Listen to What ISN’T Being Saidstring(33) "Listen to What ISN’T Being Said"

In the realm of business, where every interaction holds the potential for growth, the words of Peter Drucker are powerful: “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”

This is true and extremely important because the quality of our relationships depends on the quality of our communications. When it comes to sales for your business, and growing your business through referrals, understanding this concept is a cornerstone for success.

Notably, not all sales transactions require relationships or extensive communication. Consider online shopping, where the transaction is swift and often devoid of personal interactions. However, even retail giants like Wal-Mart, not typically associated with warm customer relations, emphasize the value of communication and relationships. Their employment of a visitor host to greet customers at store entrances underlines a strategic approach to fostering connections, albeit in a mass retail environment.

My friend, Sara Minnis, is a seasoned coach dedicated to helping sales professionals navigate the intricacies of rejection. She has dealt with a phobia many salespeople face within the sales process by coaching those who are afraid of being rejected by a prospect or customer. She says, “Sales ‘phobics’ might have an unrealistic fear of being rejected during cold calling, during the closing phase, or during a phone conversation.”

This, she suggests, is because the phobic salesperson tends to focus their communication on the emotional fit between themselves and the customer. She explains, “The real business of selling can’t begin until the sales phobic feels that the prospect likes him or her.” To avoid this, she says, “The professional seller directs their communication toward finding a fit between their product and the buyer’s need. Focusing on “being liked” only enhances fears of personal rejection, while attending to the customer’s needs drives the transaction toward a closed deal.”

Communication Builds Connections

Establishing strong relationships with clients gives sellers a competitive advantage, because clients who feel connected or bonded to the seller are more likely to engage in repeated transactions. Communication emerges as the single most important tool for forging this connection. The quality of communication becomes the linchpin upon which a strong, bonded relationship is built.

The art and science of communication extend beyond the mere exchange of words; it is more than simply talking and hearing. It encompasses a myriad of strategies and techniques aimed at earning the right to have your message heard, and to have it understood. A pivotal aspect of this is the ability to align your communication with the customer’s style rather than imposing your own. This strategic alignment sets the stage for masterful sales conversations, where the rapport is cultivated through an understanding of the customer’s preferences and communication patterns.

In the contemporary landscape, sales mastery has shifted towards a more consultative perspective. Many box retail stores have embraced this evolution by adopting the term “sales consultant” to describe roles that were once associated with traditional store clerks. Master sales consultants recognize that their ability to communicate effectively is critical to selling client solutions. Rapport and trust, the foundational elements of successful selling, are intricately woven into the fabric of communication. The successful sales professional understands that building and sustaining client relationships are contingent upon a consultative, communication-centric approach.

The profound wisdom in Peter Drucker’s words reverberates through the evolving tapestry of business networking and sales. The ability to decipher unspoken cues and recognize body language messages, coupled with a strategic and adaptable approach to communication, is the key to navigating successful salesmanship in today’s business landscape. As we move forward, the role of a sales consultant becomes more than a title; it reflects the evolving dynamics, where effective communication is the cornerstone of lasting success.




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How Great Leaders Communicate Their Visionstring(42) "How Great Leaders Communicate Their Vision"

Co-creation involves knowing how to collaborate in a way that gets the best out of your partners and yourself. In this excerpt from our new book, “The Third Paradigm: A Radical Shift to Greater Success,” my co-authors, Dr. Heidi Scott Giusto and Dawa Tarchin Phillips, and I explain how to gain buy-in and consensus as a leader and move projects forward despite any challenges that may arise.

Leaders as Vision Champions

The real-world application of any concept is critical if you want it to truly impact people and the company they work for. It takes a special type of leader to execute co-creation. Leading a co-creative process must begin by displaying a quiet confidence in everyone else’s abilities. Co-creative leaders are somewhat like conductors of a symphony. Their role is to unify the performers, set the tempo, and keep the orchestra playing in time and in sync. In effect, they are the vision champions. They maintain the big picture of the overriding objective while allowing everyone to add their unique contributions to the crowdsourced result.

As the world becomes ever more complex and interconnected, the traditional top-down approach to leadership is no longer effective. To create lasting change, leaders must learn to co-create with their teams by identifying team members’ strengths, creating a safe environment where everyone feels heard and respected, and leveraging their abilities to achieve collective success.

Leaders can hold the vision in many ways.

By Clarifying Expectations
Leaders must be clear about what they want to achieve and why it’s important. They must also be open to input from all team members. Only then can the team reach consensus and move forward together—and, as always, in alignment with the overarching vision.

By Leveraging Contextual Intelligence
Leaders must be able to adapt their plans and strategies when circumstances change. They must also be able to identify potential saboteurs and manage conflict effectively.

By Asking Questions
Leaders can derive great value from co-creative teams simply by asking good questions. When do we want to get this done? When do we want to make this decision? What is our ultimate goal for this project? What is stopping us from achieving this success? Routinely asking good questions has the effect of reinforcing consensus and ensuring a cohesive vision among all stakeholders.

By Leading from Behind—and with Guardrails
Sometimes leading a co-creative process can seem like your team is running on a field, and you are running behind them, hollering, just trying to keep them inside the boundaries. In fact, co-creation often means leading from behind. That ensures the leader can keep the big picture—the vision, the boundaries—in mind while everyone is working their way down the field. This approach also positions the leader to gather as much input and extract as much value as possible from each team member.

By Coaching and Cultivating
Leaders must relinquish control and focus instead on coaching others to perform at their best. By identifying each team member’s strengths, the leader can position them to contribute based on their individual talents.

By Communicating
Clear and effective communication is necessary among all stakeholders for co-creation projects to succeed. We believe in the communication saturation approach that Richard modeled in our co-creation story.

Positioning the leader as the vision holder in a co-creative process also helps destroy the old model of command and control—of lead, follow, or get out of my way—and helps everyone embrace this 3rd Paradigm.

Above all else, the leader must be an example for others to follow. They must be open-minded, respectful, professional, nonjudgmental, humble, transparent, and appreciative. More than that, their actions must embody the project’s vision—the mutually desired outcome. Otherwise, they will drag the entire process down. Our open-ended survey of over 4,000 business professionals contained an astounding 1,945 mentions of the word “leader” when discussing the benefits and drawbacks of co-creation. And these responses were NOT to questions about leadership.
Strong leaders are crucial to a successful co-creative process.

Barriers to Execution

Even when leaders are committed to holding the vision throughout co-creation, internal barriers can emerge—emotional and psychological ones—that can crop up and cause problems for you. If you are leading a co-creative process, be wary of the following issues.

Procrastination – Co-creation is a dynamic and sometimes messy process. Kicking the can down the road only ensures co-creation won’t happen. Don’t succumb to the impulse to put things off.

Lack of transparency – Execution of co-creation must be transparent. Co-creation will fail if you are not transparent with all stakeholders.

Denial and/or avoidance – Denying there is a problem, miscommunication, or any other issue almost guarantees poor morale. Trying to avoid dealing with a problem only creates more problems.

Perfectionism – LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman has said, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” If you demand perfection from your team, the co-creative project will almost certainly fail. Always strive for further improvement, but never let imperfections restrict the co-creative process.

Lack of humility – Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less. The lack of humility can be a problem for co-creation because it can lead to individuals prioritizing their own ideas and perspectives over those of others, hindering collaboration and stifling creativity. Additionally, a lack of humility can create a competitive and confrontational atmosphere, which can ultimately impede progress toward the shared goal.

Leaders must not only hold the vision of the co-creative project, but they must also hold themselves accountable. Recognizing and dealing with these barriers is a good place to start.

 When you become a leader who can effectively communicate your vision to your team, you expand your leadership capacity by learning how to gain buy-in and consensus and move projects forward despite any challenges that may arise.