GUEST: Dr. Ethan Becker, President, Senior Coaching Partner, Author and I/O Psychologist at The Speech Improvement Company
As toddlers, if we are around other humans…we can’t help but learn to communicate. We all learn how.
But we could all benefit from doing it more effectively.
And how you can use it to make more sales.
Communication and Sales
Communication is kind of a weird thing to struggle with — it’s something we all learned to do at such a young age we can’t even remember it.
It’s sort of like why it’s embarrassing to bite your tongue while eating, which is basically the ultimate proof practice doesn’t make perfect.
But many people do face struggles communicating. In fact, in the U.S., public speaking is the most common fear, surpassing heights, snakes and even the combination of both in snakes on a plane.
And yeah, practice may not make perfect, but that just means there is always room for improvement.
Which is something you’ll want to do in sales since effective communication — what Ethan calls growing a golden tongue — is the key to making selling.
“Really good selling is not about trickery. The best of the best that we work with are simply comfortable with effective communication skills.”
But how can we be more effective communicators?
Well, science supports what many great salespeople already know — it all comes down to empathy.
If you want to improve, you need to understand the person with whom you are communicating.
Thankfully, you can do this more effectively by understanding the science behind how people think.
Deductive vs. inductive reasoning
It’s crazy to think that people living 3,000 years ago figured out things supported by the best science today.
Some of the best known of these ancient philosophers were the Greeks on account of their penchant for writing a lot of stuff down.
One particularly well-known old Greek philosopher, Aristotle, spent a lot of time thinking about how people think. He split people into two camps:
Those who use deductive reasoning and those who use inductive reasoning. Amazingly, this still holds true today.
And if you’re trying to sell something to someone, knowing which one they are matters.
“People tend to think in either an inductive pattern or a deductive pattern of reasoning. If you're trying to make a connection with someone, you’d do well to match that pattern.”
There is more to it than this, but here’s what you need to know.
- Deductive thinkers need you to get to the point before providing the background.
- Inductive thinkers need context before you hit them with the offer.
Those who use deductive reasoning disprove the old sales maxim of never mentioning the price until the very end of the conversation.
In fact, chances are you’re going to really annoy them by dancing around the point.
You can often tell because they will look or sound annoyed and say something like “get to the point.”
Those using inductive reasoning are more suited to this tactic. They want all the context leading up to the big moment in the conversation first.
With inductive thinkers, you don’t want to come out swinging.
Neither one has a tail or anything, so you can’t tell just by looking at someone which camp they fall into.
The important thing isn’t to just know right off the bat. What’s important is being sensitive to how people communicate once you’ve engaged them.
You also need to be aware that you may be coming off rude or dismissive when you are dealing with someone from the opposite camp if you don’t share their form of reasoning.
The trick is to be aware. Are they looking at their watch and tapping while you give context?
Is your internal monologue screaming “get to the point!” while you keep your hands from acting out a strangling motion as they relay their problem?
If so, you need to build better relationships (and possibly to call a psychiatrist).
Forming quality relationships
Effective communication helps with sales because it allows you to quickly form quality relationships with people whom you have only recently met.
People buy from people they know, like and trust, right?
“The best sales reps in the world put enormous emphasis on the quality of the relationships they have, even if they’ve just met somebody.”
This means really listening to understand their point of view and being sensitive to their communication style.
It’s all about empathy.
So, if an inductive thinker gets offended when you come out swinging, maybe tone it down.
And this applies in other areas, too.
You know when someone says, “I think you did a great job, but…?”
Yeah, how does that “but” make you feel?
You don’t even need to hear the next clause to know that whatever it is is going to completely invalidate that initial compliment.
Or take the question “Oh, that comes free with the product, right?” when it most certainly does not.
How do you respond?
Well, like everything else we’ve mentioned, it depends on your audience.
Some people want you to be straight up and just say no right off the bat. They might appreciate the directness and view you as more authentic and trustworthy.
Others may feel like you’re telling them Santa isn’t real.
Effective communication isn’t a script. There is no robotic, play-by-numbers word set you can pull from to always be a great communicator.
And if you are trying to communicate with someone like me who hates scripts, trying this would have the opposite effect.
Effective communication really boils down to effective listening, effective understanding and effective empathy. Just remember you are talking to a human and care about how they think.
The results will speak for themselves.