One thing I rarely find myself feeling is boredom. I mean, all electronics off, just sitting and thinking, and still no boredom. As a child I was often bored, even when not being sat in the corner for misdeeds. What makes the difference between now and then? Curiosity? I don't think so; that was usually what got me sat in the corner to begin with.
I believe experience has made the difference. Some experience will lessen boredom a bit, but a long run of experience, whether in a career or life itself, allows one to ruminate on what is happening now, how it used to be, and what are the factors that make up the difference in both positive and negative ways. I find this mental activity to be very interesting, and most times, it leaves me more curious than ever.
Lately, the area of communication has been intriguing me. Not forms of communication, and how those are changing so incredibly fast (in itself, a fascinating subject), but rather how humans communicate, why they communicate as they do and how we can improve in this area. This thought exercise came about as an offshoot of another, that being, what non fiscal areas should leaders in my own company be looking to improve in, for the betterment of all.
When it comes to corporate communicating, there are two very different tracks to look at: internal and external communication. What position within the company ties the two together, and therefore needs to be abundantly in touch with both tracks? Sales!
For this reason, it is incredibly important that salespeople are communicated to, clearly and fully, on most facets of internal corporate doings, and that they have the skills and ability to take that information and clearly and concisely communicate it, appropriately, to each external contact at every opportunity.
Sounds simple enough, but we are all very busy in this age of immediacy and variety, with everyone having to prioritize their efforts to maximize time use most efficiently. All too often, communicating information of vital import to everyone with a need to know falls short. This can make all the difference in getting or losing a sale, optimizing profitability and minimizing stress at every level.
How can salespeople take ownership of communication for their own, and the company's betterment? Since a solid grasp of communication skills will QUELL a salesperson's fear of the next sales call, let's use that as our acronym for how to excel at sales communication.
Q -- Question. Many salespeople have learned somewhere along the line to question prospects in an effort to find a need they might be able to fulfill, and then focus their pitch on that particular area. But to truly excel, you must also question your own supervisors as to what your company needs to sell, what is new and what may be coming soon, so you are fully versed on all possible prospect need fulfillers.
U -- Unload. This has multiple meanings. First, unload your "baggage." This means anything that's distracting you from being in the moment, whether a spousal disagreement, an overdue bill or an incoming text. These need to be, at the least, "quelled" from being front and center in your mind so you are 100% attentive and ready for a call. It can also mean unloading all preconceptions, prejudices and assumptions as to who you are meeting, prospect or otherwise. I once met a very powerful decision-maker I found in an undershirt and old work shorts out behind the building, cutting through concrete block to build a new receiving dock. Be nice to everyone!
E -- Explain. People often say to me, "I couldn't do sales," to which I ask: why? It's only explaining what one company does that can be of benefit to another. The main reason people don't think they can sell is a preconception they will have to lie in order to achieve success. This is rarely true, and trying it is surely the quickest way to a short sales career. Others just lack the confidence. In my opinion, this stems from not being comfortable with yourself or the subject matter. I'd be scared to death if I was forced to try to explain something I knew nothing about! You will best be able to explain fully and optimally by following all other aspects of QUELL.
L -- Listen. Again, most salespeople have been taught to listen more and talk less. I mean, really listen! Don't be formulating your next sentence while your prospects are describing their needs. Take everything in and be 100% there.
L -- Learn. If you've made it this far, you already have proven yourself as someone looking to learn and for that I applaud. Without the desire to learn as much as possible in all facets of what you do, you will never be sure you did your utmost to succeed.
As always, may your cup run full, and the brew, exquisite.
KEVIN DAW is president of Heritage Coffee Co. (London, ON, Canada), a private-label roaster serving the breaktime management industries. A 30-year veteran of OCS, water delivery and vending operations, he has concentrated on coffee roasting for the past two decades.