We’ve just booked Rob Redenbach to present his seminar Straight Talkin’ Teams at our Winners Circle Workshops next month. The reason we engaged Rob is that we want to encourage within our team members a culture of straight talk – ‘cutting to the chase’ – in all communication.
Salespeople who waffle confuse clients and lose business. Salespeople who waffle to their colleagues lose respect. Have you ever noticed how some people say five sentences when a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ would have sufficed? Some people speak a lot but say little. You cannot afford to have team members like that.
Allow me if you will to teach you some words from a unique language that I call ‘Salesperson-ese’.
English question: “What have you got on today?”
Salesperson-ese answer: “Ahhhhhh”.
Another English question: “You’ve been gone for three hours. Did you get the listing?”
Salesperson-ese answer: “Well, ahhhh, I developed a great relationship with them. If they list with anybody, they will list with me”.
If you don’t question such answers, you encourage your people to stay in denial. Cut to the chase: did you get the listing? Yes or no? What have you got on today? A specific result, or nothing? Let’s have it: cut to the chase.
When you ask for short, specific answers to specific questions, you and your team member can get to the real issues, without waffle disguising mediocrity. If your team member does not have any appointments today, what is he or she going to do about it?
You cannot allow the same thing to happen tomorrow, so prospect today and set confirmed appointments with qualified prospects. Tomorrow, when you ask the question, “What have you got on today?” you will get specific answers about solid appointments your salesperson booked yesterday.
Allow denial to flourish, however, and you will never know for sure whether or not your salesperson is working on activities that produce results.
In his excellent essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell said that politicians who do not want their constituents to understand what they (the politicians) are saying resort to flowery and confusing language. They sound like they are saying something that approximates an answer to the question asked, but in reality they don’t come close to answering the question. Orwell said that this was the ultimate in trickery.
The BBC series Yes Minister and, later, Yes, Prime Minister, ran for eight years. The whole program was about ‘spin’, convoluted language designed to confuse real issues.
This sitcom followed the ministerial career of a British cabinet minister, Jim Hacker, played by the late Paul Eddington. Every episode featured Hacker’s various struggles to formulate and enact legislation, or to effect departmental changes. All of these changes are opposed by the British Home Civil Service, in particular the Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, played by Nigel Hawthorne.
Sir Humphrey is seen on the surface to be open and cooperative. What does he use to block Hacker’s changes? Language. It makes a great television show, but confusing language that hides real meaning is not what you want from your team members.
No doubt you have heard politicians or disgraced businesspeople say, “Mistakes were made”. This really means that they are distancing themselves from their own disgraceful conduct. “Mistakes were made” has an entirely different meaning to “I made a mistake“.
Even the word “mistake” is a furphy. If somebody embezzles company funds, that is theft, not a mistake. If an athlete takes steroids in order to gain a competitive advantage, that is cheating, not a mistake.
The only true mistake was being caught.
Never allow your salespeople to waffle around reality. Cut to the chase. Develop a straight talkin’ team.
Where there is clarity in communication, there can be no denial.