of a sale, to make action happen faster. They are putting up a Karmic roadblock.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”


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