When we want our sales teams to listen to us, is it the words we say or how we say them that’s most important? How does sound impact the effectiveness of our communication and the outcomes on our teams? If you ask Julian Treasure – sound expert and award-winning author – he will tell you that powerful speech enables us to make a difference and to productively communicate with our team members. Treasure believes that people miss out on the potential that is the human voice.
Human Habits That Decrease Your Chances of Truly Being Heard
First, let’s touch on two human habits that decrease your chances of truly being heard by your team:
- Looking good. Humans have a habit of trying to look good. We want to be accepted or perhaps feel confident, but this tendency impedes our ability to communicate effectively because it often leads to competitive or embellished language. When speaking to your team: “It’s not about looking good,” Treasure says. “It’s about getting the ball over the net.”
- Being right. Being right affirms and boosts our self-esteem, which can be a good thing in moderation. However, it also leads to silos, entrenched opinions, and conflict.
You Can’t Lead People If You Don’t Understand Them
To successfully lead your sales team, you must get to know them – including how they listen – because no one listens in the same way that you do. Each person on your team is listening to you through their own set of filters. They are in their own Odds Are, paying attention to different words, phrases, and sounds.
If you are new to sales management or sales leadership or are taking over a team for the first time, it’s important to get in front of each person you’re managing before having a larger team meeting. Find out as much as you can about the members of your team right off the bat. Who are the innovators, the leaders within the group of sales reps, the stragglers? Be aware of each person’s values, morals, and expectations so you can communicate with them more effectively. Have a 10-minute conversation (in-person or via videoconference) with each of your team members. Talk through issues, intentions, experiences, forecasts. Once you have listened to each person and understand them on a deeper level, you will have a better idea of how to speak to each one so that they will listen.
Four Cornerstones of Speaking
In the seventh most viewed TED Talk of all time, Julian Treasure suggests that there are four key components of strong speech. Sales leaders can use these four principles to improve how they communicate with their team members and to inspire change in their organizations.
- Honesty. Be clear and straight. Dig deep and recognize if your motivation when speaking to your team is to look good or impress them. This should not be the main motivation or focus of your communication with your team. Avoid trite phrases such as, “Going forward,” and “To your point.” Keep your words straightforward, honest, and classic.
- Authenticity. Just be yourself.
- Integrity. You can build authority for yourself if you are consistently true to your word. Then, the moment you step in front of your team, they will listen because they know whatever project you introduce or task you initiate will happen. Further, integrity helps you be a leader your team can trust.
- Love. Treasure says, “I don't mean romantic love, but I do mean wishing people well.”
These four speaking cornerstones are about what you say, but in order to speak so your sales team will listen, it is also about how you say it.
Though content is crucial when speaking to your team members, that does not mean you can ignore delivery. Humans have excellent voice toolboxes that, as Treasure states, are not often opened. Here are three tools that can be utilized for more powerful speaking:
- Register. There is speaking from the nose and there is speaking from the throat (where most of us speak from most of the time). If you speak from your chest, however, you will have more depth to your voice. And humans associate depth with power and authority.
- Pace. Pay attention to the rate of your speech, and don’t forget how powerful silence can be. We don’t have to fill every silent moment with “ums” and “ahs.”
- Volume. Treasure cautions against broadcasting your voice at the same volume the entire time you’re speaking. Allow a louder volume in your voice to create excitement when necessary, or hook your team member’s attention by speaking quieter.
The more honest, authentic, trustworthy, and caring you are, the more your team will listen to you. This isn’t groundbreaking, of course, but Julian Treasure’s four cornerstones of powerful speech, along with voice devices, are valuable tools to keep in mind when speaking to your reps.