Communicate Better, Sell More
Any salesperson worth his or her commission knows that communication is everything, and that mastery of communication only leads to mastery of your business. Ryan T. Sauers, president and owner of Sauers Consulting Strategies, recently published a book called "Everyone is in Sales," a book dedicated to the study of communication, breaking it down and laying out the different ways people listen, talk and otherwise drive their communicative behaviors. While not specifically written for salespeople, the book's exploration and framing of different parts of communication is useful for all facets of business, from sales to management to marketing.
I've seen Ryan give educational seminars and have previously interviewed him for sales-advice articles I've written. Practical, open-minded and able to mix academics and years of personal experience well, he is one of the best business experts I've worked with, and I have spoken with my fair share.
Last week Ryan was kind enough to speak with me a little about his book and how it's useful for Promo Marketing readers. A truncated block of our conversation is reproduced below.
Promo Marketing: What can salespeople expect to take from reading the book?
Ryan T. Sauers: They can look to understand a new concept I've brought up in the book called adaptive communications. The idea of adaptive communications is built upon academic models and professional models of human communications. It really explains in 1-on-1 dynamics and group dynamics why human beings behave the way that they do. The way they look at the world, the way they prefer information, the way they make decisions based on time, they way they get their energy from the world.
The feedback received thus far from the book has been, "I've never realized I was communicating to this person left-handed and he is right-handed," or, "I was saying things to them and they weren't even listening to me," or whatever the case is. So for salespeople I think that's a huge part of the book. That's the crux of what is called adaptive communications.
We get in later in the book how all communications, online or offline, are ultimately connected and are all still about the human being. I think why that's important for salespeople is that salespeople sometimes lose sight of the most important thing that they're offering, which is their own relationships. We've gotten so caught up with emails and all of these technologies, it's still about the person, and that's one of the things that I think makes a big difference in this book for salespeople.
PM: In the book preview I read it seems like you kind of weave in and out of other practical tips for business, like management styles or how to work with coworkers or subordinates. Is that something that people could expect to take away from the book in places, other ways to help them run their business?
RTS: Yeah absolutely. The third section of the book gets into integrated communications, and the whole idea there is whether you're an owner dealing with your employees or an employee dealing with ownership, it's about trying to predict what is going to occur.
I think the book makes people really have some "aha!" moments where they say, "I never thought about the way I communicate and what they're hearing me say, what they're hearing me write." I really try to get the point across in this book that sales is not a title, sales is communications. We're all in communications. Think of this if you're talking to your kid's principle, think of this if you're talking to your boss about a raise, think of this if you're talking to a peer on a committee you're struggling with. It's sales, it's just we're reframing it to communications. That's kind of how I think business people can get their hands around the book.
PM: With this reframing, it seems like you focus a lot on the depth of what it actually means, on the false assumptions and communication misunderstandings it calls attention to. Would you say that false assumptions are one of the bigger communication mistakes you see people make?
RTS: I heard this yesterday, I was doing a phone interview with a different industry, and and the whole gist of what he was speaking about is that he wanted to blame the whole demise of his business on one factor, which was china and overseas. Well that is a factor, but it's not the only factor.
What people want to do is they make assumptions and they use data that based on nothing. I have this chapter in the book called the "5 why's model," and what I do is say, "Okay John, why is it that that is the factor of your business?" "Well because everything is going to China." "Why is everything going to China?" "Well because we started 15 years ago and..." By asking five whys, I really get to the root cause, which is, "Well we should have diversified 10 years ago and got into some other product lines and we didn't do it." There you really get to what's driving the assumption. Not, "I'm upset about of something going overseas."
You really want to get on the same page as somebody? You really want to understand the truth of the worldview they have, really know where they're coming from and why they believe what they believe, 5 why questions in a row will generally get you to the root cause. Because a lot of people just spout stuff off and they're not even sure why they believe it, that's just what they think. Whether it's right or wrong, they've never even thought through it enough to understand. That chapter of the book really addresses that specific question of those assumptions.
PM: Anything else you'd like to add?
RTS: I think what the sum is that this is a lot more than catchy title. This is a philosophy, this is a mindset, and, this is not just for 2012, this is a way of thinking about how you write things or speak things or listen, all three in a different way. And right now, with this world we live in, which is so quickly changing, this is more important than ever, and that's the gist I want people to think about. It's not about email or Facebook or twitter or in-person meetings, it's the mindset of human communications. It's a mindset, not just a catchy title, and I think that once everyone goes "Yeah I guess everyone is in sales," there's a lot, that draws you in to think about. There's a lot of meat behind the idea, and I think that's an important point.
Thanks for reading everyone! See you all next week.
MONDAY MIKE FACT: I forgot the leftover pizza I meant to bring for lunch today. I have never been so depressed.