These days sales is not just about products and services. A successful salesperson is not an order taker, but a relationship manager. While technical knowledge is important, it’s not enough. Customers can get technical knowledge online and choose channels for placing orders, which makes relationship management and building capacity of the customer the essential heart of a successful sales transaction.

Businessman and author Brian Tracy,  among the top sales training professionals in the world, advises people to develop three qualities to become the “best of the best” :

“The more you love your work, the more you care about your customers.”

Confronting your fears
“The more you repeat ‘I can do it’, the lower your fears and the higher is your self-esteem and self-confidence.”

“Keep developing one new skill and ability each day, each week, and each month that moves you forward.”

You don’t see time management, being a “skillful closer” or “qualifying customers up front” on his list. Brian’s list is about intention and internal development, not skills. And yoga has plenty to offer in the personal development arena.

Here are four simple yoga practices that can help those working in sales become the “best of the best.”

Discipline (tapas)
Tapas literally means “heat.” The practice is about “burning off” things that don’t serve you well. It also is about developing the habit of leaning into the discomfort and anxiety created by change.  Practicing tapas serves you when you’re learning something new (if I persevere, I’ll become competent) or changing a habit that is getting in the way of your success. Developing a tapas practice could begin by choosing a desire you want to satisfy or a goal you must stretch to obtain. Make a list of what you would have to give up to achieve the desire. What do you stand to gain? Pick one activity that will move you toward your desire and practice it daily.

Meditation (dhyana)
The research overwhelmingly supports the mental and physical benefits of regular meditation. The practice doesn’t require you to sit cross-legged with eyes closed for lengthy periods.  Meditation can be as simple as creating a mantra. (Brian Tracy recommends “I can do it.”) The practice is important. Try sitting alone quietly for two or three minutes each morning as you reflect on your intentions for the day. What can you do to “stay present” with your customers? What kind of relationship can you create? Jot a few notes in a journal after the reflection. Practice your mantra throughout the day, then review your notes in the evening. What do you notice?

Focus (dharana)
The secret to becoming “best of the best” is focus — more than a notion in today’s environment of “infobesity.” Creating practices for mental focus is similar to the physical training one does to prepare for a marathon, or the practice drills you do before an exam. Sit quietly and focus intently on a candle flame or a piece of art for five minutes. When a thought becomes distracting, acknowledge it, then let it float away. This practice can help you stay present to your customers’ conversations by focusing intently on what they say — without judgment.  After a meeting with a customer, test your listening skills by seeing how much of the conversation you can capture in notes.

Surrender (ishvara-pranidhana)
This may be the most powerful yoga precept of all in the changing world of business-to-business sales. If sales is a relationship-management profession, then surrendering attachment to the end result (making the sale) will help you focus on customer needs and how to satisfy them. Sometimes the best recommendation for a valued customer might be to buy nothing. Or they might be better served investing in a product or service that is different than the one you represent. If you’re attached to the sale, it’s almost impossible to do what is best for the customer.