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Salesperson Bites Dog, Dog Gets No Insight!

by David Brock on June 14th, 2014

I have to confess to a shameless manipulation of you, the reader.  Many of you are reading this post, attracted by the headline and wondering, “I always knew Dave was a little whacked out, but what could he possibly be thinking with this post?”  A few compassionate souls are worried about the poor dog, wanting to find out if it survived the vicious attack.

Like many writers, often, I write a provocative title to my posts.  I recognize everyone is busy, but hope the provocative title entices the reader to open the post and read.  Every writer does this to varying degrees, some of the best headline writers are employed by the tabloids–their titles are usually far better than the article.

Often, the title I write may be completely opposite to the content of the post, but I hope to stir up some interest and discussion.  Often, the discussion takes interesting twists and turns.  People, reacting to the title, but clearly not having read the content offer sometimes scalding comments.  “How can you possibly promote such outdated thinking?!!?”  “Wake up, buying has changed, what you are promoting lost favor decades ago, where have you been?”  They’re kind of fun to read.  Usually they are making exactly the same point I make in the text of the post itself.  I worry about how to respond without making them sound foolish for not having gone further than the headline.

But that’s not really the point of this article (See–it’s that shameless manipulation, I suck you in, then completely shift gears.)

Too often, in engaging our customers, colleagues, or just about anyone, we have the tendency to react before we really understand what’s being said.  Like reacting to a headline without reading the content, we react to a statement, a casual utterance, or even a facial expression.  Often our reactions are completely wrong.

A customer states something–perhaps it’s an objection, perhaps it’s something else.  Our managers make a comment.  Someone says something in a meeting.

Before we take the time to think about what’s been said; without taking the time to probe and understand, we feel compelled to respond.  Perhaps the customer has said a few trigger words that enable us to launch into our pitch (Usually, that’s “Hello,”).  Maybe a manager says, “How did the meeting go?” We feel defensive.  It might be a colleague we don’t particularly like, expressing a point of view, and we immediately take the opposite view.

Getting things done in business (and our personal lives) comes down to effective communication.  But so many of our problems as sales or business professionals is that either our skills in communicating are deficient, we don’t take the time, or we aren’t fully present (read — we’re multitasking).  As sales professionals our effectiveness in communicating is core to our ability to be successful.  Note, I said communicating—not presenting, not persuading, not convincing.  Those are elements of communicating, but just a very small part.

We all know communicating is two ways.  We have to listen.  We know we have to probe to understand.  We know that we may have to shift our points of view.  We know that our own communications styles impact how we perceive what’s being said, and how others perceive us–just as their communications styles impact what they hear and how they are heard by others.  We know that effective communications requires each person’s full engagement, attention and participation.  We know to develop deep trusting relationships, we have to have to be communicating effectively and impactfully.  We know effective communication takes time–even in a world where everyone is time poor.  Finally, we know effective communications requires commitment to the conversation on the part of all parties involved.

We know “sound bites,” or bullet points, or clever phrases (or manipulative titles/headlines) may catch attention, they aren’t effective communication without context, examination, and discussion.

As sales people, we know effective communication is at the root of everything we need to do–yet too often we are miserably poor at it.  (Me included)

Perhaps it’s time to reflect on how we communicate, and how we improve our abilities to communicate.

Finally, for those of you worried about the dog, it’s safe and recovering.  As a result of it’s terrifying experience with the salesperson, it’s writing a sales “How To” book, tentatively entitled, “Barking Up The Wrong Tree.”

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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  1. This post bites.

    Instead of bait and switch, is this “bite and switch?”

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    Communication and authentic dialogue… still the oldest, killer sales skill.

    Starting to think we should put all sales people through marriage counseling with their clients. Or stop training sales skills and start training human interaction skills.

    • Howling with laughter!!!!! 😉

      Once again, Mike, you’ve provoked another post. Love the idea of human interaction training.

  2. This is a bit funny.

    When Dave’s articles reach me through the magic of RSS or email, I never look at his headline.

    It is an automatic -“Yeah, I will read this, it’s from Dave. I got time for it.”

    Sometimes, I will have something to say.

    But, I almost always read even when I don’t have a comment, or something to add.

    Dave writes: “But so many of our problems as sales or business professionals is that either our skills in communicating are deficient, we don’t take the time, or we aren’t fully present.”

    “We usually aren’t fully present.” I agree with this sentiment.

    The profound promise of blogs/comments is that many of us can now take the time to craft decent replies, as if we were fully present during the conversation.

    Few of us will reach the Socratic level of dialogue – but, equally, a lot more of us are going to get much closer.

    Because we can revisit the written conversation, we can react as if we were more “fully present”.

    Even for the “man bites dog” headlines!

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