Courtesy Brian Van Bower

Ki is one of the single hardest words in the Japanese language to define. It can mean many things: power, courage, energy and presence to name just a few. Ki (pronounced key) also implies movement, change and influence.

The samurai were known for their unusual ability to overcome even though they were outmanned. They were known to have high ki. It’s a mindset and a practice. In short, the higher your ki, the more you’ll win.

Whole business books have been written on the subject, and while it may sound mystical, ki has very practical applications in sales. Based on what I’ve learned of ki, I’m going to condense it down to three primary pillars:

Power: Your power in sales comes from your knowledge of your marketplace and your prospects. The more you know about your products, services and clients’ needs, the more you’ll sell.

Presence: The way you talk, how you carry yourself and dress speaks volumes. People with high ki are acutely aware of how they’re perceived.

Passion: Your passion will come through loud and clear in your dealings with prospects. Sales come easy to someone who is enthused and engaged.

Remember the principles of ki as we examine how to increase sales through effective communication and the practice of overdelivering.

Improve your communication

You’ve likely heard of the “seven percent rule.” It’s the notion that only seven percent of meaning is communicated verbally. Body language and tone carry the majority of the message. Keep this in mind the next time you’re on a sales call. Ask yourself: “How am I coming across to this prospect?” You may find yourself slouching or sounding disinterested, in which case you can course-correct (hopefully before it’s too late).

A key to quality communication is the art of keeping your mouth shut! You need to develop the ability to listen. Most people, especially in sales, tend to want to spout off their vast bank of knowledge rather than asking pointed questions and waiting for responses.

I recommend every salesperson attend a public speaking workshop. While these classes are primarily intended to train you to speak in front of an audience, they’ll also teach you to organize your thoughts and deliver your message with the appropriate tone and body language, which is key to effective one-on-one exchanges.

And don’t underestimate the power of relatability. To be more relatable, you need to be more well-rounded. At Genesis, we arrange trips with our members to visit Italy, Germany, Spain and France. Why? For the same reason that we coordinate group wine tastings and attend cooking classes. We sell an expensive product to high-end clientele. We have to be familiar enough with their lifestyle to be conversant.

Underpromise and overdeliver

This is a big one — and something anyone can do, whether you’re a builder, retailer or service provider. Here’s an example: My business partner and I were demonstrating to clients how to operate their newly completed pool. One by one, we went through all the features, saving the best for last. I pushed the button on the control panel to activate the foam jets that we installed, to our clients’ surprise, in the shallow end. They were obviously impressed and asked us how much they owed.

They were so grateful for the free bonus feature that they invited us over for dinner later with another couple that were in the market for a new pool themselves.

A project doesn’t have to cost six figures for you to exceed your customers’ expectations. Overdelivering can be as simple as completing the job ahead of schedule. Likewise, a service technician can offer to keep an eye on the house while their customers are away on vacation.

Little things go a long way. Do enough of them and you’ll have as many advocates as customers.

Brian Van Bower, SWD, is the CEO of Aquatic Consultants Inc. and co-founder of the Genesis 3 Design Group. You can attend his presentation, 10 Ways to Crush the Competition, at the virtual International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo. Register at