I have always believed that the communications skills central to the Carew sales training curriculum are beneficial across all relationships and endeavors in life. So I was greatly intrigued when I recently heard an education professional address current education practices and challenges in students' reading comprehension. Apparently, for all the improved technology and billions of dollars dedicated to today's education process, the success rates of reading comprehension have taken a hit. Why?

It was this educator's assertion that the exploration process in reading is being overlooked; students are not taking the time to ask questions before engaging the text. As a result, they are not prepared to recognize key information when they see it. Students are reading, not to understand the story, but to get through the material so they can get started on writing their report. The scenario is disturbingly similar to the sales professional who waits "patiently" for the customer to stop talking so that they may begin their sales pitch.

The Carew sales training curriculum emphasizes that effective customer communication starts with listening rather than talking; and listening to understand, not merely kill time until it is your turn to talk. The second key component of our communications model, acknowledge, is the equivalent of paraphrasing. In her address, the educator identified paraphrasing of the text as the most effective way to ensure both comprehension and retention among students. This closely mirrors the process of articulating the customer's input back to them, to ensure that their message is understood.

Exploring reveals additional key information via thoughtful questioning. This yields insights that allow the student to truly understand the text, or the sales professional to bring real solutions to the customer. I think we would all agree that a student shouldn't attempt writing their report until they have a true understanding of the material. Likewise, only after authentic comprehension of the customer's needs is it appropriate for the sales professional to respond with proposed solutions.

Whether in the classroom or the board room, successful outcomes depend on investing the time and energy to gain an authentic understanding of the message. The communication skills lacking in the classroom are also rampant in the sales arena. Engage effective communications and you will have an immediate competitive advantage in your selling skills.