Sales per se has never been my forte, but I do enjoy customer service. I can sell with the best if it just so happens that selling a customer something will serve them best. But if the customer purchasing would not be best served buying the thing, the struggle is real to be either too honest or just honest enough, depending on how you look at it.
I say too honest because the chief goal for the salesperson may be making the sale. Secondarily, the goal of serving the customer puts the vetting onus on the purchaser. Customer service then becomes a means to the end of selling. You provide excellent customer service so they will buy what is being sold.
But too honest may be just honest enough when sales is a means to the end of customer service. When serving the customer is the chief goal, making the sale or not takes a backseat to considering the sum total of what your customer may need. And on this point, discovering what your customer needs comes back again to good communication.
As part of an ongoing personal quest to improve communication – my own and that of other folks, understanding this sphere of life better so as to engage it better – the thought occurs to me that radical honesty may make us feel better for a time, but it may not always be the best service either to ourselves or those we are communicating with – call them customers, or call them what you will.
For instance, when it comes to prioritizing what information we share and in how much detail, we must consider whether we are being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
Furthermore, if we are loving our neighbor as we love ourselves we also will similarly endeavor to help them to do likewise.
Good communication has to do with more than sending little packets of information through the air and assuming they made it to their destination intact just because we know what we sent. This is where listening serves as an essential part of communication.
By being quick to listen we glean what information our intended audience may need, as well as what their overall goals and objectives are. Furthermore, when what the other person needs is to listen themselves, we can prime the pump for them by setting the tone when we ourselves listen.
But here is a sound principle when it comes to both listening and speaking well, that we would ask ourselves four questions:
- What do I know?
- Who else needs to know?
- Have I told them?
- Do they understand what I’ve told them?
None of these four questions should be taken for granted. Sometimes we know a great many things which just aren’t so. Other times we shared all of the right information with the wrong people, or at least not enough of the right people. Still other times what was said was not what was heard.
Uncorrected, assuming the wrong answers to these four questions can lead to a downward spiral of talking past one another. All the while all parties concerned may be entirely convinced in their own minds that they have done their part and the fault lies with everyone else.
But something like what I do for a living is the antidote. A device in the field has all the necessary hardware, but it has to be configured properly in order to communicate with the rest of the network.
How you confirm that both the hardware installation and the software configuration is correct is by having someone at the end-device call the person on the end-user network side and try polling the end-device as-configured.
Only it’s not enough to confirm that you are talking to something. Particularly when wireless communications over distance is the mode, the old adage that “the medium is the message” comes into play.
You may be sending and receiving all the right data to the wrong device. But how you test for this is by doing one of two things – either confirming live values from the end-device, or by simulating values.
Suppose we are dealing with a pressure transmitter, for instance. If several possible end-devices may be reading a value of ‘0’ you could come away with a false positive which does not count as a true test. But if you can force a value of ‘1’ or ‘100’ or ‘1,000’ on the end-device, then confirm that this is what was received on the end-user network side, you will know whether you are indeed talking with the thing you need to.
It’s just like that with people. Substitute beliefs and attitudes and goals and behaviors in place of pressures, temperatures, levels, flowrates, valve positions, and run status, and you’re there.
When communication breaks down, the only thing for it to restore comms is to check the hardware and settings on both sides and try again until the values you’re sending on the one side are the values you’re receiving on the other. But this takes intentionality. We have to not just want it, we have to work at it.
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