It's human nature to focus on self. On top of that, the perception (fair or not) is that sellers are even more self-oriented than people in most other professions. To overcome this perception and temper that human nature, sales managers and sales trainers who want to enable sales may find real value in developing a stronger orientation to others. This is part of what I call selling with emotional intelligence. This shift to become more "other-oriented" works for sellers, too, when they dedicate more focus on their buyers.
Developing an other-orientation is challenging. After all, you are extremely busy, and you have clear objectives to convey information on how to sell, what to sell, plus deadlines to meet and so on. Not only that, you also have new policies to introduce, technology to share, metrics to analyze and so much more. So your tendency is to be efficient in your communication. You focus on telling what it is you know.
That's called dissemination of information. It is not the same thing as effective transference of knowledge. There is a difference, and your ability to enable sales is absolutely dependent upon understanding this difference.
Think about the other side of communication when your intention is to enable sales. The other side of communication is where the recipients -- your sellers -- receive and process and understand what you are conveying to the extent that they have an ability to correctly act upon the information they've received from you.
Selling With Emotional Intelligence by Being Other-Oriented
Doing this requires getting out of your own head and considering the needs of your group or audience. I was reminded of this on a recent flight on Southwest Airlines. The flight attendant (as many on this airline do) entertained us and showed off a little bit. He was amusing but ineffective. What he did was deliver the safety message – all but a few of the most salient points – in rapid fire auctioneer- style fast talk. It was amusing. Until I realized that there were several infrequent or perhaps even first-time flyers sitting near me.
For a split second, I wondered what would happen if we truly needed those oxygen masks and my seatmates hadn't been able to receive and process the important information being shared.
The same thing happens every day in sales meetings and sales training classes when managers or trainers have information they want to disseminate, but they do not do it in a way that is effective. It happens every day in buyer/seller meetings, too.
When information is shared just for the sake of checking that off the to-do list, the person sharing it tends to sound like the teacher in the old Peanuts cartoons – “wah wah wah wah wah waaaahh…..” That ends up being a waste of time for everyone.
An orientation to others will help you do a better job of meeting the needs of your group members. Here are seven tips to help you become more effective with an orientation to others.
1. Go into the meeting with the mindset of being effective instead of being efficient.
That may require more preparation, more time or more variety in the method of information dissemination. It is worth it if the information truly needs to be received and acted upon.
2. Before meeting, find out what the group needs.
Don't just make assumptions. Don't rely on what you've heard secondhand. I often wonder, for example, why it is that so few sales trainers conduct surveys or needs assessment interviews with training participants before they design and deliver training.
3. Slow down.
Allow time for each key point to be processed and understood. Nobody listens as fast as you talk. Treat your presentation like a fine meal. It should be well-paced so others can savor, chew on and digest all you have to offer.
4. Check periodically for understanding and retention of information.
Consider role-play, skills practice, examples, breakout discussions or other techniques that will engage the people who are listening. Allow time for Q & A and don't make that an afterthought at the end of the meeting. When people don't ask questions, it doesn't necessarily mean they understand. More often than not, it means no one wants to be the person who prolonged the meeting.
5. Deliver important information more than once, in more than one way.
We all need to hear the same thing multiple times in order for it to stick. Repetition and frequency help cut through all the other clutter. Every person is bombarded every day by more messages than any one of us could possibly process and remember. Give your messages a better shot by offering them more than one time. Since you'll be putting the same message out multiple times, use the opportunity to appeal to various learning styles, too. In other words, don't just teach the way you prefer to learn. Consider the needs of all learners and provide information verbally, in writing, hands-on and interactively.
6. Remember it's not about spewing out the information.
It's about how well recipients receive the information. For that reason, pay attention to the people you're talking to and empathize with the looks they may be giving as clues to you, the speaker. Do not ignore confused expressions or people who seem to have something they'd like to say. Engage so you can be sure they've understood.
7. Follow up individually.
Some people won't have questions immediately. Others won't feel safe asking in a group. Some will have additional ideas or questions that come later. The more important the information you've shared, the more conversations you'll need to have about it. One and done doesn't work for enabling people to grasp and apply new information.
Make Enabling Others One of Your Goals
When you consider the needs of others in your communication you will enable them to act upon what you've shared. As a manager, a trainer or a seller, never forget that enabling others to act is your true aim.