George Carlin did a bit once about words that included the phrase, “it’s the context that makes them good or bad.” The bit *hasn’t* aged well, but his words are prescient when it comes to techniques learned in training.
People tend to approach situations with linear thinking (e.g. “if situation is this then I’ll say/do that and get this (probably desired) outcome”) which is compounded by our desire to seek simple solutions (e.g. “say THIS to always get the appointment” or “six ways guaranteed to close the sale”) and forget the context of a situation before dropping a technique bomb into an interaction with a prospect or client.
Part of the context we forget is that the other person(s) in our interaction are filtering our words and actions through their worldview, communication style, hopes, fears, dreams and scripts, which might cause us to unintentionally blow up a nascent relationship or end a long term one by using a technique out of context.
As the Sandler Rule for Sales Leaders goes, “don’t leave training in the classroom;” but that doesn’t mean we should jump from a training session to a conversation with a client with a bunch of shiny new toys to tryout that we haven’t made our own yet.
In my first 12 months with Sandler, I cost myself at least $580,000 in opportunities because I regurgitated techniques I heard on recordings of David Sandler and other Sandler colleagues, which did nothing other than break rapport with my prospect.
David Sandler said, “I’m giving you sheet music and helping you make it sing in your world.” When you’re in any training session, if the facilitator/trainer can’t give you an example of a technique that fits in your world, reconsider if they are the right person/company to continue supporting you.
Understanding the context of a situation sounds like a lot of work. It is if we are doing all of the heavy lifting (aka talking). The way to understand context is to see the world through the other person’s eyes and that means asking more questions and diving below the surface level answers we receive from our initial questions.
With practice we will become quicker at understanding context and be able to fit our techniques to the context more effectively, which creates more effective and positive interactions.
Until next time… go sell something.