“George,” said Ernie, “this one prospect is driving me up the wall . . . no matter how big of a picture I paint, he still can’t see how much our product is a perfect fit.”
“So,” responded George, “just what is it that you want me to see?”
“Well, do you see any way that I can get this fellow to clear out the cobwebs and let the sunshine in?”
“Who is it?”
“That fellow who was in here a month ago, Jerry Kozinski, the one who complained about the music in my office being too distracting.”
“Ah,” said George, “here’s something you might want to try.”
“Anything would be helpful!”
“I want you to call him on the phone. Then ask him one question, exactly as I say it to you, and wait for an answer no matter how long it takes. Ask him, ‘Have you heard what I said about the product being in tune with your needs?’”
“Okay, I’ve got that,” responded Ernie. “Then what do I say when he says, ‘Yes,’?”
“Precisely this, ‘I hear you, Jerry. By saying Yes, you mean . . . I’m not sure . . . ’”
“That’s it?” asked Ernie.
“Yes. And here’s the behavior you will follow when you are talking with him on the phone; you will only ask questions or give one word answers. You will not speak at length about anything. Do that, and if he’s really interested, he’ll make an appointment with you.”
“I know, I know,” responded Ernie, “one of the behaviors I’m working on is learning when not to talk the prospect’s head off.”
About three hours later, Ernie went and found George.
“I don’t get how you pegged him, George.”
“What do you mean?”
“I did exactly what you said with Jerry, and he must have talked for at least 30 minutes. He finally stopped, apologized for taking all my time and asked if he could take me to lunch to further discuss placing an order. How did you know what to do?”
George has learned to listen and as a result, people perceive George as having great insight and understanding of what makes people tick.DISCUSSION:
Perhaps there was a time when a sales manager could list the 10 or 20 behaviors that were demanded and actually expect the salespeople to automatically fall in line. Do you think there is a place where this happens today?
The reality is that this never happened, anywhere at any time. Basic psychological theory states that everyone perceives the world through his unique combination of senses and intelligence. While we both may agree that the car is green, one of us may see the car as an outstanding example of contemporary styling, and the other may see the design as a cheap knock-off of something done in the late fifties.
What does this have to do with salespeople? Each salesperson perceives his role and responsibilities in a unique fashion. To assume people see their roles and responsibilities as you do is to take the first step in miscommunication.
f you accept that each salesperson has a unique view of his role and responsibilities and that it will most likely be different from yours, then the first step in communication is to have him tell you what it is.
First, ask him to write down his goals and the steps that he will take to reach those goals. Verbally telling you this information won’t work. His verbal message, which he believes to be perfectly clear and probably is to him, will be interpreted by you, because of your unique viewpoint, in a different manner.
Second, while he is writing this down, you do the same thing from your point of view. Now make a copy of both your efforts and his efforts.
Both of you compare the two efforts side by side. The purpose of the writing and the comparison is to have some objective points for both of you to talk about.
Now that the salesperson understands your efforts to understand his unique viewpoint by going through this process, he will be much more accepting of your suggestions on what behavior needs to be modified, dropped or added to reach his goals.
Simple? Yes. But rarely done on a systematic basis.THOUGHT:
Learning to listen to what others are saying is the first step in managing their behavior.