Pay-off: 10 quick and actionable ideas to help you communicate, learn, think and sell better
Investment: read whichever you like (5 mins to read the lot)
There should be something for everyone in this post. Most of these short tips apply to most people. Usually, in my posts I go deeper on certain topics, but this month we’re going to skim across some quick ideas that might help you shift a degree or two towards a more rewarding direction.
They’re not connected, I’m not providing context, and you can take them however you like in any order you like:
1. Persuading people
People think insight is useful. It can be. But it’s not as useful as incite.
Selflessly inciting rewarding behaviours and actions in others makes them better off, and keeps them coming back for more. Insight makes you think, but doesn’t necessarily change anything. Incite (using emotionally charged reasoning) makes people act. It gets them off the spot.
When’s the next time you’ll need to persuade someone to do something that has significant consequences? Perhaps focus first on enabling and inciting small movements rather than just sharing insights? (Some of the following ideas might help you do that).
2. Real learning
You’ve only learned when you’ve confirmed that you’ve learned. Many people miss that last step.
And one of the best ways to confirm to yourself that you’ve learned is by explaining what you’ve learned to a toddler (or at least explaining out loud as if to a toddler). It’s called the Feynman Technique, it’s more powerful that it seems (after all, I’ve explained it simply), and you can read about it here.
3. “It’s not my job” mentality
Every day we face opportunities to add more value to our employers, clients, colleagues, and even to our future selves as we progress in our careers.
Every so often, there’s a piece of metaphorical litter on the work corridor floor, which everyone steps over. Those who reactively think “it’s not my job to do that” are usually spotted by leadership and decision makers, and are often the first to either leave or get nudged out of that job.
Turns out then, perhaps it was their job to do it after all?
4. Helping others to understand and think usefully
Got an important message to deliver conversationally to someone?
Don’t start until you’ve put them at ease and relaxed them (just enough – I’m not talking massage). Discomfort or stress limits their ability to receive, understand and remember your message. Putting them at ease enhances their ability to soak up what you’re saying and actually do something with it. If the message is worth being received, isn’t that worth doing? You could start by being relaxed yourself (since that resonates across) and creating a more relaxed environment during the conversation.
5. Experienced vs young
I still see many of the younger workforce thinking they can outsmart or outperform the older workforce, and vice versa. (Let’s just say I see a lot of finger pointing). The truth is, in some situations experience might sharpen the tool required for the job. But in others, curiosity and the will to take a punt will make the difference that gets you ahead and solves a lot of other problems too.
Perhaps the trick is for everyone to:
- be more curious and try different things out (since the rules ahead are changing fast)
- question, listen and learn from each other more (tapping into experience and sharing ideas for point 1 above)
6. Sesquipedalian language
It would be advantageous for you to endeavor to become cognizant of utilizing sesquipedalian language in business documentation or speech (when you could use simple words that just work.)
Perhaps some people use these words to appear intelligent or to make something appear professional? These days, those people surely fail on both accounts.
7. Goal setting that self-destructs
Setting goals can work for some, some of the time. It has its place, but there’s an often overlooked downside.
When you focus solidly on your goal as an outcome, you tend to miss two other vital things;
- opportunities that pass by that are worth more than your goal
- the process in front of you that you should ideally be using, enjoying, and improving at.
Outcome goals can take us straight off our process, and the emotional attachment to achieving an outcome might not put us at our most able and resourceful. (“my goal is to make this sale – I must make this sale” is likely to cause damaging behaviours. You’re going to come across rather differently.)
Detaching from the outcome but trusting and enjoying the proven process can fix that (e.g. “I’m going to help this person make the right buying decision by helping them to think it through in a structured manner”) and surprisingly take you towards goals way beyond the one you set.
Perhaps consider engaging in an enjoyable and proven process?
8. Create something wow-worthy
If you’re working hard in isolation to create something wow-worthy (a product, service offering, a unique angle, a piece of art – anything) you might be heading down the wrong path. Wow-worthy can’t exist in isolation (wow-worthy to you may not be wow-worthy to the people you’re creating this for.) If they don’t want it, it’s not worth polishing it (aka “you can’t polish a turd!”)
Wow-worthyness (some of you might like that new word, some won’t) occurs between the product/service and the prospective users’ worldview, self-image, needs, desires, pains, hopes, emotions, and how it appears to fit into their plans ahead. And to be wow-worthy it must surprise in these areas.
So, it’s not absolute, it’s relative. To build wow-worthy, you must align and surprise on the above points. (Note, some people get lucky and create something wow-worthy in the right place at the right time that they loved creating, but then, even a broken clock is right twice a day.)
9. Seller Beware (caveat venditor)
They say we should keep following up and chasing prospective clients. Or keep checking in and nudging or nagging people who we are trying to get a ‘yes’ from.
The problem I have with that is that if I have managed to get their attention but then have to start chasing, then either my attention-grabbing approach failed, or they probably don’t feel they have a strong enough need for my help. So why would I spend my precious resources chasing them, waiting for the stars to align, when there are other people out there ready to engage right now?
What I’ve learned is that I’m not here to be an alarm clock for people who haven’t shown any engagement or commitment to solving their problem!
They either recognise that they have a costly problem that I might be able to help them solve, or not. If they do, and it’s important, and they have my details, they come to me.
In my experience, I suggest that we follow up with people to ensure we have their attention and create a little buy-in, but that our main focus goes on efficiently finding people who are ready and committed to solving their costly problem. (Want more help with selling, especially if you’re technical, a consultant or from a non-sales background – you can find me here..)
10. Sell the next step
Instead of trying to sell your end product or service, what if you determined what’s stopping your customer from taking the very next step that they want to take, and using your expertise and resources, help them to take that step?
Inciting action will do wonders for you both and make the bigger sale more likely (See “persuading people” at the top).
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Also published on Medium.