You Can Learn by Listening

November 28th, 2010 by

It is the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton and while I was in Edmonton this week I came across an interesting article in the Edmonton Journal entitled, “You can ’learn by listening’ Soft-spoken Riders coach Miller uses time-tested tactic to motivate”. The article is a review of how the Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach uses his listening skills to improve his communications and motivate his football team.

Some of the content from the article that stood out:

“What I figured out by that is, you don’t ever learn anything by talking, you learn things by listening”

“Among many, many strengths, I think his thoughtfulness, his ability to put himself in other people’s positions and to have empathy”

“He makes sense, you know. It’s not always about the rah rah. Sometimes you have to make it make sense to guys and when your players buy in and are on the same page, you can accomplish anything”

“Just be friendly, courteous. It’s a lot like managing the locker-room we have here. Be courteous and give respect. I had to provide an opportunity for people to be successful, provide opportunities for leadership. When you do that, people move into those roles and it becomes a self-perpetuating sort of environment”

In the Results Based Sales process, I am a big fan of centralizing business intelligence to set strategic direction and the use of a CRM like SalesForce.com to help manage the sales team’s activity by collecting data to measure the progress of the strategic direction. One of the most important skills in Results Based Selling is to be able to interpret the data that is being collected and use it to really listen to what the sales people are saying about the project.

When you set a strategy or direction it is easy to stand on a soap box and dictate to people what to do and how to do it. In a results based sales environment I always give the final decision to the sales person on how they want to manage their time. In the CRM we build a sales territory based on high value accounts that align with the company’s business strategy, but we also work with the sales teams educating them on the objective of the project and empower them to make the final decision on whom to call. If you give this responsibility to the sales team you have to listen to what they are saying and use this information not to find fault in the sales team, but to adjust the direction of the strategy.

It is very important to model your sales environment after Ken Miller and create a sales environment of listening, thoughtfulness, courtesy, and a culture that provides the ability to be successful. This can be accomplished by implementing sales automation, but sales automation should not be used to dictate strategy – it should be used to listen to feedback on sales strategy and make adjustments to that strategy.

Topics: Business Intelligence