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Customer Service Skills

How to Speak So That People Want to Listen

Are you prepared for the holidays? Over the next two months we will be sharing a handful of TED talks on subjects like listening, sharing goals, mindfulness and more...that will help you to not only survive, but thrive during the holidays this year.

Today we start with Julian Treasure to help us work on really listening to what the folks next to you at the dinner table are saying this year. In this useful talk, the sound expert demonstrates the how-to's of powerful speaking — from some handy vocal exercises to tips on how to speak with empathy. A talk that might help the world sound more beautiful.

Julian Treasure at TEDGlobal2013 — 9:58 minutes to watch

"Now let me just put this in context to close. This is a serious point here. This is where we are now, right? We speak not very well to people who simply aren't listening in an environment that's all about noise and bad acoustics. I have talked about that on this stage in different phases. What would the world be like if we were speaking powerfully to people who were listening consciously in environments which were actually fit for purpose? Or to make that a bit larger, what would the world be like if we were creating sound consciously and consuming sound consciously and designing all our environments consciously for sound? That would be a world that does sound beautiful, and one where understanding would be the norm, and that is an idea worth spreading."

The King is Dead: What does the passing of Arnold Palmer, “The King”, have to do with Sales Excellence today?

First off, I’m an avid golfer.  I watch the golf tournaments weekly and I play weekly.  I may suck at golf (18 handicap) but I love the challenge, the competition, the elegance and finesse of the game, the wonderful 5 hour “walk in the park”—and the thrill of hitting at least one or two great shots a round and maybe… of winning a tournament. I got hooked on golf as a kid, even though I didn’t start playing until I was 50 but I remember watching TV with my Dad and the weekly competition between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.  If it wasn’t for his excellence and that TV was finally in every home in America, golf would not be such a fanatical passion for so many of us today.  But did you know that if It wasn’t for Arnold Palmer there would be no Golf Channel? His commitment to make Golf a major sporting event on TV is now a part of his legacy. Did you know that?

But what does this all have to do with sales success?

I was watching the dedication to Mr. Palmer on the Golf Channel tonight and I thought about how the lessons I’ve learned from Arnie relate to sales success.

As one of the pros being interviewed said, “he didn’t play a course, he invaded it.” How many of your sales people are as driven to succeed at that level?

Another one said “he made you feel like you are the center of the world”.  And in an
interview with a number of women at the NAED Women in Industry Conference a few
months back, I was talking to Desiree Grace, VP of Sales and Marketing at Anamet Electrical, and I asked her “What do you look for when hiring a great sales person?”  Here is part of her response:

“You have to generally like people. And I would make the argument you have to like all people.”

Then she continued…

“I’ll give you a really funny example. Years ago when I was a sales rep, I called on a chemical
plant. And you always had to go through the guard shack. And if the person I was looking for was in another office, the guard would page them, you know, maybe someone named Dan or Dino. And so, it was Christmas, and I’d brought him a box of candy.

And he told me something I hadn’t even thought of or considered. He said, “You’re the only sales rep that’s ever brought me anything for Christmas”. And this was a good customer, so I was there like every other week. And I said, “Well, you’re always really helpful. You page the guys for me, etcetera, etcetera.” And he said, “Yeah, but I don’t do that for everybody.” He goes, “Haven’t you ever noticed?” And I said, “No, I really hadn’t.” He said, “The guy from the XYZ company, “he’s an arrogant jerk. I just leave messages on the voicemail of the person he wants to talk to. I don’t go the extra mile and page out in the factory for him.”

Arnie exemplified this idea.  As a result, “Arnie’s Army” was created. He probably had more fans than any other golfer in history.  How do your sales people stack up?  Are they loved by their customers? Do they create relationship right from the get go? And do they maintain them?

The first order of a great sales process is to be able to create relationship with the prospect. That creates trust and respect and drops the defenses of the prospect.  No one in the game of golf was better at creating relationship than Mr. Palmer.

And how about his commitment level? I was always amazed at the level of commitment with which Palmer played. He had a quirky golf swing but that didn’t stop him.  As one of his peers said in an interview today “We loved that he always ‘went for it’ when he probably should have laid up”.  So I asked the women at the conference “So as sales leaders, what do you think are the three most important things you look for in a sales candidate?”

One of the responses was “I think the biggest piece of it is self-motivation because if someone is not motivated to learn, they’re not motivated to ask questions, if they’re not motivated to make those phone calls, you know, you can’t teach self-motivation. They have to be committed to doing whatever it takes to be successful, those together; and then being willing to learn is
incredibly important. One of our HR people had a great saying: “skill and will” If there’s a skill
gap, you can move someone from low skill to moderate skill. But if they don’t have the will, no
So, do you have a means of measuring how committed to success your sales people are? Do you know if they have the desire and drive to be a success?

Arnie had a natural ability to differentiate himself.  Even though Jack Nicklaus won more
tournaments in the end, and I love Jack, don’t get me wrong, it was Arnie that really stood out.
When he advertised Penzoil years ago on TV, I just wanted to rush out and buy it—not because
It was a better engine oil but because I trusted Arnie. And I didn’t even need engine oil!
Most recently he was a spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company for people with a certain
heart condition—I think it was Xarelto.  I don’t have a heart condition, but if I did, I’d definitely
look into that product because of the way he gently and kindly differentiated himself—and that
in turn differentiated the product. He created trust.  In our sales training we have a term for that:  he had what we call “Sales Posturing”. On the course, sales posturing was his swing, his stance and his stride.  Off the course, it was his warmth, his smile and genuine love for what he was doing and his open heart.

Are your sales people able to differentiate themselves?  Or your company? Or your product? Do they create trust in the mind of the buyer?

Being humble was another of Arnie’s attributes.  This must be a part of the makeup of a
successful sales person.  Humility is about taking responsibility. They must take responsibility for not only their success but their failures.  Another Sales Manager I spoke with noted, “I think being humble is probably someone’s best attribute. I think that we all are human. We all make
mistakes. But we have to be willing to say, “you know, I learned. I learned that lesson. It might
not have been the best way that I approached it,” but to be humble enough to say, “I’m willing
to accept my errors, I’m willing to learn from my mistakes, and I’m willing to be a better person
because of it.”

Commitment, Desire and Drive to Succeed, Taking Responsibility, Creating Relationships, Building Trust, and Differentiating Yourself— are just a few of the important lessons we can learn from the life of the great Arnold Palmer. In the highly competitive world of sales today, these are also some of the essential keys to being successful in sales.  There are many others and if you’d like to learn more to create sales “legends” in your company, just reach out to us.  Or Register for Free Trial of Salesperson Candidate Assessments.

Stephen Covey's, "7 Habits..."

Contributing Author:
Susan Young, Get in Front Communications.
7 leadership lessons from Stephen Covey

Dr. Stephen Covey, who wrote the 1989 best-seller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", passed away on Monday. In addition to being an author, Dr. Covey was also co-founder of Utah-based professional services company FranklinCovey, and his message of success won him millions of followers worldwide. Dr. Covey was a well-known motivational speaker and had an enormous impact on both the corporate world and the personal lives of millions.

More than 20 million copies of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have been sold and it was named one of the most influential management books by several organizations, including Time and Forbes magazines. The audio book is the best-selling nonfiction audio in history. In 1996, Covey was listed among Time's 25 Most Influential Americans.

To learn how to get a comprehensive report that can help identify the talents and strengths of your employees:

Former Hearst Magazine's President Cathie Black described what made Covey’s message so appealing:

“You will flourish by concentrating on the aspects of life that you can control rather than by reacting to external forces. The seven “habits” covered in the book may seem so simple as to be obvious (“Be Proactive,” “Put First Things First,” etc.), but Stephen Covey weaves them into a principle-based philosophy that emphasizes the importance of relying on your own character and intrinsic beliefs as you pursue any goal. I’ve found that even if you’re able to take on board only a couple of the book’s seven habits, you will still notice their beneficial effect on life both in and out of the office.”

For those of you who never read the book, here’s a brief overview of Dr. Covey’s famous seven habits:

Habit 1: Be Proactive. Decide your own goal and go for it. Highly effective people don’t dwell on the things they can’t change and instead are proactive. Covey wrote, “Self-awareness enables us to stand apart and examine even the way we ‘see’ ourselves — our self-paradigm, the most fundamental paradigm of effectiveness. It affects not only our attitudes and behaviors, but also how we see other people. It becomes our map of the basic nature of mankind.”

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. Think about your end goal, whether these are life or business goals, so that you know what you are working toward. “This habit is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things,” wrote Covey. In other words, visualize what you want as if it already happened and the universe will begin to work wonders.

Habit 3: Put First Things First. Prioritize tasks based on importance, not urgency, and make sure your plan drives you toward the overall goals previously mentioned. Once you’ve prioritized tasks, execute accordingly. Covey writes, “Management, remember, is clearly different from leadership. Leadership is primarily a high-powered, right brain activity. It’s more of an art; it’s based on a philosophy. You have to ask the ultimate questions of life when you’re dealing with personal leadership issues. But once you have dealt with those issues and resolved them, you then have to manage yourself effectively to create a life congruent with your answers.”

Habit 4: Think Win-Win. Look for solutions that are beneficial to everyone involved. According to Covey, “This is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying… Most people think in terms of dichotomies: strong or weak, hardball or softball, win or lose. But that kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed.”

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Listen to other people and really try to understand what they are saying. In turn, they will grant you the same courtesy and respect you have shown them. Covey writes,"We have such a tendency to rush in, to fix things up with good advice. But we often fail to take time to diagnose, to really, deeply understand the problem first…This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication."

Habit 6: Synergize. Work as a team to accomplish things you could not do alone. Covey writes, "You begin with the belief that parties involved will gain more insight, and that the excitement of that mutual learning and insight will create a momentum toward more and more insights, learning, and growth.”

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. To be more effective over time, make sure to keep your body, mind strong, by exercising, prayer or meditation, community service, reading, or doing other things you enjoy. “It’s renewing the four dimensions of your nature — physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional," said Covey.

In 1996, Time magazine wrote, “The essence of Covey’s message -- that self-knowledge and control must precede effective dealings with the world at large -- seems unremarkable.” To which Covey responded, “What’s common sense just isn’t common practice.”

"Remember, to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know." – Dr. Stephen R. Covey

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at (800) 700-6507 or

Building upon Your Strengths

Peter Drucker, author of The Effective Executive, wrote, “An effective executive builds on strengths; their own strengths, the strengths of superiors, colleagues, subordinates; and on the strengths of the situation.” Marcus Buckingham, author of Go Put Your Strengths to Work, wrote, “You don’t focus on people’s strengths to make them happier. You do it to make them better performers.”

There is growing support in corporate America to become more strength based. However, Marcus Buckingham further states that most people do not know how to play to their strengths. “We know how to label our strengths, however we have little idea how to take control of our work and steer it towards these strengths.”

But how do you position and develop employees’ talents and strengths? It starts with how you select , develop and channel the careers of your people. It has been reported the talent shortage is going to have a profound impact on companies of all sizes. This may not be the case once the organization begins recognizing the talents and strengths of their employees. Employees, who play to their strengths, stay longer, work smarter and apply increased discretionary effort, all resulting in improved business results. Organizations must start mining the talent that resides within each of their employees. When this takes place, organizations will experience levels of increased productivity far outweighing the productivity increases caused by the technology revolution of the past 10 years.

Result-driven leaders possess leadership, managerial and technical talents and strengths. The CheckPoint™360° and ProfileXT® reports are tools that will help identify leader’s talents and strengths. Now that you know your leadership strengths and talents, how do you avoid falling into the trap of not knowing how to steer your job towards further use of those talents and strengths?

Process of Building upon Strengths

The process of building upon strengths and talents is not easy, but it can be broken down into three steps. You start by confirming your unique leadership strengths and talents. The best way to do that is through the feedback of those who see you perform as a leader. Now that you have accurate feedback, you need to learn to act upon that feedback.

Reflect upon your current and past positions in your career. How did your strengths and talents help you achieve results? Think about specific situations. Breakdown your actions in those situations and identify where your strengths accelerated your performance.

Once you have a good understanding of how your strengths have helped you in your past, then you need to further develop those strengths and talents. One reason people struggle with building upon strengths is their misconception of how strengths are developed. For years people thought, “If I can just gain more knowledge, I will grow in my job.” But experience has demonstrated “knowledge acquired does not necessarily result in knowledge applied.”

Developing Your Strengths On-the-job

The best way to develop a leader is on-the-job learning. It is not that taking courses or seminars cannot be beneficial; they can be. Knowledge and skill acquired in courses or seminars rarely transfer to the job due to lack of feedback and reinforcement on-the-job. Unless you have a highly motivated person, they return to the job and try the new skill once, maybe twice, but if they begin to realize what they are doing is not being perceived as important to the organization, they will revert back to doing things the old way.

So what are the best methods for developing strengths on-the-job? Bob Eichinger and Mike Lomminger, researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership , found that development starts with knowledge and application of competencies. Once you know your strengths and talents, you can work with your organization to provide you with the opportunity to tackle job-specific challenges. The types of challenges that make a difference are carrying functional assignments from beginning to end and being fully cross-trained in all in-store tasks;

  • Implementing a companywide change
  • Implementing a plan to cut cost or control inventories
  • Negotiating agreements with your peers or other function leaders
  • Transitioning from being a reactive leader to a proactive leader
  • Increasing your ability to solve increasing complex in-store challenges
  • Strengthening your customer service skills
  • Leading by example
  • Become proficient in the situational use of your leadership skills
  • Coaching your direct reports and other employees
  • Operating in high-pressure or high-visibility situations.

These are just a few on-the-job activities; there are many more. Practice your creativity skills and think outside the box.

Another method of developing on-the-job is to gain specific organizational knowledge. How much do you know about the different divisions, functions, processes, products, services, customers and technologies of your company and eventually your parent company? Seek out this knowledge by reading everything you can about your company, seeking out experts in various functional areas and cataloging your information in such a way that you can quickly recall the data and use it when appropriate. Other methods for developing on-the-job are through involvement with a mentor, management, functional leader, supervisor and team leader.

Remember: Why settle for good when you have the opportunity to be great!

Learn how our surveys can help identify the talents and strengths of your employees.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at (800) 700-6507 or