I was recently invited to strengthen the conversational wisdom with a sales team in a rapidly growing consultancy practice. The participants were somewhat sceptical –“I’ve been doing this role for over 20 years, I don’t need any more development”, “I’m an expert in xxx, there’s nothing I don’t know about it” – and yet up for the challenge of taking a few risks in a safe environment. A small number were even excited and willing to accept the invitation of sprinkling some magic into their pitch presentations.
We started off with each one of them standing up and doing a brief talk on their area of specialism or product, and it didn’t take long for the stream of acronyms, technical jargon (from where I was sitting) and ‘expert’ speak to take over. Don’t get me wrong – I see the value of models. And I understand the value of knowledge and experience. But it’s a shame when we don’t place as much value on an integral part of what engages another human being; connecting at a human level.
“When I fed back what I was experiencing to the group, some of them were quite taken aback.”
It’s all well and good to be a technical expert but I think business development and sales is also about having the conversational wisdom to engage hearts as well as minds. We often layer on assumptions about what our audience wants to hear – “I need to tell them the top 5 things they need to know about data analytics and artificial intelligence” – without reflecting on how we will grow trust, integrity, and empathy.