July 19; Talking Is Not Selling
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Seven: Power; 19 July

To answer before listening—

that is folly and shame.

Proverbs 18:13

Talking Is Not Selling

Listen Up

“We use the xyz product,” the decision maker said. My sales manager, Jim, did that Lean In thing and was about to leap. I held him back. We both knew the product line intimately. And it seemed that we knew something that our customer did not.

In the next few seconds, our sales call was going to go very good. Or very bad.

The sales manager was jumping in one direction. He was about to start talking. I moved in the opposite direction. Not because I knew more but because I knew less…

***

The ancient Greek sage Epictetus, who lived from 55 to 135 AD, said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” He was a stoic and, born a slave, may well have been trained to keep his mouth closed and his ears open.

This anatomical rule, ear : mouth ratio, can expand the manager’s ability to manage a wider field. Jack Welch says, “Make your company flatter. Managers should have ten direct reports at the minimum and 30 to 50 percent more if they are experienced.” This expanded control of the experienced manager is possible not because she talks more—it is possible only because she talks less and listens more.

All organizations could benefit. Even Christopher Moltisanti, in the “46 Long” episode on The Sopranos, lamented, “Maybe one reason why things are so [messed] up in the organization these days is guys running off, not listening to middle management.”

***

…The customer was using our xyz devices. Our company had just purchased the product line and no one knew that we were the new representatives. I stopped my boss, Jim, and jumped in with a question for the decision maker, “How do you like xyz?”

“Hate it,” said the customer; not happy. “Looking for a new vendor.”

Jim then rigged for silent running.

I asked some probing questions, gently, gently: What was wrong? When did these problems occur? How many adverse events?

After getting the background, I confessed to being the new owner of her problem product but was able to negotiate a plan to keep the account (new product evaluations are such a hassle). If we had not listened we would probably have had a different outcome.

The best exercise in power might be less in the use of words as in the use of silence and questions.

To answer before listening– that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13

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