What is discernment?
Discernment is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. It comes from from Old French discerner (13c.) “distinguish (between), separate” (by sifting), and directly from Latin discernere “to separate, set apart, divide, distribute; distinguish, perceive,” from dis- “off, away” (see dis-) + cernere “distinguish, separate, sift” (see crisis). According to the Cambridge dictionary, it is the ability to judge people and things well.
In this busy, cluttered and complex world the ability to make good judgements is becoming increasingly important.
When in a sales role, cultivating discernment allows us to properly assess a prospective business situation, understanding what the buyer wants to achieve and then being able to assess whether what we have to offer and what the buyer is looking to achieve are a good match for current and future dealings.
Not all business is good business, not all deals will result in a fair exchange of value, and not all buyers want the best for both them and us in these interactions. On the other hand, what may seem like a remote or outside opportunity, could on closer inspection and investigation, be a real gold mine that offers long term sustainable business dealings with great clients.
Given business and market situations there may be times that you may decide to give away certain short term gains in order to achieve a longer term goal or mitigate risk for the overall business. Or you may hold your ground to ensure the integrity of what you offer is not eroded by ‘cheap’ quick deals. At other times you may hold back in launching a product to get the right traction or release something not fully formed to see how it goes and whether it flies.
All of these decisions improve with the cultivation of discernment.
Instead of leaping in and taking things at face value, we consider for a moment what we are doing. We can refer to our sales strategy for guidance, review our market segmentation plans to check that we are deploying the right tactics, consider the market information and current trends. We should also check with our values and then weigh these and other elements up against our client or prospect’s priorities to discern if we have a viable opportunity that we want to pursue.
Doing good, honourable and sustainable business requires that we discernment.