Can sleep improve our sales forecast accuracy?

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Following a meeting, if I were to say, “I’ll eat on it”, you would probably look at me bemused and a little confused. And yet you are totally comfortable with me saying “I’ll sleep on it”. That is because we intuitively know sleep is a powerful ally to improve our performance.

And yet we all seem to take sleep for granted. Our perspective is looking outward at the world out there. We put in long hours, work hard to become better sales and supporting sales professionals. The problem with this outlook is it is failing to see the wolf standing on the other side of the door. That wolf is the advancement of technology.

Some of us may be selling it, others buying it. We marvel at the technology, the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), machine robots that work tirelessly 24/7. Deep learning and machine learning that will create a highly disciplined workforce of the future.

We embrace its potential. It truly does offer us great business opportunities. What is predictable and repeatable will stripped away and automated, and it will not stop there. It does not discriminate. Blue-collar and white-collar jobs are in its path.

We have already seen the finance industry transformed by FinTech. Consider how AI and deep learning is sweeping the financial trading world. The goal is not to produce robots to trade. The goal is to remove the unfairness we have built around trading. Technology is being applied for the long term good and it will challenge the very way we sell. Think about it in terms of the difference between social science such as trading and pure science such as discovering dark matter. Social science is playing against humans. Doing so it challenges the status quo and opens trading to those who previously did not have access.

If we are to truly embrace the potential of technology, we need to become shepherds, not influencers. There will be many areas in the investment and finance world where we will always need humans. If you are a seller, your challenge is to build confidence with buyers you can help them to find and move into those areas. If you are a buyer, your challenge is to find sellers who can help you fully embrace technologies promise.

The challenge is the pressures and stresses we deal with in business and sales. We are also treating our bodies like machines. We need to remind ourselves we are not machines, we are humans! If we are to embrace and prosper in sales with machine robots, AI, and so forth. We must keep one eye looking inwards taking care of our body and state of mind so we can perform at our best. Sleep is one of our most effective tools to achieve this.

Let me explain. Between your ears is the most powerful firmware known to mankind in the Universe. If you are working with or alongside these technological advancements. You must sharpen your human skills to remain relevant and competitive in the future. To sharpen your human skills, you need to look after your brain. Sleep does this for you. It is your brain’s and your state of mind’s best and most effective caretaker. There are 86 billion neurons in your brain. You think AI is amazing, rest assured we humans are far more amazing.

During the day it is like the World Wide Web or a stock exchange. Your waking brain is optimized for collecting external information. When we sleep our brains turn inwards away from this chaotic waking life. A rhythmic pattern commences. You start to cycle through four stages of sleep. Repeating this cycle multiple times during a good night’s sleep. Each stage gives you a specific benefit and purpose. Understanding these cycles will give you a whole different perspective on the value of sleep. Understanding how sleep will also improve your sales performance gives you a competitive edge.

Stages one and two are the lighter sleep and are all about editing. As you fall into a light sleep, your brain stays active and starts its editing process. It is deciding which of your memories to keep and which ones to remove. Your cerebral cortex is the pleated grey matter covering your brain. It is responsible for language and consciousness. Electrical sparks deep within your brain fires upon it. You are now editing recently acquired information and curating memories. Your brain decides what new information will be linked to your long-term memory.

In sales to remain competitive, you need to discover new insights to understand your audiences’ situation. The act of finding this information and having good sleep improves your sales performance. You could say the more sparks the better you perform.

By giving yourself the time for a good night’s sleep, you are subconsciously developing your sales engagement and pitches. Some neurologists are suggesting that sleep literally makes connections you might never have consciously formed. Therefore, we are intuitively comfortable hearing someone say, “let me sleep on it”. However, intuitively it makes no sense to us when someone says, “Let me eat on it”.

Having a good night’s sleep improves your ability to develop more compelling sales business cases. This builds stronger relationships. Those relationships allow you to manage more accurate sales forecasts.

I’m going to quickly close off on the remaining two sleep stages. These are also important to remain competitive managing an accurate sales forecast. Stages 3 & 4 is when you enter a deep, coma-like sleep that is essential to your brain’s health. It is when you rest, recuperate and do your internal housekeeping. It is the time when big rolling delta waves are flowing through your brain.

It is during this stage you are maintaining a healthy immune system, body temperature, and blood pressure. Without this sleep, you struggle to regulate your mood, which is critical in business. The real deal breaker is how lack of sleep impacts your ability to make decision and problem solve. This is because your frontal cortex is the first to suffer from a lack of sleep. It is the pleated grey matter covering this area of your brain. It is also home to language. So, a lack of sleep will impact your communications skills. Without these skills how can you present a compelling business case? Without a compelling business case, you will struggle to be consistent in managing an accurate sales forecast.

The Takeaway. Get a regular eight to nine hours of good sleep each night. A better night’s sleep means you sharpen your human skills. You need these skills to succeed in working alongside technologies promise. That promise will challenge and change our world of sales. It will also open new opportunities. You need to sleep to sharpen your human skills. To be in peak condition to take advantage of these opportunities.

Also, Download our Sales Forecast Guide for Sales Teams & Business Owners. Within this guide, you can also download another Guide, “Using Sales Prospecting Tools to Improve Sales Pipeline Reviews”.

About the Author

Treve Wearne is the founder of Nazca Services Limited. Treve supports businesses and sales teams positioning themselves and increasing sales revenues. Improving sales forecasts, talent development and retention in the most challenging business environments.