Monthly Archives: April 2014

Objectives-Based Communication – Are you good at it?

24 Apr
by Bridget DiCello

What do you really want to accomplish?

Earlier this week, I was told, “No!” when I made a request for an exception to a leader a group of which I am a part, through his conflict-avoiding right hand person. And there was no reason for him to say no.

So, I asked politely to speak directly with him. The conversation that followed required my patience and persistent focus on my objective. It started with:

Me: “I’m not sure if your assistant has shared all the details of my situation with you.”

Leader: “Doesn’t matter, I won’t do what you asked.”

However, as I proceeded to offer the additional information, piece by piece, and let him process, fight it, and say no, I could hear him starting to soften, as he more fully understood my situation. I was very careful not to tell him that the protests he presented were not good reasons to say no.

In response to each of us, “I can’t because…” I moved on to the next point, knowing he was also hearing how his protests were relatively weak. I let go of my frustration with him and desire to have him admit he was wrong, and stayed laser focused on my objective: Get the Yes. And, finally, I did.

What are the key components of Objectives-Based Communication?

1. Be extremely clear about your objective and be okay with accomplishing only that.
2. Avoid being selfish about anything other than that objective you are focused on. Let go of things like:
a. Having someone admit they are wrong
b. Finding out why they did/are doing or saying what they did/are doing or saying
3. Have a clear list in your head of the reasons for doing it your way and present them systematically and patiently. Listen to their response in order to understand them better. Being understood often helps people to soften their stance.
4. Empathize with the person separate from the impact they are having on you. A person with power can appear to have little sympathy for your position, but that may not be the case. In my situation, he was frustrated and didn’t want to disrupt his schedule.
5. Answer their questions unemotionally and factually, without sarcasm.
Leader: “When did you find out about this?”
Me: “Yesterday.”

Conversations feel successful to different people for different reasons. However, when you have clear objectives, put your emotions aside and stay focused on that objective.

I Have No Time to Sell!

11 Apr
by Bridget DiCello

How many small businesses face this dilemma?  When the work is piled high and the execution of commitments we’ve made to customers is demanding all of our time to meet the deadlines, focus on selling diminishes.  Even with a dedicated sales team, salespeople can lose focus on marketing and sales when they are onboarding new customers or transitioning them to the operations team.

Yet, as that workload lessens and the work is being completed, panic arises that there is not a great deal of work in the pipeline.  Salespeople hit the field full force and the newest wave builds.  It is then that we must take a moment to look at both our sales machine and our systems and processes in the operations departments.

Any activity done consistently will yield better results.  Sales efforts must continue, at least at minimum levels, at all times, to create consistent sales and to maintain company image to prospects and customers.

The challenges are often on the operations side when systems and processes for bringing on new customers or projects, dealing with exceptions and unexpected issues in executing, and consistently delivering a quality product or service, are not solid enough to handle spikes in workload.  As a result, operations may pull in salespeople or the salesperson may hold off on selling due to a perceived capacity issue.

What to do?

Insist on consistent sales efforts.  (Some salespeople will use busy times as an excuse not to sell – and that break in their sales activities will allow lack of confidence to creep in – and then they’ve got to get started all over again.)  Measure key sales activities – it may be as simple as # calls = # appointment = # proposals = # sales.  Have plans in place operationally to handle spikes in work without using your sales team to the point that it pulls them out of sales.

Build an operations team happy to serve customers.  Seem obvious?  Too many operations teams don’t have a passion for serving new customers which requires getting to know/understand new expectations, demands, and communication styles.  Operations people stereotypically like routine and execute it well – and that’s a good thing!  Build on that to teach and create the mentality of excitement not only about current customers, but about new opportunities and put in place the contingency plans to handle what the salespeople hope to sell – so we can all be excited about the growth.