What’s Peter Pan Got To Do With Sales?

My wife and I watched the season premier of Once Upon a Time the other night. It was about Neverland and of course Peter Pan and that got me to thinking about the movie Hook with Robin Williams.

Your emotions have a lot to do with how well you sell. It affects how other people see you and how they believe you feel about what you’re selling. Think about it for a minute, do you like doing business with angry people? How about doing business with people that are down or depressed? Or people that are self centered and could care less about you? Of course not. If you’re like most people you like to do business with people that are happy and upbeat.

Zig Ziglar, one of the great sales trainers boils sales down to the transference of feelings. Basically if you can get your prospect to feel the way you do about what you’re selling they are more likely to buy.

Brian Tracy, another great sales trainer, teaches constrained enthusiasm and points out that the last four letters of enthusiasm are I A S M which means I Am Sold Myself. So with that in mind maintaining the right attitude is essential in sales.

There’s a valuable lesson to be learned from the movie Hook with Robin Williams that has helped me in my sales career more times than I care to count. It’s also a lesson I’ve shared with hundreds of sales people who have benefited from it as well.

The movie starts in modern day England and Robin Williams is a busy executive married to his cell phone and so busy with work he’s missing out on his own children’s childhood.

As it turns out Robin is Peter Pan but he’s grown up and he’s gotten serious and has completely forgotten his childhood. So he doesn’t remember that he is, or ever was, Peter Pan.

Tinker Bell, played by Julia Roberts, brings him back to Neverland to remember who he really is and to fight Hook and save Neverland.

About now you might be asking yourself what on earth does this have to do with sales. Just bear with me and I will make it clear.

The sales lesson is in how, the now serious and adult, Peter who has no magic and can’t even remember being Peter Pan gets his magic, and power to fly, back. You see, his power was a function of his imagination as well as being able to be carefree and happy. He’d forgotten how to imagine and he hadn’t been happy in a long time.

When he first got to Neverland he was in denial and just wanted things to stay the way they were. Jumping ahead to the part that’s relevant to the lesson. Peter first started to get his ability to imagine back when the whole gang was sitting down to an imaginary meal. Rufio, one of the lost boys,  was upset because the real Peter Pan would have been able to have actual food for them to eat. He didn’t believe this was the real Peter Pan.

In the process of the argument between Rufio and Peter, Peter starts to lose some of his adult ways and begins to have fun. Just as Peter is pretending to throw a spoonful of food at Rufio the imaginary becomes real and all of the sudden the table is full of food. Watch the clip for yourself its fun.

Peter Pan remembers.

Now having an imagination and being able to have fun is important and it will help you in your day to day sales. But, that isn’t the biggest lesson to learn from this movie. You see even though Peter remembered how to use his imagination he still wasn’t “The” Peter Pan. He didn’t believe and he didn’t have the magic to fly.

In the movie Tinker Bell helps Peter remember and realize that the key to his magic comes from being able to be in his “Happy Place”. As she helps him remember, and realize, that he is in fact Peter Pan his happiest memory is of the time when his first child was born. As the happiness fills him up he turns back into Peter Pan and now he can fly.

It’s kind of funny as he remembers because without realizing it he is hovering in mid-air but when he starts to think about the fact that he’s flying he gets scared. Of course he starts to drop like a rock but just before he hits that ground he remembers his happy place and stops in mid-air. Now, he’s really Peter Pan and starts flying all over the place.

Once again I bet you are asking yourself what on earth this has to do with sales or selling. Well, the lesson is about having, and being able to hold on to, your happy place. Think about the times when an angry prospect or client has affected your mood which affects your performance. Think about the times you’ve had a setback personally and it impacted you work. The fact is we all get hit with bad news, cancelled sales, personal setbacks and trials of life. The key is how do you deal with it?

We all get upset or have our feelings hurt from time to time but if you take the time to remember a moment when you were extremely happy or a time that you felt totally successful you can use the memory, and others like it, to get back to a point where you can be effective and successful.

There have been many times I have used this to get myself or sales people I’ve worked with back into a good place to work from. I know it may sound a little out there but what have you got to lose by trying it?

One of the things I picked up from Tony Robbins is to work on remembering things in color with sound and to make them seem like they’re on a life size or larger screen. It only takes a little bit of practice but it’s worth it. For me and everyone I’ve worked with the intensity of the feeling or memory is enhanced by making it larger or in color or with sound. Different adjustments have different impacts for each person so experiment with it to see what works best for you.

Another thing Tony teaches is to anchor a feeling or emotion so that you can get into that state at will. For years, every time I made a sale I would stand up with my arms raised over my head in victory and then I would simulate the cheer of a crowd. (You might not want to do this if the client is still there. ;-)) This action has anchored for me the feeling of success I enjoy when making a sale. Now, anytime I want to feel this way I simply repeat the action and I’m in that state.

As a sales professional you must learn to be the master of your emotions. That doesn’t mean ignore them or suppress them. So find a copy of Hook and enjoy being entertained but let it help you find you very own happy place and learn how to go there any time you want. Your sales will improve and so will your relationships with those around you.

About the Author Mike McMahon

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