Sales manager skills are a given in any high performing sales manager. You know the ones we are talking about? Hiring, firing, performance management, sales coaching, business planning, motivating a sales team to name just a few. None of these will be delivered though if your sales managers are unable to do this one key skill. What is it? Communicate.
In this particular article we will cover the powerful aspect of nonverbal communication which is an important first step to improving your communication skills.
I know this is logical and yet most sales directors will gloss over this ‘basic’ skill.The true power of communication delivered in a thoughtful way will enable the most amazing results. A dictionary definition of communication centres around the ability to transmit messages from one person or place to another. Seems reasonable? For a sales manager they will also need to ensure that the information they communicate then gets acted on by whomever they are communicating it to.
One pre supposition about communication is that you cannot not communicate. Let’s explore that a little. We communicate not only with the words we speak, in fact the most powerful way we communicate with others is through our body language and voice. Albert Mehrabians classic research identified that 93 per cent of the way we communicate is through our body and voice. With only 7% coming from the actual words and phrases we use.
This seems to be particularly so when people have positional power. For instance in our case a sales manager and her sales representative. Ensuring that communication is congruent is key.
Using a practical example of sales coaching. If a sales manager is giving feedback and advice a softer open body approach and style will make a big difference to the result’s that are achieved. A fixed body position and voice tone will not be as motivational for the sales representative on the other end of the communication. This is where the technique of mirroring body language can work to build rapport and trust in the communication process.
The good news is that powerful communication skills can be learnt. The first step is awareness about how you are currently communicating. What is the voice tone you use? How are you standing? How fast do you talk? How close do you stand to the person that you are communicating with? What is your eye contact like?
When you ask many sales managers this question some have awareness and many don’t. A great exercise is to observe someone else. Watch the interaction and how it flows. By doing this you will have insight to your own and others behaviour. If you are really serious about improving the way you communicate non verbally, watch yourself on video. Many a presentation skills course has made a significant difference to how people communicate purely by showing the delegates how they physically and tonally communicate.
Addressing nonverbal communication consistently has one of the biggest impacts on your power to communicate in a way that is acted upon.
So what next? Time to take some action. As an initial first step, if you are brave enough ask your colleagues and even significant other how they perceive you, through your nonverbal communication. You might just be surprised.