How I Used Phenomenology for Selling

The interesting way that I discovered Phenomenology for Selling

I know seeing the word Phenomenology in the title of this article is a little scary and boring at the same time. Seeing the word Phenomenology with Selling could also induce some uncomfortable sensations. But if phenomenology had been taught in sales training, I would not have failed seven times at retail cold call sales.

As it is, phenomenology in a selling context is responsible for helping me discover the Authentic Identity of people and creating 20 successful years of selling 14 out of 20 prospects during the first sales contact.

In addition, selling with phenomenology created an innovative and practical approach to using philosophy in action which I call Authentic Systems.

Phenomenology is the closest to mind reading I have ever experienced and no one else teaches this method. Why? My sources came from European scholars and here in the United States we teach Western psychology where we primarily focus on observable behaviorism.

Europeans since the beginning of the 19th century approach the study of humanity from a holistic perspective rather than the Western analytic perspective in the United States that is dominated by behaviorism producing a one-size-fits-all approach.

Sales Training Didn’t Work

While sales seminar directors do reveal their successful methods and techniques of selling, their approach is personality dependent. If the one-size-fits-all method worked, then everyone would be able to make a living doing sales. Yet over 90% of those attempting sales the first time fail even with training.

Sales training is about learning human motivation in a business environment. They focus on the psychology of the prospect and the sales representative in presenting his or her product of service. Their main source of information comes from statistical averages based on behavioral questions and answers collected from questionnaires among hundreds of people.

However, the data collected from these people can only generate a statistically generated persona and this has nothing to do with your unique brand of internal motivation.

Such training attempts to offer the whole picture of sales psychology through verbal exchange, as the agents’ attempt to pin down the needs of the prospect. My question was, why do so many fail at selling even though they are taught by successful masters at sales revealing their methods and techniques to a youthful energetic audience eager for success?

Phenomenology for Selling Explained

After immersing myself in the American sales approach to human motivation, which ultimately led to repeated failure, I decided to explore various European philosophies as an alternative to traditional sales training. My focus shifted particularly to a branch of philosophy known as Phenomenology.

By definition the term “phenomenon,” which is the root word of “Phenomenology,” is an observable object, event, or experience that has a remarkable or unusual quality to it.

Example: The Northern Lights are a beautiful natural phenomenon.

However, Phenomenology delves deeper, aiming to describe our consciousness and our interactions with the phenomenon of objects, events, or experiences in a more abstract manner, grounded in our motivating intentions.

For example, consider the experience of being a fine art painter: as the brush glides across the canvas, applying vibrant colors, the hand, brush, aroma, texture, and vision all merge into a singular, unified experience. This immersive engagement is what Phenomenology refers to as the “lived experience,” capturing the essence of how we perceive and interact with the world around us.

Why do we find certain objects captivating while others are dismissive? What symbols do these objects represent? What is the force that draws us toward objects, people, events, and ideas? Why do we buy objects that have no connection to survival? Who would want new furniture when their house is full? What’s the purpose of owning jewelry or high-end clothing that have no practical function? What is the power that draws us to certain objects and not others? Phenomenology, the study of appearances can shed light on this mystery.

Notice when shopping for clothes with friends, we often hold up a pair of jeans and someone says, “Oh that’s you.”

Objects, people, and events in our life are props through which we play out our individual dramas in life. Much like Shakespeare’s quote “All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players.”

This is phenomenology in action. While you are holding colored, shaped cloth against your body, the meaning it displays is recognized by your Authentic Identity which is determined to be expressed through such life props as symbols of itself.

Your Authentic Identity and Objects

If the feeling of motivation to buy it occurs, then your Authentic and the object are in conformity of meaning. While the want is there in the initial reaction, the secondary consideration that it may be too expensive may bar you from making the purchase.

Still, the feeling of being drawn to the object is ever present.

This is the process we go through when we search for our props in stores. What does the brand, cut, color and design mean to you? Are the values you see resonate with your own essence that have been generated by your Authentic Identity?

What experience do you have when wearing new clothes or buying a car for that matter. This process reveals an aspect of your inner self and for all to see. Edmond Husserl, who dominated the world of phenomenology in the early 20th century, called this “lived experience.”

Our intention when choosing through the use of our props, reveal our thoughts of wants and desires as intentionality. We don’t think of it but what we surround ourselves with today is the artifact of tomorrow.

Archaeology analyzes the development and evolution of artifacts of the historical past to understand the lived experiences of the past.

Forensics with Phenomenology

Forensics assesses physical evidence found at crime scenes to discover clues regarding time sequence, evidence of who was present, age of objects, and evidence of use.

Both Archeology and Forensics are also examples of phenomenology that influence and direct these sciences. Phenomenology seeks to describe intentionality by examining physical objects and finding their intuitive meaning imbued by the designer.

Phenomenology offers invaluable insights into how individuals perceive and relate to objects around them, treating these relationships not as mere transactions but as meaningful engagements that are deeply embedded in their lived experiences.

This perspective intrigued me, compelling me to undertake a thorough investigation into phenomenology and its implications for understanding the bond between people and objects.

During my initial experimental stage applying Phenomenology for selling, I knew to look for patterns of objects that when grouped together could convey a collective message. This message spoke volumes about the personal histories of each of my prospects and revealed their inner values that shaped their lives.

This realization was particularly helpful in the context of developing a model of motivation. Applying phenomenology for selling in this way transformed my approach to sales. By understanding how prospects form attachments to objects based on their experiences, values, and memories, I gained deeper insights into their motivations and decision-making processes, allowing me to connect with prospects on a more profound level.

Authentic Systems for Sales

When I retired from sales the insights I gained from selling using this approach became the foundation of the Authentic Life Theme Assessment and my business Authentic Systems.

Using the same methods and techniques I used in sales; I began to help others see their inner self constituted of motivating sources working together as tools guiding them toward a happy and fulfilling life.

My clients could now recognize the reasons for their feelings and attitudes and how they contributed to others. They discovered there is nothing to fix in themselves, only something to be aware of.

I also created sales training workshops. The method I developed enables a sales representative to connect with prospects on a more authentic level, seeing them not just as potential customers but as unique individuals with their own stories and desires. By tuning into these intricacies, phenomenology allows for a more personalized and effective approach to sales.

While traditional sales training relies heavily on statistical data and generalized methods, phenomenology offers a richer and more nuanced understanding of human motivation. It bridges the gap between abstract philosophy and tangible action, providing a framework that is adaptable and deeply personal.

By embracing phenomenology, sales professionals can move beyond the constraints of conventional techniques and cultivate genuine, lasting relationships with their clients. This shift not only enhances sales performance but also enriches the overall experience for both the seller and the buyer, making the process more meaningful and fulfilling.

And by embracing phenomenology as a form of philosophy in action one can understand the greater purpose and Authentic Identity not only of oneself but in other people.
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About the author

CEO of Authentic Systems, Degree in Philosophy from University of California, Berkeley.
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